How to deal with the emotional impact of infertility. Overcoming uncertainty and perpetual waiting on your fertility journey.Jun 07, 2021
When you’re navigating your way through infertility on your path to parenthood, in my personal experience, there are two things we struggle with the most……
Firstly………UNCERTAINTY. The constant questions of……..could this ALL be for nothing? Will I ever become a mother? If I do IVF and invest all that time and money, will it work?
When you’re talking about infertility, there are very few things that are certain.
And secondly ………the WAITING.
On my 7-year fertility journey, those two things drove me crazy!
This was the first time in my life that I realized that I was not always in control of the outcome. That I could do ALL of the things people were telling me (and I was!), and still not see two lines on that pregnancy test. Which, as a self-confessed control freak, frustrated the heck out of me.
And when you’re trying to conceive and having fertility issues, this journey is made up of wait upon wait upon wait. You wait for your ovulation window, for your partner to get home from work so you can have sex, the freaking two week wait, waiting for test results, waiting for your doctor’s appointment, waiting for your period to start, for your period to end……
I’m also not the most patient person. So this perpetual state of WAIT would drive me to insanity.
So, if you’re an impatient control freak like me, HOW do you deal with the uncertainty and waiting on your fertility journey without it driving you crazy?
The answer is…..by developing ROUTINES and creating HEALTHY HABITS.
Why do those help?
Well, imagine you’re waiting yet again, and there is nothing you can do. Your doctor can’t give you a guarantee, and so you’re floating, feeling useless and out of control. Imagine you see a life raft in the distance. Something that you can pull yourself up on and start paddling. A routine is like a life raft. It gives you what you’re craving most.
It gives you purpose, distraction and the knowledge that you are actually DOING something.
And in those moments when you feel like you’re on a rollercoaster which is headed for the ground and you’re holding on for dear life, it stops you from plummeting toward the earth. It provides you a way to step off the rollercoaster, and move toward the Ferris wheel instead. Basically, it gives you a smoother ride.
Well, I wish it was. While simple in theory, creating a habit can be a challenge.
Question - how many times have you started a fitness routine, only for it to stop within a matter of days when you come down with the flu or when work starts to get hectic?
Or what about when you decide to eat healthy, only to fall off the wagon when it’s Judy’s birthday at work and they bring out the chocolate cake?
And when you fall off the wagon, you start punishing yourself, right?! No wonder I can’t fall pregnant - I can’t even commit to exercise or a healthy diet! Maybe I don’t deserve this? If I can’t do this, how will I ever be a mother?
Well – those were the thoughts that would go through my head anyway.
Plus, it’s bloody hard to create a habit when you’re tired. And infertility is exhausting. Some days just pulling yourself out of bed is a chore, so how is it possible to find the energy and the motivation to actually DO the thing?
You know WHAT you need to do, but HOW do you actually get your ass off the couch and DO it?
Because of these questions, I decided to do some research of my own. So, 21 days ago, I made a commitment to do 30 minutes of exercise, every single day for 21 days straight.
I was sick of my exercise routine being inconsistent. I’d be motivated on Monday, but by Wednesday I’d make excuses and stop exercising altogether. Then of course, I figured there was no point in starting again until the next Monday, so I’d do nothing for the rest of the week. This start stop mentality was doing my head in – I am a naturally motivated and driven person, but I couldn’t work out how to be consistent.
Then I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to create a habit. I have no idea whether it’s true or not, but I set out to prove (or disprove) it.
And here I am 21 days later, having created a healthy habit. It worked! And now that I know that I can do 21 days in a row, I can commit to exercising with consistency.
Here is what I discovered about HOW to stay consistent.
My 10 tips for creating a healthy habit – so you ACTUALLY DO THE THING YOU SET OUT TO DO. And to help ease the anxiety and uncertainty when you’re struggling to get pregnant -
- Commit. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, so commit to giving this a go for 21 days. Don’t make excuses or wait for the “perfect time”. There is no perfect time.
- Keep it simple. Select one thing you'd like to be consistent with - it could be eating healthy, exercising, or working on your mindset. If you choose to do it all, you’ll get overwhelmed and do nothing.
- Be specific - if you're too vague in your goal, you won't be able to track it i.e. 30 minutes of exercise each day, eating fruit/vegetables with every meal, 10 minutes of meditation or journaling each day.
- Start small - if your goal is too big, you're less likely to stick with it i.e. one hour of exercise, versus 30 minutes or 5 minutes of meditation each day, as opposed to 30 minutes.
- Your WHY has to be important. Why are you doing this (outside of trying to get pregnant)? What is the feeling you're trying to get from this daily habit? For me – I know that if I exercise each day, I’ll feel strong, motivated and energized. And THAT is what pushes me to do it, even on the days when I don’t want to. If you know you're going to feel great afterward and have more energy, you're more likely to make yourself do it.
- Watch your language - if you say "I might try to go to the gym tomorrow", it's not going to happen. However, if you state with certainty - I will go to the gym tomorrow, you're committing to it. I also find that speaking it out loud helps to reinforce it too.
- Have an accountability partner - let someone know your goal, so they can keep checking in with you. You're less likely to let someone else down than yourself. My husband and I did the 21 day challenge together, so we pushed each other to do our 30 minutes every day.
- Preparation is key – if you’re going to eat healthy, do some research for meals that you can eat and buy all the ingredients you need up front. There’s nothing like an empty fridge to have you calling for a pizza. Or, if you’re committing to exercise, download some fitness Apps or find some workouts on YouTube beforehand.
- Don’t be afraid to modify your goal slightly to keep the habit going – half way through the 21 days I got my period and didn’t feel like putting workout clothes on let alone doing exercise, so I did some gentle stretches for 30 minutes instead. Even if you can’t do it, hold the space for the routine.
- If you fall off the wagon for one day, don't throw it away - forgive yourself and get back on track the very next day. Confession – on day 17 I didn’t get around to exercising, but I didn’t throw in the towel and give up or punish myself. I merely added an extra day at the end.
I know the creation of routines work in helping you on your fertility journey. Whether it’s a morning routine to set yourself up for a successful day ahead, or a nighttime routine to ensure you get a full night’s sleep. A routine will give you comfort AND control over your day.
This is exactly what I do with my fertility coaching clients. We create healthy habits and put in place routines to even out the uncertainty, and allow them to take back control. And the more you do it, the stronger you become. The more confidence you get back in your ability to stick to something. You FEEL the results.
And when you receive an insensitive comment, or see your 5th pregnancy announcement for the day, while it may feel like a kick to the gut, it doesn’t have the power to knock you out cold.
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