A Month for Gratitude

Pumpkins on one of the last days at the farmer's market

It's November, and Thanksgiving is almost here. November is always a good month to reflect on the things we are grateful for, and frankly, I need the "gratitude practice"...

I recently underwent yet another IVF procedure - a multi-egg stimulation and retrieval - because all of my banked embryos from that previous egg retrieval last winter when I briefly ended up pregnant have now been used up. Without success. To be honest, it's been a hard several months of disappointments, for which I was NOT mentally prepared. After undergoing this more involved and invasive type of IVF procedure again (the frozen embryo transfers are easier), I maintain what I've said before here and to everyone that has asked me about it: the physical experience of IVF is seriously nothing compared to the psychological experience of IVF.

Not the most fun way to spend a day off. At least it's only a 22 gauge.

Sparing lots of details, the point is that I have been feeling a little bit lost. But I'm finding my way back through gratitude. I plan on doing a "gratitude challenge" by journaling about at least one thing that I am thankful for each day this month. This practice has been discussed extensively on the internet, in books, and on social media. Although I had never done this before, I imagined that it will provide a great reminder of what matters most.

I began my exercise of gratitude awareness this month by focusing inward, and I wanted to share with you the first two items in my gratitude journal:

I'm grateful for my mind. Sure, it may have a hole in the bottom of it that was plugged up with a bubblegum-sized piece of fat from my belly 3 years ago, but I must admit that despite its current pituitary deficiencies, my brain has served me quite well. I recently had to write a mini-bio about myself for a chapter submission to a book, and as I was writing it I realized all that my brain has accomplished for me. It solved many engineering problems, in school and on the job. It completed research projects and a Master's thesis. It got me into medical school, through medical school, through residency, and to the point of being a board certified medical specialist. That is pretty amazing, undisputed stuff. And it's helped me make good decisions in my life, about lots of things... too many things to list here.

I'm grateful for my body. I recently heard an interview with movement specialist Katy Bowman in which she made a distinction between "exercise" and "movement". Exercise is one little piece of what is movement, which is one of the elements that constitutes optimal body functioning. This also includes, she pointed out, very basic and overlooked but important things: the ability to eat, to digest, to sleep, to eliminate waste, to have sex, to get pregnant, to stay pregnant, etc. Yes, I know those last couple of things in that list are currently missing for me, but I'm doing pretty well otherwise. And I am reminded (if I allow myself to be) of these gifts every workday as I see patients struggling with one or another of these vital elements.

Thank you for reading today about my thanks. Have you ever done a "gratitude challenge"? Was it helpful? What are you thankful for right now? Share it here or on Facebook!


  1. Dawn, thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts. So sorry to hear about the last round of IVF. You are one strong amazing person. You do some pretty incredible things with your job and your writing.

    1. Today, Mindy, I'm thankful for your beautiful words!

  2. Dawn,
    Your writing is always so inspirational and I am so appreciative of your honesty through your challenging times. Gratitude is so powerful as you have illustrated and I have really tried to practice this more often. Focusing inward really does have a way of showing us our blessings that can often be overlooked in the face of adversity or disappointment.

    I am thankful that we have 'met' and thank you for starting my day in a grateful way!

    1. Thanks, Sara! I am also thankful for our collaboration, and I appreciate your supportive words!

  3. I am so pulling for you!! You will get that baby (or two) some day I am sure!!


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