Monday, 14 July 2014

Top 3 strategies to keep your mind off fertility.

Everyone with fertility challenges, and frankly all women who are beyond the three month mark in trying to get pregnant, knows that there is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. Whether you are trying naturally (or with assistance) and waiting until you can test, or whether you are waiting for a treatment cycle to begin, you are looking for coping strategies to get you through. Here are my top 3, tried and true, after two years of serious trying:

1. Work. If you can work in an environment with other people around so you don't find yourself drifting over to googling anything fertility, all the better. No one I worked with knew what I was going through, so reading anything pregnancy was off-limits at work. Having my assistant come and work IN MY OFFICE right next to me really kept me focused on actual work. Working at home, by myself, is more challenging and requires a lot of self-discipline. My self-discipline tends to be strong in the morning, but deteriorates in the afternoon. Non-work projects can also be good distractions, but they tend to be short-lived. One lady was shopping for a new car - it only occupied a couple of weeks in researching and then test-driving. Then she had her new car and was back to thinking about the baby she hoped to put in it. I'm shopping for a new car, but it only took me a day to do the research, and every day after that the information online is the same, so it isn't enough distraction for me. But I suppose any project you do with others that prevents you from discussing your fertility challenges will keep your mind off it and help pass the time.

2. Movies. You might be able to lose yourself in a good book, and often times I can too, but I found reading never quieted the voices in my head, the ones that spoke fertility non-stop, as well as movies or television. There were things I couldn't watch - every show this spring seemed to be full of unplanned pregnancies, kudos to Grey's Anatomy for at least balancing that one out with an unrealistically quick diagnosis of sorry, no more babies for you. I watched endless pregnancy shows when I was pregnant, but when you're dealing with infertility you want to get as far away from that as possible, so be careful in your selections and keep the tissues nearby incase you're caught off-guard.

3. Exercise. This works in several ways. First, there is the general stress-relief and mood-enhancing benefits of exercise. Second, my hormone levels were all in a better place after a few months of regular exercise. Third, it gives you a project with a longer-term goal. Fourth, when I'm at the gym I like to watch a video, which is a good mental distraction for me, but if all I have available is my iPod and a run outdoors, the music can clear my mind too. I'm not one to sing while running, but I found singing in the car very beneficial, so if you're confident, go ahead and sing while you work out!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

How to keep your sanity during fertility treatment

The chaos of moving house kept me pretty distracted these past couple of months, but then out of the blue, I'll just have a very bad day.

In the more than two years now of actively trying to conceive, waiting, diagnostic testing, more waiting, treatments, and more waiting, I know how trying and stressful this process is. I know that when you are in a cycle, or approaching a cycle, time seems to stand still.

But I can also promise you that distraction makes the down time, the long waits, pass - with less agony.

Yes, every celebrity baby post will eat away at your heart, and real friends with real babies will hurt even more, but it gets easier. I'm now enough cycles out from my last failed transfer to stop counting, and didn't even visit my fertility board for two or three weeks. Yes, I'm out of touch with how my ladies are doing, but I've also kept my mind occupied with other things and poof, time flies! It felt like forever when I made the decision to wait six months to try my frozen transfer, but now I'm half-way there! I have reached out to a new clinic, making inquiries about shipping my embryo, and I could drive myself nuts waiting for a reply, and waiting for an appointment, while checking expedia for airfares back to my old clinic and guestimating how long I would have to stay, and then start stressing about the physical stress of travel... it's a vicious cycle you see. So instead, I am better off keeping my mind busy with work (now that I work at home though, much more opportunity for mind-wandering) or online browsing for new dining chairs. Or figuring out how to reset the clock on my oven...

The hardest part about the move was giving away baby things. Each time was like ripping off a band-aid and often involved tears. Giving to someone in need made it easier - at least I knew it was going to get used. Some things were sold. Some things were put out at the curb but never by me as that is not something I could do. Somethings were smuggled aside, sorted later in private, and a few things even smuggled into my suitcase and into the back of the closet with the "out of season" clothes so my partner doesn't know I kept them. The brusk efficient manner of the movers made me think some days I could have smuggled a little more, a few more baby clothes or maternity clothes, but it's done, it's gone - a basement full of things for baby number two, never to be used again by me anyway. And it made me very sad at the time, but I try not to think about it. Back to new dining chairs and resetting the oven clock. Before I know it, I'll be popping estrace pills in preparation for my frozen transfer.