10 Ways to Hate Your Infertility Wait Less
You won't ever hear me say that waiting for your turn to be a mom is a cake walk (All those pregnant bellies and precious newborns...oy!). However, life is too short to spend the wait viewing the glass as half empty or worse yet, shattered beyond repair. There are strategies you can employ right now that will ensure you make it to the infertility finish line with your sanity, and your relationships, intact.
1. Make a counselor your best friend
Let's face it. Most of your girlfriends are knee deep in motherhood and clueless about your infertility struggle. There's no way I could have kept my sanity through 10 years of waiting for babies without my life coach, Jan. Having one paid hour twice monthly to unload my anger and grief without worrying about being labeled a whiner was priceless. And therapists don't just listen. Those versed in cognitive therapy can equip you with fresh perspective and practical strategies for managing - and even finding joy in - your wait.
Yes, I know you're not exactly jonesing to get up off the sofa and train for a marathon. Half the photos snapped of me during our wait show me curled up under a blanket giving the cameraman a steely glare. But girl, you are sorely in need of the positivity-producing endorphins that come with moving your body. Commit yourself to a lap around the block and you might find your walk/run so freeing that you don't want to stop. Joining a gym is not such a bad idea either. Treadmills and stationary bikes are gratefully baby-free zones. Another perk? The women sweating it out at the Y are too breathless to say anything stupid or hurtful.
3. Eat like a grown up
With assistive reproductive technology and/or adoption plus persistence, your parenthood dreams will one day become a reality. And yes, you may have to take out a home equity line of credit to bring home baby (we did!), but what could be more worth it? However, part of becoming a parent is waving goodbye to your grown up palate. Now is the time to indulge in shrimp jambalaya and juicy filet mignon, patio tapas with iced Dos Equis, and pork ragout with pappardelle pasta. The hot dog and pizza days are coming my friend, and regardless of what Rachel Ray says about that Greek salmon burger your kids will just love, trust me, they won't. So if you're a cook, tear up the kitchen preparing your favorite pad Thai or head to that downtown restaurant where you can't pronounce the menu items. Your taste buds will thank you.
4. Take regular siestas
In the thick of infertility, your system is likely running on hormones and chronic stress. During sleep, your body produces growth hormone, which is the antidote to the stress hormone, cortisol, while serotonin swoops in to stimulate feelings of contentment and well being. If possible, forget your cares for about 30 minutes each afternoon to catch some Z's like our cosmopolitan friends in Greece, Italy, and Spain.
5. Contain the pain with perspective
Infertility is a long ride on a slow train where the destination and ETA are uncertain. It's true that the wait can feel empty and hopeless. However, setting aside a specific daily time to ponder your losses can make room to also consider your blessings. Identify a few things each day for which you are grateful and visualize these gifts - your husband's dimples, that kind coworker, the dog who cuddles up with you at your worst. Focusing on such things can lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression and turn emotions in a positive direction.
6. Dress happy
Have you ever noticed how wearing a brand new outfit can make you feel all sparkly inside? Sometimes we need to rebel against our inner sadness with outward joy. Forget the black, brown, and gray in your closet and splurge on some color. Get a sassy new cut, some fresh highlights, or a crazy nail design. In the same way that the act of smiling can bring on happiness, looking your best can also give you a lift.
What makes you giggle? Dog shaming videos on YouTube? Old Friends reruns or simply old friends? For me, there's nothing funnier than watching people duke it out in Wii sports boxing, arms punching at the air. Laughter is another source of stress-relieving endorphins and can boost your immune system. Find what tickles your funny bone and do it, especially when an intense procedure or angst-producing test date is looming.
8. Create new rituals with your spouse
So tied are we to tradition that it's hard to believe attendance at egg hunts on Easter and church on Mother's Day are not listed as citizenship requirements in the U.S. Constitution. However, these spring holidays are two that can cause significant heartache for couples struggling with infertility. For a time, you might have to skip kid-centered family gatherings to create your own. Perhaps Easter becomes your day for planting bulbs and cleaning out your spring garden. Maybe Mother's Day could be better spent kayaking or binge-watching Big Bang Theory. The world will not come to an end if you bow out of painful gatherings for a time. Remember: This too shall pass.
You might be asking, "How can I help someone else when I am barely surviving?" It seems counter-intuitive, but making a difference in the life of someone (or something) is a great stress reliever and helps you regain a sense of control. While your attempts at achieving a pregnancy seem futile, volunteering in small ways can make an immediate positive impact and help you remember and honor your God-given gifts. An assisted-living community is a great place to start. It packs the added punch of allowing you to gain a lifetime of wisdom from senior citizens who've likely seen enough heartache to put yours in perspective. If you prefer wet noses and sloppy kisses, animal shelters are always in need of an extra pair of hands for petting, walking, and playing with homeless pets. You might even come home with a new friend.
Check out VolunteerMatch.org to find a place that's just waiting for your superpowers.
Made in the image of God, humans are compelled to create beauty. Your current obsession is to make a baby with the one you love, but some of that hunger can be soothed by channeling your creativity into other pursuits. Painting a still life, strumming the ukulele, journaling, and even baking a chocolate raspberry mousse cake can fit the bill. Extra credit for sharing your creations with other hurting souls!
Don't spend your wait wallowing in worry as you watch the world spin around you. Even during infertility, life can be filled with wonder and growth when the difficul of waiting is tempered by your openness to its lessons.