So many times, I am asked by clients, "How will I get through and survive (insert tragedy/setback/loss here)? My answer to them, although perhaps not comforting, is always the same--that you will get through and survive the bad things that happen to you because. well, you really don't have any other choice.
Although that sounds a bit grim, I am constantly amazed by what human beings are capable of doing when they don't have the choice to do otherwise. It seems that if we have the option to escape something painful or difficult, we are usually sorely tempted to take it, even if it may not be the best thing for us in the long run. But it is when we don't have any choice in the matter, that is where the real bravery, strength and creativity become apparent. This is how I define resilience--the ability to keep functioning despite losses and challenges. I feel hopeful that our resilience as a species will be the thing that ultimately keeps the human race from destroying itself. For example, when we actually have no other option, we might finally be motivated to do something about global warming or whatever else threatens our survival.
In my work with clients struggling with infertility, I've seen that despite feeling otherwise, most people are more resilient than they may believe. When confronted with setbacks, disappointments, or losses, most people initially feel that they can’t function successfully. But as the situation evolves, they see that they are able to confront issues they never thought they could, or to give up habits that that never imagined they could. Witnessing these transformations is one of the great things about my work.
It is my belief that when it comes to creating your family, resilience is even more important than physical fertility. You can treat or work around infertility --but without resilience, you often can't make anything happen. Functioning ovaries, happy sperm, and a willing uterus are all nice to have, and make the process easier. But the ability to persevere and keep trying even when the situation is difficult is the one key ingredient necessary for success. When I think about my own situation this way, it makes me feel better. I can take comfort in the fact that although I had significant physical challenges, my resilience was intact, and helped me to take the numerous steps on the long and rocky road to having my own family.
One thing that makes people doubt their own resilience is that the process of being resilient usually isn't pretty. There are a lot of tears and bad feelings involved, along with struggles, mistakes, interpersonal conflicts, and the like. Like so much in life, it's a messy, non-linear road, and you may only realize where you have ended up once you are already there.
If during the course of your infertility journey, you come to a point where feel overwhelmed and like you can't go on, than then you should take comfort in the fact that these feelings are extremely common in this situation. It may sound like an odd thing to say, but if you still have treatment options, then even though the options may be difficult, you are still in a privileged situation. Even more difficult than going forward is the realization that you've come to the end of the road and that you have no more options with which to struggle. So if there is still a battle to fight, take heart. And remember that you are probably more resilient than you believe--and that your resilience will help you do what is necessary to create your own family.