Grateful - for this?
Having a gratitude practice seems to be the "thing" to do these days. Gratitude and gratefulness are words thrown around casually and, sometimes, with a touch of sanctimony. You may think I've even been guilty of this.
The thing is, gratitude really did play a role in my mindset and perspective during our fertility struggle. It didn't happen naturally or overnight, though. So when I talk about gratitude as an enhancement to your journey, I don't expect it to be an easy thing to do. Maybe it is for you - which is awesome! But if it isn't, I get it.
The benefits of a gratitude practice are many: improved relationships, physical and psychological health, increased empathy, better sleep, and increased mental strength. (Forbes) Many of these benefits are also proven to improve our fertility - particularly sleep, good health, supportive relationships, and resilience.
And, yet. Being grateful for the experience of infertility, the struggle to build the family you so desperately want, and the layers of stress and questions that come with it can seem impossible.
I encourage you to start small and focus on an aspect of your life that is outside of your fertility experience. Consider what you can be genuinely grateful for in your home, work, nature, or a relationship. For example:
- I am grateful for a warm, comfortable, bed to sleep in.
- I appreciate the rain because the grass, trees, and flowers will soon follow.
- I am glad to have a job that provides an income that allows me to provide the necessities (and maybe a bit more).
- My partner/friend/parent loves me no matter what.
Try this for a few days and see how you feel. This often has a snowball effect for me...once I start thinking about one aspect of my life, I find many parts of it that I'm truly grateful for. Are you able to build longer and longer lists of things that bring you joy? How does this change your perspective?
Once you're comfortable with seeing the aspects of your everyday life as points of happiness, try challenging yourself to find elements of your fertility journey to be grateful for. For me, some of these were:
- I am grateful for my organs that are working well right now.
- I appreciate the extra effort my body is making to nourish my reproductive organs/ovaries/uterus.
- I am thankful to live in a time where options like IVF are available to build my family.
- I appreciate the post-menopausal nuns who agreed to collect their urine and paved the way for drugs like Gonal-f. (True story.)
- I am grateful for my husband who allows me to rage and cry, to lose hope for a while but not forever. Who helps me find the humor in this crazy process.
The list would grow. And I was able to find the light in the dark places a little easier, a little faster, and with more authenticity.
I encourage you to try a gratitude practice - a real, write-it-down-daily, practice - and see what happens. Do you notice a shift in your mindset, an ability to see the light in the darkness a little easier? Do you sleep better, feel more connected and supported, and have more resilience for your journey?