“By this time next year, you will have your own sitting on your lap” my Ghanaian aunty prophesied in the type of voice that is warm but also spiced with concern. I smiled back trying to make it as believable as possible and then looked down. “Oh lawd! If only it was that easy” I thought to myself.
Rewind two months earlier to when we just started our second round of fertility treatments that, by all doctor’s accounts, should have been successful. My pintrest board was full of baby announcement ideas. I dreamed of gifting our parents’ t-shirts that said “Congratulations grandparents”. They’d open up the boxes left under the tree while my husband filmed with his phone to captured their reactions. It would be absolutely perfect, and full of sugar plums and rainbows and peppermint dust Christmas magic. You know, all the things the holidays are supposed to be.
Except it wasn’t.
The day we went to see my aunt was the first day I’d left my house in a week. I’d spent the first five days home locked in my room lying in bed, barely able to move because of the weight of the grief on my soul. Not to mention that my body was very physically rejecting the new life that was, just a few weeks earlier, so full of hope and promise. Everything you go through in the pursuit of starting a family takes everything else out of you. It’s a lonely journey. One that no one talks about because of the stigma of shame attached to it, especially for women of colour. As a young Ghanaian woman who can’t have kids you better believe there’s a witch involved and a mandate to replace all my cocoa butter with anointing oil. That’s why I was overwhelmed with relief when Gabrielle Union candidly and courageously opened up about her journey.
Her recent announcement of welcoming her daughter into the world via surrogate with husband Dwayne Wade is the ultimate happy ending to a long, painful chapter. I am absolutely thrilled for her but while she celebrates, so many, including myself, still wait with no indication of when or if it will ever end. It’s easy to feel defeated but it’s important not to give in to the temptation to remain a victim of circumstance.
Here are my tips on how to survive the waiting season:
Search for silver linings and hold on for dear life
This is crucial. They say light shines brightest against when enshrouded by darkness. In the midst of your pain there is always something positive to focus on. Dig for it and hold on tight! It might be that you have family who though might not know exactly what to say, are still there for you. This might seem narcissistic but so often when I felt like I had it bad it wouldn’t take long after scrolling through headlines or the Humans of New York page and realizing life really could be worse. Or maybe it’s simply the fact that you woke up this morning and have breath in your lungs. There’s always something to be thankful for so find it and meditate on that.
Surround yourself with good people
Don’t isolate yourself. As tempting as it may be, in isolation is where the voices in your head amplify, anxiety builds up and everything bad that happened regardless of whether or not it was in your control, replays on heavy rotation. You need to surround yourself with love and positivity in order to start gaining any semblance of normalcy. At first, it’ll feel uncomfortable and maybe even upsetting. That’s okay. Sometimes you need to force it until you feel it. Start with 10 minutes a day and keep building until it feels right again. Future you will thank you!
Be a blessing
I remember being in the line at Costco giving the evil eye to the most adorable pregnant hipster lady pushing the cart with her handsome 2-year-old son sitting in it. Needless to say, I’ve come a long way since then. I no longer give out the evil eye to pregnant women, cats or any other mammal capable of conceiving (Yes, I’ve hated on pregnant cats – I told you I was in a dark place). What I do give out is m story hoping it will be a comfort to someone else. Although you might not have received the gift you were hoping for, you can still give a gift to someone else in the form of an encouraging word or action. Part of my healing was opening up with other women about what I had been through and showing them that there is always a way forward even when life looks bleak. So, find ways to share whatever it is that you do have in spite of what you don’t because your scars can be someone else’s healing.
Remember, it’s up to you to participate in your life’s narrative. You can either let your circumstances and other people’s opinions write your story for you, or you can take back the pen and the power, and write your own damn story: The choice is yours.