I was crumpled up like a ball in the corner of our bathroom floor, sobbing, holding another negative pregnancy test. To add salt to the wound, I’d just learned that another couple who we’d been friends with for years just found out they were pregnant.
Then things got saltier.
It turned out that they weren’t even trying to conceive. In fact, they’d been trying to prevent pregnancy until they decided for sure that they wanted children (yes, of course, I was ecstatic for them, but back then, I had a hard time deviating from my own struggle).
Meanwhile, I’d been guzzling kale smoothies, taking thousands of dollars worth of supplements, meeting with fertility wizards, gurus, and goddesses, and religiously practicing headstands (because some “expert” told me that would be my lottery ticket to conception).
For the women who have been in this place (or still are), you know that the desperation to carry a child knows no bounds. And while we already had an 18-month-old son at the time (who we got pregnant with roughly five minutes after we got married), the desire to have a second baby was still palpable.
A Major Deficiency.
This particular bathroom floor scene was just one of the countless times when my heart was broken and I shook my fists at God asking Him over and over again, “Why are you withholding this baby from me?”
And if you’d told me back then that I would one day have two happy and healthy children (five years apart), I would have called you a liar.
Because back then, I had a major deficiency. And, no it wasn’t in vitamins, or minerals, or hormones.
It was in Trust. In Faith. In Hope.
Embracing those truths felt too scary for me. Too vulnerable. Too messy.
Though I would have never admitted it at the time, the truth was assuming the worst—that I’d never get pregnant—seemed safer.
Perhaps my heart wouldn’t be AS broken if I got what I already thought was coming to me.
And yes, while I did eventually get pregnant again, the entire process was rooted in fear and doubt, making for an incredibly rocky road to conception, pregnancy, and even delivery. Though I don’t blame myself for those circumstances, my intuition tells me that the entire experience would have been wildly different had I viewed it through a more faithful lens anchored in trust.
Since I obviously can’t change the past, the next best thing I can do is count my blessings and change my future by applying the lessons I learned from this previous chapter to the next one that’s currently unfolding in my life: Birthing a business.
Finding Treasure in My Trouble.
I’m convinced that if you dig hard enough, you can always find treasure in your troubles. I live by that conviction.
The treasure I dug up when I was going through infertility was uncovering a new passion for my health and my life. Connecting the dots from what I ate and how I managed stress to how that affected my ability to conceive was life-changing, to say the least.
Once I found my wellness sweet spot, I couldn’t WAIT to share the combination to that lock with other moms struggling with their health.
So, I quit my 12-year marketing career, became a health coach, opened up my practice, was a raving success, and lived happily ever after.
Why Does THIS Keep Showing Up?
As I’ve become older (and hopefully wiser), I’ve begun to notice something. I suspect I’m not the only one.
Have you ever noticed that a certain area of your life that you, well, sort of suck at keeps rearing its ugly head over and over again? Perhaps it’s managing money or communicating with your partner or emotional eating.
To me, these areas of our life that continue to persist are akin to wounds that haven’t healed. They keep festering, become infected, and just hang around because we’re not giving them the medicine they need to heal.
If we’re paying attention to our life, we can all think of at least a handful of these wounds that continue to linger.
And, it turns out, if you don’t heal them in one area of your life (infertility), they will dance on over to another area of your life (conceiving a business), reminding you that they’re still there waiting for a little TLC.
My tango with entrepreneurship has proven this theory.
Early on, I approached my new business adventure like I’d done with anything I was passionate about. From hosting a dinner party to raising my children, I attacked my missions with a detailed plan, unreasonably high expectations, and relentless control. I left nothing to chance. Because – God forbid – what if I wasn’t in charge?
You probably see where I’m going with this.
After compromising my health (my hair was falling out from the stress) and inflicting entirely too many expectations on myself, I quickly (and painfully) learned that this approach was not the recipe for running a sustainable business or life.
Am I Still Deficient?
I was forced to step back and honestly examine why every time I really wanted something in life I ended up knee-deep in moose tracks, with a bald spot on my head, ready to throw in the towel from burnout and overwhelm.
Yep, I was missing those crucial vitamins T, F, and H again (Trust, Faith, Hope). I should also mention that fun was another key ingredient that had fallen out of focus.
Though difficult, I allowed myself to revisit the past when I was in the throes of infertility because I needed desperately to get to the bottom of why my insatiable need to control kept turning up like a bad penny.
I began to observe a theme.
The more I wanted something in life, the tighter my death grip on the steering wheel became. I made more plans, I had insanely high expectations of the outcome, and I didn’t need anyone else’s help, thankyouverymuch. I had this all under – ahem – control.
I also became fiercely protective of my vulnerability by flipping the “on” switch to my trusty and familiar soundtrack that went something like this.
“And if you’d told me back then that I would one day have two happy and healthy children (five years apart), a wildly successful business I would have called you a liar.”
OR, here was another oldie, but goodie.
Though I would have never admitted it at the time, the truth was assuming the worst – that I’d never get pregnant have a thriving health coaching career – seemed safer.
Old Patterns Die Hard.
As I waded around in my pool of past struggles, I started to notice something. The way I reacted to or handled a scary, stressful, or vulnerable situation was nearly identical in both areas of my life. Fear is consistent like that.
I knew that if I was going to be successful in business – and with anything else, in life, I cared deeply about – this weed needed to be pulled and fast. So, I set out to work and uncovered too many aha’s and epiphanies along the way to even count.
After uprooting some seriously thorny thistles along the way, I’ve learned three valuable business lessons that have made me a better mom and businesswoman.
1. You Have to Make a Decision to Pull the Weed.
Old patterns can die hard, but they don’t have to. You can put a self-destructive pattern to rest more peacefully without destroying your health and sanity along the way.
The key is acknowledging the weed that needs to be pulled, making an intentional decision to pull it, and reaching out for the appropriate support along the way (because it’s nearly impossible to do alone).
2. Our Weeds Are Unique.
Here’s another equally important lesson I’ve learned. Everyone’s weeds are different.
While my weed was (and sometimes still is) the need to control too much, another person’s weed may be a lack of control – perhaps their weakness is a deficiency in planning or not being intentional with their life.
We all have unique edges in our lives that need to be smoothed out.
With regards to my unique edges, I’ve discovered that there’s actually room for control and faith. Expectations and trust. Details and hope. It doesn’t have to be either/or. There are gray areas in life that can bear incredible fruit if you allow that balance to be struck.
3. You Don’t Have to Do It All.
My biggest takeaway during my pursuits to conceive a baby and a business is this:
You don’t have to control it all. God wants to meet you halfway (or more). You are not expected to have every detail figured out or every outcome impeccably predicted.
You have to have some wiggle room for pleasant surprises. You have to carve out a slot for unexpected good fortune.
Most importantly, I’ve learned, you have to leave room for Grace (the name of my sweet baby girl who was worth every tear I cried waiting to meet her).
Because there’s more than enough of that to go around, too.
Shelly Robinson is a certified Health & Performance Coach who helps busy moms look and feel good while chasing their dreams. She believes that moms CAN thrive in all areas of their life that they care deeply about one baby step at a time. When she’s not coaching, she’s snuggling her two kiddos, playing volleyball with her husband, or sipping iced matcha lattes. Join Shelly over at the Healthy Mama Hustle, a high-performance playground for moms who lean on each other a healthy dose love, laughter, and support.