You have the stick on the bathroom counter but your back is to it
because you aren’t sure you want to see what it says. This makes the
umpteenth time that you have peed on a stick in three years and, though
you really think this time is it, you just don’t want the disappointing
confirmation that always comes on the heels of “I think this time is
Finally, you turn around to look. One line. That’s it. You pick up
the stick that holds so much of your hopes and dreams in one tiny
package and examine it closely in the light, searching hard for a faint
indication of a second line. But it just isn’t there.
The next morning you wake up to cramps and think yet again, “Should have saved the money I spent on the stupid HPT.”
Your body is betraying you and not allowing you the basic ability
that women were meant to have from the beginning of time — to conceive
and carry a child. As the months take their toll in this journey called
infertility, it is a struggle to keep your head up emotionally and
mentally, not to mention take care of yourself physically. Yet, taking
care of your physical health, as well as your mental, emotional, and
spiritual health, is vital during this time.
When your world is falling apart, how do you do this? How do you take
care of yourself when everything seems so wrong and it would just be
easier to lose yourself in front of the television day after day while
eating comfort food? How do you achieve emotional well being when you
ride an emotional roller coaster that seems to fly higher and plummet
lower every month? How do you find spiritual peace when all you can
think is how unfair God lets life be that you can’t get pregnant, yet
you saw two pregnant teenagers at the mall today?
You do it one day at a time.
Some days, you do it one hour at a time.
Taking care of yourself physically involves eating correctly and
exercising regularly. Although the definition for eating correctly is
up for debate, given all the different diets that are out there, there
are still general guidelines you can follow. For example, staying away
from processed foods and substances such as sugar and caffeine can do
wonders for your overall health.
Eliminate deep fried foods and incorporate more homemade foods.
Replace your chips and candy with crunchy vegetables and sweet fruits.
Pour all your soda down the drain and start guzzling water instead.
For water intake, the International Sports Medicine Institute says
this: “We have a formula for daily water intake: 1/2 ounce per pound of
body weight if you’re not active (that’s ten eight-ounce glasses if you
weigh 160 pounds), and 2/3 ounce per pound if you’re athletic (13 to 14
glasses a day, at the same weight).”
Daily exercise is also important. This cannot be stressed enough.
Daily exercise is more than about getting fit and losing weight.
Exercise also serves to release certain chemicals in the brain that can
reduce anxiety, combat stress, and decrease depression. It is a natural
energizer and has the wonderful result of producing an improved mood and
clearer way of thinking.
In addition to any medical help that you are seeking for your
infertility, you may want to consider seeking out nutritional and
alternative health assistance. This help may come in the form of
personal research done via reading and the internet, or it may involve
actually scheduling an appointment with a nutritionist or alternative
Our bodies are intricately designed, and while we can’t rule out what
modern medicine can do for us, neither can we rule out what getting
back to nutritional basics can do for us as well. It can be beneficial
to seek out possible root causes for infertility, such as hormonal
imbalances. We can strive to correct these root causes with nutritional
eating and supplementation instead of, or in addition to, synthetic
hormonal therapy. Not only will you be treating the infertility with
natural means, you will also be helping your entire body.
Along the same lines of seeking alternative health resources is the
option of seeking chiropractic and massage therapies on a regular basis.
Because our bodies are intricate and delicate, there is a balance that
these particular practices can help restore if used regularly. If you
are unsure about the validity of these particular alternative health
practices, read up on them and research them before completely
eliminating them as possible options in your pursuit of total health.
In addition to the physical aspect of staying well during
infertility, don’t forget to take care of the other dimensions of your
life as well. You are more than just a physical being and you are more
than a woman who has an infertility diagnosis. Don’t ever forget that!
As difficult as it may be, stay positive. Anger and bitterness only
increase with time if left unattended, and will affect your physical
state as well as your mental and emotional state. Use music, good books,
enjoyable movies, and surround yourself with upbeat people to help keep
you focused on all the beauty that resides in your life.
Get involved in activities that have nothing to do with Trying to
Conceive (TTC). Having once walked the road of infertility, I am aware
of how difficult it is to live a normal life while seeming to have it
tainted by the inability to have a baby. Yet I am also aware of how
important it is to realize that you are more than a woman who can’t have
a baby. Find things that you love to do and do them.
Nurture your soul during this time. This may include attending a
local church every week, reading spiritual growth books or the Bible,
and participating in prayer and meditation. A soul that is nurtured is
more apt to be at peace. Internal peace equals health.
Find an infertility support group. Although a face to face group may
not be possible in your local area, if you have the internet at your
disposal, it is possible to tap into this resource. Some blogging sites
have groups that fit within certain categories, and through those groups
you can meet other women who are also going through infertility.
Forums, such as diaperswappers.com and babyuniversity.com, can provide great social and emotional support as you walk this road as well.
Connecting with other women going through this can be incredibly
refreshing. Only they can understand why you are angry when someone
says, yet again, “Just relax, it will happen.” They will be infuriated
with you when you have that friend call up sobbing because she’s
pregnant and doesn’t want to be. They can empathize like no one else
when the HSG exam was more painful than you thought it would be. They
will weep with you as experience yet another failed cycle. Do not
underestimate the connection with other women experiencing infertility
during this time.
Not only do you need to take care of yourself during infertility, but
taking care of your marriage is also a necessity. The farther along the
journey goes, the more you and your husband can lose each other in the
pain. Making love has become trying to make a baby. Romantic dates have
been replaced by numerous doctor’s appointments. Sharing your hearts has
turned into each of you withdrawing into your own silent cocoons of
pain and disappointment.
Communicate with your spouse during this journey: Talk, talk, talk!
If you need to, cry together.
When communicating, make sure to include in the conversation the
different paths that the journey before you may have to take, such as
IUI’s, IVF’s, or adoption. Talk through your options, hear each other
out, and be in agreement as much as possible. If necessary, seek out
marriage counseling, especially if you reach an impasse in what to
Don’t assume that infertility affects just you — it affects your
husband as well. It may bring up feelings of inadequacy that he can’t
fix this for you and he may have his own layer of grief at having no
children, just as you do.
Have regular dates. Work purposefully to keep the romance alive and
well, apart from the monthly struggles of trying to get pregnant and
being disappointed. Make romance as much of a priority as conceiving —
maybe even more so.
Make love often, especially during those times of the month that
aren’t “the window”. Work hard and consciously to not lose the wonder
of the sexual relationship in the midst of baby dancing two times a day
for an entire week. If necessary, take a month off (or three) from TTC
to reclaim the physical spark that was once there.
Even though your body, and life in general, seems to be betraying you,
don’t aid that betrayal by giving in to the negative emotions that
threaten to consume you. Be determined that infertility will not
destroy you. It will not cause you to let your body go nor will it crush
your spirit. Determine instead that it will result in a more beautiful
soul and it will bring about a marriage that everyone envies because of
what you have gone through as a couple.
You may not necessarily enjoy the journey, but you can keep it from destroying you.