Being in a waiting space is hard. It can be traumatic. It can be emotional. It can be downright depressing. And it can take you to very dark places.
After probably the single darkest day in my entire life, I realized that something needed to change in my life and it had to come from me. So I sat down and thought about all of the things that gave me anxiety or caused me to spiral into that dark place. My list was filled with things like:
I'm afraid that I'm ruining my marriage because I get so sad.
Pregnancy Announcements hurt.
I feel left out at baby showers.
I get anxious when I think about money.
The baby section (or online baby boutiques & stores) are hard to see.
Not having kids makes me sad and seeing families at church with kids makes me jealous.
Big groups of people make me feel claustrophobic.
Honestly, re-reading through this list makes me wonder why I never went to therapy. (Honestly though.) But after I wrote the list I asked myself questions like:
How can I be happier around my husband?
Why do pregnancy announcements hurt?
How can I make pregnancy announcements sting less?
Why are baby showers hard for me to attend?
What can I do to make baby showers a more pleasant experience?
What can I do to help myself feel less anxious when the topic of money comes up?
How can I learn to see baby items during my journey without them bothering me?
How can I be happier for people with children?
What can I do to feel more comfortable in big groups?
For you, the answers to these questions may be different than they were for me, but my answers and action plan came down to these things:
To be happier around my husband, we started doing things that made us happy. We'd watch a show together or take a walk outside or eat dinner together. And we would find ways to connect with one another on more than just a "I only want to have babies with you," level.
Ultimately, pregnancy announcements hurt because I was jealous. I wanted to be the one announcing my pregnancy. So to make them sting less, I decided to start congratulating people on their pregnancy announcement posts. I started small by simply just liking the photo (instead of just scrolling past or worse, unfollowing completely). And then after it felt normal to like the photo, I would actually comment congratulations! And then I moved into commenting, "congratulations!! I am so happy for you!!" And honestly, little by little, I felt happy for these friends who were having babies.
Baby showers were (and quite frankly, still are) hard for me to attend. I felt left out because I didn't feel like I could contribute to any of the conversations and that any conversations I was having were awkward and uncomfortable. The boundary I set for myself for baby showers is that I will buy the expectant mama a gift, but usually I choose not to attend the actual party. Unless it is a close family member. If this is the case, I usually cry a little beforehand in the car and then buck up and go inside. The experience isn't easier, but I try to remember that a sweet baby is coming and that is worth celebrating.
Okay, let's be real. Infertility is expensive and can definitely put you in a tight spot financially. To combat the anxious feelings money can bring, we have been working on a budget through Budget BootCamp. Budgeting can seem restrictive, but it helps me stay on track and feel like there is a method to the madness.
Baby clothes are sooooo cute. And I often found myself buying things "for one day." When that "one day" was not as close as I wanted it to be, the baby section and all of my favorite baby shops on Instagram became increasingly harder to see and follow without causing a spiral. To help with this, I simply started avoiding that section of the store (because I don't need anything from there anyway) and then unfollowed or muted all of my favorite shops on Instagram. I also turned my love of baby clothes buying into buying clothes and things for friends who were having babies. (Gotta have something to send when you don't show up to the shower, amiright?)
Being happy for people with kids took a little more time to figure out how to do, but one day, I remembered a quote that a friend told me while I was a missionary for my church, "Those we see daily are the ones God has given us to love." I began trying to love the people around me and their babies and kiddos. Once I started this, the process was pretty easy because, who doesn't love kids? They are hilarious and give so much more love back.
To be frank, I am still working on feeling more comfortable in big groups, but I've tried to remember the things I did in high school. (I was in student council and did TONS of extracurriculars, so big groups and being in front of big groups was not irregular for me.) I have tried speaking up more. I have worked on saying hello and meeting new friends. I am practicing being brave without my husband nearby. Again, this is still a work in progress but things are moving along and I'm finding that I don't feel as anxious in big groups anymore.
Recognizing my triggers and then digging in deep to find out what about them was hurting me and why they made me feel that way really helped me be able to make a game plan on how to either overcome them or deal with them or see how sometimes I just needed to avoid certain situations, at least for this season.
I've realized that it's important to recognize your triggers. Doing this has helped me immensely in my waiting space. It takes time, but it is so worth it.