I thought I didn’t have to go back to my therapist. Well I guess I didn’t HAVE to. But the first thing that came to my mind after my cyst incident was to tell my therapist about my thoughts and feelings around it. As much as I thought that I was done talking to her (because I can take care of myself, right??), my reaction told me otherwise. I emailed her and got an appointment this past Wednesday.
Right before I went, I still thought that I would just talk about my disappointment surrounding the canceled cycle, then I would run out of things to say. What a naive thought. Well, I basically talked the rest of the session without a gap. I did have a lot to say.
I thought it was very productive. We talked about quite a few things. She was empathetic about the cancelation because I had been so ready for it since the momentum for the new cycles had been built for quite some time. Ever since I started seeing her, I began to give more thoughts to my feelings. I feel like giving them a name. (Not a real person’s name like Ursula for the cyst.) I used to feel some vague unpleasant feelings and I might not have pinpointed what they were. When the cyst was discovered, the word “disappointed” kept popping in my head. I wasn’t frustrated per se. Just disappointed. My therapist commented on how good it is for me to name my feeling, own it, and move on.
I went on to talk about my feelings for pregnant ladies and new moms. This all stemmed from my friend Anna who is about to give birth. While I waited to feel ready for a new cycle, Anna’s belly grew bigger and bigger. She is finally due and the baby is going to come at any moment. I shared with my therapist about how I found out about Anna’s pregnancy, how I sometimes feel guilty for being jealous of those pregnant friends who had tried as long as we have if not even longer, how I feel that I should not be jealous, and how I feel I should work towards feeling happy for them. I feel a sense of losing the camaraderie between myself and these friends, the sense of someone fighting a battle with you side by side, and the sense of being left behind.
My therapist’s point on this is that, I am only human. It’s natural to have envy or jealousy. It’s natural to feel being left behind. It’s very much okay to have these feelings. The more important thing is how we deal with our feelings. It’s much better to acknowledge our feelings, own them, and move on, than to avoid those feelings or get stuck on them. It’s normal to be jealous of those who have crossed to the other side, even if they have struggled like we do. However, if I say that I feel guilty for being jealous and I should be happy for them, then I am putting judgment on myself. There is no should’ves, would’ves, or could’ves. And don’t focus on the what-ifs. We cannot change the past or predict the future. These thoughts are not useful. Instead, we strive to live in the presence and experience our current situation, thoughts, and feelings. That’s a lot healthier than regretting the past or being fearful of the future. And it’s a lot healthier to name the feeling and move on.
My therapists said that people who experience fertility challenges are often hard on themselves. I myself included. If a friend came to me and told me her feelings, I’d most likely comfort her and let her know that it’s okay to feel a certain way because we’re just human beings. However, we don’t say that to ourselves because we’re often hard on ourselves. So she said, be kind to myself and sometimes talk to myself like I’d talk to my own friends.
What if I get stuck on a feeling and can’t move on? She said, if I get stuck with a feeling after acknowledging it, I should get up and move around. Our frontal cortex is great but it’s difficult for human beings to shut off our feelings. When we do something different, such as moving around, walking outside, or changing our posture, we help change our feelings and we won’t feel as stuck.
Finally, I told her about the flowers that were sent to work by my husband, how I was pleasantly surprised by them because of our prior fight and talk about saving up every single penny for IVF. Bob has an extreme focus on saving up money for IVF and more importantly, donor egg cycles. He sometimes views spending money on something else as deviating from our goal. However, I feel that we should sometimes stop and smell the roses. I feel that we should not focus every single moment on IVF but to live life. This has been a source of tension even when I am actually not a big spender. My therapist said that money is the number cause of fights for couples who struggle with infertility. She pointed out that as a partner who is not doing the physical part of IVF, such as the injections, the retrieval, or the transfer, he would want some control in this process. One thing that a partner feels like he has control over is the money aspect. It’s very common. She told me to put myself in his shoes and think about what he’s going through. Then I’ll have more empathy and will be able to step back from a fight if I take his perspective. The fact that Bob surprised me with flowers on his own shortly after our big fight shows that he is very open to this dialogue of coming to a mutual ground with our finances. He is trying and he did it out of his heart.
I had never thought about the control part and I found it very true. It sheds some new light on Bob’s thoughts and feelings and I am very appreciated of this new insight. However, my therapist said that she agrees with me that living life is very important too. So Bob and I should sit down and talk about how we want to spend a little bit of money on date nights or entertainment so that we don’t feel that we’re dragged down financially, emotionally, and mentally by this process. During a fight, she suggested that I (we) can get up and move around. That should help us be unstuck and feel less angry. She said I could tell him that the therapist said it’s okay to live life. She senses that we have a very strong bond and are really on the same page trying to work towards our goal. We could bring Bob into the therapy session as a guest to talk for a couple of sessions about our feelings surrounding finances, IVF, and infertility. We could also pursue couples counseling with another therapist that my current therapist highly recommends.
I walked out of the session more empowered. Talking to her really helps to straighten out my thoughts and feelings. Bob is still trying to decide if he wants to come to a session with me. It’d be interesting to see how the dynamics change.
As for our current cycle, today is cycle day twelve. I went for my acupuncture appointment on Tuesday and Maya abdominal massage appointment yesterday. I am also doing self care massages at home and taking herbs to try to clear up the cyst. We’ll see if Ursula is as agreeable as my first two cysts. Bob and I are trying naturally as usual. We continue to hope for the best that we’ll find ourselves pregnant in a couple of weeks and we’ll get the refund from UCSF for the mini cycle that we have paid for already. Let’s hope, pray, and believe together?