It wasn't easy for me to get pregnant. It didn't "just happen" like it does for so many people. We "tried" for two years, and with each month that passed I became more and more obsessed. I charted my ovulation, monitored my diet and regulated our sex schedule. The process of creating a life became more like a timed and tense business transaction, and my husband and I were both despondent about it. The fertility specialists couldn't find anything physically preventing us from conceiving, and we were looking at fertility drugs or IVF as the next option to try.
Here are the steps I took to give up my obsession with getting pregnant, and how I learned the art of letting go:
1. Ask the question, "Now what?"
In the midst of this time, which felt complicated and hard, a dear friend of mine from Italy came for a visit. She had already decided that motherhood wasn't for her, and started talking to me about all of the freedom, opportunities, and adventures I could have, unencumbered, if I didn't have children. I resisted the idea at first, but then, I started to imagine what I would do with my life if I never had kids.
I had been looking forward to being a mother ever since I was a little girl, so I hadn't ever considered the option before. But now, I shifted my mindset from despair and dejection to a new inquiry which I had never pondered: I'm not going to have children, so now what? And I actually started to get excited.
I thought about how many exciting projects I could throw myself into without worrying about my schedule. I fantasized about living in other countries, traveling lightly, and how much money we'd be able to save. My friend and I started mapping out a new business plan together. And as much as I had been attached to getting pregnant, having a baby, and being a mother, I just let it go. Thinking about the other things in my life that would move me and make me feel fulfilled was a huge help, and allowed me to move on.
2. Do something impractical.
I was decorating our new home and I had my eye on this beautiful white couch. But I was holding back from buying it because I thought, We're going to have kids someday and it's just not practical to own a white couch with children.
So the first thing I did when I gave up on getting pregnant was buy that white couch, and it was awesome. That was in May of 2005. In June, I got pregnant.
It was not timed, planned, calculated, or scheduled. In fact, when my period didn't come and the pregnancy test came out positive, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't follow my new plan. Of course, I was thrilled – and motherhood is great. But I truly would have been happy if it hadn't happened. As it turns out, it did happen, twice. The second one was even more of a surprise than the first. And that white couch did eventually turn a muted shade of brown from all the stains. But would the amazing kids that made the stains ever have come along if I hadn't bought that couch? Who knows!
3. Just loosen the grip for a second.
Years later, that same dear friend of mine from Italy was nearing her 40th birthday and wanted more than anything in the world to meet her soul mate and share her life with a partner. It was all she thought about, obsessed about and cried about. She'd get dolled up and go to bars and on blind dates. She'd spend time in interesting places where she thought she'd meet someone like-minded — but he was nowhere to be found.
One evening, in tears in my living room, my friend was deep in the depths of sorrow over her lack of a life partner. It seemed that everyone she knew was already married, and she felt like a pariah. And so I said to her, similarly as she had said to me years earlier, "What if you're never going to meet him? What if you knew now that it's just not going to happen? What would you do with your life?"
Once she got over the shock of my less-than-supportive question, she gave it some thought. "I would go to India and work in an orphanage," she said. "I would go find children that don't have anyone to love them and I would give them love. I would feed them and clean them, and be of service." As she described the homeless children she had met when she travelled in India, I could see a light in her eyes.
She started to get excited about going back and finding an orphanage she could volunteer at. She started to accept the new reality that we were imagining that she was never going to have a husband, and she started to embrace a new plan. And guess what? She met her now fiancé a few days later, when she wasn't even trying, and they are madly in love. And they are planning a trip to India together.
4. Set something you love free.
I believe that the saying "If you love someone, set them free" applies to more than just people. Sometimes we hold so tightly to the things that we want that we ironically prevent them from coming into our lives. Because along with all of that desire is a fear that we might not get it — and it's pretty hard to attract good things into our lives when we're in a state of fear.
So, how do you let go of something that you really, really want? Imagine your life without it and find a way to be okay with that. Release your grip, even for a few minutes, on the desire. You can't fake this, it has to be a true release, but I believe that what you want will come to you with lightning speed if you can truly master the art of letting go.