A Sane Girls Guide is excited to introduce a new guest blogger today, Lisa Deck. Lisa is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and founder of the blog Before the Belly – which provides a voice for women struggling with infertility. She is also an infertility “survivor” and mom to her son.
My name is Lisa, and I am a social worker, a blogger, a wife and a very grateful mom. My journey to motherhood began 4 years ago when my husband and I decided to start “trying.” It was an exciting time…for a few months. But after many negative pregnancy tests, 2 miscarriages, and a lot of heartache, we turned to fertility treatment. After a few unsuccessful Clomid cycles, we jumped into IVF. It was scary and thrilling at the same time, because it felt like we were putting everything on the line. All our chips were in. I felt incredibly hopeful, but wary of being shattered again…
To my great surprise and great joy, our first round of IVF was successful and we got pregnant with what we later found out was a beautiful (big!) baby boy. I savored every moment of my long-awaited pregnancy. And while new motherhood was not without its struggles, I felt and still feel grateful every day for the blessing of getting to be a mom.
A few months ago (when my son was about 9 months old), I saw a commercial that pulled at my heartstrings. It’s for laundry detergent and says something like “you will have a child forever, but a baby for just one year.” It’s kind of stunning when you put it that way. What a short time we have with our snuggly little babies before they are precocious toddlers. When we get to hold them close and carry them before they are off and running on their own. When we get to make choices for them and protect their environment, before they head off into the world beyond our doors.
Once I got to thinking about it, I realized that everything in this process has a time limit on it… except trying to conceive. Pregnancy is 9 months, give or take a little. Babyhood is one year. But TTC is unknown. It could take one month. It could take one year. It could take several years. Therein lies the frustration. You don’t know when it’s finally going to be your turn. You get your hopes up every month, but in the back of your mind you are wondering if it’s foolish to be hopeful again.
I had a dear friend at the time who was going through this process of waiting and hoping, and I was reliving the ups and downs of that uncertainty with her. I realized again why waiting is so hard. You don’t know how long the wait is going to be. Once it happens, you’ll look back and know at what point you were on your journey today. Were you halfway through? Or on the verge of getting the most exciting news of your life? There’s no way to know but to keep moving forward.
So, having been there, what advice can I give to others who are somewhere along this TTC road? Here is the best I have to offer:
1) Fight to stay positive
My friend was much better at this than I was. But I will learn from her grace for the future. For as long as you can, keep your attitude optimistic. This might require therapy, yoga, or a daily Starbucks treat. Whatever it is that keeps you positive and peaceful, do it. Which leads me to my next piece of advice…
2) Nurture yourself
Now more than ever, you need to honor your body, mind and spirit. Be selfish. Trust me, you will miss the days of being able to be selfish. There is no better time to do that than while you are trying to conceive and then pregnant. It’s a sacred time and you are asking a lot of your body. Treat it as such. Do things that feel good, physically and emotionally.
See yourself as a parent. See your baby. Think about what life will be like when he or she arrives. Think about what kind of parent you want to be. Plan for your future family. I truly believe in the power of visualization to make things happen in and around you.
4) Appreciate your partner
It is easy to get lost in the “task” of trying to get pregnant. It’s easy to become so focused on what you want that you don’t have that you forget what you do have. Remember who you’re in this with. Let them know that you want not just to have a baby, but to have a baby with them. Make the most of the time you have as a family of two – enjoy the things that you can do now that you won’t be able to do later (go out to a nice restaurant, go to a movie, stay out past 7 o’clock, etc.).
I will end there, so as not to risk sounding like I have it all figured out. Clearly my advice comes with the benefit of seeing the struggle in retrospect. I admire everyone who is traveling this road with all the grace they can muster. My heart is with you.
Lisa Deck is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and author of the blog, Before the Belly. Her goal is to provide a voice and listening ear for women who are struggling with infertility as she did. She is now the proud mama of a (big) little boy.