You’ve probably heard of the “serenity prayer” before: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
When it comes to managing the stress of trying to conceive, I couldn’t have put it better myself! Very early on, the challenges of infertility can be put into two categories: those things that are under your control, and those that simply aren’t.
Thankfully, there’s a lot more that’s under your control than you might at first believe. How you cope with the inevitable stress is one of those things that are entirely up to you. The couples who comes to see me are almost always relieved to learn just how many ways there are to get a handle on anxiety and worry.
· Communicate! Even couples who usually talk well can find it a challenge to keep up lines of communication when it comes to having a baby. Try not to make assumptions about how your partner feels, and release expectations about how they should feel.
· In keeping with the last post, try to limit anxious, late night Googling or getting carried away with self-diagnosis. Try to separate your fears and concerns from the facts of a situation. Endless online “research” may only end up overwhelming and stressing you.
· Understand that there will be ups and downs. But if you know ahead of time that your period due date, for example, is usually preceded by a week of anxiety over whether you’ve conceived, prepare in advance and give yourself the support you need. Keep a journal to stay on top of your thoughts and feelings, and remind yourself that the negative emotions will pass. Ask for support from those you trust and communicate openly with your partner. If you keep yourself mentally and physically in tip-top condition, the “monthly rollercoaster” won’t be quite as extreme.
· Commit to not comparing yourself with others. It can be hard to know how to deal with the children of your family or friends, and hard not to compare yourself to other moms who struggled but eventually conceived. But their journey isn’t your journey. Practice a few rehearsed responses to any nosy people who might ask personal questions, and try to avoid situations or discussions that make you feel bad for things that are not under your control.
· On the topic of control: nothing will teach you to accept and yield to things beyond your power than managing infertility. This is the time to dig deep and draw on your inner strength. That might come from your faith, your family, or a deeper calm that comes from knowing that sometime things happen that we can’t comprehend.
What works for one couple will not necessarily work for another. But your doctor and your therapist/counselor, if you have one, can help you figure out how best to support you. My clients have found strength and peace in different ways: yoga and meditation, journaling, connecting more deeply with their partners, eating better or simply making sure they get enough sleep.
Comments? I’d love to hear any and all suggestions about how to manage stress when trying for a baby.