It’s hard to understand if you haven’t experienced it yourself, but infertility can whittle away at self-confidence, one month at a time. It wasn’t until my husband lost his job, decades after our struggle with infertility, that I found a way to explain to my husband what infertility really did to me.

I fully realize there are many who won’t agree with me, but I believe that genetically, men are made to provide and women to nurture. It was when my husband was searching – not just for a job, but for another career opportunity that would provide for us – that his self-confidence started to shrink. Each day that passed without significant job offers, he felt worse. Yes, he was working, but wasn’t able to fully support our family. I learned at that time, at least for us, when we are unable to fulfill our basic, instinctual function, we begin to feel “less-than.” It becomes important to restructure our thinking and to realize that our worth doesn’t exist only in those basic abilities to provide and nurture – at least, in the traditional way. And that takes practice.

As we take time to discover our plan for building a family, we should also take time to remind ourselves of our worth. If nurturing is what we really ache for, exploring options to nurture may fill the holes created by infertility. For some, those holes can better be filled by searching for worth in other ways. So if you’re among the thousands who are losing the ability to see your own worth, consider the following exercises:

  • Keep a daily list of accomplishments. This can include everything from making your bed to signing a big corporate contract. Do this for a month and each night as you end your day and look at the list, you’ll see great worth in every single accomplishment.
  • Make a one year and five year plan. Include possibilities for growing a family, growing your career, excelling in hobbies. Planning for things you might be able to control can help as you focus your efforts on projects and activities. As you successfully move forward, your esteem will be renewed and you will have better perspective as you navigate through infertility.
  • It’s trite, but really works: Be grateful. Count your blessings. Keep a journal of things going right in your life. It’s really hard to be grateful and feel badly at the same time. In fact, it can’t happen. So recognize the blessings in your life, and truly feel gratitude.