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Warning: This post contains some foul language.
My blog has brought me into contact with a lot of women who are at the end of their rope. They’ve suffered miscarriages, failed IVF attempts, and have been trying to get pregnant for years. They are depressed, anxious, and are thrilled when they find my website and read my story of a miracle success after a story that sounds like theirs. They jump into doing ALL THE THINGS. They launch full-on into the fertility diet, take a bunch of pills, and they start ditching all the fertility harming toxins from their lives. Some of them (but few) even start some of the mind-body techniques that I recommend, like the Circle & Bloom meditations.
And then, a month or two later, instead of feeling healthy, hopeful, and energetic, they are mentally and emotionally exhausted. They aren’t eating enough (because they can’t figure out what to eat), they are stressed about all the toxins surrounding them, and they feel defeated when they get their periods. Even though they know that the egg cycle is 90 days, they want immediate results. They feel like- I did all this and . . . nothing?? What am I missing??
Here’s the thing ladies-
YOU NEED TO DEAL WITH YOUR EMOTIONAL SHIT.
I’m sorry for the french. Seriously, pardon my language.
But, we all have it. Emotional baggage and luggage tied up around trying to be and being a mother- and perhaps around other things- relationships, self-worth, worldview.
The diet and non-toxic lifestyle aren’t a miracle cure by themselves.
You NEED to heal yourself and listen to your heart.
Lord knows, I needed to do this. I had enough emotional baggage to fill up a church van. I had to hit rock bottom and claw my way out before I got happy and healthy doing ALL THE THINGS.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, focus on healing YOU. On getting HAPPY. Or at least being at peace with the emotions you have.
Easier said than done?
Let’s break it down into five easy steps. I’m not saying these are perfect for everything. But these are the steps I needed to take before I got into a good place where I wasn’t sobbing when I got my period or when I found out a friend was pregnant.
- Assess how emotionally f-ed up you are at THIS very moment and consider taking a break from TTC. Are you hitting your baby-journey “rock bottom?” Did you know that research shows that coping with infertility leads to similar levels of depression and anxiety as does a cancer diagnosis? It is TOTALLY NORMAL to be in a constant state of fight or flight, depressed as hell, anxious as anything state, when you have been struggling with infertility. BUT- it is really damn hard to conceive when you are in that state. If you are in a really bad place, consider taking a break from TTC. Give yourself three months of cheeseburgers and beer, or whatever makes you happy. Have sex when you feel like it and don’t obsess about ovulation. Go on dates, schedule a vacation, do whatever sports you feel like, just be a normal, happy person. Sometimes, we just need a re-set to get out of the thick of it. I took about two months off after the doctors told me if I tried IVF it would fail, and I just kept crying and crying. And I tell you what- those cheeseburgers and beers were delicious.
- Make a gosh-durned action plan. One of the worst parts about infertility is that you feel like it could go on forever and you are just aimlessly striking at moving targets and missing. How long can I go on like this? What if it’s never my turn? You start thinking terrible, unhealthy thoughts. Just, STOP!! Stop, stop, stop. Make a plan. For example- You’ll do ALL THE THINGS for 3-4 months and try naturally. If it doesn’t happen you’ll try IUI/IVF once, twice, or three times. No More. If that doesn’t work, you’ll try donor eggs. If that doesn’t work, you’ll adopt. BOOM. Now you know that you’ll be parents in the next five years for sure no matter what. If you’ve already tried IVF and failed, but want one more go– plan to do ALL THE THINGS for 3-4 months, then try IVF once again. If you don’t make the juiciest eggs and embryos, move on. You’ve done it all. What’s next on the list? Or- if you know in your heart you are ready for adoption, then DO IT. What a beautiful choice to make. Or maybe you aren’t open to adoption and you aren’t open to IVF. That’s cool. You be you. But still, make a plan. Open ended trying, especially with intense diets and non-toxic work is a recipe for emotional meltdown. How many months will you try what you are trying? How will you switch it up next? Both times when we were trying, once we made our “action plan” and agreed to it, I got much calmer. I knew I could do anything for a few months. And then, we’d try something else. We promised ourselves that if allowed to do IVF, we’d only do it once. If we needed to do donor eggs and they failed after three tries, we were done. We were open to adoption. In fact, we are still open to adoption (more me than hubby, that’s a story for another day).
- Identify your emotional blocks, and love yourself anyway. What are you afraid of? Figure it out, write it down, or say it out loud. You don’t have to get rid of these blocks completely- you just have to identify them and commit to loving yourself even more because of them. Join a fertility support group that discusses this, get hypnotherapy, get a therapist, get a fertility coach, or do SOMETHING to help you figure your SHIT out and embrace it. I figured out my issues through the Fertile Heart program, which I heartily recommend. Also through journaling and hypnotherapy. Spend the time to listen to your heart. Journal, pray, take long walks and listen. What does your heart NEED you to hear? DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!! For me some of my emotional blocks were: fear of pregnancy/seeing pregnancy as an illness; worrying I had some horrible underlying illness that would be made worse by pregnancy; fear of miscarriage; my mom’s horror stories of birth; I thought of myself as “broken”; and I was angry with God.
- Make a mind-body fertility plan. This is both about calling a baby into your life AND the necessary daily self-care you need to be a happy and whole person. Your baby does not want to arrive if you are a stressed out crazy person. You don’t have to be perfect, but they want to make sure you have the time, energy, and love for them. That means you NEED to spend the time, energy and love on YOURSELF first. For me, my DAILY self-care fertility mind-body routine included: a morning yoga practice, imagery & visualization, guided fertility meditation, prayer, gratitude, and affirmations. DAILY. I also saw the acupuncturist weekly, went for hypnotherapy and went for reiki healing. Figure out what YOU are going to do and DO IT. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP if you have been struggling with depression and anxiety. You CANNOT SKIP IT. Do not think supplements and a special diet make everything better. Mind-body work is the glue that holds everything together and that really moves you forward as a person. It will help you be happier and more resilient no matter where your baby journey leads!
- Put it all together. If your plan includes 3-4 months of doing ALL THE THINGS, decide when you are going to start, and then DO IT. Turn your worries and research into POSITIVE ACTION. Don’t skimp and don’t self-sabotage. Don’t say, “oh, well, a couple of glasses of wine won’t hurt me just this once,” or “if I do the supplements, do I really need to do the meditation?” GO ALL OUT. You can do ANYTHING for 3-4 months. Anything. Don’t cheat yourself. Then, at the end of 3-4 months you’ll know you have done absolutely everything you can. If you aren’t pregnant, it’s on to your next step with absolutely no regrets or hesitation. When I went in, I went in 100%. No cheating. All in, totally focused on being the happiest, healthiest, most fertile person I could be. Did I have a guarantee it would work? No. And I’m blessed it did (twice!). But even if it hadn’t, I still would have made my next step on my journey happier and healthier than before.
What are you planning to do right now? Are you ready for a break? Or are you ready to dive in? Have you been doing the diet and non-toxic removal, but have skimped on the mind-body work? What is your commitment starting TODAY?
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Anna Rapp is a fertility journalist and non-toxic living expert. When Anna Rapp was struggling with infertility and recurrent early miscarriage, she was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve, High FSH, low AMH, low follicle count, endometriosis, and an MTHFR mutation. Despite being told donor eggs were her only solution, Anna used her graduate training in research methods and analysis to read everything she could find on fertility and egg health. Ultimately, she lowered her FSH and got pregnant naturally (twice). She blogs about how she did it and encourages her readers to take charge of their fertility journey and get happy, healthy, and pregnant!