just adding to it some of my thoughts and experience.
1. Do your homework
I didn’t realize how little I knew about fertility until I was faced with infertility. You may know the basics of the birds-and-bees, but do you really understand the finer points of reproduction? Do you know what fertility treatments actually involve? There are so many fabulous resources.I can't tell you the amount of hours I spent doing research online. The more educated I was the more in tune with my body I felt. I suggest you start by seeking out a few credible, trustworthy resources and learn as much as you can. Some of my favorites are:
- Resolve: The National Infertility Association (website)
- Taking Charge of Your Infertility by Toni Weschler (book)
- The Infertility Companion: Hope & Help for Couples Facing Infertility by Sandra L. Glahn (book)
- National Library of Medicine: Infertility (website)
2. Seek out community
Infertility is more common that we think, but it can still be difficult to find others in your life who are willing to openly discuss it. You must be intentional about getting to know other people who have experienced it. If you don’t know of anyone in your “real life,” the internet is full of wonderful infertility communities. Do a Google search for “Infertility blogs” or “infertility forums” and you’ll find many wonderful sites. Or, check out some of the blogs of the wonderful women (and a few men!) who leave comments on my site. I have met some AMAZING friends online. Now that I know these women so well it feels strange I met them through my blog. This is the one thing in the beginning I WISH I would have had and didn't. Having a place to truly vent to people who understood was the best therapy for me. If you don't feel comfortable make up a name and start a blog- you don't have to use your true identity...in fact a lot of people don't and that's okay. The most important thing is to connect.
3. Be patient with yourself
As cliche as it sounds, infertility is a journey. We don’t know how our infertility will be resolved, and we don’t know how long it will take. For some people, a few pills fix everything; others face years of IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. It’s easier said than done, but try be patient with the process and patient with yourself. It's okay to feel sad or have an off day. Give yourself credit and know that you are doing your best. I know I went through phases where moments I was angry and bitter and others I was sad and depressed and had no where to turn. Own those feelings and find ways to move forward.
4. Try not to let it define you
Remember, you are going through the experience of infertility. You may be currently infertile in the sense that you cannot bear children, but the situation may only be temporary. And even if you never give birth, you are not an infertile being. You still have the ability to be fruitful in other areas of your life: your career, your marriage, your relationships, your faith, or your creative pursuits. Take this time to get to know yourself. Everyone does this differently.
For me I had what I called a "self care" box. I still use this today when it's needed. On one of my better days I wrote a letter to myself reminding me that I'm going to get through this. I'm strong, I'm important, and beautiful. This may sound cheesy but on my lowest days these affirmations helped. In this "box" I had the letter, a put in there bubble bath stuff, stuff for a facial, a yummy recipe I wanted to try, scrapbooking stuff, cleaning supplies, scriptures, a good book, a funny movie, and ANYTHING I could think of that would help pull me out of a funk. I would do one or maybe ALL of these things to help make me feel better.
SWEAR this helped! DO IT!!!
5. Improve your health
If you’re struggling with infertility, you’re likely spending lots of money and time trying to conceive. Make sure that investment isn’t going to waste and get yourself into the best physical shape you can. This doesn’t mean you need to start going to the gym every day if you haven’t been going at all. You don’t have to go vegan and eat only raw veggies. But take some common-sense steps to improve your health (which may also help you improve your emotions). Some simple ideas are limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake (if you drink), making sure you get enough sleep, cutting back on processed foods, and things like that. I know that this can be overwhelming and LOTS of work, but getting in shape and eating right (at least the basics) not only helps your body and mind prepare for pregnancy- it also get's your dopamine levels up and helps you to be happy. :) Again though remembering to ENJOY life and create balance. None of these things should be your only focus. The whole point of this post is to ENJOY the journey to the best of your ability.
(A side note on this topic: I never really tried yoga but have heard that has helped lots of girls with releasing bad energy and feelings- some have even said meditation is worth a try. I might give it a go this time around and let you know how it goes)
6. Don’t deprive yourself
Adding to my last comment. Be careful not to deny yourself pleasure or enjoyment in the name of improving your health. Have a piece of dark chocolate after a healthy dinner. Have a piece of pizza and follow it with a salad and an apple. Infertility it hard enough on its own; don’t make it worse by cutting out the things you enjoy. I remember for YEARS I wouldn't go in the Jacuzzi in fear that I "could" be pregnant. It literally drove me crazy to always live in fear I was going to screw things up. I'm here to tell you that doesn't work. You need to take care of yourself by ENJOYING what you can of your life. Out of all these tips this is the one I wish I could have told myself years ago. Every person dealing with infertility hates to hear it. Being calm won't make you get pregnant...but it will help you enjoy the time you are waiting a lot more. The one thing I hate ALMOST as bad as infertility- is the years that it stole from my life. Don't let that happen to you! Trust me it's not worth it.
7. Don’t let others tell you how to feel
One of the most frustrating things about infertility is that people will often tell you how to feel. “Don’t worry about it. It’ll happen if it’s supposed to.” Or, “Don’t be too upset about your miscarriage. It was so early and it happens to a lot of people.” As well-intentioned as those comments may be, they hurt and they’re not helpful. It’s not necessary to respond rudely to those kinds of comments, but don’t take them to heart. Your experience is valid and your feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone tell you how or how long you should grieve.
8. Cultivate other interests.
Infertility has the potential to be all-consuming, so try to develop some outside interests. Your hobbies can provide a healthy distraction and keep you from becoming too focused on your struggles. Read books, take up painting, watch an entire TV series on Netflix, learn a foreign language- just do something!
9. Nurture your relationship with your significant other
Infertility will either bring you closer together or put significant strain on your relationship. Do everything you can do nurture your relationship. Recognize that each of you may process the experience and express your emotions differently. Be intentional about spending time together and doing the things you enjoyed before you started trying to conceive. After all is said and done your husband will always be your best friend if you allow it.
10. Get professional help if you’re struggling
None of this is easy. Each of these ten commandments can be intensely difficult and it’s not good to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to find help from a therapist, counselor, or clergy member. Find someone else to talk to if they tell you “Just relax.” Ask your doctor or friends for referrals, and ask about sliding scale fees if finances are an issue. I am not afraid to say that my husband and I spent a lot of hours in counseling both as a couple and separately to help us to work through this together. To this day the tips and tools we learned are priceless. Don't be ashamed to get help.
I would LOVE to hear if this was helpful. Also I would love to hear what has helped you out during the most difficult of times. Or for those that have dealt with this for a long time- what would you say to yourself in the beginning of all this if you could now with your experience? This is a lifelong journey for so many of us. Writing these has helped me to reevaluate what I can do today to help enjoy my time while I work on baby number two. :)
Hopefully this doesn't come across as - DO THIS and you will get pregnant too...or DON'T DO THIS or nothing you try will work. Truth is- every journey is different- and I had to learn a lot of this on my own the hard way to gain experience. Hopefully one or two of these though are helpful to some of you over time.