Are you ready for your fertility journey?
Like, really ready. Ready for the fact that it might take you a lot longer than you’d originally thought. That it might end up costing you a boatload of money. That you might have to take a lot of drugs that make you crazy. That you’ll likely experience some of the lowest lows to go along with the highest highs you’ve ever experienced.
Are you ready to figure out how you’ll manage those times when you just want to crawl under the covers and sob your eyes out for days on end but you have to keep going to work, to doctor’s appointments, keep on going with your brave happy face to the world.
How you’ll manage those times when you’re scrolling through social media and see yet another pregnancy announcement from someone who “wasn’t even trying” and you just had another negative cycle.
Ready for whatever might come your way?
For those of us who face hardships in conceiving our children, these are very important things to think about and prepare for. For us, the fertility journey isn’t always a nice, tidy, linear one where you decide to have a baby, try for a few months with your partner, and bam! You’re pregnant and get your baby all tied up in a pretty bow at the end.
For us, having a baby involves so much more than cute baby showers and bump photos, sharing perfect Christmas cards and stories on social media, and saving for college. We end up going down roads we never dreamed even existed – roads like surgery, medication, IVF, adoption – and there’s no way of knowing how long it will take and there’s actually no guarantee that you’ll get your precious bundle of joy.
It’s really stressful and draining. If you’re not prepared for the possibility of going the long haul, with lots of unexpected, difficult detours, it’s going to be even harder for you.
I have spent a lot of time here over the past three and a half years (hard to believe it has been that long!) sharing all kinds of things with you that you can do to boost your fertility. Things like eating a well-balanced diet with whole foods, moving your body in a healthy way, getting adequate rest, learning about your body, and managing your stress.
These things are all super important and must-have tools for your fertility toolbox. I hope you’re already on a path toward living the clean and healthy way. If you are, keep going. If you’re not, it’s not too late to get started and there are loads of posts here to help you.
Today’s topic will help you when you hit those bumps in the road and will keep you on a solid path forward toward your health, wellness and fertility goals.
It’s your mental acumen for your fertility journey.
I thought about this this past weekend when I went out running. As I shared with you in my last post, I’m training for a half marathon, my first big race in 14 years. My training plan called for a 12-mile training run last weekend.
All week I had planned to run on Sunday with my friend. However, when the weather forecast called for rain on Sunday I decided to shift to Saturday because I had run in the rain the week before and had struggled. I didn’t want to do that again so soon!
Therefore, at lunchtime on Saturday, I decided I’d take my 12-mile training run after I completed my errands. My friend was busy so I ran alone. I got out on the trail at about 3:30 pm. To run 12 miles.
Despite the fact that I hadn’t slept much the night before. That I hadn’t eaten much during the day. That I am most productive in the morning and am ready to crash by mid-afternoon under even the best of circumstances.
I’m sure you know where this story is going. My run went horribly. I moaned and complained during almost the entire run about how tired I was, about how awful I felt.
To save time I ran on a gravel trail near my house instead of the paved trail I usually go to, and not knowing the trail I ran tentatively, and complained about the gravel and the tree roots sticking up. I complained about all the people out on leisurely walks – it was a nice Saturday afternoon, after all – how dare they walk their dogs on my running trail during my training run!
My phone, which was keeping my pace during the run, died about halfway through so I had no way of knowing how fast I was going and wasn’t able to keep an even pace. I complained about that too.
I have faced all of these sorts of obstacles before and have had much better runs than I had Saturday. I’ve even run in the driving rain with a better outcome. This was awful. I truly didn’t know if I’d be able to keep going and finish the full 12 miles – but I had to because I was out on a trail that made a loop, and I was at the clear opposite side of my car.
About three-quarters of the way through the run, I made a very important realization. What it all came down to was that I was not mentally prepared to run 12 miles that day.
If I had been prepared mentally it might have still been hard but I would have been able to push through the obstacles – and the lack of being prepared physically and logistically – more easily.
I’ve written about mindset before. The angle I have traditionally taken is the importance of having a positive outlook. When clients ask me how thinking positively will help them on their journey, I always say that with a positive outlook you have hope. Without it, there is no hope. This is true but it’s not a matter of thinking happy thoughts and everything turns into unicorns and rainbows. If only it were that simple.
Mental acumen is about how you gear up for your journey, how you show up, each and every day. It’s more than just positive thinking.
On my own journey through fertility I realized that my mindset needed a lot of work. I was thinking positively and waxing hopeful each and every month but I discovered that I didn’t believe in my heart that I’d be a mom, despite eating well and taking decent care of myself.
Once I realized this, I knew I had to do a lot more work than thinking positively and being optimistic. I had to do the work on my mental acumen.
Here are some tips for sharpening your mental acumen and upping your game mentally for the fertility journey.
- Tap into the power of habit. All tasks are much easier when they become routine. Cultivating and sticking healthy habits like eating a solid breakfast, checking your cervical fluid daily, or your weekly yoga class will make sticking to your routine much easier. You could also develop a habit of a ritual with each new moon. Get creative and mix up the must-dos like cervical fluid or taking your medication shots with things that you enjoy!
- Anticipate obstacles. This journey is loaded with them. I don’t necessarily advocate expecting the worst, because I like to take a hopeful outlook, but it is important to anticipate that things won’t always go your way and prepare for how to handle that if the time comes. It helps to lessen the sting.
- Visualize, visualize, visualize! Visualization is an amazing tool that will help you through anything. I work with my clients on breaking down each step in their cycle and visualizing what’s most important at a particular time. Visualize your follicles growing. After that visualize a beautiful ovulation or a beautiful retrieval. Then visualize implantation happening. Visualize yourself pregnant and giving birth. Really watch it happen as if you’re watching a movie, and get all of your senses involved. During the tough times you can always come back to your visualizations.
- Focus on the journey. Your fertility journey is a powerful time of self-discovery. You’re learning so much about yourself during this very special time. Rather than rushing, going through the motions and checking the boxes, take time to really tune into yourself and what your body and intuition are telling you.
- However, don’t lose sight of the end goal. Come back to why you’re doing all of this. We mothers do incredible things for our children, even before they’re conceived. Think about how much you already love your baby.
After my 12-mile run last Saturday, I told my husband how awful it was, but I did it. My 12-mile run is now history and I could put it behind me and look to the next run with a clean slate. This is a big part of mental acumen as well. When the hard times come, feel them, experience them, curse at them, and get it all out. Give yourself all the time you need to do this. When you’re done, put it behind you and move forward in your journey.
Oh, and it did pour on Sunday, so when I woke up that day I was glad I’d run on Saturday. This weekend I’ll be running 13 miles, on Saturday morning before the day gets too busy, after a good night’s sleep, and I’ll be ready. The race is November 16!
This post is also available in: Arabic