Overcoming infertility is a journey. It’s a journey with highs and lows, and it is not for the faint of heart.
In a world where working towards an end goal such as buying a home or completing a degree follows a distinct path, the hazy road of infertility can be unsettling to navigate. Each step forward is a step into the vulnerable unknown, but it is also one step closer to your goal of family.
I have treated many patients over the years and while this may not feel like consolation at the moment, I can promise you that this will pass.
While you are in treatment, I’d like to recommend simple strategies that can help you manage stress, calm unwieldy emotions and quell anxious feelings.
Stop and breathe. When you breathe deeply, you immediately send a message to your brain to calm down and relax. This message is then relayed from the brain to the body. In just a few deep breaths, you can feel what’s bothering you begin to fade.
First, close your eyes and begin a six-count breath in through your nose, expanding deeply into the belly. Next, slowly exhale and count to six again. Repeat until you feel better.
Some days are better than others. To be blunt, some days just plain suck. So many patients get down on themselves for not being able to “grin and bear it” and stay strong and optimistic through every moment. While some days are more challenging than others, not all days will be this way. It’s normal to feel grey for a day or two, but remember that the sun always shines after the clouds.
Repeat an affirmation. Curb the voice of doubt and worry in your head by giving strength and volume to what you desire. With practice and encouragement, positive thoughts grow and your overall outlook will improve. Write or pick an affirmation that speaks to you, then commit to saying it throughout the day. Here are some suggestions to consider:
I am happy. I am healthy. I am ready.
I release my worries and trust my body.
I allow new beginnings in my life.
I know I will be an amazing parent.
I accept the gift of life within myself.
I am full of strength and love.
Take five minutes for you. There are 1,440 minutes in a single day; allow yourself to take five of them and reset your mental outlook through meditation. Similar to deep breathing, meditation can calm the body and mind, causing worrisome thoughts to dissipate. Thoughts and worries will arise during meditation - simply acknowledge and release them. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing, repeat an affirmation, or imagine your mind going blank.
Walk it off. Taking a brisk walk, no matter how long or short, gives your body the opportunity to release stress and produce mood-boosting endorphins. As you feel tension and stress lower, you’ll also feel a boost of physical and mental energy. To fully experience the benefits, leave your phone at home to truly unplug and recharge.
Talk to someone. Friends and family can be helpful, but talking to a specialist or someone who has walked a similar path can truly make a difference in reducing the stress and isolation of infertility. We offer several free support groups and I have spoken with hundreds of couples over the years who have faced many different fertility challenges. All FCI patients in treatment receive a complimentary session, and I encourage you to explore this option if you need it. You can request an appointment online, during your next office visit, or call us directly 877-324-4483.
I hope that these strategies help you on your journey, and I look forward to the possibility of meeting you in the future.
“Even in the midst of life’s many storms, we have the capacity to stand in the center of our own peace.” - Unknown
Dr. Tiffany Edwards, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Behavioral Health Specialist at Fertility Centers of Illinois