As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch next to my cat, listening to a soundtrack and the rain hitting the window, smelling a eucalyptus candle burning, sipping some coffee. As I write this, I’m on my period. My uterus cramping, my back aching, my stomach bloating, my head splitting, my body angry that yet again I’m not pregnant. And I’m just as angry as my body is.
For years, I let hope drive me until it was too painful to hope anymore. So the hope went in a tiny box deep in my soul. I didn’t dream about having kids anymore, as much as I want them. I bought pads and wine and ice cream with the expectation that my period is gonna start. And then recently, I’d begun to let the hope bloom again. For the first time in a long time, I did all the basal body temp and LH tracking. And we tried. For three weeks, I let myself daydream again about the two little kids that live in my head. The sunshiny stroller walks, the songs we sing together, the naked bathtime baby buns, the snuggly storytime, all vivid in my imagination. Yet here I am bleeding again.
The first day is always the worst for me. It’s pretty painful physically so I feel extra tender and a little unhinged. Unhinged like struggling not to cry while singing At Last I See The Light from Tangled on the way home from date night. Unhinged like raging to myself and the cat out loud while home alone. Unhinged like popping the cork at 3pm because I had to be around a pregnant person that day. Yeah…. unhinged. And then I have make a full stop to remind myself.
In the span of seven years of waiting, I’ve been so hard emotionally and mentally. The “resilient” one. The “strong” one. But it didn’t feel like that on the inside. Inside it felt like denying my pain because I didn’t want to make anyone else sad or worried about me. And guess what? It dumped me in the darkest place I’ve ever been. Unable to hope, unable to thrive, unable to see past the dark waters of infertility. Thankfully the story doesn’t end there though because I met some special ladies walking the same road and I learned that I was being too hard on myself. I learned that if I wanted to grow and thrive, I had to let myself feel the grief (which definitely seems opposite in my head). I learned that feeling grief over infertility is something that can help me deal but that grief doesn’t have to encompass every moment of every day. I learned that I don’t have to walk this road alone and communicating my needs to my husband can bring us closer and help me process. I learned to be softer on myself.
When you’re in the midst of the waiting, it does us no favors to be hard on ourselves. Take this as your permission to put away the “Keep Calm and Carry On” mantra. Keep a jar of bath bombs specifically for period days or a box of the snacks you crave while you’re bleeding. Try to schedule things around the day you start so you have time to sleep and relax instead of continuing full speed ahead. Start a period journal as a way to process all your unfiltered thoughts and feelings. Make yourself the priority for the first day or two of your period and just maybe, you’ll find yourself blooming in other areas because you’re soft on yourself here. Let’s do it together. It’s the best thing we could do for ourselves.
Casey Watkins has been married for eight years to her IT handyman. Together, they live in an old house on the east side of Indianapolis with their cat, Charlie. In their seven years of infertility, they’ve renovated their house, visited Iceland and baked a lot of cake. You can read more about Casey over on her blog, Chasing Cozy.