While my regular readers know the unbelievable joy, vulnerability, connection and love Chris and I share in our marriage, what people may not know is that we have been hoping to become pregnant for 18+ months.
I am 43, and that alone can pose fertility challenges. On top of that, my thyroid has difficulty converting T4 to T3, my pancreas is working to heal insulin and blood sugar issues, and I struggle with ongoing digestion and autoimmune challenges (that continue to heal each year, but still pose fertility obstacles). Thus, the process has certainly not gone without frustration, disappointment and a heap of tears.
The process has also helped serve to catapult extraordinary inner growth, spiritual connection, acceptance, and healing and bonding between Chris and myself.
When we first began trying to create a baby, we were checking ovulation, making sure to ‘sex it up’ during the right time each month, and so on. In the end, these rituals really only served to set me up to countdown ‘the days’ to my period, and then deal with disappointment, mental stories of ‘being broken’ and a tailspin of emotion resulting from intermittent self judgments, sadness and shame.
In the first few months, my mind went in every possible direction, positive, negative and destructive, self-compassionate and self-loving. At times I’ve even aligned with the societal and cultural pressure, noting, that to be a ‘legitimate female,’ a woman must birth children.
My feelings and mind have run many emotional marathons. I’ve envisioned Chris as the most magnificent father on the planet, which brings equal parts joy and hope, and fear and shame. Joy and hope because of the thought of creating a child with this incredible man and envisioning him with our baby is exquisite beyond imagination... and shame and fear because it hasn’t happened yet…
NOW: 18 MONTHS+ INTO THE ‘BABY’ JOURNEY
Thankfully, beyond thankful actually, I (we) have shifted into a space of acceptance over the last 18 months. Each time we decide to unhook from something we (all people) are overly attached to- including becoming a mother- and course correct toward acceptance; the sweetest experience unfolds. Oneness, joy, calm and Universal connection is birthed... again and again.
A key to living your fullest expression of life (body, mind and spirit) is this: Acknowledge and accept ‘what is’ in any and every given moment. And as each moment signals the many experiences of life- happy or sad, inspired or depressed, content or anxious, love or grief, joy or anger, bliss or heartbreak; we can embrace every ounce, because that is what it is to be ALIVE.
Our baby journey has strengthened my ability to connect to THIS moment, to the Universe, and to the inseparable oneness of all things. And though I fall down a lot, hope springs eternal in my spirit. I continue to believe we will have a child, I just don’t know how she will arrive. I may birth her, or perhaps we will adopt her.
I also know the pain of miscarrying, which happened again on Halloween, just last month. I’ve also coached countless clients through this horror and all the struggles related to ‘waiting for a baby’. I did a short stint on Clomid (fertility medication), which made me feel like a complete and utter crazy person, thus I don’t believe I’ll be taking part in that again. But, many, many couples choose to work with fertility specialists and have great success. Miracles and medical miracles are out there! I respect and honor all women’s choices.
For some women, the pain associated with trying to bring a child into the world can string on for years. Some ultimately become pregnant, others adopt, others accept that life is a gift with or without children, some are stuck in sadness and defeat, yet others are a combination.
Of course, parts of this journey have been deeply painful. Miscarrying last month was incredibly sad. And, it is in my past, where I must leave it. It affects me today only if I am living within the parameters of yesterday’s pain. For Chris and I, learning to rebound and move forward from painful experiences means practicing feeling, expressing, and communicating our pain / upset / anger immediately and completely.
Raw vulnerability is transformative.
And… while I do love and practice all that I am sharing, am also very human… I cried the entire day after the miscarriage, the pain was unbearable and our hearts were broken. I thought about and cursed all the damn teenagers who get pregnant the first time they have sex! And I grieved the loss of our 7 week old bean sprout that we had already fallen in love with.
And, another painful day emerged when I went to my OBGYN a few days later to make sure everything was healing from the miscarriage. I cussed the fifteen or so pregnant women parading their big bellies around the waiting room. And I wanted to tear up their sonogram photos! I had my moments. I gave myself compassion and understanding for the pain and the anger I felt- and then I/we slowly stepped into the next moment. I returned to my foundation of love for all. Learning to do this has taken a great deal of practice and discipline, but it’s beyond worth the effort. Chris and I felt our feelings, talked until there was nothing else to share, cried, and stepped forward.
I am thankful that the friends I hold dear who are moms or moms to be don’t tip toe around us. Like with Chris, my dearest friends and I have cultivated totally vulnerable, honest connections. I love their families and never hold jealousy or ill well against them or anyone for that matter. The thing is, these women get it completely. Who other than a mom could understand this pain better. They can grieve and comfort our pain and struggle because the are so intimately connected to the joy of being a mommy. If you too are working to have a baby, I strongly encourage you, don’t tip toe, don’t hold back, don’t live in fear… Be open, vulnerable and transparent- it is monumentally healing.
FEEL & HEAL OR IGNORE & NUMB
When we experience difficult and painful emotions, we can go one of two directions. We can FEEL our feelings fully in the moment and communicate them to a safe person, or we can carry and numb them with things like obsessive thinking, frantic busyness, shopping, emotional eating or drinking, working, blaming, social media, pornography and so on. There just ain’t no third direction!
The most valuable things Chris and I have chosen to dedicate authentic practice to along this 18-month journey is this- deep sharing, complete emotional transparency, and compassion for our self and one another. Yes, it can be scary as hell. But it is better than the shame, guilt and remorse of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a shopping spree one cannot afford, and especially the slow, silent marriage killer- shutting down and disengaging.
Because as we all know, the person we are MOST inclined to dump on, take our frustrations out on, or push away, is our partner… right?
For many couples, including several of my own clients, the journey toward having a baby can serve as a way to break people and relationships down. But this sacrifice is far too great. One’s fear, insecurity and self-doubt is what elicits self and relationship breakdowns of all kinds.
Thankfully, struggle and suffering can just as easily serve as a way to strengthen a relationship, and add openness, trust and connection as it can break down and heartbreak.
The best way around heaping blame, shame, detachment, resentment or anger onto yourself and each other (regardless of what life’s struggle is currently present), is to practice uninhibited sharing and transparency together. It is shocking how many thoughts and feelings people hide and keep secret, for fear of being truly seen. And how tempted we are to take our vulnerability and turn it into blaming, shaming and resentment- then pour that sadness of our own heart onto our lover.
Here is the beauty of pain + vulnerability: every time Chris and I allow ourselves to see the other with unbridled clarity, and when we share the raw and fragile nooks and crannies of our deepest fears, insecurities and self-doubts, those same nagging fears, insecurities and self-doubts shrink bit by bit. Allowing courage, strength, resilience, and compassion to fill the open space.
This level of transparency also has also given us another gift: We began to detach from the perceived importance of having a baby. In fact, now we are clear hearted and joy-filled about a future with or without a child… We’re tackling each day with a type of ‘togetherness & enoughness’ we didn’t previously know existed.
A big challenge in today’s culture is the emotional scarcity rooted in being overly attached to what one WANTS, and the hyper-frantic, monkey mind thinking that accompanies wanting. People begin to believe that the objects of their desire define their value, thus attaching one’s perceived worth to an achievement or result is a natural response.
Additionally, there is plenty of societal and cultural pressure to further encourage value attachment. For example, real pressure exists for women to be forever youthful, thin, pretty and good mothers. If I / you believe I am not enough or worthless on any level until I become a mother (or achieve / get _________,) I / you will be chained to anxiety, depression, anger and resentment. There for we cannot practice thoughts and beliefs of over-attachments if we desire to be emotionally free.
This shift is in no way subtle. Practicing vulnerability, self-compassion and self-acceptance, being present and standing in gratitude, even when you really, really don’t want to, is profound and powerful and brings about peace.
Each woman, man and couple, must seek to consciously and intentionally design the life and relationship s/he desires. People make lists for the grocery, but neglect even the most rudimentary life or marriage plan.
Happy living and loving unfortunately doesn’t ‘just happen.’ It requires healing, vulnerability, transparency, honesty, trust building, and moving through hardships, trauma, struggle and conflict with intentionality. As we cultivate navigation with purpose and intention, all challenges, suffering and disappointment can fluidly move into its rightful sequence of grief and loss, and then rebound efficiently toward joy, peace, adventure, and emotional freedom!
The fact is, we still want a baby and we’re insanely happy! I have moments of tears and weeks of joy!
We just don’t know if a baby is in the cards for us, so we choose be happy regardless. In many ways, and because of this journey, I feel calm, safe, empowered and, truth be told, kind of like our love and marriage are invincible!
I feel that Chris and I are extremely fortunate in our dedication to place our love and relationship first. It’s not always easy, and the temptation for me to lash out, and for Chris to shut down, at times is great (well conditioned ‘skills’ for us!). I’ll have more tears in the future, and Chris and I will face new challenges. But for now, I thank our spirit baby for helping to teach us about connection and vulnerability. Whether she materializes or not, she has been a blessing.
With love & healing, Shawn
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