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Unloading the Weight of Failing to Conceive

Photograph by Twenty20

I didn't realize how much hurt and stress I was holding onto until I participated in a group sand-writing activity at a Birth Without Fear meetup in Milwaukee. We've been trying to conceive Baby No. 3 for 10 months now, causing my optimism to waver despite my attempts to get past pregnancy disappointment and my renewed desire to continue trying to get pregnant.

Trying for our first child for nearly three years turned me into an emotional wreck every time someone asked when we were going to have kids. I tried to stay conscientious of how I'm feeling this time, not wanting disappointment to consume me. I hate feeling out of control of what I want my body to do. I don't like feeling jealous, hurt, or whatever emotional reaction rises up when I feel like my body is failing me.

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When I first bought my ticket to the Birth Without Fear event, I was ecstatic at the idea of hearing the founder, January, speak after following her online for years. Plus, I'd be surrounded by like-minded women, adorable bumps and sweet babies. Besides listening to topics I'm passionate about, there was bound to be plenty of baby mojo, right?

After lunch, I found out just how heavily my emotions about getting pregnant were weighing on my heart. The first few months of trying to conceive were filled with joy and excitement. Happy feelings ebbed and flowed, eroding with each unsuccessful cycle. And soon after, negative thoughts, guilt and doubts began to creep in, threatening to pull me under.

Words and tears began to flow as my hand began dragging the stick through the fine blue sand.

As each woman took her turn drawing in the sand and talking about something weighing on them emotionally, I listened. I related. My eyes began welling up with tears as I shared their pain briefly before offering encouragement. At last, the box of sand was slid in front of me. I wasn't entirely sure what I would share until I stared at it, examining the grains of sand. I felt a little silly holding onto the stick. What would I write? What would I draw?

Words and tears began to flow as my hand began dragging the stick through the fine blue sand. It was almost like my emotions traveled from my heart and down my arm, telling my hand what to write. Seeing the lines in the sand allowed me to speak, saying what I felt—out loud—to a group of women I had met only moments before.



Stick figures




Jagged lines

I shared the flood of emotions about trying to have another baby, my fears of secondary infertility, mom guilt galore, my wacky cycle and the frustration of not feeling heard by my medical provider. As the words left my mouth, I felt lighter. As the tears rolled down my cheeks, I felt lighter.

Then, I erased it all. I put those emotions into the sand and washed them away.

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When I was done, I felt no judgement, only sincere support the circle of women before me. They offered words of encouragement and suggestions for how to approach my doctor in order to feel heard about my fertility concerns.

It was incredibly therapeutic. My only wish is that I had done something like this sooner. I do reach out to my husband and my best friend to talk and share these difficult emotions, but there was something freeing about physically writing and drawing symbols of my pain and wiping them out in front of me. I just might need to get my own little private box of sand.

What ways have you found work well to release deep, heavy emotions?

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