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Will Being the "Perfect Infertility Patient" Get You Pregnant?

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a blog by Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, Mar. 18, 2010

The “perfect infertility patient” has transformed her life. She dines on wheatgrass and flaxseed and avoids dairy and meat. She does yoga and meditates and avoids exercise that elevates her heartbeat. She sleeps eight hours a night and listens to guided imagery tapes in her car. She reads about infertility on the Web but knows when to shut the computer off. She is doing all that she possibly can and she is working hard not to drive herself crazy in the process. It’s a difficult balance.

I meet “perfect infertility patient” fairly often these days. It's not surprising. We live in a society in which hard work pays off and most of us believe that if we work hard at something, put our minds to it, do all we can, our efforts will pay off. That is, until we face infertility.

Infertility turns that old “hard work” message on its head: You can work as hard as you possibly can and end up with nothing to show for it. “So there,” says infertility, as it hits its victims in the face.

Infertility patients, for the most part, do not take this assault lying down. You fight back. Armed with your wheat grass and your relaxation tapes, you still work hard, doing all you possibly can to make a pregnancy happen.

For some of you, this is reassuring because in the absence of any real control, you feel that you are doing your best. You can comfort yourself with reminders that you will not look back with regret. However, for others, all the hard work only adds insult to injury as you see pregnant women wolfing down a Big Mac or worse still, smoking a cigarette. You are reminded that this is all so unfair and that there is not a whole lot you can do about it.

So where does this leave you? Should you strive to be that “perfect infertility” patient or go for spite, waving your nose at inferility as you enjoy a piece of pepperoni pizza and a Coke?

The best advice I can give is to say, “whatever works.” I see many women who are proud of themselves for changing their diets and modifying their lifestyles. They say they feel better in general and feel more in charge of their infertility.

Others, however, find that diet and lifestyle changes simply lead to their feelings of frustration and deprivation: They don’t have the baby they want and they can’t even enjoy the french fries. For them, it may be far better to leave life as it is and not try to make changes.

Perhaps “anticipatory regret” should be your guide. None of us want to regret the decisions we make. As you reach for the wheat grass or the Diet Coke, think about which decision is more likely to leave you looking back with regret.

Some of you will want to feel “we tried everything” while others will be comforted to know that infertility did not come to dominate your life and control your nearly every move.

Which patient are you?

If you have any questions, please login and post them below and I'll try to help. You can also read more of my blog here.

Comments (1)

I love when you say, The best advice I can give is to say, “whatever works.” It is so true. Everyone is different and therefore there really can’t be a ‘perfect infertility patient’. Personally, wheat grass makes my stomach very upset and unfortunately yoga has never agreed with my back, but swimming is my yoga, I love meditation and try to stick to locally sourced, whole foods. When I did acupuncture I really enjoyed the treatment but the cost and time commitment was extremely stressful for me so it didn’t work out. You get the picture. Trying to achieve perfection as defined by someone else (or a whole industry for that matter) can be frustrating and lead to unnecessary regret. Spend some time figuring out what is perfect for you and hopefully you will begin to accept and be proud of the fact that you are doing everything in your power to be perfect in your own way.

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