The prospect of stopping treatments may seem daunting to patients who spent a lot of time trying their best – they’ve been at it for so long, it almost becomes their entire identity. I remember myself before I embarked on this journey: I used to be a daughter, a partner. Once I realised there was a fertility issue, however, that was my entire new identity, that was all I was thinking about 24/7.
The way to get through this is to understand and acknowledge that everything we’ve been through is a part of ourselves, but it doesn’t define us 100%. Introduce new things into your mindfulness, identify things that you are grateful for that are not related too fertility. It’s all about engaging with those things more and more – it’s an ongoing process. Allow it to take however long it needs to take.
Mindfulness suffers from a rather misleading media image. As a result, when people hear the term, they immediately picture a hermit meditating atop a mountain. That makes it rather difficult for people to relate to the practice – the immediate assumption is that it takes a lot of effort and commitment, when really, the whole point of the practice is integrating it with your life.
If your partner doesn’t believe in mindfulness, obviously they’re not going to be mindful on their own. You can try to convince them – let’s say you’re having a meal. You could say things like “isn’t this plate colourful?” This makes your partner immediately think of the plate just because you’re talking about it. Obviously, this doesn’t just work on physical things – try telling your partner that you’re grateful for their presence during your treatment or that you enjoy spending time together to make them mindful of your feelings.
The first step is accepting the reality of the situation while not putting any guilt or blame on yourself. It’s completely acceptable to wait a couple months or give yourself that one last try; definitely don’t jump into something you aren’t ready for.
One common concern that is a major dealbreaker for a lot of patients in that situation is the supposed “lack of genetic connection” between you and the child. Research shows that the mother’s mRNA – the carrying mother’s, that is, yours – has an influence on how the genes express themselves. While you may not be 100% genetically related, some degree of relation will exist. You will also be carrying that child for nine months – the connection you will share because of those nine months will more than make up for the “genetic relation”.
As for your partner, solving a problem as a couple is a notoriously tricky thing – ostensibly, you’re both after the same thing, but the level of commitment may be different between the two of you. Trying to reach a satisfactory compromise is especially tricky when we’re dealing with sensitive topics like infertility. This is where fertility coaching and counselling comes in: it allows couples to get on the same page and talk out their uncertainties and differences.
From my experience, sharing is always better than not sharing. The simple act of talking about your problem relieves the “weight” of the issue and makes you feel like you’re not dealing with it alone. Of course there’s the risk that people aren’t going to be willing to offer any support, but in my experience, that is very rarely the case. The people you share with don’t even need to be your family or friends – plenty of communities online can offer you support, and you can talk about your issues while maintaining anonymity.
Mindfulness is all about noticing your feelings and environment at this very moment. When you notice negative feelings, it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and deal with them accordingly. If you’re in a situation, where the only feelings you notice are negative, and this state starts spreading out into other areas of your life, that’s when you seek professional help.
The trick to staying positive is to accept our feelings and allow ourselves to experience them while at the same time containing them and not allowing them to affect other aspects of my life. Let’s say you had a negative result on your latest embryo transfer – feeling anger and sadness in these circumstances is normal, but they shouldn’t influence other events in your life; let’s say you’re meeting with friends soon – during that meeting, focus and be mindful of the positive feelings.
I would need more information to give you good advice – visit my website and e-mail me. I give one free consultation to everyone, either over the phone or Skype.
I was diagnosed at 17 years old and I became a nurse at 21. For a good while, I simply avoided everything related to pregnancy. I purposefully looked for partners who didn’t want children simply because I didn’t want to face that reality. Eventually, I started a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance; I realised that I was perfect just the way I was and that everyone is different.
The way that society at large believes parenthood and fertility should be is not actually real – families come in all shapes and sizes. Realising this took me fifteen years. This is why I do what I do – if I was diagnosed when I was 30 or 40, I would not have fifteen years to figure out what my next step would be.
We actually did an entire webinar on coping with the two-week wait! In it, we described specific strategies for staying calm and keeping yourself sane. Definitely give it a watch!