From Issue 7 of Life's News Newsletter:
When it seems like everyone else is pregnant but you
by Nicole Lange Lic.Ac. MAOM
How can a person express what it feels like to be filled with sadness at the arrival of a birth announcement, anxious upon opening a baby shower invite or even angry at the sight of yet another pregnant woman? The logical mind says, “I’m happy for them,” “what a gift a baby is,” “I wish them the best,” but mixed with those logical thoughts come the gut feelings too - all the heartache, sadness, frustration and fears:
“Why not me?”
“I would have been due this month.” “This isn’t fair!”
When you want to be a parent more than anything else, it is difficult not to compare your situation with others and think these thoughts. In fact, these emotions are just as logical as the others given the reality of fertility struggles. Once more, having one set of thoughts doesn’t negate or preclude the others or make you a better (or worse) person.
Chinese medicine views emotional expression and realistic emotions as an important part of being balanced, healthy and fertile. By acknowledging and expressing your emotions you don’t use up as much energy trying to constantly control them AND your body doesn’t need to clench and be as rigid - both healthy shifts towards feeling more balanced! Emotional expression means outwardly expressing your emotions when reality warrants them. On the other hand, emotions that are excessive, prolonged or constrained (in relationship to the reality of the situation) are unhealthy.
And the reality is... It makes sense that you would feel happy for the person AND sad, frustrated, or angry you aren’t in their shoes.
Direct Communication: Sometimes it makes sense to express your emotions directly to the person to whom they relate. If you are struggling with whether or not to go visit a friend and their newborn or go to a baby shower, sometimes a handwritten note or personal call to explain your mixed emotions or need to steer clear for a while is helpful. Direct communication can help you express yourself and help the other person appreciate your point of view and know it isn’t personal.
When direct communication doesn’t feel right, it is still important to outwardly express you emotions in some other form. In fact, one study showed that the act of naming one’s emotions out loud changes the brain activity and decrease distress from a brain function perspective (for an interesting article on this study see: http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct06/talking.html
Indirect Communication: expressing your emotions in a less direct context can keep you more holistically balanced and less distressed too. Try some of these options:
Out Loud: Talk therapy, talking to your significant other, a compassionate friend, even going for a walk and talking out loud to yourself all are healthy ways to outwardly express.
Written Word: Journal, write a letter (even if you don’t intend to give it to the person, it’s to God, your unborn baby, etc.), write a poem, rant (write down something that upsets you on the top of a page and then write everything that it brings up). Even if you shred it, recycle it or otherwise destroy it, the act of getting it out is the main idea!
Creative Acts: if speaking or writing is a little too literal, try expressing your emotions in some other creative way. Scrapbook, make a collage, paint, play music or dance. The possibilities are endless.
Explore the reality and other emotions: It’s the old “glass half empty, glass half full” adage. In addition to exploring your immediate feelings on the situation it is also helpful to explore the reality of the situation. While your gut might say, “everyone around me is pregnant and this isn’t fair!” Another way of looking at it might be, “Wow, I’m surrounded by fertility and I’m going to open myself up to it.” Again, you don’t have to be 100% pollyanna (nor should you strive to be), but at least explore the other options and take a moment to see if you can find another perspective in the situation.