Silver lining: “A positive outcome or aspect of a bad situation, an unseen benefit of hopefulness.”
The bulk of my infertility journey started almost six months ago at a, “Let’s just get a routine fertility check-up” appointment at RMA of New Jersey. After trying for quite some time, the dreaded age of 35 kept creeping closer and closer. Tubes of blood work, an HSG exam, several ultrasounds, and a Sema 4 genetic screening test later, my whole world was turned upside down.
“Severe Diminished Ovarian Reserve,” “Menopausal Levels,” “Carriers of Cystic Fibrosis” were just some of the words the doctor used to describe my results. Who, me? 34 years young, green juice drinking, cauliflower pizza-eating, Orange Theory going, never had a health problem in her life, me? It’s impossible to explain the initial shock I felt upon receiving this news. I felt defeated, betrayed, and worthless. I questioned daily what was more helpful in this situation, “Ignorance is Bliss,” or “Knowledge is Power.” Now I had no choice but to go the “Knowledge Is Power” route.
Through it all, on my very worst days and through the blood (needles), sweat (hormones), and tears (emotions), I made a vow to myself to search for silver linings along the way. I promised to be an inspiration to others on a similar journey, so I made a “silver linings” list. It started in the notes section of my iPhone, but now the list continues to grow weekly.
Below are some of the silver linings I hope to share with you regardless of your unique circumstances, faith, and background. If something here brings you some peace at the end of an overwhelming day, I have accomplished my goal:
- Morgan Harper Nichols, Cleo Wade (ALL of the positive affirmations you could ever need)
- Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed” (Yes, you really ARE a cheetah)
- Hold on, Baby (A soulful guide to navigating your journey)
- Take Heart (Devotions for when life’s just not okay)
- IVF Positivity Planner (Write your heart out)
- Empowerment Podcasts: The Egg Whisperer, Brene Brown’s ‘Unlocking Us,’ Bible in a Day, Giggly Squad (okay, this last one is just mindless, and sometimes we need that)
Therapeutic, much? I have so much to learn, but boy, one stroke of a marker on that piece of paper takes your mind elsewhere. I happen to love Becca Courtice’s style, but there are many free videos on YouTube worth checking out!
Karen, my acupuncturist, has been an angel in disguise throughout my infertility journey. No matter the estrogen/progesterone levels that week, no matter the hopelessness of my situation, she never gives up on me. She reminds me of my youth, to “keep positive,” and to “send my worries to the sky.”
If and when my BFP arrives, I know it was in part because of her. I cannot recommend acupuncture enough. Take it from a girl with insomnia, she had me falling asleep on her table in one week’s time. I know that every time I walk into her office, I’m going to be, “more than okay.” (And yes, ask for the ear seeds and the 5 seed tea).
Slowing down. Sitting, eating, and conversing at the dinner table with my supportive and hardworking husband. Learning about the trials and tribulations that my very own parents have faced. Reading a homemade book of affirmations written by my father. Reciting scriptures that strengthened my mother during the loss of her own child. Admiring and appreciating the logic and positivity of my inlaws, and the unwavering support and love from family and friends who just “get” the real, bruised, and battered me. Those people have allowed me to be my most inner self. Who are those people for you?
Your innermost beliefs, whatever they may look like, cling onto them for dear life. Ironically, the first message I heard at a church service was about Picasso’s painting “La Reve” aka “The Dream.” To make a very long story short, it was to be sold for a very large amount of money to a buyer and hedge fund manager named Steven Cohen from New York. But on the night of its “going away party,” it was ripped. The deal fell through, and the painting was sent to be restitched and restored in Italy. Shortly after, Steven bid almost double ($155 million) the initial promised amount due to its “imperfections.” The moral of the story is this: while scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, peoples’ lives may appear perfect on the outside, but we all have scars on the inside. These scars, no matter how deep, are what make our stories so beautiful. You’d better believe a replica of “La Reve” will be hanging in our living room!
My church’s Lenten Book Club also became my weekly therapy. I began learning and growing in faith every week from all walks of life in different stages and phases of their own spiritual growth. My suggestion is to find yourself a support group, one you feel comfortable with, and don’t be afraid to speak your thoughts aloud. Chances are that someone else is thinking/experiencing the very same thing. God is so good.
Friendships Built with Fellow Warriors
(YOU), yes you, reading this very article. So many of you have cared enough to invest yourself in my journey, spread positivity, send heartwarming messages, and share all that you have learned throughout your experiences. I feel less alone knowing I belong to a tribe of “warriors.” I am in awe of each and every one of you. And, the special women in my life, who have walked a similar path, have truly made their stories my “survival guide.” I can’t wait to pay it forward one day soon.
Each setback, no matter how big or small, brings each of us one step closer to our final destination. We may not see it now, but we are digging our roots in deeper each time, refusing to be moved or uprooted. Stand that ground firmly. You’ll have one heck of a story to tell one day.
Melissa Bene is an infertility warrior from New Jersey. Diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve at the age of 34, she refuses to let her diagnosis get the best of her. So far, she has completed one round of IVF, with a few more rounds to go.