Infertility Trouble With a Capital I
What do you do when you get into trouble? Whether it's trouble with your primary relationship, work, feeling stuck, infertility trouble or your own personal version of trouble; what do you do?
That was the question that I was asked in a yoga class yesterday by a beloved teacher, Mary Gerdes. She always asks the question that I need to hear, that resonates deep within and bubbles up with something new.
What do I do when I get into trouble?
LOL. Just being honest. I completely realize that it is not helpful, nor conducive to solving problems. I get that.
Experiencing Infertility - A Look Back
When I think back to experiencing infertility though, that’s exactly what I did. First month, I was sure I would be pregnant. Same with the second and third month. I was pretty confident until the ninth month. The ninth month hit hard, most probably because that’s the gestation time of a baby. By the ninth month of trying with no baby, the realization that something was needed beyond having loving sexual relations with my husband was undeniable.
Trouble was Infertility with a capitol I.
And so off to panic I went.
I didn’t know what to do first, who to listen to, what to pay attention to; that wasn’t for lack of reliable sources and available help. That was due to the panic that had ensued and clouded my thinking and ability to discern what was helpful from what was unhelpful.
Breath and Awareness
Mary asked and answered the question yesterday. What do you do when you get into trouble?
What do you do when you’re happy?
What do you do when you’re disappointed?
I could go on, but you get the idea. We breathe whatever emotion we are in, whatever situation is raging or loving around us. We breathe.
I’m not saying we always pay attention to the breath; that was Mary’s point.
My point is, actually, no matter what? We breathe. That’s what we were born to do. To keep breathing no matter what, otherwise, we are no longer alive.
Mary’s point, as interpreted by me, was “can we bring our focus to our breath when we are in trouble?” We will be breathing or hyperventilating as the case may be, but we will be breathing. We can’t get into trouble and just not breathe, then there’s a whole lot more trouble.
We breathe because we were designed to breathe every moment of our lives. We have to, there is no choice. Bringing attention to our breath, that’s different.
When I pay attention to my breath, even as my panic rises, I pause. I consider. It gives me just that amount of time for the panic to recede and a sort of reason to return. Not everything is worthy of panic. Ramping things down is healthy, physically and emotionally. Cognitively, we make better decisions when panic is not the ruling force.
I wish I had known in the middle of infertility that even though I felt panicked, there was a pause that was available. A place and a way to settle myself that didn’t count on anything except my breath and awareness.
Thanks Mary, for a glorious class as always. I appreciate always the physical movement of yoga. If I had to pick though, I’d pick the question brought up and reinvestigated in the practice.
What do you do when you’re in trouble?
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Infertility Retreat - What Does It Really Mean?
I heard the phrase timely retreat recently. Yesterday in fact.
Me, I don’t love the word retreat. Especially as it is used in moving into introspective space, head clearing, heart open space.
Here are the synonyms and they tell the story about why retreat doesn’t appeal to me: move away, draw back, pull away, recoil, withdraw, leave.
Those synonyms are the reason that I don’t like retreat because they indicate a giving up, as opposed to regrouping or reconsidering.
Fertility Treatment Pause
With infertility, rest becomes imperative. Taking time off from fertility treatment is necessary, even when that may seem impossible. When rest is not taken, exhaustion takes over. Hysteria and obsession take over. Given that it’s impossible to make sane, reasoned decisions from a hysterical place, a pause to take a deep breath can make the difference between good choices and not so good choices.
I’m trying the word pause out instead. Synonyms are: hiatus, gap, silence, break in proceedings, awkward moment, recess (I really like that one) and suspension. Here are some words that I looked at to express the meaning I’m trying to convey: give pause, compose, reflect, reconsider, selah and even delay.
What I’m recommending is not a retreat, which is often thought of as backing away. I’m recommending to give pause. To stop and reconsider. To stop and breathe, which is not the same as hyperventilating.
When I stop and give pause, I find that I don’t feel less stuck, I am less stuck. Possibilities that I refused to consider on the basis of them being impossible, become possible, sometimes even attractive. My knee jerk reaction of no, with that delay, becomes a more thoughtful, “well, maybe”.
Focus On Fertility - Remembering We Have Choices
My focus on fertility, pregnancy, and babies was so specific and pointed that I rarely allowed the idea of other options in; I rarely gave pause on what an alternate outcome could look like. Giving pause, taking a break allowed me to make other changes in my life that made my life feel hospitable to other choices about fertility treatment. Breathing in off-cycle months allowed me to be more sane in fertility cycle months.
So maybe that’s what I’ve settled on instead of retreat; to give pause.
To breathe in and out. To reconsider while in a quiet, saner state of mind. To sidestep the hysteria that builds and breathe instead.
What I learned and relearn every day is that when I go into panic mode I forget that most decisions can wait a moment. Or two. Or ten. Or a month. That making a decision when I feel like I have no choice is no decision at all; it comes from feeling bullied, even if I’m the one doing the bullying.
We always have choices. Even if the choices are miserable and hard and not at all what we wanted. Still, we have choices. And taking a moment to pause allows us to consider our choices in a saner, more open way.
To give pause. Yep, I like it.
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Peace in the Midst of Infertility and Chaos
There are places that I know bring me peace. In the midst of infertility and the chaos that it brought, I sought these places out to bring relief.
Where can you go where you feel that deep sigh from within, signaling safety? Letting you know that you have come home?
Sometimes those moments come in unexpected places. I’ve felt at home in places that were shocking.
For instance, in a coffee house with a friend after revealing a secret. In my own bedroom, letting go of everything at the door, walking in completely unburdened.
I almost always have a moment of lightness in a yoga class. That moment when everything melts away and I feel present to myself, to others and to the universe.
More and more lately, I feel at peace when I am alone. It used to be that I felt lonely or antsy or overly in my head when I was alone. These days, I find it soothing.
I have a suggestion.
How to Clear the Mind with Breath
Make some time for yourself. Clear your mind with deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Keep repeating. Allow yourself to repeat the word in your mind as you do the action.
Inhale -- bring the breath in.
Exhale -- release the breath out.
Do it again.
Notice your heart slow down.
Notice your thoughts become less frantic and hurried.
Close your eyes if it helps.
Let this time with yourself be the place that you find calm and peace.
Observe the stillness within your own heart and let the reflected light show you something new.
Maybe I’m not saying this so well.
Albert Einstein said it beautifully.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Our lives are miracles. Even while we’re waiting for our babies.
Find it in your breath and in yourself.
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Sometimes I write my blogs late at night. Very late at night. So late, that really it’s early morning. When the house is quiet and still. The sounds outside are muted and sleepy except for the nocturnal creatures.
Sometimes that’s when I find the peace of mind to write my blog. It is very late right now, quiet.
This morning (yesterday morning), I taught a private yoga class to a good friend of mine. Someone I know for a long time, very well, although not always intimately. I know her intimately enough to know about her family, her health, her personality. I have gotten to know her yoga practice most of all, through about two years of practicing together.
She is beautiful and graceful but doesn’t believe it or necessarily know it.
We experiment and learn together even though I am the teacher. She allows that vulnerability and I feel comfortable sharing it with her.
Sometimes I learn that I have been teaching something incorrectly. I believe that I have not caused her pain, although, perhaps occasionally, I have. She knows that I read, research, take classes, take workshops to learn to teach and grow more as a teacher.
I truly believe in the piece of the Hippocratic Oath that reads, (not exactly) first, do no harm.
In a class that I took the other day, a teacher I love almost to the point of idolization, pushed my legs, feet, arms and back into positions that I never would have been able to take by myself. Intense sensation is one way to describe it. Someone with a lower pain threshold might have called it by another name.
That is not who I am as a teacher. My teaching is suggestive, directive; I invite the student into the process. I call upon the students’ innate body wisdom and intuition. I assume that the student knows more about themselves, body, mind, heart and breath than even they realize.
I teach to bring that knowledge floating up to the surface for them to grasp. In their own time and space.
First, do no harm.
Perhaps the perfect phrase for us to sink into as we journey on this path to fertility. First, do no harm. No harm to oneself, first, no harm to others either.
Let the point of this blog be non-harming. And let that non-harming start with yourself. Let the idea of it extend to any negative sound bytes or recordings that you have running through your head. Flood your brain, mind, heart and breath with beautiful, joyous, uplifting messages today. Let them wash away all the thoughts of what you can’t do, what you don’t do, what you didn’t do. Let the breath carry you to realize how extraordinary you are. Just as you are. Absolutely perfect.
To all my students who allow me to learn with you, experience the wonder of the breath and heart, thank you. Special thanks to this one particular student and friend who has encouraged my teaching to blossom with the strength of her trust.