Our Fertility Journey Has Put Me Through So Much Pain, but I've Learned a Lot

After our second failed intrauterine insemination (aka IUI, where the sperm is directly inserted into the uterus), we decided to take a long break from trying to have a baby and regroup after the Summer. But one night in June, while we were lying on the couch watching a movie, I decided we should give it a go. So instead of waiting, the next morning I called our fertility doctor to share our plan, and on July 1, I started taking fertility medication. On July 13, we went in for our third IUI.

The two weeks following the IUI, I felt so many different emotions. I was trying to convince myself that this time was different; I just felt it. I tried not to get excited, but I couldn't help it. On July 26, I got another not-pregnant result, and I was crushed. A wave of all the emotions from the last two years came crashing over me, and I fell back into my bad habits — a cycle that's hard to break.

After the second IUI, when we decided to take a break and things stabilized, I began eating healthy and working out again. I started to feel "normal" . . . and it felt great. But once we started the third round, I felt the instant shift in me. Everything I worked so hard to get back on track fell right off the emotional wagon again. This journey has been full of happiness, sadness, and sometimes gut-wrenching pain. I'm doing my best to find the lessons along the way, really embrace them, and use them to guide me to a healthier lifestyle. Here's what I've learned so far.

  1. Embrace your feelings.
    Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming and hits me at any time: while driving, sitting at my desk, cooking dinner, or during a million other random moments. Instead of pushing away my feelings and holding in my tears, I need to allow myself to feel what I'm feeling and let the tears flow for a little bit. I don't have to be strong 100 percent of the time; I can feel the pain and let it flow.
  2. Find a safe space.
    To follow that, what I found to be so helpful (and has actually reduced the random crying) was to create a safe space at home where I can sit and be with my feelings. I call it my thinking chair. I bought two chairs from Target for $15 each and put them on my front porch. On particularly difficult days, I know I can come home and sit in my chair, close my eyes, and just be for a few minutes. I allow myself to feel exactly what I'm feeling in those moments, then I can take a deep breath and exhale them into the wind.
  3. Distract yourself.
    Some days are harder than others. I mean really freaking hard. On those days when my chair isn't enough and I need to not think, I'll blast the music in the kitchen and have my own dance party while cooking dinner. There's never a time where a full-on dance party hasn't lifted my heart, if only for a moment — but it works.
  4. Get some exercise.
    I learned stuffing my face with food doesn't help; food will not comfort me or make anything feel better. All it's done for me is make my pants too tight. I'm a big emotional eater, and I will sometimes eat something before I even realize what I've eaten. I try to replace mindless eating with exercise. While some days, I really have to talk myself into my sneakers, I always feel better after a workout. I never regret a workout!
  5. Just live.
    Live in the moment! Stop obsessing about babies, hormones, and fertility treatments and just live life. Since we started trying for a baby, I stopped planning ahead. I stopped planning trips, concerts, and anything where I wouldn't have fun if I were pregnant. And so I missed out on a lot of fun. I learned I need to live in the moment and plan for the future with what I have now.