Stop this Train! How to Get off the Emotional Rollercoaster of Infertility
Infertility is an absence, a sadness that lowers like a thick cloud. The beginning of the journey is full of expectation, and then slowly, silently, the path towards becoming pregnant can erode into emptiness.
You want to be a mother, and you want to be calm, fierce, and in control of your life. You want to find a new you amongst the stress than is infertility. You want joy.
Fertility medications and their side effects alone are enough to lead any woman to feel anxious and overburdened. Family tension, unhelpful or hurtful comments from friends, the many appointments at your fertility clinic, and questions for doctors add stress.
I felt excited when we prepared for an IVF cycle, followed by lots of anxiety as we rode out the infamous “two-week wait” – waiting to see if we were pregnant. Each round of treatment felt like a new beginning, but I also could never fully allow myself to anticipate success for fear of another negative pregnancy test.
All along the journey, there seemed to be endless ups and downs, joys, and sorrows.
The entire experience can feel like an emotional roller coaster – an overwhelming and often frustrating mix of feelings.
The infertility path doesn’t have to be this way. At Fertile Hope Yoga we know what is possible because we see positive transformations, every day. Here are a few helpful ideas for calming your mind and creating a new, joyful path during your journey.
Try this simple exercise: breathe in a slow, controlled breath as you count to five. Next, slowly breathe out for a relaxed count of five. Repeat until you feel calm and balanced, typically about five to seven breaths.
Resettle yourself, with your new, slowed breathing, and relax.
Feel better already?
This is a simple technique, and may even feel awkward or unnatural. But from this simple, small place of calm, you can start to create new patterns of hope, joy, and relaxation as you navigate your way through your treatments.
Next, a challenge: get off of Google. I’m going to challenge you for one week – stop searching the Internet for symptoms, side effects, or stories.
It can be so tempting, I know, to seek out quick answers to all of your concerns. You want to know about the side effects of fertility medications, pregnancy symptoms, success rates for IUI and IVF, and the best ways to boost your fertility and boost egg quality. But I promise you, the Internet only answers with confusion and frustration.
Depend on the care team at your fertility clinic, a few good books, and mentors, and your own intuition for a more calm and focused journey to success. Also, joining a community of fellow fertility warriors like at Fertile Hope Yoga is an invaluable source of collective wisdom!
Take a Social Media Break
Infertility can feel so alone, and observing the lives and thoughts of “friends” and followers online can be an escape. But unfortunately, social media can lead to jealousy and comparison, or be filled with pregnancy announcements or hurtful memes and messaging (i.e. the famous “April Fools, I’m pregnant” annual joke).
Revisit your connections online and remove or unfollow anyone you no longer feel connected to. Remove pages or news sites that fill your feeds with negative or emotional content.
Consider choosing to engage with social media only once per day, or only certain days of the week. And be mindful or what time of day you engage with social media. You’ll sleep better if you turn off your phone an hour before bed, and will kick off a new day in a positive way with a morning ritual – like journaling – rather than checking social media first thing.
Another idea, thanks to Fertile Hope Yoga founder Erin McCollough, is to create a special social media account, kept very private, simple, and non-personal, to use only for joining private support groups that offer positive inspiration. You don’t have to follow of friend anyone, just enjoy the positive community that can be found via the Internet.
Allow Time and Space for Yourself
Take this time to create new, healthy routines. This may mean a healthy diet change or starting a yoga program or a simple meditation practice. Begin your day journaling or in quiet reflection.
This is also a great time to make sleep a priority. Remove all screens (television, phone, laptop) from your bedroom and create a clean, quiet sleep sanctuary. Begin a bedtime routine an hour before you plan to sleep to allow time and space to wind down and relax.
Be sure to take care of your schedule, keeping your life balanced. Give yourself permission to say no to events or projects that may cause stress. Will going to a baby shower trigger sadness for you? Then don’t go – it’s okay to say “no”.
Erin McCollough – founder of Fertile Hope Yoga – encourages women to reframe the act of saying “no.” Not accepting that baby shower invitation is actually saying “yes” to taking care of yourself.
It can be hard to not overschedule your life, but it is so important to maintain a balanced routine. Give yourself room in your day for a walk, time to watch a funny movie, or call a friend. You deserve it.
Seek Help and Connection
Connecting with others is one of the best ways to gain emotional stability on this sometimes rocky journey of infertility.
A trusted counselor and mental health expert can be a great, neutral, and confidential source of support and guidance as you navigate the complex emotions that come with infertility
Another great option is to seek the support of other women experiencing their own fertility journey. These fellow fertility warriors will have a shared experience that members of your family or friend circle may not be able to empathize with, and can offer support, guidance, and long-lasting friendship like no one else can.
While fertility treatments can sometimes feel like another full-time job, you can get off the emotional rollercoaster. Know that you can feel whole, once again.
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I’ve got this. You’ve got this. We’ve got you!