I started writing about my attempts to get pregnant a little over two years ago, in May 2010. I had been asked to launch a parenting blog for YourTango, and the timing seemed fortuitous. By September 2011, however, I was writing about infertility, and my husband and I had made our first appointment at a fertility clinic about a half hour away.
After a long series of tests, we finally started a medication cycle early last month. Michael injected me every evening with a medication designed to boost follicular growth. Almost every other morning, I woke up early to drive to the fertility center, where I received bloodwork and an ultrasound. After being artificially inseminated, I started taking progesterone pills twice a day, which made me break out to an extent reminiscent of my junior high years (sigh).
This past Sunday, I woke up early once again to get my last bit of bloodwork. This one would be a pregnancy test.
Several hours later, we received a call from the center.
It hadn’t worked.
In our lives and in our careers, there will inevitably be setbacks. The trick is in remembering how good you have it… how lucky you are… how much you’ve accomplished. And then pushing on.
Now I’m not about to tell you that the failure of the IUI treatments didn’t upset me. When I hung up the phone, I pulled the comforter over my head and started sobbing. But when I finally regained control of myself, I said to my husband, “Okay. The nurse said it might take a few tries. We can try this again two or three more times. And then we can try IVF. And then we can consider adoption. It’ll happen for us eventually.”
I tried to be rational, and to let go of the deep disappointment I was feeling. I knew my husband was hurting, too, and I wanted to be strong for him. I also didn’t want to lose sight of the fact that — despite this setback — I was still a very lucky person. We were a very lucky couple. As I do now whenever I feel anger or disappointment or frustration, I made myself say: X just happened, but I still feel very grateful for Y.
I do the same thing when it comes to setbacks in my career.
In late November, I began querying literary agents. By January, I’d signed with one, and we started working together to make my book proposal the best little book proposal it could possibly be. Then, the other month, my agent started passing it around to publishers. At first, there was a lot of interest. Even my first-choice publisher seemed excited about my idea. But little by little, the rejections started rolling in.
Then, the other week, my agent emailed to tell me my top choice publisher had decided to pass on my book. They loved me. They loved my voice. They were eager to work with me in the future.
But this just wasn’t The One.
Upon reading this (and even though my agent was continuing to send my proposal around to smaller publishers) I panicked. Even though I was passionate about my book and its message, I started to worry that I didn’t have a story to tell… or at least not one others were interested in reading.
Then my writing partner laid the smack down and yelled some sense into me for, like, two hours.
So I forced myself to do my little exercise.
This Horribly Disappointing Thing just happened, but I still feel grateful because:
- I have an agent who believes in me.
- I have a writing partner who believes in me.
- I have a writing voice that has led multiple publishers to send me the most flattering rejection letters ever. This means I’m far from finished.
- I have a message that I know others want to hear.
Then I got back to work, goddammit.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that victims are made not by their circumstances, but by their reactions to their circumstances. In short, if you can see the silver lining in a shitty storm cloud, you will bounce back.
So… how will you choose to react to your next setback?