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Defining Hope

The path of infertility is so often filled with disappointments and sadness, that it is easy to misplace the hope you had when starting on this path.  And the more treatments that don’t result in a positive outcome, the harder it is to remain positive and optimistic about future success.   Trust me, I get it.  I’ve been there and wondered where I would get the motivation to try again.  

I recently read an interesting article about hope*.  The author, Judy Jones, said:

We define hope as goal-oriented thinking—in that sense it’s different from optimism, which is a sort of general expectation that good things will happen. In our definition, hope is more active than passive wishing.

I think that is an interesting way to frame it.  I know so many who go through their fertility battle guarding their hearts against “what could happen” or focus on waiting for the other shoe to drop and end up missing out on some of the joys along the way. Let’s face it, for many of us, the joys are all to few and far between to miss out on them.  Some women have talked about missing out on experienceing the joyful parts of their pregnancy because of the fear that something would go wrong and the loss of hope that they could really have a positive ending and bring home the baby that is their heart’s desire. 

I like this concept of re-framing hope into an action of goal-oriented thinking rather than just “being optimistic”.  The author of the article laid out a strategy that includes coming up with different pathways to your goal.  In their studies, the participants in hope therapy worked on various skills to help them develop pathways and increase their motivation and energy to get there.  The result was that the people in the therapy group had lower stress, better moods, and higher self esteem.

The road to parenthood often has a variety of potential pathways: IUI, IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogacy, adoption. I think sometimes it is important to focus on deciding what is the true goal – then let go of our vision of  perfection so we can explore the various options or pathways for reaching that goal.  It may include things that are out of our comfort zone – pursuing medical intervention, IVF treatments abroad, surrogacy, donor egg or sperm; and those choices force us to decide what it is that we are willing to do to reach our goal.  For most people, that list may change as time goes on – it is all part of the process of grieving the losses (fertility, genetics, miscarriages) and looking for hope for the future. 

Now, I’m not going to pretend that having hope or being positive is going to solve fertility challenges or get you to your goal of parenthood; but in my mind, if you’re on the road anyway, maybe the quality of life along the journey will be better if you’re feeling hopeful.  

And while the reality is that many of us will have our hopes dashed along the way – sometimes many times- at least during the journey we had moments of hope that helped make it easier, and hopefully in the end we reach our goal.

*Note: the full article can be found online at:

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