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 Support - A Mid-Week Pick Up
Here’s a mid-week infertility pick up.
My word for today, as it pertains to the struggles and joys of being in fertility treatment, is almost.
Almost can walk us back from the edge.
We are all human beings. Every person you meet today is a human being with strengths and weaknesses. Every human being that you meet today makes mistakes, does great things, wakes up, goes to sleep and does a tremendous amount in between.
When you get ready to be dismissive of someone else’s mistakes or are tempted to see them as “other,” resist the urge. They are human beings. They make mistakes. They are doing the best that they can, just as you are. Just as I am. Just as we all are.
Maybe they are not as nice as you would like them to be. Maybe they don’t explain things as carefully as you think they should.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- How do I behave when I’ve gotten behind and I’m rushing to catch up?
- What do I leave out I feel pressured to move onto the next thing?
- What must it seem like to interact with me when I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed and nothing feels like it’s going right?
We don’t know what’s going on with another living being, or more specifically another human being. People I’ve been in relationship with for years, who are perpetually unpleasant, I have found out to have serious, persistent sadnesses and troubles in their lives. The worst I can do? I can add to them by being nasty or unpleasant back. The best I can do? Smile and wish them well.
Infertility Feelings and Seeing Others
Infertility sometimes feels like it wraps us up in a dark cloud where seeing another person and their pain is almost impossible.
Key word is almost.
I understand pain. I don’t understand it as well as some. I understand it better than others. Another key question is, “do I need to understand the source and details of someone else’s pain to offer sympathy, to feel empathy?” If I am in so much pain myself that I cannot see the other person as a real, live, living, breathing person with hopes and needs just like me, than it is almost impossible.
Key word is almost.
Almost is that pause that we can take, that is offered between inhale and exhale. Almost is that moment between a thought and rushing to say that thought.
Almost is reflective.
We can think. We can decide.
We are in pain or we are in joy. Either way, what we say out loud to another human being is our choice and ours entirely.
Almost is not hurtful. It does not inflict pain.
Almost is what you choose not to say.
Almost is what protects another human or living being from harsh words that you may very well regret. Almost is also what protects us from that regret.
Use your almosts today to the fullest extent. Indulge in them.
I know I will.
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Infertility Heroes of the Day ~ Babies and Unicorns
Waiting for the results or even waiting for the next set of results. In our heads, going around and around during infertility. How’s my cycle going? How is it going now? How about now? How many follicles? How big? Have the embryos grown? How many? Am I pregnant? How pregnant?
We complicate things, we human beings, don’t we? We get into our own heads and we think and we think and we think and then we think some more.
We think we can think our way to all the answers and then we will arrive and know everything. And then, by gosh, we think some more.
Hence, my FB proclamation yesterday. I don’t often post things besides my blog or something educational. These past few days though, I have gotten so very tired of the real estate in my own head. So tired of my own thoughts and my own complications and then thinking more that I can figure it all out.
My FB post from yesterday, shared from a distant FB friend was this:
“Being a person is getting too complicated. Time to be a Unicorn. ~Unknown Author
I was driving myself crazy in the privacy of my own brain.
Then the day got much, much better.
From Prenatal Yoga to Newborn
I had the absolute delight and pleasure yesterday of holding a barely month-old baby. Interestingly enough, I am not all that much of a baby person. Not one of those people who swoon over every baby I meet.
This baby though is different. This is a baby that I knew about from embryo to emerged human being. That I got to see grow in prenatal yoga, that I heard about for the entire nine months that he was growing. A baby who I saw get larger and larger and move more and more. Who, in fact, heard my voice once a week for his entire time in utero.
That baby! Oh my. Nothing to get you out of your own head than a newborn sleeping contentedly on your chest. No more thinking. Brain shut down. Utter physical pleasure. Utter connection. Feeling him get heavier and more into his own comfort was inspiring.
That baby reminded me of a Unicorn. Too complicated to be an adult. I want to be a Unicorn.
He didn’t worry about when he’d be hungry next. Or need to be changed next. Or if he would be cold five minutes or five hours from then. He just was. There were no worries at all. If he was upset, he made it known and what he was upset about was figured out and solved.
That baby was Zen. In the moment. A Unicorn, uncomplicated by a busy brain.
He’s my hero. He’s my fertile hero. He’s the entire reason that we do what we do here at RMACT. Every single one of us on team RMACT is here to help you find your babies.
And let me tell you, the end results? Are miraculous. Every single one of them. Just like Unicorns.
That Unicorn baby yesterday got me right out of my head. He got me looking at clouds. And dragonflies. And birdhouses for purple martins. He had me looking at rivers and the way the sun hit the stones. He had me listening to my fellow human beings and seeing them as miraculous Unicorns.
Thanks miracle baby. I needed that.
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Fertile Affirmations for Friday
Might it be a good time to replace some thoughts that rattle around your head with fertile affirmations? Whether you are in the midst of infertility or fertility treatment or just want to live a happier life, I think yes and here’s why. Speaking for myself, I often get into a place of internal scolding when I don’t make the choices that are absolutely perfect for me. In other words, I beat myself up almost whenever I can. Interesting that I make that choice over and over again. It’s become a routine, even a habit. Do something less than perfectly, and here’s the tape in my head, “oh, cr#p, I did it again. That’s the third time today, eighteenth time this week, nine thousandth time this year. Why did I do it again? It’s never worked before and it didn’t work again.” I won’t bore you with the on and on and on that goes; it’s not pretty. I won’t discuss how distracting it can be when I’m trying to focus on something in front of me, that’s a different blog.
What I will focus on is how exhausting it is to be in a constant state of internal disapproval. My brain is the arresting officer, judge and jury in the split second of an eye. And it’s not enough to judge the moment; I have to bring up every time I’ve ever done that in my life. And I throw in the kitchen sink as well.
I do this less frequently now. I have a new practice, a new habit, that I’ve gradually incorporated to replace this automatic instinct to scold myself.
Positive Affirmations - A One Minute Break
Positive affirmations. Every hour on the hour, I take a one minute break and reel off a list of positive affirmations of things that I believe about myself. Every hour they are different. Every hour it becomes more familiar and comfortable to reflect on these aspects of my personality and feel them, in my heart and even deeper.
This felt deeply uncomfortable at first. It was a change in routine, of course it felt strange. Like it does when I add anything new into my life; it took getting used to.
Now? I love it. Doing this makes me breathe more effortlessly. And it does not feel like bragging or like exalting myself, quite the opposite, what it feels like is that I am bringing balance to my internal conversations. I still scold myself but it is balanced with an acknowledgement of my self worth.
17 Fertile Affirmations to Try
I am strong
I am healthy
I am loving and I am loved
I am valuable
I am vibrant
I am worthwhile
I am capable
I am able
I am persistent
I am funny
I am a force to be reckoned with
I am light
I am kind
I am powerful
I am humble
I am capable of growth and change
I am fertile
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Infertility Chaos - Turning to Calm
“You don’t have to suffer continual chaos in order to grow.” John C. Lilly
Some people react to crises with calm composure. Those same people will react to other types of crises or challenges with a less calm demeanor.
How about you? Does a roadblock in your way cause frenzy, either in your behavior or in your emotions? Does the challenge cause turmoil or do you accept that it’s part of your journey like all the good and easy, sweet things?
Infertility is a crisis. It’s a road block that can feel like a massive and unassailable impediment. More like a mountain than something that will give way and be temporary.
And that’s where today’s quote comes in handy. In the middle of a crisis, any crisis, there is the temptation to be in a state of chaos. I find it very tempting to blame the chaos on the situation. I can find excuses, always, about why this or that hasn’t happened or has happened and the crisis is always a good thing to blame it on.
Really though, maybe it’s just about time to learn how to grow without chaos. When facing infertility, there are schedule changes; unexpected test results, insensitive comments from family/friends and more that can cause chaotic feelings and reactions.
I personally like meditation. Which I am terrible at; my mind chatters about what I need to get done, my thoughts wander around the universe and back home, my nose itches and I want desperately to wiggle my toes. My method these days is to candle gaze. Carrie Van Steen is my hero! She meditates and she didn’t even know that’s what she was doing. Light a candle, gaze at it. Focus on the flame. Soften your thoughts. Then soften your thoughts and your judgment of yourself when you realize that you are having thoughts. Allow yourself to let go of other distractions and just keep looking. Consider it a mini-vacation. Consider it a major vacation.
Maybe chaos is more productive for you than it is for me. I notice the whirlwind and realize that I’m the eye of the storm. The eye is calm, yet I create frenetic activity all around me. What if I choose instead to extend that calm, that sense of peace and quiet from the eye of the storm?
What if? What if I chose quiet over chaos? Let the business slip away. The din to die down.
I feel capable of making a different choice and I am ready to practice it during less chaotic moments.
Who’s willing to try with me?
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Wellness Wake-Up Call
I have a great group of women that I am working with who are inspiring, uplifting and vibrant. They are successful and funny and smart and more.
Here’s a comment that I made yesterday at our group that I feel comfortable sharing:
I want to take at least as good care of me as I do my car.
My car gets regular oil changes. I fill it with gas when the gauge indicates that it’s needed. (I have experienced the unfortunate results when I’ve waited too long about the gas issue.) I have great snow tires and make sure to check them regularly during the winter and my regular tires regularly as well; just the right amount of air. When I want to wash my windshield, I press a button and fluid magically appears, if I’ve filled the windshield wiper fluid reservoir. The list around my car goes on. My tires are rotated and balanced. The car is washed, perhaps not frequently enough. The car has regular check-ups and lights remind me to bring it in until I do.
I kind of wish I had the light go on for me when I turned 16 and didn’t get my period regularly. Or at 22, when I was having sex, not being particularly careful and never got pregnant. A light reminding me to ask questions about that or to have myself checked would have come in very handy.
Who knows what would have happened. Had I known about infertility earlier, would I have done something different? Made different choices? Set my priorities in some other way?
Having a light go on might have alerted me that I needed maintenance. The way we all do.
The Self-Care We Deserve
My body, my psyche, me. I deserve at least as much self-care -- attention, money, mindfulness -- as my car does. But while I do not skimp on the car (except for car washes!), I do skimp on myself.
I shower regularly, brush my teeth three times a day, floss (not enough). Do I go to the doctor regularly? Do I make the appointment with my OB/Gyn for a checkup? Do I see the dentist as often as I should? How long should I have intense and regular shoulder pain before I see an orthopedist? Do I treat my food as fuel for my physical body; nourishment for organs, cells, tissues? Do I skip the glass of water because I’m in too much of a rush? Sleep less than I should because I have too much to do? Leave out meditation or time by myself to do more?
Do I take better care of my car than myself?
You bet I do.
Without a doubt I do.
The car won’t run without gas and I won’t function without food and water. Yet so often I fuel myself with inappropriate nourishment and call it comfort. I wouldn’t think about putting soda into my car and expect it to run, still I feed myself things that do not help my body run in a way that is anywhere near optimum.
And the list goes on and on. My car is treated with more mindfulness than I treat myself.
So easy to make a commitment to making a change. So hard to implement real changes.
Today, I have started. I have eaten a healthy breakfast. I have made plans and taken the action steps to create and eat a healthy lunch. Tonight, for dinner, I will think ahead, now, and make sure that before I get too hungry, I can eat what is appropriate and delicious.
Today, I will treat myself as lovingly as I do my car.
It’s the least I can do.
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Fertility Treatment Guilt
Contributing to your own demise.
Is that like digging a hole and climbing in? Adding to your own miseries?
I think it probably is like that. We do that, a lot, with fertility treatment; it’s called guilt. What we should have done. Could have done. Should not have done. Started younger. Knew more about our own fertility. And more.
May I just say though, that I don’t think this is about blame? Or guilt.
How often do we accept that we are doing the best that we can? And that even if it is not what we would like to be able to offer to ourselves or others, it’s the best that we can do in that moment. Sometimes what we have to offer is miniscule compared to our expectations. Sometimes what we have to offer looks an awful lot like sitting on the couch too much, watching too much of whatever our favorite show is at the time. Sometimes our best is taking a thirty minute walk, even if running marathons is what we used to do.
The shame and guilt that we heap on top of ourselves is probably far more damaging than anything we are eating or any exercise we are not doing.
That’s hurting us from the inside out. Where no one else can see it, but we feel it. And it matters a lot more how we feel than how we look. What if we wore our misery on our faces instead of in our hearts? And so our faces looked the way that we felt and our hearts felt relieved at being able to be honest and express what really was going on.
The word fine is a perfect case in point.
What a stupid word.
Attitude Awareness: Are You Really Fine?
What does it mean? I know at least one meaning that I cannot write here because I really try hard not to curse. Here’s the G-rated version: f**ked up, insecure, neurotic and excessive. Make your own version. I think mine today would look something like this: flighty, indignant, neurotic, exhausted.
What does your version of fine really mean?
Here are a few good words to choose from:
F-fearful, frantic, frightened, freaking, frenzied, fatigued, fuming, furious, forlorn, full of faith, fervent, fanatical, fixated, fabulous, fulfilled
I-insecure, irrational, interested, insightful, illogical, insensitive, indignant, intelligent, intuitive, impatient, intolerant, impressive, inspired, irked
N-neurotic, nourished, nervous, numb, needy, natural, nurturing, narrow minded, notable, nasty, normal
E-emotional, excessive, exhausted , engaging, enraged, excited, eager, enthusiastic, edgy, extraordinary, encouraged, epic, enthusiastic, energetic, empowering, efficient
I’m setting an intention for tomorrow. Here’s what Fine will look like for tomorrow. Writing it on a post-it note and putting it on the bathroom mirror.
F - full of faith
i - inspired
n - nurturing
e - efficient
When someone asks me tomorrow how I am, I will say I’m fine. And I will mean it.
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Lessons in Compassionate Living
"I have learned silence from the
talkative, tolerance from the
intolerant and kindness from the
unkind. I should not be ungrateful
to those teachers."
Khalil Gibran: Sand and Foam (1926)
What a beautiful piece of a poem. This really speaks to me as I've come to realize the extent of my arrogance. My arrogance at work? I want to add to that poem, with these:
I have become educated from the ignorant, gentle from the cruel, sympathetic from the unsympathetic.
And I have learned humility from those who are arrogant. I do that daily.
Have any of us who have entered into fertility treatment, seeing that infertility was knocking at our door, after experiencing month after month of no conception, not heard unkind, ignorant or unsympathetic comments, even from those who love us?
Well meaning, perhaps. I need to learn tolerance for others who suffer from as a high a level of arrogance as myself. So perhaps those who know better what God or the Universe wants are teaching us humility when they tell us of God's plans for our becoming a parent. Or not becoming a parent.
Infertility Education Through the Journey
I did learn about pain, kindness, ignorance and cruelty through my infertility journey. I heard comments that fell into all of those categories over and over again. You know what they are, you hear them too. Just a few examples: relax, you'll get pregnant; maybe it's not meant to be; it's not cancer, why are you so upset?; you want kids? Take mine!; and so many more.
During my infertility education, I learned over and over again. To be tolerant when I didn't feel it, because my understanding didn't necessarily extend large enough yet. To educate myself when I didn't understand something or find someone more educated than myself and listen carefully to them or simply accept that it was out of my realm of understanding. I learned that pain is pain whether the details of the pain made sense to me or not.
Pain is pain. I learned to understand and recognize pain when I heard it, saw it, felt it, even smelled it.
Pain deserves kindness, tolerance, sympathy, compassion and love.
The pain from infertility is no different than any other pain. We who are infertile, need to also recognize that. We do not own the rights to pain. Many others feel pain also, for a myriad of reasons, much of which we have no personal experience with.
We learn from pain. Expand your understanding, sympathy, education, kindness and humility. Express it to someone else who is in pain and you may find your own pain receed just the smallest amount.
We all have so much to learn about pain. Me, I have a lot to learn about arrogance as well. I do assume I know better and more. I learn daily from others what I don't know.
With whom can you share compassion and kindness today?
Ever have a weekend where you were happy to go back to work on Monday? Ever have a weekend where you needed a rest after it? Doesn't that happen over and over again with infertility and fertility treatment? That the stress of relaxing while waiting becomes overwehelming?
Ever wonder what it is we are doing when we pack our "down" time so thoroughly that we need time off after our time off?
If our down time, our time to relax, is so over scheduled, even with fun, fabulous things, when do we actually relax?
I was speaking to someone today who described himself as a person who found it impossible to sit. That he always had to do, that sitting around felt like a waste of time to him. The fact that he was doing just that, while having a conversation with me, was something I didn’t point out to him. Maybe he felt like the conversation was a waste of time, that he should have found something to do instead or maybe he didn’t realize what exactly he was doing.
Maybe it just comes down to mindfulness. Loosely translated, doing things mindfully. Or thoughtfully, with thought. Not being on auto pilot, moving from one thing to the next.
The perfect example is rushing to a yoga class. I’ve done it. Most people I know who regularly go to class have done it occasionally. Rushed to class. Rushed to class to relax. I once went to a yoga class in Los Angeles while I was there on business. I was three minutes late because of the famous LA traffic. The door was locked. No class for me. I was dumbfounded.
Rushing to relax. Getting locked out of a chance to relax because of traffic. There is some karmic message here.
To quote Oprah here, here’s what I know for sure.
I will never lock you out of class, no matter how late you are. I will always greet you with a smile and do everything I can to make you feel welcome and. We will work together to make sure that rushing to relax does actually result in you feeling relaxed.
Meanwhile, I’m going to extend that sense of forgiveness to myself. Maybe do less. Maybe be late once in a while without feeling panicked about it.
Being mindful. The message for the week.