Facing our fertility shadows: Keep walking, keep learning, keep striving, and keep healing

 Hello my name is Shannon and I am a do-aholic.

Yes, do, do, doing, and then doing some more is my drug. I can’t stop myself, I don’t know how to say no without feeling guilty, I have built my identity on thriving through the chaos–achieving more, and more, and more. I have become Queen (in my own little mind) of the achievement-driven world I live in.

And then my body stopped me in my tracks.

Hot flashes, night sweats, crazy ovulation, long cycles, awful periods, headaches, stomach aches, the list goes on and on. My body was quite literally screaming at me, in its own unique language–STOP!

So I did. I ate healthy, I gave up the treadmill for restorative yoga, I cut back on alcohol, I said “no” no matter how badly I felt about doing it, and I made time for quiet contemplation a priority–I fed my body the food it had been craving.

And all my body’s screaming ceased.

Ah ha, see I came, I saw, and I conquered! Back to the ridiculously out of control life. Because well, this is what do-aholics do, we go back to our “drug.”

And then all my body’s screams got even louder than before.

Today I went to see my holistic OBGYN, who literally chuckled (then apologized) when I said that I was simply ready to accept that my body was “broken” and that I was probably going through menopause at the age of 36. She said, of course you’re not, your adrenals were completely fried, got a little bit better, and then you threw them on the boiler again.

And then with complete seriousness she looked me in the eyes and said–and you want to have a baby in the midst of this? Do you really think your body can handle that much additional stress the way it is right now?

When I am completely honest with myself, the answer is unequivocally no.

I don’t know whether or not my body is forever shutting down its procreative capacity, however what I do know is that she is right–I am a do-aholic and until I learn to manage my life and achieve balance I am not ready physically or psychologically to bring another life into my life.

I am tired, tired to the bone at least 90% of my life. Weekends are only there for more “doing” and I have been incapable of carving time out for myself to be alone, read a book, and simply “be” to fill my empty cup at least partially back up. When someone asks me to help out, I do even though I have nothing left to give. So I dig down and further deplete my depleted reserves.

At the end of October my husband and I went away for one solitary night for our anniversary. Until I found myself sitting all alone–not a soul in sight–on the shore line watching the sun rise with my hot coffee and engulfing Adirondack chair–I had no idea just how depleted I was. In that 30 minutes I felt happier than I have in years, and I felt a deep longing for that peace just as soon as it ended.

Our bodies are our allies. They protect us from harm and they do the best they can to optimize our chances of a long life–of survival. The gift we have as women is that our cycles can speak to us about the imbalances in our lives. Unfortunately most doctors don’t take the time to listen–they only seek to cover over the voices.

If there is one gift I could give each of you out there, my sisters on this bumpy road, it would be a person in your life to help you learn to listen; someone who will throw the importance of diagnosis out the window and rather fill a prescription for deep healing of an overall life.

Through many wrong turns I found mine. Today she reminded me that healing is an inside job and facing the truth about my life, and my limits, is an important step to healing.

Perhaps those of us facing fertility challenges have been called to a higher purpose. We have been faced with gut wrenching adversity so we can learn to rise above it, so we can learn to see our imbalances in order to achieve a greater state of balance than we even conceived possible.

And maybe, just maybe, we are walking through the fire–facing our own deep, dark places–because the children we will love, cherish, and raise once on the other side are meant to change the world.

Keep walking, keep learning, keep striving, and keep healing. Only then will we have learned all this experience has come to teach.

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