At our last appointment our Doctor dictated a 'please explain' letter to the head embryologist in front of us (our last three rounds have tanked, but all for different reasons) and he described me like this:
"I have a patient with long-term fertility issues, who is a poor responder to medications, has a history of repeated miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy along with immune issues that impact implantation. She has difficulty producing eggs and the couple has recently had difficulty producing embryos with repeated 100% failure to fertilise on ICSI and low numbers from natural fertilisation methods despite normal sperm sample....."
My hubby and I had a laugh about it on the way out - our Doctor is brilliant, which is why we see him, but sometimes lacks 'bedside touch'.
Part of what made me chuckle was is this is how I'm defined, how I'm known, in the IVF world.
It might seem cold, but personally I choose not find it so - I know my Doctor genuinely wants me to get pregnant for more than just his statistics and is doing all he can. I pay him to work in the facts and find the solution to our problem, not be my best friend.
Where the problem would come in was if I defined myself in this way.
Facing fertility challenges unfortunately has a way of making us do so. It can be so easy to take on reasons for our infertility as our identity.
There was a time where this description would have likely had me in tears, and sent me on a downward spiral, convincing myself that it was hopeless, that I was hopeless.
It's not that I have become 'harder' now - although time and exposure can desensitise us a bit - it's more the conscious choices and actions I have made over time to take back my identity:
Infertility is not who I am, it is just an experience I am having.
Part of why I could chuckle and shake it off was because I know there is so much more to me than this description!
Are those things my doctor said about my fertility to date true? Yes unfortunately they are
Do they mean that I am a failure, not good enough, unable to do things? No
Do they mean that I am not able to have a baby or become a mother? No
For so long it was hard for me to be able to break these out - they were all mashed together, leaving me a bit of a mess.
So what are my tips for preventing infertility from consuming your identity?
Mind Your Language
The way we speak shapes who we are. I went into this in more detail in a post on speaking a more positive language but the gist is our language can impact the labels we give ourselves, which in turn can mould our sense identity.
If we speak (externally and internally) more positively - eg rather than 'I'm infertile' 'We are having a few fertility challenges' - this can significantly impact our sense of self worth!
Give Things A Better Meaning...
It can be easy to forget that WE give things meanings! When something happens (often subconsciously) we have a 'meaning making' menu drop down in front of us and we choose a meaning.
In the situation I described above I could have chosen to make that situation mean something really upsetting....but instead I chose a better meaning. It takes some practice but its worth it!!
Lose The Blinkers
Don't put the blinkers on and let TTC overtake everything about you. Yes, things change - TTC touches on so many aspects of life, but hold true to the things in life that you are passionate about, that bring you joy.
Let many things define you, and make them things that bring you comfort, security, adventure, variety, significance, connection and love!!
What are your tips for stopping infertility from defining who you are?