Seven Ways to Stay Sane While Waiting on your Miracle: Infertility & self-care
By: Shauna Sigmon
As a teenager, one of the things that always rang out from the mouths of my elders (teachers, aunts, parents, etc.) was, “DON’T GET PREGNANT”. Pregnancy in high school/college was taboo. It was something you had no business even thinking about, something that could potentially ruin the rest of your life. Fast forward to adult-hood, aka the acceptable baby-making age in my family’s eyes, now pregnancy is all they talk about. Interestingly, no one wants to continue the conversation when it’s revealed that I’m having problems conceiving.
Our friends and family want to be there for us, in terms of infertility, but it’s easy to feel like they aren’t listening because they don’t necessarily know how to respond. They immediately try to help us find that light at the end of the tunnel instead of meeting us where we are. For them, it’s uncomfortable to admit and discuss even though about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.
The point of this blog is for women to know they are not alone. My husband and I have been trying to conceive since 2017, and my fertility journey has been an emotional roller coaster. I had to learn how to fit self-care into my routine even when it was difficult.
Here are 7 things to keep in mind if you are dealing with fertility issues.
1. Some people genuinely don’t know what to say:
It’s natural for conversations about having children to come up, and it’s also natural for people to meet you with optimism rather than talking about the difficulties. You’ll hear things like: “It’ll happen when it happens”, “It’ll happen when you stop ’trying”, “Everything in God’s time”, or my all time favorite “You all just need to get busy more.” Don’t mind these people. Take what they say with a smile and a nod because they mean well but they may just be unsure of how to comfort you. Other women who have been through what you’re going through will be more understanding. When you come across these women, find comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Sometimes I find it’s easier just to keep my fertility journey to myself and respond to people asking when I’ll have a baby with a smile and “Soon”.
2. Your pain is NOT a burden to your partner:
When I first started dealing with fertility issues, I didn’t want to talk to my partner about it. I would pretend like I was fine when in actuality, I was crying inside. I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone. My family just kept feeding me those band-aid statements I talked about earlier, and the one person I could share anything with I purposely blocked out. It was an unnecessary weight to carry alone because once I finally broke down in front of him about it…he listened and gave me comfort. I was lucky, because not all partners are capable of dealing with not being able to have a child. Your best bet is to openly communicate your feelings and your pain so that infertility doesn’t drive a wedge between you and your partner.
3. Be invested but not obsessive:
Infertility can make you obsessive which can make conceiving harder. When you are TTC and dealing with infertility, it’s really easy for you to allow your life to revolve around a calendar and your cycles… It’s okay to track things but don’t let this run your life. Planning around ovulation can turn sex into a chore rather than a connection between you and your partner. This adds stress to the relationship which adds stress to your body, which is counter productive to trying to get pregnant.
4. Find joy in seeing babies, rather than focusing on not having one yet:
Once you start TTC you’ll start to notice babies EVERYWHERE (if you haven’t already). This can be taxing because it leads back into obsessing over when you’ll have yours. Seeing other people’s babies can cause joy, but for a person dealing with infertility it may bring out feelings of sadness or longing. My best advice is for you to choose joy. Find hope in the smiles of babies passing by and affirm to yourself “one day i’ll have a little slobber mouthed smile of my own.”
5. Don’t over do it on the research:
I found comfort in reading through online forums of other mom’s, expecting mom’s, and women going through their fertility journey. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone. These forums gave me insight into different symptoms and creative conception strategies which gave me renewed hope, and gave me something to hold on to. Research allowed me to learn about my body, and ways I could better listen to it. On the other hand, too much research took me down a bad path. I would become obsessive, reading about worst case scenarios and start playing them out in my mind. I would read and reread statistics and lose hope. It wasn’t until my husband started encouraging me to stop reading too much into things that I decided to turn off my devices and pick the pen up; which leads me to my next point...
6. Writing can help:
Even if you suck at writing, write about your feelings and experiences. It’s good to get the thoughts out of your head because this will help you obsess less over the whole situation. There were times where I felt like my heart was about to burst with all the love I longed so badly to give. I started writing letters to my unborn child. I shed some tears doing this, but once I was able to quiet the voices in my head that screamed “This is pointless! You might not ever get pregnant” I was able to write. I talked about all the things we would do, and experiences I couldn’t wait to have, and I let my baby know that it will be loved. This helped me channel some of the excess energy/emotion I had surrounding conception issues.
7. You can be hopeful AND have realistic expectations:
Every cycle I still hold my breath in anticipation that maybe my period will be late this time, but I’m less and less disappointed as time goes on because I am learning to embrace my fertility journey. The more that time passes the easier/harder it gets to deal with, and you begin to adjust your expectations accordingly. For me, it still hurts sometimes, but I’ve been keeping myself busy with working on things that will make it easier for me whenever I do get pregnant. I want to be a work from home mom (i.e not work in an office), so I’m using my hopes for a child as fuel to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. I’ve found that keeping busy with tasks that will help get me to my goal of having a baby has ironically helped me think about it less. I’ve also started to look into the process of adoption for educational purposes. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I may not be able to have a child, but it’s not the end of the world...even if it feels like it sometimes.
My husband and I are still waiting to begin our journey into parenthood, but I’ve found some comfort in the things I’ve mentioned above. I hope that anyone out there dealing with a similar situation can find some comfort as well.
Let me know what helps keeps/kept you sane while trying to conceive!
About the Author
Shauna Sigmon is a software developer, business consultant, wife and more. Her life revolves around inspiring and motivating others to be the best version of themselves. Shauna loves to make technology easier to understand for people who don’t consider themselves “tech savvy” and prides herself on being a huge techie nerd. You can contact her via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org