Living well with fertility treatments - People's stories
#4. I am the problem
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Introduction - People's stories
All People's stories are written in the 1st person to reinforce their impact.
While anonymity is preserved, all stories are inspired by real facts.
People's stories are examples, to feed you with concrete cases of how the Puzzle has been used. They are not to tell you what to think, or absolute truth: they were created with the intent to illustrate how you can transform your life with the Puzzle.
Each People’s story is presented in the following way:
Part 1. The authentic life experience
Part 2. What that same moment could have been, leveraging the Puzzle
Part 3. Decoding the story through the lens of the Puzzle framework
Part 1 - I am the problem!
When we started wanting to have a child, I was so sure it would happen right then! Not that I had really thought about it! For me it was like we made the decision to have a family, so we are just going to have a family! Nothing to debate about!
But then we tried for 1 year, and nothing happened.
On the insistence of my partner, we met with my gynecologist and she agreed to run some tests.
At that point, I was starting to be suspicious as I thought my partner had a problem. He already had a few health issues, and was really afraid of being sick. I, on the contrary, was never ill and had no fear of being sick either! So I felt I had the right physical condition and mindset! If one of us had to have something, clearly it had to be him!!
When the gynecologist came back, the diagnosis was clear: I was the problem.
I was the one with not enough hormones to have a baby.
I was the problem.
I was the problem.
This little sentence kept going on and on in my head. I could not believe it!!
Plus I was the one who did not want to have a baby too early, and now this decision was backfiring! What had I done!!?!
Maybe if this had been caught earlier, it could have been fixed more easily. Plus maybe earlier, I did not even have this issue?!
All this guilt was going in circles in my head and I could not find a way to break this loop of horrible thoughts. I was devastated, and was adding to myself thinking this way!
What had I done wrong to have to live this?? Was it because I did not want children early: was this some sort of pay back?!! I must have done something really bad to deserve this!!
I was also so sad not to have all what it takes to have babies. Somewhere it felt like I was not complete. I felt like I was not enough. Certainly I was a woman, but I still did not have all what it takes to have children. I felt smaller. I felt something was missing. I was not a woman in all its dimensions if I could not have a baby. What was I then?! What’s the name for people like me??
Also, I could not help anticipate: I was taking treatments, but what if it doesn’t work?? Would my partner stay? For now he was very supportive, but could come a point where he could be tempted to have a family with someone who can!!
Not to mention I never envisaged myself without a child: what would my life be if that would not work?? I could see myself being miserable without children!! I wanted a family so much!! How come I could not have one, when so many women would end up pregnant in a blink??!
No one in my family had antecedents….
What had I done wrong??
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Part 2 - I have a fertility challenge, and I am so much more than that!
When we started wanting to have a child, I was so sure it would happen right then! I never really thought about it! For me, it was like: we made the decision to have a family, we’re just going to have a family!
But then, we tried for 1 year and nothing happened. On the insistence of my partner, we met with my gynecologist and she agreed to run some tests. Meanwhile, I started convincing myself that my partner had an issue.
And as these thoughts were coming to mind, I realized I was desperately trying to protect myself! I was very stressed with the idea that I, potentially, could have a physical issue and not be able to have a baby. Ever.
Someone else had to have a condition, because it would be too much to take if it was me!! I was putting an enormous pressure on myself to create the perfect family. Plus it felt like I would not be complete without a child. I would not be enough!
To stop these thoughts, I took a deep breath, inhaled and exhaled deeply and slowly. As the oxygen came in and out, I felt a little more come.
I asked myself what I needed right now, and the answer came right away: a big and long hug!! And reassuring myself that I still loved me. That no matter the results, I would still love myself. While all my heart shouted yes, the voice in my head was rather in the “maybe” space!! I was being very hard on myself, I thought!
I sat down and had a little dialogue with my Ego: I explained that the best way to protect me was to give myself love, resilience and courage. Beating me up would only result in making the whole situation worse. I needed my Ego on my side - and it did step up for me.
I decided at that moment that, no matter what, I would take good care of myself. And went even further: no matter what, I deserved to take good care of myself!
When the gynecologist came back, the diagnosis was quite clear: I was the problem. I was the one with not enough hormones to have a baby. I was the problem. I was the problem…. This little sentence kept going on and on in my head. I could not believe it!
Plus I was the one who did not want to have a baby too early, and now this decision was backfiring!! What had I done!!?! Maybe if this had been caught earlier, it could have been fixed more easily. Plus maybe… Too many maybes I thought! I was over-stressing and polluting myself. Yes, my life could have been different, but it just was what it was. I had no power to change the past, and feeling guilty was not helpful either!
The one power I have is to enjoy everyday and put all my heart into changing the future. That I could influence. Certainly I had no clue whether treatments would work or not - but I could choose how to live until I would know for sure. There were plenty of compelling reasons to live well, child or no child.
I could be happy then, and I could be happy now.
I have no clue what the future will be like, but feeling good until then sounds a lot better than making myself miserable!
I closed my eyes and listened to my heart beat, quiet and regular. With some peaks of stress too, but each time doubts would pop up, I would consciously deeply breathe. As I would become more and more come, I would dive into a peaceful feeling. I agreed with myself I would bring it up as many times as needed - as it felt good. I also decided I would set my Compass on this peaceful feeling, rather than on fear. Not because I knew I would end up having a baby - I was full of doubts and hopes! But because this felt just right for me.
Still, at times I could not prevent feeling so sad at the idea of not having a baby. The idea of never having a child would even throw me in a panic, and breathing or bringing back my inner peace feeling were not enough to stop these awful thoughts!
It was overwhelmed, and I could not take it any longer. I had to address my Cold Case. I realized that I strongly believed someone had to be good enough to have a child - and so apparently I was not good enough! Labeling the opposite of my Cold Case in a grammatically positive sentence, I came up with “I allow myself to be imperfect to have a child”! And already, calling out what the solution could be felt liberating! These words also comforted me.
And then I started digging: how does it feel to be imperfect, and not have a child? Like a failure.
And how does it feel to be a failure? No one wants to be a failure. No one loves failures.
And is this true that when you are imperfect, you are a failure and no one loves you? Is this really true? No.
Or is this true that only perfect people deserve to be loved? No.
How does it feel to think this way? It helps!
Do you think you could not have a child and still be loved? Yes.
Would being imperfect be good enough? Yes.
At that point of this conversation with myself, I was very moved, and felt full of courage and resilience to keep up with treatments.
Though I still had another big doubt that was torturing me. What would happen if, in the end, I would not have a child?!
I remembered that my brain could not handle ‘trying’. That ‘trying’ equals not making it happen in real life. I had to commit.
Which felt really scary because how do you recover from committing for something, and then it doesn’t happen because it is not under your full control to make it happen?! There was no guarantee I would ever have a child. Even statistics were against me: facts were pointing in the opposite direction with low success rates!
How could I be all in, when the risk of failure was that high?! This would be exposing myself so much I would never overcome not succeeding!
I took a deep breath and asked my heart (telling the Ego in my head that I would also listen to it, but right after - and that it had to be in with me for the time being, listening together to my heart first).
My heart shouted that it was worth being all in.
And my Ego then whispered that it would be by my side to help me recover, as needed. That there was nothing we could not overcome together. That I had to trust myself I could both explore having a child and overcoming not having one. That we would find a solution either way, so it was worth trying. That we would be here caring for myself, and living well no matter what.
I was so touched I was crying. I did not know this would be possible, that I could help myself so much.
The idea of being miserable without a child came back from time to time - but what had changed was that, together with my Ego, I felt strong enough to handle it.
It also came back less and less over time. And when it did, it left faster!
I finally decided to live my life well - no matter what.
Part 3 - The Puzzle decoder
Let's decode this People's story with the lens of the Puzzle pieces.
It is difficult to accept struggling with having a child. This is such a big part of life, and I want it so much that it is very difficult to digest. It is also very difficult not to judge - myself, faith, life…: all of it feels so unfair!!
Being present helps getting out of the guilt, the regrets, or the fear for the future. There is what is: it is not about being right or wrong, it just is. I can even give it a color, but it is neither black nor white!
Living in the moment does help accepting what happens, as it is all about being able to act. And it is a comforting thought that I can do something!
I can’t change what is, but I can change my perspective on the situation. This challenge is changing me. It is making me grow. It is developing my resilience. It is making me connect with people I would not have known otherwise.
Both positive and negative aspects are part of this journey: it is up to me to choose where to focus. That is my choice and my prerogative.
My body is very solicited during fertility treatments. Exams, shots, inseminations, etc. : it takes physically a lot to be on this journey. Keep in mind to be kind to myself. Keep a relationship to my body, to remember that physical sensations are a lot more than medical procedures, or dictated by the clock.
Massages, body creams, sports, lying down comfortably and resting, etc. I shall give myself what suits me. Stay connected with my body, and listen to what it needs.
Relaxing my body will also lower the physical stress that any medical journey carries. Feeling good physically also helps counterbalance my doubts, as my Filter will also be fed by nice sensations, that can introduce an alternative to the Pollution developed by my Ego.
The pressure I put on myself does generate a lot of Pollution. It is not easy to resist my Ego, when having a baby is so dear to my heart.
I have so many doubts, so many scenarios where it could go wrong! Yet none of them help me feel better. And none of them are real: all of them are in my head at this point of my life.
And yes, it is a possibility that I may not become a Mum - but I will deal with it if and when it comes.
Now is not the time.
Now is about focusing on having a child.
Now is not the time to Protect myself, as there is nothing here and now to protect myself from.
And to trust that no matter what, I will find the resources to cope. I would not live this if I could not handle it.
Living well does not solely depend on having a baby. In fact, living well does not depend on anything or anyone but myself. No one else has this power over my life.
So I might as well give it a try and shoot in the dark: what is the risk?! What is worse: live well and find out at some point that I will not be a Mum? Or be miserable and find out that I will not be a Mum?! Let’s face it: if treatments don’t work, it will be a big challenge to overcome. And being miserable in anticipation won’t make me less sad if that day comes. Not to mention that I don’t even know whether this will even happen: I could too become a Mum!
Look around me and be conscious of what I see. I probably notice families more these days: how do they look?! Happy people?! Or struggling, tired, irritated?!
Do I also notice single people? And how do they look?! Are they stressed and agitated, or enjoying listening to some good music over their headsets? Reading a good book while waiting for the bus? Having fun talking to someone on the phone?
This is a good indication of how I see the world these days, and whether my Compass needs to be worked on.
Imagine also what being happy will look like for me. And I don’t just mean kids, but rather what makes me happy in life?!
What do I like and that I already have in my life? How could I get more of it? Imagine this life, full of what feeds me. Savor being there. People are happy and unhappy with kids, and without kids. Being a Mum is not the key to fulfill myself. Being happy is a gift I give to myself. Allow myself to dream that this is possible. Even look for examples around me, of people that are happy with their lives. Evidence to myself it is possible! And no matter the circumstances or what the future will be, I choose to live well. I deserve it.