Women going through IVF often ask me: “How can I cope with the nearly two weeks from transfer to pregnancy test?” Indeed, most find that although the first part of the cycle is hectic, with frequent blood tests, ultrasounds and daily injections, it is the second part — the helpless waiting and wondering — that is more stressful. Most infertility patients get very good at “doing something” and are not so good at waiting.
I know a teacher who finally became pregnant with IVF after years of struggle with infertility. When she told her class that she was expecting a baby and was due in May, barely a month before school ended, one of the parents called her and complained, “couldn’t you have planned better?”
A while ago I sent out a mass email to several media outlets to garner interest in my show. Someone forwarded my email to a friend and we became infertility pen pals of sorts. We found a common bond in that we both deal with our infertility with humor…sometimes silly, oftentimes bittersweet. Here’s an excerpt from one of her emails to me.
“I feel like a terrible person. I get so angry when I hear that a friend is pregnant.”
“What’s wrong with me—I can’t even be happy for my sister?”
“I’m ashamed of the jealous person I’ve become.”
It’s o.k. It’s normal. You are not a bad person. Or at least having negative or envious feelings when a friend or family member is pregnant -- and you're not -- does not make you a bad person. Let’s face it, it's hard to remain generous in mind and spirit when you feel helpless. It's hard — no impossible — not to resent others for whom pregnancy seems to come so easily.
Before you say, “but I want my baby, not her baby, so why am I so envious of her?,” let me acknowledge that you are right — you don’t want her baby. What you do want, and what she seems to have, is the ability to have a baby more or less when she wants and without the collosal effort and anxiety that accompany infertility.
She’s “doin what comes naturally” and you're jumping through hoops, pumping yourself with shots, turning yourself into a pretzel in order to get to your morning blood test or ultrasound and then to work on time.
As a new or not-so-new infertility patient you may be surprised and a bit overwhelmed by the amount of time and attention a treatment cycle actually requires. Taking multiple medicines, going on frequent monitoring appointments, receiving daily instructions, mentally gearing up for procedures and the long wait to follow can take a lot out of you.
As the physical, hormonal and emotional pressures combine with your every day obligations even small things can begin to feel stressful and it can be easy to lose yourself in the daily grind of cycling. Creating a few positive rituals that you practice regularly throughout your treatment is a great way to add a little positive energy to your cycle and to make sure you are remembering the all important rule of taking care of yourself.
Last week, after moving for the third time in the past nine months due to a house renovation, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. While I was busy birthing a new home and feeling exhausted by work, the move and the end of the school year, I re-read a charming novel I had picked up several years ago called The Alchemist.
The Alchemist is a fable, telling the story of a young boy, Santiago, who sets out into the world looking to find buried treasure in Egypt. Part of Santiago wants to find the treasure and part of him wants to return home to safety. A wise king convinces Santiago that his only real obligation in life is to follow his Personal Legend. As the story describes it, Personal Legend is the path one decides to take that fills their heart with enthusiasm and joy. It is the path of our dreams, that which we are born to do.
In yoga, we call it “dharma” and my guru always says that when we truly step into its path, the whole of the universe will conspire to assist us along our journey. I got to thinking about Personal Legends and dharma in the context of infertility.
There's a special place for the male in your life to escape and contemplate life. I define it as "The Man Cave:"
The Man Cave: A solitary place for escape for males, perhaps your husband or partner. A place to retreat when contemplating a given challenging situation. A space is used for the purpose of regrouping and recharging.
Women often take offense at the men’s den, but they should realize that it's not only necessary, it's required for the well being of their guy's mind, body and soul.