If you are dealing with infertility, or having repeated difficulty trying to conceive, it may seem overwhelming at times.
What you are going through can test your body, your mental and emotional strength, your relationships and your finances.
Your experience of it will be very personal, and you may find this hard to talk about with others or make sense of in your own head.
It would be very normal for you to be feeling all kinds of things, such as:
- Physical pain, nausea, bloating, tiredness, or other side effects from any infertility medication
- Exhausted and sad from repeated disappointment
- Guilt from the part your own body plays in all of this
- Confusion or frustration if you have little answers as to the cause or how to improve matters
- Greif and loss from experiencing miscarriage or setbacks
- Jealousy of other couples
- Any number of other emotional or physical response.
While what you are going through can’t be fixed by a simple list of tips and hints, it may be helped.
There are some things that you can do to make your life a little bit easier right now.
Tip #1: Distract yourself
When you are on the seemingly endless cycle of fertility appointments and medications, this can be all that you think about.
Right now, would be an excellent time to take up an engrossing new hobby to take your mind off things and help you relax whenever possible.
It helps if it is something complicated, that will occupy your mind and body, and that will really grab your interest and keep it. Choose something that you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t have the time. Right now, is the perfect excuse.
Think of things like:
- Learning to oil paint or watercolour
- Learning to knit, crochet or macramé
- Making jewellery
- Making slime
- Cooking a new cuisine such as Thai or South American
- Taking up baking or decorating cakes or biscuits
- Writing a romance novel
- Building a new garden such as vegetable, herb or succulents
- Home decorating or renovations
- Making wooden toys
- Learning a dance style such as Rock and Roll, or Tango
- Learning a new language, or to play a musical instrument
Tip #2: Reward yourself and have some fun
You are going through something difficult and taxing, and deserve some little treats at the moment. This helps to distract you, and lift up your spirits, as well as giving you something to look forward to.
It is also a really great way to show some self-compassion and give yourself a break.
It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. But it does need to be semi-regular.
Write a list of ideas for yourself so you have a good supply of things to turn to, and make sure you schedule them in. Book one or two treats in every week at the moment so you have things to keep you going.
Some ideas include:
- Bingeing on a great TV show that you’ve been putting off
- Having a massage or getting your nails done
- Going to the movies with your partner
- Having coffee or lunch with a good friend
- Reading a magazine
- Organise a board game night with friends and have a good laugh
- Having a really good cup of tea (think proper tea leaves, and a gorgeous teacup)
- Driving somewhere new to go for an interesting walk
- Window shopping, or going to a fleamarket
- Going out dancing with girlfriends
- Go to a comedy gig
- Listening to some new music
Tip #3: Confide in a good friend
There will be a million things going through your head while you face this challenging process, and it may be best to not keep all these thoughts inside.
You should probably have some form of professional counselling as part of your infertility treatment, but it could always help to have something more.
Confide in a close friend what you are going through, and get them to check in with you regularly, and make sure that you get out and do things sometimes.
It can be enormously beneficial to have someone who already knows what is happening so if you are having a bad day you don’t have to explain yourself. If you know someone who has been through it too that is a bonus, but this is not essential.
Another support could be group counselling, or even joining a forum on Facebook of people going through the same experience right now.
Facebook is great because it never shuts down, so if you wake in the middle of the night and need to vent, someone will always be there to listen.
Tip #4: Journalling
As well as having someone close to confide in, it can really help to start journalling what you are going through.
This also helps to get your thoughts and feelings out, and many people feel better once they have expressed themselves in writing.
You could also try art journalling and draw, paint or scrapbook what you are going through, if you feel like you might struggle a bit with words.
Don’t just pick up a random notepad; buy yourself a lovely covered book to take it all down in.
Again, this doesn’t need to be expensive, stores like Kmart have these for just a few dollars.This may be a wonderful keepsake later when you look back with your child at how much you really wanted to become a parent.
Tip #5: Gentle exercise
Exercise serves a number of benefits.
It works as a distraction, as a reward, and will lift your mood incredibly. It also helps keep your body strong and healthy, which is essential right now.
If you choose something that is outdoors this will get you some Vitamin D and is also a boost for your mental health.
Exercise doesn’t sound like a reward for some people (myself included), so it helps if you make this as fun or as interesting as possible.Choose something you will enjoy, change it up every week if need be, and recruit a friend or include a reward if that helps.
Some ideas include:
- Going for a walk somewhere new and interesting
- Taking up a new exercise like yoga or barre
- A walk with a friend, a good gossip and then a coffee and cake
- Taking up a dance class
- Swimming or water aerobics, or taking up a regular gym class
- Joining a social sporting team like tennis, volleyball or netball
- A regular visit to a large market like Trash N Treasure
Tip #6: Be kind to yourself
Most of you need to look after yourself at this time, and show great self-compassion.
Don’t put yourself through unnecessary extra stress, and reduce your family or work commitments if possible. Keep an eye on your own mental health and stress levels, and cut yourself some slack wherever you can.
Allow yourself time to grieve, cry, vent, or otherwise get your pain and frustration out. Remind yourself of the good in your life as well, and look for opportunities to laugh.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with infertility; you just have to do what is best for you. Look after yourself and your partner and cope as best you can. All difficult times in our life will pass, including this one.