It happens every 23-30 days. The dreaded period. You worked so hard this month. You ate the right stuff, you reduced your intake of everything fun, you even started drinking some nasty fertility tea and actually had the courage to hope. But when your period came, you felt even more despair than you thought, you'd really tried to keep from getting your hopes up, but there they went, sailing away like a balloon.
You may have the inclination to shrug it off. Say "why am I feeling so terrible, I haven't gotten pregnant the last 14 months of trying, why would I get pregnant now?" But what you're really feeling is grief. Each month that an attempt at pregnancy fails is really a mini-death. The death of a child that isn't going to be again this month. Death of dreams for another 2 weeks until you can try again. The cycle of hope and loss is exhausting.
I ask that you treat this loss as you would other important losses. Here are some ways to grieve when your period arrives again:
1. Do something nourishing for yourself. Plan to take some time to be in the pain. If you're at work - go out to lunch, take a walk, sit near a tree, or wait until you get home and take a bath. The goal is not to take your mind off of it, but to let yourself truly acknowledge the loss.
2. Tell someone about it. I hope that you a friend in the TTC world. Either online support, a real life friend, or your partner. I've also just heard about a fertility mentorship program that matches those with infertility that have similar struggles. You don't have to grieve alone.
3. Write. When you're doing everything you can to conceive, every period represents your lost little boy or girl. Take some time to write to the child you want so badly. Speak kindly to yourself in your writing, acknowledging that infertility is one of the most stressful events a woman or couple can endure.
Your willingness to enter into a relationship with a child is a scary thing to do. Practicing self-nourishment, connection to others, and journaling will help you build the skills now that will help you be the parent you want to be someday. Your future child is already coaching you.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and fertility counseling specialist seeing clients online throughout North Carolina, Washington State, and internationally. She’s a member of Resolve, The Infertility Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Contact her to start feeling better.