Making Decisions When it Comes to Infertility
Making decisions isn’t alway the easiest thing to do, generally speaking. We face so many different choices in our daily lives, and the reality is that the more choice we have, the more confusing making a decision can become. It’s common to be indecisive about what you do or don’t want, and at times you may also be afraid of making the wrong decision. When you add infertility to the mix, then you find yourself having to make a whole new set of decisions that you may never have imagined you would have to.
What treatment do I choose?
Which doctor or fertility clinic?
Clomid or Femara?
IUI or IVF?
Should I try fertility acupuncture or reflexology?
This unique pressure to make a choice that could directly impact on your chances of having a successful pregnancy and a baby carries tremendous weight. So, the implications of each decision and the fear of doing the wrong thing can be bewildering. Even when you do make a decision on taking a specific action, there is a tendency to keep second guessing yourself, wondering if it was the right thing to do. You end up deliberating over so many added things, like whether or not you should be open with your family or your boss about your infertility or not, or whether you should attend family events or baby showers or stay home, and whether or not you should take a much needed holiday or put it off after you know the outcome of your next fertility cycle.
This sort of thing has been on my mind a lot, and I’ve been pondering one question – How do you find peace of mind when it comes to making decisions in relation to your fertility journey?
Coincidently, for some reason, I decided to reread an old book called The Seven Whispers, by Christina Baldwin. I bought and read the book more than 10 years ago, and I had a vague recollection of it offering some useful mindfulness tips at the time. Rereading the book did not disappoint. In the first chapter, Baldwin discusses her ideas around the importance of finding and maintaining ‘peace of mind’. She mentions one particular mindfulness exercise that she learned from Thich Nhat Hanh. She outlines the three step exercise as follows:
“I take one breath in to Let Go”
“I take one breath in to Be Present.”
“I take one breath in to Ask Now What?”
I started practicing this in moments of overwhelm when I found it hard to make a clear decision.
I’d inhale, exhale, and let go of my anxiety and fear.
Then, inhale, exhale and focus my attention on the present moment.
Inhale, exhale and then ask myself ‘now what?’
…Now what do I want to feel? Now what is my next best step forward? Now what choice makes the most financial sense? Or now what choice do I feel most at peace with?
I love the simplicity of this practice, how easy it is to remember and how effective it has been in helping me to move forward feeling more comfortable with my decisions. It’s reminded me that while you cannot see the whole picture or control the outcome, you can focus your energy on taking the next clear step in front of you.
One key thing that I feel is both important and helpful when it comes to decisions around fertility related concerns is to empower yourself with information as much as you can.The more you learn and educate yourself around your condition, your options and which avenues to explore, the more confident you may feel when it comes to choosing what is right for you. So, it helps to read up, consult experts for their guidance and even to investigate what women in your TTC community’s experiences have been like at times. Gathering a deeper insight gives you peace of mind and also helps you to trust your instincts when necessary.
Counselling psychologist and author of The Infertility Survival Guide, Judith Daniluk, reminds us that:
“Every person and every couple facing infertility is different. Each has a different way of coping with the experience, a different way of making decisions. There is no right or wrong way to decide these issues. It is important to be aware of your own personal decision making style, as well as that of your partner.”
Daniluk emphasizes that understanding your own decision-making style is a good way to support yourself when faced with hard fertility choices. She points out that some people may need to have more than one option available to them in case their desired outcome isn’t successful. So, they therefore feel more comfortable making a decision when they know that there is also a ‘plan B’ to fall back on. I could definitely see a bit of this in myself, considering that while I will be going through some medicated cycles with Femara soon, one thing that makes me feel at peace with this decision was knowing that if it doesn’t work out, then IVF is my next best step. When I ask myself – Can I live with this decision? – the answer is always yes, because it is what feels right for me. Daniluk adds that others cope better by dealing with the decision at hand rather than being distracted by multiple choices. That decision-making style may prefer the simplicity of a mindfulness exercise like the one from Christina Baldwin that I mentioned. Some people make better decisions when they talk things out with someone, while others find it easier to write down a list of options to see the facts more clearly. Knowing yourself, your style and identifying a process which allows you to better organise your thoughts or weigh the pros and cons, can help remove some of the stress from the situation.
What is your decision-making style? What helps you make difficult decisions when it comes to your fertility? How do you take the stress out of the situation and give yourself peace of mind?