Infertility is one of those silent, sneaky trials that robs us of our self-esteem, our confidence, and even our ambition. And it does it bit by bit, so we hardly know that it’s happening. One day, after years of hoping for pregnancy only to have those hopes dashed month after month, we hardly recognize our apathetic, demotivated selves. Sadly, we not only begin to lose hope in carrying a baby, we also started to question our intelligence, our creativity, and our ability to succeed in anything. Infertility is a sly killer of hopes, dreams, and confidence.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m qualified to say this because I’m one of those women who once spent more money on pregnancy tests than on groceries. So believe me when I say, it would be better to learn this lesson from someone else rather than swimming through the muck and slime of shame, self-pity, heartbreak, disgust, and anger. Life doesn’t stand still for the rest of the world when we don’t become pregnant, or don’t carry a baby to full term, so why let it stand still for us? Why add a loss of confidence, success, and ambition to the already heavy sadness of infertility? Go ahead and feel the sadness, experience the grief, and mourn the loss. But don’t let it define you. Move forward with purpose and with a plan.

Determine today to find a gem. What was joyful today? Funny? Enlightening? Exciting? Grab onto that gem and cherish it for a day, knowing that tomorrow will carry new gems to discover and hold.

Find your future. Will you adopt? Foster? Embrace a meaningful career? If the worst is true for you—that is, you will always be infertile—where can you put your energy? This isn’t tossing hope into the garbage can, it’s finding a new home for hope.

Forget yourself. There are people who need you. They don’t need just anybody, they need you:  your humor, your smarts, your tenderness, your smile, your hug. It’s actually impossible to feel bad for yourself when you’re focused on another person. So give yourself time to grieve, then forget yourself and help someone else who is grieving or in need in any way.

Just keep swimming. Dori had it right when she was helping Nemo’s dad search for his lost son: Just keep that momentum up. Conquer the discouragement and allow yourself to be strengthened by this monster, infertility. You’re stronger than it is. You really are. So just keep swimming.

Infertility is an ugly, hurtful, stealthy misfortune. But it’s compartmentalized. Keep it at bay, don’t let it grow and overtake you. You are a strong, vibrant, intelligent, creative woman filled with passion for life. Keep that ambition and be your best you!