9 Ways I Have Found Gratitude Through Infertility
By Katie Jacobs
While I spent the first year and a half of our TTC journey feeling bitter, emotional, and confused, I turned a corner during our IVF cycle. I no longer felt mad and angry at the process, but instead, I felt grateful. I attribute therapy to getting me in a better headspace overall, but a specific 1-1 coaching session with a dear friend of mine, Morgan Northway, took me over the finish line.
I was telling Morgan about the latest with our journey (and how I was in the middle of the IVF process), and she asked me a simple yet profound question, “How is this happening for you?” I didn’t know how to answer. I was so used to thinking, “why is this happening to me,” that I never stopped to think about why this could be happening FOR me. She had me journal down my thoughts, and after writing them on paper, and talking through them with her, I couldn’t believe how much I had accomplished.
Without this heartbreaking and difficult process, I wouldn’t have reconnected with so many friends or joined a support group. I wouldn’t have discovered acupuncture, meditation, or gone on a wellness weekend trip with my husband. I wouldn’t have started therapy, or connected with my husband in the way that we have so early on in our marriage.
While I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone, I am trying to think of the positive things that have come from this process, so when I look back on these years later in life, I don't resent them, but instead, I’m grateful for the personal growth that occurred and the unexpected gifts infertility gave me:
Spending more time with my husband and forming a deeper connection and understanding of each other
Very early on in our journey one afternoon, my husband gave me a huge bear hug and said, “If this is the hard thing that we have to deal with in our first few years of marriage, then we are lucky.” And while his positive attitude sometimes drove me crazy, he was right. We are SO lucky to have the lives that we do, and if this was the thing that was going to be challenging for us, then we would get through it, together.
Reconnecting with old friends
Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool and community, and I was so fortunate to reconnect with many friends (from middle school, high school, and college), who happened to be going through their own fertility journeys at the same time as I was. I found it really helpful to have friends who were feeling similarly. We would check in on each other throughout the week, and send support, tips, and even little pick-me-up gifts. It always brightened my day to hear from them.
Going on my first wellness trip
At the beginning of 2020 (before Covid-19 forced the country to close!) My husband and I decided to book a trip to Miraval in Austin, Texas. Because of our infertility journey, I had become really interested in eating healthy, fitness, and my overall spiritual well-being, which is what Miraval is all about. The day we left for our trip, I found out that my 2nd IUI cycle had failed, to the trip couldn’t have come at a better time.
One class in particular that we took during our 3-day stay was Understanding Barriers to Connection, where we identified our communication challenges and strengths by moving a horse around the pen without touching or speaking to it. After a few minutes, I was feeling frustrated because the horse wouldn’t move when I was trying to move it. Finally, the teacher had me pick up a whip and move it around on the ground so the horse would hear the sound and he eventually started walking.
The instructor asked me how I felt about using the whip and I said, “I don’t want to have to use assistance to make this successful. I want to be able to do it on my own,” and I immediately started crying. How I felt about having to ask for help was exactly how I felt about having to use assistance within my fertility process. I didn’t want help; I wanted it to happen naturally. The woman who led this course for Jonathan and me was a very well-trained therapist. She reminded me that it’s OK to get help. It doesn’t make the journey any less special or rewarding. Cue the tears!
Giving myself permission to feel all of my feelings and be vulnerable
This is a tough one. I’ve cried harder than I thought possible and felt feelings that I never even knew existed. I remind myself often to ride the wave. Instead of pushing my feelings and emotions away, let them come. Feel them (cry if you want to cry!), and let your feelings pass just as quickly as they came -- like a wave.
I also never expected to share this experience or process with anyone. I thought it might take a few months, 6 months, maybe even a year, and then I’d be pregnant and on my way. But that hasn’t been the case, and it’s been a huge relief for me to be open and vulnerable with others. The support I’ve received from friends near and far has been hugely helpful in my journey. It’s a taboo topic that most people don’t talk about but for some reason, I feel my heart wanting to talk about it. LOUDLY. So I’m embracing that, and I hope it means that when I get to the other side, I can be an even better support system for others going through it.
Finally saying yes to therapy
While I initially went to therapy to help with the fertility process, it gave me so much more than that. I’ve been able to peel back layers and layers within me and work through things that I’ve been holding onto for years. I always resisted the idea of therapy - it’s not something I grew up with, and I really thought it was only for those who had lost a loved one. I was so wrong, and I’m so thankful that my TTC journey led me to a therapist who is incredibly warm, trustworthy, and knows just how to help me work through all of my emotions. It provided a safe space where each week I could vent with a purpose. No judgment, just acceptance, and solutions to work through my problems.
I had never tried acupuncture before my TTC journey, and truthfully, the thought of hundreds of tiny needles in my body always totally freaked me out. That said, I started working with the acupuncturists at The Yinova Center early on in my journey, and I’m so happy that I did. I always looked forward to my sessions because I left feeling so relaxed and well taken care of. They are truly specialists when it comes to fertility issues, and my acupuncturist almost acted as a coach or fertility therapist -- working with me on my supplements, herbs, meditation, food, etc. It was so impressive!
I used to journal a lot as a teenager, but it sort of fizzled out as I got older. I decided to pick it back up again during our journey, and it was hugely helpful for me to write down my feelings in a safe space. Sometimes I just write whatever is on my mind, while other nights, I use journal prompts to help get my thoughts flowing. It’s a very therapeutic way to get out your thoughts, worries, and anxieties. It was also really incredible to look back on old journal entries and see how far I had come.
Starting a blog & Finding new hobbies
At some point during our journey, I realized I couldn’t think about anything but infertility. It was on my mind 24/7, and it was starting to be pretty unhealthy for my mental wellness. That’s when I decided to start a blog. I had always thought about starting some sort of blog to share my travel itineraries, but I never felt like I had the time, and the perfectionist in me wanted it to be PERFECT before I launched. As the fertility journey started to take over, I realized that starting a project I had been thinking about for years was the perfect way to keep my mind occupied. It’s turned out to be a really fun space for me to create content, take photographs, and enjoy a process of learning something new.
Joining a support group
The power of connecting with other women who are going through a similar journey is indescribable. I joined a 12 week course through my acupuncture facility, The Yinova Center, and it was incredible. While the 12 week course was extremely informational and wonderful, the best part has been continuing our group zooms just us girls. We still meet weekly and give updates on our current journeys, share information, and ultimately provide the knowledge that we’ve learned on our own paths with each other. It’s sparked a really special and unique bond between us that I’m forever grateful for. We joke (and dream!) about the day when we can all meet in Central Park with our future babies.
Katie Jacobs is a 31-year-old living and working in NYC. She and her husband have been married for 2 and a half years, and together for 7. They immediately started trying to get pregnant after their wedding, which led them down an infertility journey with multiple IUIs and ultimately IVF. Katie is currently pregnant with her IVF baby and wants to continue to be a part of the community that got her through the darkest time in her life. For fun, Katie loves to travel, explore Upstate NY, write for her blog KatieLeeJacobs, go on long walks in Central Park, and take photographs, which usually end up on her Instagram account, @KatieLeeJacobs.