Happy New Year 2017!
It’s a new year, and symbolically, a wonderful time of new beginnings and opportunities.
This year, you can create some new opportunities on your fertility journey as well.
I’m not talking about the trite-and-traditional so-called New Years Resolutions.
I never found setting New Years resolutions to be a particularly valuable exercise. The few times I tried, I’d set resolutions like, “stop biting my nails,” “spend less money,” or my perennial favorite – “be a better person.”
Well, my resolutions would always crash and burn. Within 2 weeks, I was biting my nails again (a habit I still struggle with!), and since I never set a budget, I wasn’t keeping track of what I was spending. And, well, how in the world was I supposed to know if I was being a better person or not? I never killed anybody, that has to count for something.
Four years ago on New Years, I rethought the idea of New Years Resolutions. I’d been trying to conceive for almost a year, and in that time, I’d had 2 miscarriages; a Diminished Ovarian Reserve diagnosis; a grim prediction that I had less than a 2% chance of getting pregnant; and a whole lot of negative pregnancy tests.
At New Years 2012-13, I was also in the middle of an imposed-upon-me break from fertility treatment. I’d had an IUI cycle cancelled just before the holidays, and due to overall scheduling issues, that one month off turned into 3 months away from the fertility clinic.
This pause in treatment ended up being a blessing in disguise, as it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my motherhood dreams in a way that I hadn’t while consumed by the relentless grind of fertility treatment.
For the record, having a baby is not a New Years Resolution. It’s a goal. Think of the resolutions as the intentional path you set to reach your goal. How you will do it.
I decided that if I were be successful in achieving my goal of becoming a mother, it was time to define the actions I needed to take to reach that goal. Resolutions, if you will.
If you’ve set becoming a mother as your primary goal for 2017 (and chances are pretty good that you might have, since you’re reading this blog), here’s a list of 7 New Years “Resolutions” you might consider.
- Resolve to get help when you need it.
Some people are able to get pregnant without outside help. Others, like me and maybe like you, need a little extra help. Now is not the time to hide behind your pride and try to convince yourself that you’re invincible. If you’ve been trying for at least a year (6 months if you’re over 35), it’s time to call in the big guns.
Your fertility doctor will develop the right treatment plan for you based on your specific medical issues and concerns.
If you’re already in treatment, you can cross one resolution off the list as achieved! Hurray! Good for you!
- Resolve to seek out emotional support when times get hard.
Because they will get hard. Trying to conceive is no bed of roses, and it’s not for the faint of heart. There will be times when you’re wondering to yourself how much one person can possibly endure, both physically and emotionally.
There are lots of places to turn to for support during those times. Your partner, sister, best friend, and other friends and family are all great places to start.
Sometimes, however, we may feel like we need more focused support from others who’ve specifically been down this path and have greater understanding of what you’re going through, or more professional help. This is a great time to investigate working with a fertility coach, seeking out in-person support groups in your area, finding online or virtual groups, or, if you feel you need, working with a therapist.
- Resolve to nourish your body through healthy food and movement.
The connection between our physical health and our fertility is undeniable. How and what we eat can make or break our efforts in trying to conceive. Incorporating more whole foods, such as leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains, into your diet, while crowding out things like sugar and processed foods, will go a long way toward balancing your hormones and regulating your ovulation. Issues with ovulation are the number one cause of female infertility.
In addition to improving your fertility, eating a clean diet will improve your overall health as well, reducing inflammation and your chances of developing chronic, long-term illnesses.
The other key piece to our physical health is moving our bodies. Experts recommend that a good exercise plan if you’re trying to conceive is 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, of moderate-intensity exercise. Aim for a combination of cardio and strength-building exercise. If that’s too challenging for you right now, gentle movement like walking or yoga is terrific. Here are some other suggestions for incorporating exercise into your life.
Exercise helps improve your circulation, work your heart and other muscles, and keep your weight down, all of which are important to your health and fertility.
- Resolve to get enough rest.
Not only will you feel better, but your fertility will also be improved. Many of our hormones are replenished while we sleep, including some of the reproductive hormones.
Try these strategies to get 8-9 hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed each day, and your fertility will thank you.
- Resolve to be gentle with yourself.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others, especially people with children or who are expecting babies. Those feelings invariably creep up, but I hope you can remember that
- There’s nothing wrong with you;
- You’re doing the best that you can; and
- You’re beautiful just as you are.
- Resolve to reclaim your life.
It might sound counterintuitive, but not being laser-focused on getting pregnant is a healthy strategy. Our bodies crave the balance that comes with focusing our attention on more than one priority.
While having a baby is a huge priority, it’s important to find other priorities in your life, and nurture them. Things like your passions, hobbies, friends and other relationships. Think back to before you started trying to have a baby, what were the things that made you feel so happy and alive?
Make sure you give yourself the time to do them. You’ll not only feel happier, but it will give you the energetic break you need to recharge your batteries for continuing on your fertility path.
This is a jam-packed list, and it’s a lot to take on at once. If you tried to do all of this at once, your resolutions would meet the same fate as mine used to. Pick what feels most important to pay attention to right now, and focus on that for a little while. Maybe after a few months, it will be time to add another.
The most important thing, and this is the final resolution –
- Resolve to take some action each day, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, toward your goal of becoming a mother.
One day, it may be going out for a walk in nature. The next day, it might be eating a delicious, fertility-boosting meal. The next day, it might be lunch with a friend. The important thing is to do purposefully and mindfully do something every day, schedule it, stick to it, and have faith that collectively these actions are bringing you closer and closer to your ultimate dream of motherhood.
What are your intentions for 2017 around your fertility goal?
This post is also available in: Arabic