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Find your calm this Christmas

Louise Siwicki
Fertility Coach & Certified NLP Coach , Louise Siwicki Coaching
Lucy Lines
Embryologist, Fertility Educator, and IVF Patient Advocate, Two Lines Fertility

Category:
Emotions and Support

Find-your-calm-this-christmas-IVFWEBINARS_Lucy-Lines&Louise-Siwicki-FB
From this video you will find out:
  • What are the most common examples of holistic strategies for managing triggering situations during the holiday season?
  • How can I prepare and respond to insensitive comments during family gatherings?
  • What are some practical tips for self-awareness and managing emotional states during holidays?

Find your calm this Christmas

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.

Navigating the emotional aspect

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 triggering comments

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.

Self-awareness and emotional management

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.

Fertility and future planning

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.

Overcoming challenges

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

From your perspective, what additional support or understanding would you appreciate from healthcare professionals and fertility clinics during the Christmas season, recognizing the unique experience of IVF patients?

Thinking from an IVF perspective, lots of IVF clinics close over Christmas. In Australia, the Medicare safety net resets at the end of December, which means, for those not in Australia, that’s an extra level of funding that people can get towards their IVF cycles. So there’s a big race into the finish line to try and just get one more cycle in before the end of the year. And so I think from an IVF clinic perspective, it’s really hard to juggle that with making people feel rushed and like they’re just one number. And, you know, that kind of adds to the trauma of having to do IVF at all. If you’re connected to a fertility coach, or you have other support people within your network, even if they’re not employed with the IVF clinic, but within the network, have their cards available and around for people to find and reach out to when they’re dealing with the lead up to Christmas. Rushing to do that last cycle before Christmas, I’m definitely against it. My client list has just exploded in the last month, with people desperate to see me before Christmas, desperate to check in on their last cycle before the end of the year. And I’m like, you know, there’s actually not a lot I can do in the space of one or two weeks because it takes three months to mature an egg ready for collection. And it takes not quite three months to grow a sperm. If you want to make the most out of your cycle, you need to focus on presenting the lab with the best raw materials that you can possibly produce. And the best way to do that is to spend three months focusing on nurturing, nourishing, and protecting. It’s not just about what you eat. It’s not just about eating the perfect fertility diet and not stressing. Furthermore, it’s about really encompassing this holistic nurture, nourish, and protect. So we’re nurturing the eggs and sperm. We’re nourishing them with good foods, heaps of antioxidants, and lots of lovely stories. And lots of, you know, nourishment. And we’re protecting them from environmental chemicals, obviously, but also from all the negative thoughts and the negative stuff and the stress, for lack of a better word. But I don’t mean stress but just have nurture, nourish, and protect in your head all the time. And Lucy said, I’ve had these three months holistic thing even more, but did not work.

How does one become a fertility educator and fertility empowerment coach

As a fertility educator, I created that role for myself because I struggled for a couple of years trying to figure out what to call myself. I’m not working clinically as an embryologist anymore, and I’m definitely not a fertility coach. I haven’t taken any coaching courses or anything. However, I want people to understand their fertility, which means I’m a fertility educator. I like to empower people going through IVF, so I consider myself an IVF Patient Advocate. Louise, how does one become a fertility empowerment coach? I am trained in the modalities of NLP (neural linguistic programming), timeline therapy, hypnotherapy, and fertility coaching. I combine all those modalities under the coaching banner. “Fertility empowerment coach” was a logical name for me because these modalities empower you from a mindset point of view on your fertility journey, enabling you to take control. It all started with my personal journey and understanding of the mind-body connection. Combined with the psychological side of things and these modalities, you get a fertility empowerment coach. When working with my clients, I help them understand what’s going on, and then I guide them to the right specialists or professionals, whether it’s a fertility specialist, nutritionist, dietitian, psychologist, or hypnotherapist.  

Can you discuss specific self-care practices that have helped you? I tried meditation; it does not work for me.

Lucy: I can’t meditate, and if someone tells me to meditate, I would rather stick a pin in my eye. However, when I talked to someone about meditation, I discovered that I actually do it every day. I don’t sit with my legs crossed, and my hands don’t go home. I don’t do any of that; instead, I stand in the shower for an extra few minutes, consciously focusing on where I am right now. So, that’s really all meditation is—just stopping for a minute, focusing on breathing in and breathing out. The water’s running down past my ears, so I can’t hear anything outside, and I’m trying to clear my mind. That’s one self-care practice I do, though not as often as I should. Another one is habit hacking to make myself move my body intentionally every day. I’m not an exerciser, and I don’t understand endorphins, so I have to hack my habits. When I had gestational diabetes during pregnancy and needed to move my body daily, I set a timer on my phone for five minutes. I’d walk out of the house as soon as I got home, put my keys down, walk away for five minutes, and turn around when the timer went off. I didn’t change into workout gear; I just walked and observed my surroundings. A third one I learned from Dr. Julie, a psychologist on TikTok, is about letting your thoughts flow. Instead of standing in the middle of the thought highway trying to stop every car, visualize yourself standing on the edge and letting the thoughts go past. You don’t have to interrupt or understand all of them; just let them slide by. These are some practices I use regularly. Louise: Getting back to breathing, as you mentioned with the shower, it’s about grounding, especially when overwhelmed. If your brain is racing, meditation becomes challenging. Calming the nervous system and grounding yourself is crucial. A simple breathing exercise is inhaling for eight, holding for two, and exhaling for ten—repeat ten times. It changes your state. If you feel tightness or stress rising, do this exercise; it calms your nervous system and helps you think clearly. Visualization, like your shower ritual, can also take you to a place of true happiness, recalling a time when you were genuinely happy. It’s challenging, especially in the depths of infertility, but with practice, it becomes a powerful tool. All these practices take practice, but they’re essential. Connecting back to joy is crucial. If you’re watching this, seeking help is a significant step, and even small takeaways, like having an ally at a Christmas party or practicing how to respond to insensitive comments, can make a difference.

 

What to say and how to support a person struggling with infertility for 5 years? I have a friend who is suffering a lot because they still don’t have children, and I’m interested in how I can support her. What should I tell her to uplift her a bit because it’s possible that being in depression also affects fertility? She has had 7 miscarriages.

My first step is to suggest holding up for a minute and talking to someone who can help. I believe hypnotherapy is beneficial in recurrent miscarriage, alongside addressing the medical aspects. We need to check all the medical boxes, but psychological support is equally important. I think we often cross-refer and collaborate quite a lot. I actually refer many of my clients to Lucy, especially when they’re unhappy with their fertility specialist or confused about the information provided. I don’t have a medical background in fertility, so I can’t comment on that aspect. That’s when I refer them to you, Lucy, saying you’re the person who can point them in the right direction. I’m not a medical doctor, but I’ve worked alongside them for a long time. I can provide clients with information about their embryos, their development, and the factors impacting them. From that perspective, I offer foundational knowledge so they can go back to their doctor with informed questions. It’s about making sure they get the right information from their medical professionals. The one thing to take away is looking at your fertility realistically and understanding that it often takes a team. Give yourself the space to figure out who that team will be, guiding you toward your dream of holding that baby in your arms. That’s what we all want at the end of the day.
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Authors
Louise Siwicki

Louise Siwicki

Louise Siwicki is a global award winning fertility hypnosis and coaching Expert. A specialist in the fields of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Time Line Therapy®, Hypnotherapy. She is the Founder of "Louise Siwicki Coaching," a Public Speaker, Author and a Senior Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine. Although her reach is now global, she is the Head of Development Australia for the European Fertility Society her passion and purpose remain very personal. Through her own personal 6 year battle with infertility she reaslied the importance of the mind, body connection and turned her grief into empowerment and a career that supports couples who are now walking the path she once did. As well as private clients, in 2023 via group programs, workshops and consulting Louise is partnering with workplaces around fertility in the workplace, how it affects productivity and the importance of organisations supporting couples on the journey. One in six couples globally struggle to conceive. Her mission is to make a positive impact on those rates and help couples really take control of their fertility journey through the lense of their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Lucy Lines

Lucy Lines

Lucy Lines is an experienced embryologist, Fertility Educator, and IVF Patient Advocate. Nowadays, Lucy offers valuable assistance, consultations and courses to those in need through Two Lines Fertility. Over her 20-year career, she has assessed hundreds of thousands of eggs, sperm, and embryos, playing a pivotal role in the creation of thousands of families. Lucy has been a supportive presence for women and couples on their fertility journeys.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
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