Dreaming of babies: the realities of infertility

(Written by contributing writer Natasha)

dreaming of babies

I was in the shower when I realized that I was having a baby. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, but it was obvious that I was giving birth. I screamed for my husband to come take me to the ER. No one answered. I kept screaming for help until finally my mom showed up.

By then I had a teeny, tiny baby boy. He had dark hair and the same chin that all my brothers and I have, very defined with a little dimple in it. He was breathing but I knew he wouldn’t be for long.

But instead of helping me get out to the van, my mom started gathering all these strange children together. Eight of them, to be exact. I stood there, holding this tiny little baby who was turning blue, and watching them all come down the stairs. I was crying and BEGGING Mom to just stick them in the van and she gave me this disgusted look and said, “Now, Tasha, we can’t take them until we get them all dressed and buckled into their seats.” I must have looked shocked because she added, “I can’t believe how selfish you’re being. What’s the point of saving one baby if you’re not going to take proper care of all the rest?”

I sat right down, rocked this itty bitty blue baby, and cried and cried.

The good news? My mother would never, ever, in a million years, be that horrible. The bad news? It was all a dream and I don’t really have a baby boy with dark hair and my chin.

And to be honest, my first thought on waking up had nothing to do with how terrible my mother had been in this dream. It had everything to do with feeling sad and empty because it wasn’t real and I didn’t have a baby or the hope of one. 

I’ve had so many dreams over the years about babies. Sometimes I wake up crying. Sometimes I just lay there, trying so hard to fall back asleep and continue the dream. Sometimes they are horrible and involve me not being able to save a baby or accidentally hurting one. Sometimes they are lovely,  like the time I was finally adopting this beautiful Ethiopian boy.

For a long time it made me angry. After the dream wore off and I was done feeling empty or lost or fearful, I would get so mad at God. I wanted to shake my fist at Him. I can exert some control over my waking thoughts, but what in the world am I suppose to do with dreams? 

I’ve learned since then that dreaming about babies while dealing with infertility is completely normal. People have shared all kinds of dreams with me. Sometimes sweet (those few delusional minutes of rocking a baby that you think is yours) sometimes horrible (the ones where the baby dies or someone in your family does something out of character) and sometimes even funny (like the time I dreamed that Walmart started carrying babies at greatly reduced prices).

In dealing with these (often undesired) dreams, I’ve found three helpful responses:

1. Pray.
God’s shoulders are big enough to carry any of the hurts that rush through our minds. He can handle our pain, our anger, our insecurities. So, when I wake up after a dream that leaves my heart heavy and empty– the best response is to talk to the only true source of comfort, Jesus.

2. Laugh.
Sometimes the best medicine is simply to laugh. I mean, seriously, can you imagine Wal-mart carrying babies at greatly reduced prices? (I must have been reading too much on adoption costs at that point!)

3. Share
Telling your spouse your dream can help tremendously.  It may also free him to share his own dreams with you. I’ve also been known to call up a friend, or my mother, the morning after a dream that keeps plaguing my mind, and sharing it with them. I’ve found that just talking about it– reminding my heart and mind that it was just a dream can be helpful.

What about you? Have you experienced any “infertility dreams”? 

How to reduce stress with time management

This morning I spent twenty minutes in front of my calendar, iPhone at my side beeping and carrying on, my inbox open in front of me and I got to work creating my week.

Did you hear the special word in there?  Creating.  Just say it for a second:  c-r-e-a-t-i-n-g.

Every week we get the privilege to create our week because we have a say in how it will go.  We have a say as to how we spend our time.

If you would have asked me that a year ago I would have blown you off.  At that time I was addicted to and completely run by the three friends I mentioned above: iPhone calling to me like a ship lost at sea, my inbox barking at me for attention, and my calendar telling that I just didn’t have enough time.

It was exhausting.

Worn out woman accounting in the living room

There was no fun in it.  Things fell through the cracks all the time: forgetting about client appointments because I either forgot to enter them while answering an email, my google calendar hadn’t refreshed so didn’t save the new event, returning phone calls, running errands, sending things back to school with the kids and the myriad of other things I can’t think to put in here because I’ve already forgotten them.

And then I feel like a jerk.  Like pulling my hair out because it makes me feel unreliable when I forget things. And the result of that is more stress.  Which makes me think there really is no extra time. And then I am a jerk and my life is ruled by several different colored blocks in my day.

Until I tried something different.  I gave up resisting my schedule.

And saw miracles so exciting I have to share:

Miracle #1:

I created spending five minutes at the beginning of the week confirming my appointments for the week, fewer clients forgot their times and I had double checked on my end so there were fewer mistakes over here.

Miracle #2:

I took my nine colored categories and slimmed them down to five.  Family, paid client time, personal time, editorial calendar and self-care.  That’s all there really is in my life.  Clearly defined time with my husband/our girls and family, time with paying clients, personal development time (Higher Brain Living sessions, work with Landmark, tapping), editorial calendar time (writing, development, inbox), and self-care (exercise, acupuncture,massage/chiropractic, reading/writing, retreat).

Miracle #3:

I hired a virtual assistant eight weeks before the time I allotted.  We did a two-hour productivity session that got me clear on where I’m spending my time and where I need to spend my time.  We cleaned up my laundry lists and set to work a course of action that gets results.

Miracle #4:

I have waaaaay more time to freely spend doing everything I love.  And I have more time to do those things that need to get done (laundry, cooking,  housekeeping, errands) because I can clearly see where I have open blocks of time.

Miracle #5:

I feel very little stress compared to last year at this time.  I sleep better (and longer). I break out less.  I see more clients than ever before. When I am with our kids I’m actually present to their needs.  My gut checks me far more often than before, letting me know right in the moment if I am doing what I said I would or what I know should get done.

My ultimate new ninja strategy is structure.  I feared and resisted structure (insert toddler throwing a tantrum) because it felt so restrictive.  When I began to implement, I could feel the pull towards I Don’t Want To, yet the pull toward Your Life is Craving This won.

woman standing in sun

Structure bought me freedom.

So create for yourself a structure, and consider that by doing that you are creating your life.  Reach out to those around you who are in alignment with that and get the accountability you want to live the best life you have.

 

Infertility’s Identity

“You’re here to see the doctor about your infertility, right?” The nurse asked a seemingly casual question, but deep inside me it stung. It hurt. It burned my spirit with a searing brand of bitterness. It was the first time I had been labeled “infertile.” Up to that point my doctor visits had been pretty normal, except that we were having a hard time getting pregnant. And because my husband and I were both healthy, my doctor had not been too worried about our inability to conceive.

But this visit, it wasn’t about routine tests and checkups. We were there because we still were not pregnant. And the nurse was right: we were there to see the doctor about our infertility.

That diagnosis, that label brings with it a crazy mess of emotions, doesn’t it? In a way there was a sense of relief: our doctor made a diagnosis and we would finally get on track to finding answers and making a plan. But on the other hand, there was a deep sense of loss and grief: something was wrong and we didn’t know what. Everything about making a baby, starting a family was unknown to us. How long would it take? How much money would we spend? Would we ever conceive a child? How would we tell our parents?

For me, the label of infertility became my identity. It wasn’t just a diagnosis, it became who I was.

And infertility has so many identities:

…fear

…grief

…unanswered questions

…waiting

…the unknown

…needles

…doctor visits

…broken dreams

…tests, tests, and more tests

…heartbreak

And while these all describe the journey of infertility, there is one important aspect that we must never forget: HOPE.

When the days ahead are dark and filled with grief and questions and the unknown, we must hold onto the fact that our journey is one of hope. Unwavering, resilient hope.

So often our focus is on the painful, frustrating parts of infertility. So often we hone in on all of what we don’t have, and we fail to realize the driving force behind our journey – the passion that keeps us going – HOPE. And we have it in spades.

Infertility is many things. But most importantly, infertility is hope.

I want to share this printable with you today, feel free to download and print it – maybe it will encourage you as much as it has encouraged me.

Infertility IsWhat does infertility mean to you? How do you hold onto hope?

How to get along with your partner while trying to conceive

How to get along with your partner while trying to conceive

Making a baby should be fun.

You’re in love, you want to grow your family, you get to have sex.

Unfortunately this scenario can turn into the opposite pretty quickly.

You’re disagreeing, you’re not talking and you only have sex when required.

 

If you are shifting into this second scenario, know that you are not alone.

With the existing stress of work deadlines, finances and family, throwing a long, uncertain waiting game of challenged fertility into the mix can create a new level of stress.

Here’s a few things I see and what you can do about it.

1.   Imbalance of effort

Often the woman feels she is putting in way more time and energy than her partner.   She is probably right.  Frankly it is usually the woman doing the research, trying new foods, going through medical tests.

Solution:  There are ways your partner can contribute that can make you feel more supported.  For instance he can agree to ask you how you are feeling or what you are learning.  He can agree to take X supplement and stop eating Y food.

It’s important to have a conversation about what you request from each other in supportive, non-aggressive way.

 

2.  Different philosophies

Often the female wants a more natural approach and her partner wants things to be more medical.  Or maybe the female partner is ready to try an egg or sperm donor, but the male partner refuses.

Solution:  When you don’t see eye to eye, one solution is to create a timeline of what you are wiling to try until when.  You may agree to stay the natural course three more months before trying IUI, or maybe allow six months before considering a donor.

It’s important to not constantly reevaluate these timelines.  You may decide to change your mind, but constantly reconsidering a decision causes stress.

 

3.   Your sex life is suffering

This is an area where the male partner often gets resentful.  He feels as if you only want to have sex when you’re ovulating, and may feel you only care about his sperm.

Solution:  You both will enjoy sex more when you spend time trying new things or focusing on connecting instead of the fact that you just ovulated.

It’s important to remember that your connection to your partner is why you want to have a baby.  Keeping that connection strong now is as important as ever.  Dealing with infertility is not easy, but learning to work together through the hard times is a valuable skill.

 

 

What has helped you and your partner keep the love alive through thick and thin?

 

Engaging those who question our choices

Pursuing natural alternatives to more traditional medicines and treatments is a deeply personal decision, and one which many of us do not take lightly. My husband and I often spend hours analyzing research and weighing our findings against our beliefs, our health history, and our personal preferences. Sometimes we decide that a more traditional medical approach is best, but most of the time we pursue more natural alternative therapies.

The thing is, no one raises an eyebrow if we mention that our doctor recommended such and such treatment. But you can probably imagine the looks and questions we get when we mention an herbal remedy, essential oil, or diet change that we’re trying for a common (or sometimes not so common) ailment.

I think sometimes people assume that because we choose a natural remedy or therapy, we are just crazy hippies stuck in the last century who must not have done our homework, and who are diametrically opposed to modern medicine and science. And sometimes I struggle with how to respond to questions from people who I know disagree with our decisions.

Oh but the need for grace pops up everywhere, doesn’t it? We stand in constant need of grace from others, and likewise, they stand in need of grace from us.

Engaging those who question or disagree with our decision to pursue natural alternatives    (www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com)

I’ve found three tips to remember when engaging friends and family members who disagree with, or question our decision to pursue a more natural lifestyle and alternative medicines:

1. Remember that just because a natural remedy or practice is best for me, it may not be for everyone.

When we’re faced with perceived criticism or questions regarding our health-related decisions, my husband and I strive to remember that our decisions and preferences are unique to us. We often remind our friends of this by simply stating, “We know this isn’t for everyone, but we’re pleased with our decision to _______.” Sometimes a simple acknowledgement that we aren’t trying to convert or convince anyone to do it our way helps keep the conversation peaceful.

2. Remember that for many, we’re the “expert” on the matter. But really, we’re not experts.

I’ll never forget the time I suggested to a friend to try essential oils for a migraine. I’d personally alleviated a migraine using essential oils, so I felt confident in recommending they try it too. Unfortunately I failed to consider that this friend had a long family history of debilitating migraines, while I’ve only had a few in my life. When they asked why essential oils would work, I had no answer for them. I just knew that they had helped me.

For many of our friends and family members, you and I are the most knowledgeable person they know when it comes to alternative remedies and practices. But very few of us are actually experts, and oftentimes our expertise is experiential (though many times there are loads of data and research to back up our great experiences). And some personality types just don’t give much credit to experiential testimonies, it’s not personal, it’s the way they’re hard-wired.

3. Sometimes people ask questions because they really want to know.

Unfortunately, often times when we’re learning something new we don’t know how or what to ask. The depth and strength of the relationship helps us gauge if someone is asking because they are interested in learning, or simply because they are interested in our story. Sometimes it is both, but very rarely is it neither.

I have friends and family members who are not interested in learning about alternative medicine and natural remedies, but they are deeply invested in our story. For these dear relationships it is so important to me to establish a mutual respect of one another’s medical and health-related choices. And a genuine respect results in genuine support, even when our choices seem to be so different.

What about you? How do you respond to questions or comments regarding your decision to pursue natural alternatives to traditional medicine?

 

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