life, love, and maybe babies

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oprah was right...

I'm not going to lie to you - I like Oprah.

Not the "You get a car! YOU get a car! EVERYBODY GETS A CAR!" Oprah. The other one. The introspective, somewhat deep, makeup free and often profound Oprah. Sure, she's annoying at times and a humongous narcissist (but really, what famous person isn't?), but the woman has a true thirst for knowledge and a desire to spread that knowledge to everyone she meets. And I dig that.

One of the biggest things that Oprah has taught me over the years is to ask myself, 'What's the Lesson?" when I encounter something in my life that gives me pause. 

Maybe it's a boyfriend who dumped me after two weeks for no reason. What's the lesson?

Perhaps it's the big sale that I didn't get when I was POSITIVE I had it in the bag? What's the lesson?

For the most part, I do a pretty good job of self-evaluating and trying to learn from my experiences. But infertility is different. I spend a great deal of time avoiding the thought of infertility at all costs. Kind of like when I avoid the mirror after eating at Cheesecake Factory. I just don't like to go there. Like eating at Cheesecake Factory, thinking about infertility is often overwhelming, painful, and gives me indigestion. 

Yesterday, as I had a particularly bad episode of "WHY THE FRICK IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?", I realized that I haven't been thinking about the lessons I'm learning from this disease. (Yes, naysayers, infertility is a disease.) And after a little thinking, here's what I've come up with.

Lessons Infertility Has Taught Me About Myself

1.  I am patient

If Hubs reads this, he'll probably laugh his ass off. But it's true. I really am. Maybe not in other areas of life (like weight loss, pay days, etc), but infertility has turned me into a truly patient gal. Four years. Four years of waiting for the thing I want the most. Months of medication that have seemed to work, then not worked. Months of waiting for two weeks, getting a negative, waiting four more weeks, then starting all over again with no end in sight. I don't care who you are, that is not an easy thing to do. And I should give myself credit for that.

2. I am sensitive

I've always been someone who has empathy for other people - it's just in my DNA. But infertility has made me...softer. I used to look at someone struggling with someone and think, "Man up! Walk it off! Keep on trucking!" Now, seeing someone hurting or fearing or feeling lost turns on this feeling of super-empathy within me. I want to understand them, to help them, to go through it with them. I want to comprehend what they are going through on a deeper level, not just on the surface.

3. I am prepared

I can be a scatter brain. I was never the kid in class whose desk was showcased at open house as the cleanest and most organized, complete with color-coded tabs and pencils and pens arranged alphabetically. But ever since infertility struck? Guuuurl, I can tell you exactly where the invoice is from my latest procedure and when I paid the bill for it and what check number I used. I can tell you that on my next appointment, I already have a list of 5 questions to ask the doctor, along with 3 follow up questions to verify I understand. Becoming more organized and prepared when it comes to this issue has become vital. I need to know where I am in my treatment and where I'm headed. It gives me something concrete to hold onto in those moments when I feel like I'm spinning out of control.

4. I am smart

It's easy to assume you're dumber than the doctors. After all, they have big, fancy degrees from big, expensive schools. They've done this for years; I'm just starting out. But I've learned that docs have a lot going on and they can make mistakes. I just have to trust in myself enough to call them on it. 

For example, last month when we finally got our IVF calendar, I noticed something weird. The nurse indicated I would start my stims (a fancy word for injections) a month earlier than originally projected. That put my transfer in the middle of a family trip to Cancun. WHAT? How had we miscalculated this? I went over it and over it in my head, and convinced myself something just must have changed that the doc didn't share. I didn't trust myself enough to ask because hey, the doctor is smarter than me. Thankfully, Hubs trusted his own gut and insisted I ask. Turns out, the doc made a boo boo after all. I learned after that day that I am truly smart, and I must believe in that. 

5. I am weak

As an infertile, I do everything I can to hold it together every hour of the day. I want the world to know that I'm going to be FINE. I can take it. I don't need help.

It's all a lie.

I'm a human beings, going through a very difficult, if not impossible to comprehend situation. I am allowed to be weak and sad and ridiculously over-sensitive about everything. I need to show that vulnerability to my family and my husband and my friends, or they will assume it's all under control. And it isn't.

Just a few weeks ago, my brother in law announced his wife's pregnancy to the family during a football tailgate. I put on a strong face for the moment, but inside I was falling apart. Of course I was happy for them, but it still stung. A little later, my husband put his arm around me and said, "It's okay. I know that was tough to hear. I'm here." That was all I needed. He was allowing me to splinter into a million pieces if I needed to. It was okay to feel what I was feeling. If you can't allow yourself to be weak occasionally, what the hell do you have a support system for to begin with?

You know what's great about these 5 lessons I've learned about myself? Every single one of them is a lesson I would will learn all over again when I become a mom.

As a mom, I need to be patient with my child, to wait for them to crawl when they're ready, say "mama" when they're ready, or eat avocados when they're ready. I will have waited so long to be a mom that I will want to be as patient and keep those moments as slow as they need to be.

As a mom, I'll need to be kind. I will need to look at life through the eyes of my child, and see all that is wonderful in a whole new way.

As a mom, I will need to be prepared for whatever comes. Sure, the medical part, but also the little things. Temper tantrums, potty training, first dates, makeups, breakups. All of it.

As a mom, I will need to be smart and trust my gut. With Pinterest, blogs, and un-asked for family advice pulling me every which way, I will have to be smart enough to trust in myself and my husband to make the right choices and ask the right questions. No second guessing.

As a mom, I will need to be weak sometimes. I will show my child (girl or boy) that vulnerability is a strength. We don't have to be perfect or even perceived as perfect. Flaws are what make us unique and special, and when we are vulnerable and let people in, it creates deeper and more robust relationships. For life.

And who wouldn't want that?

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