It seemed to happen about twice a week. Getting asked that question would feel like a sucker punch.
I heard it everywhere….“So, when are you having another baby?”
Usually it came from a co-worker, friend, or neighbor. For them, this was as casual as: “what did you have for lunch” or “what did you do this weekend”, but for me it was a heart wrenching painful question.
Studies have shown that the stress associated with infertility is as difficult as a cancer or HIV diagnosis. Through my personal journey with infertility and pregnancy loss, I learned in a very unique way about the stress that accompanies an infertility or pregnancy loss diagnosis, as well as the incredible amount of strength that it takes!
There are helpful strategies that helped me get through this difficult time and give me strength to keep going-even when things seemed hopeless. Maybe they will help you too!
1. Keeping a healthy body!
Keeping a normal body weight increases your chances of success and decreases stress on your body. Take a prenatal vitamin daily, and avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Staying active with moderate exercise can be a great way to manage weight and stress.
2. Getting support!
Emotional support can come from different people in our lives. Some patients get strength from sharing their struggles with family, friends, clergy, or co-workers. You might be surprised who else in your life has had similar struggles.
3. Talking it out!
Traditional talk therapy with a psychologist or social worker is a wonderful method for stress management. This method allows you to express and resolve issues while dealing with the fertility process. Either by yourself or with your partner, this is an excellent avenue to focus on specific stress and may be covered by insurance. I feel that this was so helpful for my husband and me. It helped us give each other strength and remain a team, which got stronger through the process.
4. Stick a pin in it!
Accupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy that uses small needles at specific points on the body to balance life’s energy, or qi. Originally, I was a little nervous about the needles, but it was a relaxing and wonderful experience. This is occasionally covered by insurance, but not always. Studies have shown that patients who use acupuncture feel better while going through treatment.
5. Give a gift to yourself!
With work, family, home; life gets very busy. Taking some time for ourselves often gets put to the bottom of the list. Taking a little time each week to do something relaxing or fun can really help! Some things that you can do are: meditation, deep breathing, massage therapy, yoga, gardening, or art classes!
6. Do talk with strangers!
Support groups either online or in person are one way to connect to others going through similar experiences. RESOLVE is a non-profit organization has both online and local support for those experiencing infertility. There are also local support groups.
7. Take a pass!
Most of us have a hard time saying no to others in our lives. If spending time with pregnant friends or those with babies is too painful, don’t do it. Baby showers can be particularly difficult. Allow yourself to skip these social events during this difficult time.
8. Don’t give up on your DREAMS!
Sometimes things seem so difficult through the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany infertility. Remind yourself that there is ALWAYS hope. Through my infertility journey, I eventually accomplished having the family that I desired. Sometimes it takes longer with more treatment that we were expecting, but you can get there. Just don’t give up!
Dr. Allison Rodgers is board certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and has been practicing medicine since 2004. She completed her residency at Case Western Reserve-Metrohealth Medical Center/Cleveland Clinic, followed by fellowship at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Rodgers' personal experiences with both secondary infertility and pregnancy loss have given her a unique insight into reproductive medicine, and she is well known for her compassionate and individualized patient care. She has published many original research articles in top medical journals on topics such as endometriosis, tubal factor infertility, in vitro fertilization, and donor sperm. Her special interests include in vitro fertilization, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, unexplained infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and premature ovarian insufficiency. Dr. Rodgers' practices at Fertility Centers of Illinois, you can read her post here as well!.
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