The New Year is the season of hope and renewal; it's a time to reflect on old habits, relationships and choices, a chance to re-envision your life, let go of negative patterns, and finally accomplish what you've been wanting for too long. If your biggest resolution this year is to finally have a baby, here are ten tips for making your dreams a reality. You may have been trying a while; you may have been trying for longer than you'd like to admit. Whatever the case, these 10 tips will help you find the balance, strength and resources this year to help you along your way.
1. Believe in yourself
It's easy to lose hope in your ability to conceive when you've already experienced so many cycles of ecstatic hope and bitter disappointment. It's easy to lose hope in your body when it feels like it's working against you. While these feelings are normal, building up your self-confidence again is essential to your overall health. New Year is the perfect time to address your self-doubt head on. Reframing your mind in terms of possibilities instead of disappointments will have lasting affects on your life while trying to conceive and beyond. To reframe your mind, focus on the things you have accomplished in your journey to conceive. Make a list of everything you've done that makes you proud. Be sure to include things like juggling work responsibilities and doctors appointments, drinking more water, managing the disappointment of another big fat negative, fitting in working outs, getting a scary test done, having difficult conversations with loved ones, etc. Nothing is too insignificant or small. Every time you manage another challenging situation regarding your fertility, take the time to congratulate yourself and write it down. When you are feeling low, take the list out and remind yourself how far you've come. You can do this. You already are! You can also make the list of something outside of your fertility- like work accomplishments, health/fitness, relationships, etc. Anything and everything that you have to be proud of is worth writing down!
2. Renew your spirit
The cyclical ups and downs of trying to conceive can wear out even the most steadfast woman. When conception isn't as easy as 1, 2, 3 and you face yet another disappointment, tune into your spiritual side to get you through the rough times. If you are a believer in a religion, dig deeper into your spirit by reading prayers and quotes for inspiration. Attend services or listen to podcasts and radio shows if you want to stay away from child-oriented spaces. Pray, chant, or recite religious verses. If you don't subscribe to any religions, take time to meditate, spend time alone, or outdoors. Talk to your ancestors and/or Spirit and ask for guidance, peace, and fortitude. In order to bring forth life, we need to be full of it. Without our spirit, we are merely shells of ourselves. When the physical world is too much to bear, take solace in the spiritual.
3. Prioritize self-love and self-care
Getting caught up in tests, doctors appointments, tracking ovulation and obsessing over how every little thing can affect your fertility distracts you from what is truly important- your own health, well being, and sanity. Now is the perfect time to focus on self-love and self-care. Take some time to reflect on what truly recharges your batteries; what makes you feel loved, cared for, and safe? Make these activities your priority. Schedule some extra "me time" every day and don't let it slip away. It might be bubble baths and spa treatments, peace and quiet each morning, spending time with your favorite girlfriend, a night out on the town with your partner, or eating your favorite comfort foods. What does self-love and self-care mean to you? Remember that self-care also means living in your truth. If you can't muster the energy to attend that baby shower, don't. If you find yourself spending too much time mulling over Facebook updates from a pregnant friend, unfollow them. If tracking your ovulation is making you feel obsessive and frantic, take a break for a couple months. Choose to put your health and wellbeing first.
4. Dig into your relationships
Relationships often take a beating while trying to conceive, but tapping into your loved ones can give you the extra fortitude and inspiration you need during this rough patch. Starting with self-love and self-care, build on your relationship with yourself. Next, reach out to your partner. Chances are your relationship has been under financial or emotional strain with the demands of trying to conceive. You may have trouble communicating or one of you may feel neglected due to the responsibilities and pressures of daily life. Remember that this relationship can actually grow with fertility struggles. If you work together through your challenges and share your vulnerabilities with each other, you will find your faith in the relationship stronger. Try spending 5 minutes a day just reconnecting through touch or sight. Look into each other's eyes or hold hands or a hug. Remember why you chose to be together and remember that even though you are experiencing it differently, you're in this together.
Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to get through life's hardships. Your relationship with your partner can be an invaluable source of fortitude, but it shouldn't be the only one. Reconnecting with girlfriends, sisters, cousins, mothers, aunts and grandmas can do wonders for building you up. Ask yourself if there's anyone you haven't seen in a while who can really make you laugh. We all need someone to make us laugh, give us a hug, or listen to our fears every once in a while. Some of your relationships may be strained due to your fertility challenges but there are surely a few trusted people in your life who know how to brighten your day. Call them and set up a girl's night. Tell them you need a good laugh and share as much as you would like about where you are in your journey. Let them know from the beginning how you would like them to treat the topic of your fertility, if at all. Reconnecting will help you feel more supported and remind you that you are not alone in this journey.
5. Take it day by day, choice by choice
Sometimes life can feel like it's all or nothing. While struggling with fertility, the pressure to succeed can be paralyzing. You might feel like time is running out and each new decision can change your fate forever. Now is a good time to remember to take it day by day. Do your best with what you are doing now, and let the rest come after. Know that if something doesn't work for you the first time, you can try again in a different way. When the road ahead seems uncertain, focus on the one choice ahead of you and know that you will cross all other bridges when you get there. You will learn more as you go along and will be connected with the resources you need. All that you need will surely come. Just get through today.
6. Get extra help
Trying to conceive without success is overwhelming. Even if you are meeting with a doctor and aware of your particular issues you might find yourself sitting on innumerable questions: What foods should I avoid with PCOS? How does sleep affect my cycle? Can yoga really help me conceive? Is there something we can take to enhance egg and sperm quality? How can acupuncture affect my chances of success with IVF? Embryologists and Reproductive Endocrinologists are amazing professionals, but sometimes you need to know more than the results of the latest blood test. If you need extra support to walk you through the entire process of conception, consider working with a fertility coach. Fertility coaches are the bridge between doctors and couples trying to conceive. We work with you to create a specific diet plan, listen to you weigh out the pros and cons of your next big decision, recommend supplements, vitamins, and exercises for your unique situation, inform you of alternative medicines that can benefit your fertility, help you sort through your emotions as you navigate relationships and social media shares, teach you better communication skills for you and your partner, give you the tools and resources you need to feel the best possible support while trying to conceive, and more. At Queen Bee we offer one time consultations, packages, and couples coaching for families trying to conceive.
What Fertility Coaches can't do is treat you for anxiety, depression, OCD and other mental health issues. If you are feeling overwhelmed to the point that every day life is hard to manage, or your fertility struggles are triggering issues you've already had, reach out for help. Infertility is considered a type of trauma, and it's okay to reach out for professional help. You are not alone.
7. Find community
When sympathy from loved ones isn't enough, find solace in other women also trying to conceive. There's something comforting about talking to someone who is dealing with the same issues we are. The common ground you are standing on makes it easy to connect and feel at ease with one another and you will find these are some of your biggest allies in your journey to conceive. You can build up your community of others trying to conceive by looking for churches and even clinics that offer infertility groups. You can also connect online through Facebook groups, forums and boards. Our partner RESOLVE, the country's largest organization dedicated to Infertility, has a database of meetups around the country as well as their own online forums. In these groups you will find practical advice from people who have been there and a safe space to vent with people who get it.
8. Make this a lifestyle change
There are numerous ways you can enhance your chances for a successful conception, pregnancy and postpartum period. Part of this process includes adding in healthy habits to replace unhealthy practices. When you are making these changes for your reproductive health, don't treat it like a fad diet. Your balanced fertility is a result of your overall health and wellness, so make changes to your lifestyle with the intention of sustaining them for a lifetime. This means taking smaller steps and making adjustments gradually that enhance your overall way of life. It's more than just cutting out coffee or alcohol. Eating for your particular health needs, finding exercise that makes you happy, using the right vitamins and supplements, keeping a clear mind, sleeping regularly, finding community, keeping a positive outlook and more will benefit you long beyond your reproductive years. Approach your fertility this way and you will have an improved quality of life because optimal fertility is just a result of overall health, wellbeing and balance.
9. Cultivate gratitude
Studies show that people who are more grateful experience tangible benefits. Cultivating gratitude will lift your spirit and give you a more positive outlook on life. In the process, you will attract more positivity and growth. With a more positive outlook you will be more resilient with challenging situations. On an energetic level, the more we appreciate what we have, the more what we need comes to us. This is the basis of the law of attraction. Cultivating gratitude does not mean you aren't allowed to feel upset, sad, or angry. All feelings are valid and should be expressed and released. Rather, cultivating gratitude encourages us to focus our attention on what we have, therefore attracting more of it into our lives. To practice, try a couple of exercises. First, upon waking, make a mental list of everything you are grateful for that day. Your partner, your favorite meal, your family, a close girlfriend, your job, purpose, new opportunities, etc. are good examples. As you go about your day, add to your mental list. With time and practice, you will build a habit of finding things to be grateful for, and you will find yourself being more positive in the face of disappointment and frustration.
Another great practice is to write a list of everything you are grateful for in your life. Include everything you can think of, and then push yourself to add 10 more. Once you have exhausted this list, find 10 more things to write. When you come up with new final list, add 10 more. Challenge yourself each day to add something to your gratitude list. The more you cultivate gratitude, the more your mind will shift to finding the positive in every situation. This will impact your fertility because our mood, outlook on life, and spirit are all interconnected with our health and wellness.
10. See the big picture
It's easy to get caught up in the details when you are trying to conceive; which vitamin to take, how often to have sex, which test to take next- it can be overwhelming. While it is important to take your decisions one at a time, it's even more important to see this part of your life as part of a bigger picture. As your reproductive story unfolds, remember: this too shall pass. This struggle is temporary and finite. You will move beyond this point. You will have a resolution to your struggles. Just as you survived middle school, high school, heartaches, disasters, deaths of loved ones, etc, you will get through this. In ten, twenty, thirsty years you will look back at this time and marvel at your strength and resilience. You do not have to define yourself by your struggle to conceive. Your current state is temporary and will end. Whether you conceive, become a parent by some other means, or choose to live child-free, there is an ending to this story.
I sincerely hope you have found something useful and worthwhile amongst these 10 tips. Have you tried any of them? Comment below about what worked for you! If you are looking for more specific advice to your situation, or need more one on one support, contact me directly.
Queen Bee Fertility