When I was in the midst of my struggles to conceive, any advice and recommendations from others were NOT what I wanted to hear (especially from people that had no personal experience or a real sense of what it was to be in my shoes!). Things like "stay positive", "try to relax, and it will happen", "focus on other things, it will come when its time" contributed to me isolating myself and not seeking support. Because I remember how difficult it is to hear unwelcomed, and often frustrating advice, I want to refrain from giving some. However, I do believe there are practices that I could share with you that could possibly be of support. My intention in sharing the following few practices is to inform you of what really helped me cope as I faced the many challenges of infertility.
- Have an understanding and helpful support network. Stay connected! People suffering from infertility tend to hide their sorrow, and live their pain in private. I know the feeling of shame can be so big that it makes reaching out harder, but it is necessary. If your current support system doesn't feel satisfying to you, look for a new one. It can be a support group, a therapist, a mentor, an online chat; you don't have to be alone in this.
- Prioritize self-care. Infertility is hard, draining, and emotional. It can really rule your life. Try to take care of yourself, your body, your mind, and your spirit. This can take different forms such as going to yoga, take a hot bath, get a massage, setting boundaries, or allowing tears to flow. Regardless, find time for yourself, and do things you enjoy and that feel good.
- Be kind to yourself. Try not to blame yourself (or your partner) for what is happening. Have compassion for yourself. You are allowed to be sad, to be mad, to feel sorry for yourself. You are doing the best you can. You don't need to be "strong", and "put together" all the time.
- Be a team with your partner. Infertility is known to be very overwhelming for couples, and that’s an undeniable reality! It can slowly divide couples as they distance themselves from one another, but I can attest that it can also do the very opposite: bring partners closer together. Talk about what you are feeling with each other, be open to differences. You are going through this together, be your best support.
- Take control: infertility takes all feelings of being in charge of the direction of your life away. Try to gain some control back by asking questions to your medical provider if you are unsure of what the plan is, speak up if you are not happy about something, do your research, advocate for yourself.
With much kindness,