During this event, Lucy Lines, Embryologist, Fertility Educator, and IVF patient advocate & Louise Siwicki, Fertility Empowerment Coach and Fertility Workplace Advocate shared their own experience to provide insights, support, and practical tips for navigating the holiday season while prioritizing your well-being.
Louise started by introducing her own story, where she explained that she gave birth to 3 children in 3 years. The reason people find that extraordinary is that she battled infertility for 6 years before becoming a mom. It was through this life-changing, transformational journey that she found her true passion and purpose. That’s where her story and her business were born. Louise supports women’s mindset transformation, working with them to understand the stories they tell themselves about their fertility journey and how those stories may be preventing them from moving forward. Stress, anxiety, fear, overwhelm, and grief—all these emotions can keep us stuck. Louise works with her clients to change and transform these stories for the better.
Christmas time was always triggering for me, as it is for every one of my clients.
Our second guest speaker was Lucy Lines, a former clinical embryologist turned fertility educator and IVF patient advocate. Lucy has spent 23 years working in the fertility industry in Europe and Australia. The first 17 years were inside fertility clinics, giving her a unique perspective on IVF. Lucy stated that she loves the science and the amazing things we can do with IVF. However, having also worked in these businesses’ sales and marketing departments, she has recognized the industry’s massive size and the ease with which people can get lost in it. Combined with the general lack of knowledge about how bodies work and reproduce, it creates a perfect storm for people to be taken advantage of. Lucy’s purpose is to support people in understanding their bodies, exploring options, and navigating the big business of IVF. Lucy has also shared that she had her own experience with infertility, taking about 10 years to build her family. In those years, there were Christmases, promotions, and trips she didn’t partake in due to infertility struggles. It’s about understanding the science, managing emotions, and supporting ourselves through it all.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes it takes a village to make a child. Fertility needs to be looked at holistically, considering various aspects. There’s often a focus on one angle in fertility, leading people into unnecessarily long journeys. If they had received holistic advice initially, there could have been less heartache.
Looking at fertility holistically from all angles is crucial. There’s so much emphasis on the medical side, checking blood tests, levels, weight, and exercise, but there’s not enough focus on the holistic side. This lack of a holistic approach can lead people to unnecessarily long journeys. If they had received the correct advice and looked at their fertility holistically from the beginning, there could have been much less heartache.
Navigating emotions becomes crucial. Making a baby is one thing we have no control over, and the need to control the timeline often stems from fear. It becomes more pronounced during Christmas, when meeting family triggers various emotions. Planning and having a strategy are key to reducing overwhelm. Self-awareness is vital, allowing you to keep calm and not expect too much of yourself during triggering times.
As high-functioning humans, we like to have control over our careers, partners, houses, and so on, but making a baby is something we can’t control. The need to control the timeline of having a baby often comes from fear—the fear of never becoming a mom. This fear is magnified during triggering times like Christmas when meeting family and friends, seeing others with children, and facing questions and comments.
Before the holiday season starts, sit down and understand which functions you’re expected to attend. Evaluate if you must be there, and if not, consider being open and vulnerable about the situation. You don’t have to overshare, but let people know it’s a personal challenge for you, and you may not be able to attend. Most people will understand and offer support.
Handling comments can be challenging. Having a plan for triggering comments is crucial. Write responses to them and keep them handy, even in your wallet if needed. Information, knowledge, and preparation empower you and reduce the likelihood of being extremely triggered. Gentle responses can be helpful. One example is, “Babies don’t always come just because you want them to.” It tends to make people pause and realize there may be more to the situation. If people push, expressing discomfort and stating it’s a personal question, and today’s not the day, then walking away can be effective.
Being self-aware is crucial. Understand that it’s okay to feel triggered, and permit yourself to take breaks when needed. If you have a moment, walk away, and take 90 seconds to process the emotion. You can do a quick exercise like counting backward from 10 to 0 or a breathing exercise to bring your nervous system down.
It’s essential to be kind to yourself and not expect too much. Having a plan for responding to triggering comments and having a support person who can change the subject or extricate you from a conversation can be incredibly helpful. It’s all about empowering yourself with knowledge and strategies to navigate through challenging moments.
It’s also good to have someone who knows your story and can help change the subject or extricate you from a conversation when needed. Recognize that some friendships may cool for a while, but others might grow stronger. It’s all about choosing the right times to be around people who understand and support you.
It’s also important to ask yourself: What have you done that you’re really proud of yourself for? It could be something in your career, or you’ve got a new partner. It could be that you bought a new dog, or maybe you went on a holiday. Write down a couple of things that you’re really proud of yourself for. It’s easier said than done when you’re in the depth of it, but just changing your state once and little baby steps, you start to gain momentum.
The other thing that really helps to go into these things is if you have a bit of a plan for what you’re going to do in January. Either, you’ve made an appointment with a fertility specialist. If you’re in the group of people who are still just trying, and you haven’t sought out any help yet, then book an appointment with someone. If you don’t end up needing it, you can cancel it. That’s easy. But if you’ve got an appointment, you don’t have to get to January and try and make an appointment and not get one until March or April. Start to plan that preparation for conception so that if you do end up needing IVF, the raw materials that you’re presenting to the lab are the best that you can or as good as they can be. Start investigating this nurture-nourish-protect thing and work out what fits into your lifestyle and what you can do.
What do you do if you’re not pregnant? Then something different probably has to happen. Empower yourself with knowledge, make the appointments, reach out to people. Set yourself small little habits so that when you get six weeks down the track, and you turn back, you go, I actually did that five days a week for six weeks. Make it little things, and then this time next year, you will feel completely different. Another thing is creating the space to listen to your body, your body keeps the score. Think about what might be different in January, how can you make 2024 different to 2023 if 2023 feels like it was really heavy, and it was awful and that the outcomes were not great, and it was not what you wanted, and you’re miserable. Learn to meditate, learn to knit, learn to cross-stitch, do something different so that 2024 is different.- Questions and Answers