New Years Eve has always been a day where I think back on the year I just lived – usually with a lot of happy memories. Today feels a little different. This past year has been a doozy for me. The physical and emotional pain I felt as I experienced infertility made this honestly the hardest year of my life thus far.
They said what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger, and this year is the perfect example of that for me. Although I was brought to my knees several times, I also was stretched and grew by leaps and bounds in many areas of my life. In my experience, tough times have a way of helping you learn about yourself and life in a way happy times just cannot.
With that in mind, here are five things 2015 taught me:
1. It’s better to struggle together, than alone. I’d be lying if I said it was easy to share here on my blog that we had fertility issues. It was a huge ego blow for both Luke and me to admit this to ourselves and to my readers. We consider ourselves very healthy, so to have our fertility fail us was devastating.
BUT, by sharing so openly, we were surprised and comforted by the number of you who reached out to say “me too.” Hearing fertility stories from so many women and men I know made us feel less alone. It also made me realize that this wasn’t something I needed to feel shame or embarrassment about. So, thank you!
2. It’s possible to be happy for others, while sad for yourself. When you’re dealing with infertility, each new pregnancy announcement can feel like a stab in the heart. One skill I perfected this year was the ability to compartmentalize my hurt from the joy I felt for my friends and family for their good news. It wasn’t an act or show either. I really learned how to feel both emotions at the same time in an honest way. I guess you can say I learned to see outside myself more.
3. The best way to get support, is to ask for it. It’s difficult for me to let people help me or pick up my slack when I’m down, but this year taught me that it’s okay to ask for the support I needed. Whether that be emotional support, childcare or even just a hug. Our friends and family showed up in big and little ways once I got over myself and started asking for help in specific, tangible ways. They were there all along, but needed guidance on how best to support us.
4. I am stronger than I realized. I used to think I wasn’t strong enough to deal with life’s struggles that I had seen other people go through. I thought it would break me and used to joke I would be put “in an insane asylum” if it happened to me. Then something hard DID happen to me, and I surprised myself by dealing with it in a healthy way. Sure there were times I felt broken inside, but I always picked myself back up and moved ahead. I now know I can handle much more than I thought, which makes life’s unpredictable nature less scary.
5. Hope is a powerful thing. Through all the negative pregnancy tests, doctor’s appointments, unanswered questions and physical tolls put on my body, one thing kept me going – hope. It would have been easier to stop trying and live life as a family of three, but the burning optimism in my heart kept me going through it all.
I learned many more things this year, but these five stand out. I also am holding on to the many, many wonderful moments 2015 brought me with Luke, Lila, our families and friends.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for lifting us up this year in your words, prayers and actions. Part of me wants to say good riddance to 2015, but the other part knows this year’s struggles are part of what makes life beautiful, and hard, and a journey worth living.