Piling on the pressures during infertility
I’d planned to write on a different topic this week but found myself drawn to the subject of expectation as I looked around at my unrecognizable house strewn with laundry, dirty plates and half-drunk cups of tea. What we expect from life and how it turns out to be can look vastly different – I knew having a baby would be life changing but I’m not sure I was prepared for how little of my old life would be left; ie. the ability to find time to pick up clothes off the floor!
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We pile pressures and expectations on ourselves in so many areas of our lives; at work we often expect more from ourselves than other people, leading us to take on far too much. At home there is pressure to maintain a lovely environment which is clean and tidy and in our personal lives we often give ourselves tough milestones to reach; be married by xx, have a baby by xx but life tends to get in the way with these expectations and if we’re not careful we start to feel like failures against the impossible goals we’ve put upon ourselves.
It’s so easy to do this during fertility treatment as there are so many different targets to measure ourselves against. How many times have you heard yourself say “I need to get x amount of eggs this time” or: “this round has to work”. Programming your brain with these hard to reach goals can often lead you to become one track minded and obsessed about outcomes and therefore inevitably distraught when things don’t go to plan.
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Instead of focusing on the results which are essentially out of your control, it can help instead to accept what’s happening in the here and now so instead of: “I need to get xxx amount of eggs this time” you tell yourself that you’re working really hard to do everything you can to get as many eggs as your body is able to provide.
There is enough pressure on us and our bodies with all the medication, appointments and information to take in but we often forget to be kind to ourselves. I know I did – constantly trying to keep “on top” of everything; but what does that actually achieve? A burnt-out shell of a body that is not going to help with the creation a new life. It was only when I recognised the destructive pressure I was putting on myself that I started to let go of expectation and started to accept the situation I was in.
I don’t think it’s coincidental that I, like many others, successfully conceived on the round that I knew would be our last and that I had already come to terms with life as a non- parent. I had become kinder to myself and more accepting of life as it was instead of how I wanted it to be.
This subtle shift in mentally means that you accept whatever outcome arises in the knowledge that you’ve done everything you can. As with most self help strategies this is obviously easier said than done and of course there will always be the ultimate goal in your mind of getting your baby but trying to step back from that and giving yourself every chance possible each month by being kind to your body and accepting where you are right now will help you feel calmer and more in control.
- ways to reduce expectations/pressures on yourself
- Accept where you are right now – stop thinking beyond this moment and congratulate yourself and your body for everything you’ve achieved so far.
- Take each cycle as an opportunity and be hopeful and open to the magic that could unfold, without telling yourself you “need” to get pregnant.
- Keep tabs on the things you can control and put expectation on ie. how you eat, the people you choose to spend with, the information you’d like to find out.
- Take a moment each day to reflect on your life and what you are thankful for
- Try to think of 1 or 2 positives about your life staying as it is. By accepting that perhaps life will stay like this for a while and learning to be comfortable with that it really helps reduce the pressure on trying to change it.
So, back to my messy house, unwashed hair and chaotic life I go, in the knowledge that this is just how it is right now, and that’s ok.
Do you find that you pile on the pressure of getting a positive result each month or through each IVF cycle? What would help reduce some of the expectation? Wherever you are on your fertility journey, I’d love to hear from you!