It’s difficult to make sense of things right now. The world is awash with a frantic sense of chaos. The space that we find ourselves in has sparked a lot of fear, anger, panic and grief. Various industries have come to a standstill, ‘social distancing’ is a new norm. It has completely disrupted life as we know it and turned our environment into an unfamiliar place. Adding to that, the disruption has also meant unexpectedly putting fertility plans on hold too – appointments and surgeries have been postponed, IVF cycles and fertility treatments have being cancelled and the uncertainty has turned everything upside down – something that although understandable (all things considered), is still a devastating blow for many women facing infertility. It’s scary when you’re pushed into a place where you feel like you have no control over what is happening around you, especially if you’ve waited a long time only to encounter yet another roadblock on your path to parenthood.
Many of us are unsure how to respond to the current state of things. I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions – How do I make peace being unable to move forward at a time when I thought I’d finally be taking big steps in the right direction? How do I cope with the uncertainty? And how do I deal with the resultant anxiety? The word surrender keeps coming to mind. It has taken some effort to find calm amidst the chaos, but I realise that my anxiety often comes from wresting against a reality that I cannot change, and so the more I surrender, the more I release those uneasy feelings. So, where to from here?
Making Peace With the Waiting Game
When you’ve been waiting to start your family for a long time, then being asked to press pause on your plans can feel a lot like stagnation. That sense of feeling stuck and unable to control what’s happening around you triggers a whole lot of frustration and fear that things may never work out for you. Although it isn’t easy to accept the things that we cannot control, I am surrendering to the fact that the only way through is to make peace with being in a state limbo and waiting it out for a while longer, as inopportune or unfair as it may feel.
In a social media post addressing people who’ve had their fertility treatments cancelled or rescheduled, Therapist and Infertility Counsellor, Kezia Ashley Okafor offered some comfort, highlighting that “infertility in its usual circumstances is a waiting game” and the current situation has meant being “plunged into a further wait.”
Okafor said: “I feel like infertility has prepared you to be here. You have and are already dealing with the unknown and uncertainty of trying to have a baby.”
Okafor added that people dealing with infertility “are already managing the stress and anxiety that comes with the process.” She is indeed right as I have seen how my personal experiences during this fertility journey have inadvertently led me to develop a set of transferable life skills that can be put to use in various other life challenges and dire situations like these. This is especially true when it comes to things like overcoming anxiety, dealing with stress and practicing mindfulness.
Okafor put it quite beautifully when she said: “Don’t forget that you’re an infertility warrior. Don’t forget that the same things that were getting you through life just two weeks ago are the same things that will get you through this.”
How are You Finding Calm in the Chaos?
It is important to stay informed about what is happening around us. But it’s equally as necessary to disconnect from the frenzy and disassociate from the energy of panic. We need to have moments of calm to preserve our wellbeing and peace of mind. Everything is so unfamiliar right now, and naturally many of us do feel overwhelmed and scared. So it’s felt vital to create new rhythms and routines during this period of self-isolation as I adjust to what my temporary ‘new normal’ looks like. I’ve found comfort in the things that have remained the same, like my morning routines which include doing yoga stretches, our my gratitude practice and breakfast ritual. Part of finding a new grounding rhythm has also meant getting comfortable with the idea of rest and time to practice extra self-care. The more I search for the opportunities in the crisis, the more I find encouragement to use this uncertain time as a sort of retreat for self-reflection, time to do things that fill my heart with joy and to continue nurturing myself.
When the panic starts to set in, doing meditations and breathwork have been great allies in combating my anxiety. My favourite go-to to restore calm has been to do ‘1 minute’ meditations. These mini-meditations are an effective and quick way to get me out of my head and redirect my thoughts to a more peaceful place. If this sounds like something that you could use, then here are three mini-meditations to try if you’d like to calm your anxiety:
 “I am Calm” Breathing Meditation: Bring your hands to your heart center. Take a deep breath in and out. Be present in your body.
Take a few more deep breaths. As you do, inhale peace and calm, exhale fear and anxiety.
Repeat for a minute or two until you feel ready to move forward in a more grounded energy space.
 “I am Safe” Mini – Meditation: Lay your back comfortably against the ground. Place one hand over your heart and the other over your belly. Take a few long deep breaths in and out, feeling your belly rise and fall as you do. Notice how your body is lovingly supported by the earth beneath you. Let go of your fears and allow yourself to feel held in a blanket of protective energy.
As you inhale, say: “I am safe and supported.”
Exhale, and say: “I am lovingly protected from all harm.”
 “I am Grounded” Mini – Meditation: Feel your feet against the earth, soles resting firmly on the ground. Sense the stable and supportive energy of the earth beneath you and draw this energy up into your body. Feel yourself grounding, as you release any anxiety and tension from your body.
Inhale and say: “I am rooted on sacred ground.”
Exhale and say: “I am steady and unmoved by the chaos around me.”
“Although this is an incredibly difficult time, it is giving us an opportunity for emotional healing. It will bring up different emotions; fear and grief are common. Rest more. Eat simply. Meditate. Chant and connect more deeply with one another.”
~ Emma Cannon
What is anchoring you in a place of peace and inner calm at the moment? What new rhythms and routines are you creating to comfort and ground yourself? How can you use this waiting period to focus on yourself and the things that you don’t often have time for? Life is not easy or ideal right now and we are all doing the best that we can to keep it together. Keep taking care of yourself and lean into the nourishing practises that help you feel comforted. Everything has its season. Eventually, we will get to the other side of it. This too shall pass.
This post is also available in: Arabic