Guest blog by Samantha Kellgren, a Health + Mindset Coach.
I specifically remember walking on a path near our Chicago home early on our fertility journey when it hit me. For months I had been in Waiting Mode. Waiting for the next test to take place, the next result, the next step towards Baby.
When someone I had not shared our fertility journey with asked how I was or what was new, my mind went blank. What was I doing aside from waiting to have a baby? How boring! I vowed right then and there that I was not going to get sucked into the Black Hole of Waiting.
Here are 5 key concepts that helped me actually live (and enjoy) my life again on the way to motherhood:
Decide who you want to be on your journey
I am on a group text with 4 of my best and oldest friends, and in the 2 years we were trying to conceive, 3 of them naturally got pregnant and had their babies. I was getting updates from tired and proud moms that were sometimes hard to see. Sometimes I wanted to yell, “Don’t you realize how lucky you are and how hard this is?!?!” But I stopped. That is not the friend or person I wanted to be.
I didn’t want them to walk on eggshells around me. I wanted them to be able to share these vulnerable feelings and momentous events with me, their best friend. They knew we were struggling to conceive, and they weren’t ignoring that. I decided that was OK.
Think of the woman you want to be while you’re on the path to motherhood. How do you want this time to feel, and how do you want to react? It’s not easy. Deciding you want to feel hopeful does not mean there will not be hard moments or times of doubt. But for the most part, embody the woman you are without this fertility journey. What are some small shifts in your thoughts you can make so you can embody the mother you want to be?
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. This super basic hot tip holds more power than you think.
One of the friends on my text chain that was entering motherhood was a single mom. Again, I felt envious of her ability to easily get pregnant – but then I had a different thought. This is not the deal she had signed up for. This was not her greatest wish. Just because it was mine, doesn’t mean it’s what everyone wants.
I started thinking of all the things that come easy to me. True, fertility is not one of them. However I do not have trouble sleeping and I see a ton of sleep aid infomercials so I know it’s a struggle for many. I met my husband in college with seemingly zero effort. We got married, bought a house, and moved to a city we absolutely love. Right there I can find 3 huge life events that some women fear they will never realize.
Think of one thing right now – or better yet, make a list – of all the things that come easily to you. Can you buy groceries without worrying if you can afford them? Freaking amazing!! Do you have a close friend you can truly be yourself with? OMG, call them!
Keep these things closer to your heart than the struggle of TTC.
Note: Toxic Positivity is real. I am not suggesting you ignore how hard this path is by pretending everything is OK. I am simply reminding you that your life offers more than this fertility struggle.
Manage your timeline expectations
It’s too easy to get caught up in the daydream of when you will be pregnant, and plan accordingly.
“By Christmas I’ll be pregnant, so we won’t want to travel.”
“Let’s not book the resort, it’s all inclusive and if I’m pregnant I won’t be able to drink.”
“If we have an egg retrieval at that time, we won’t be able to go to the wedding. Let’s not get a hotel yet.”
That, my friend, is putting your life on hold. I’m not saying live with reckless abandon, but as much as you can, keep living your life until it needs to change. We have been trying for 1.5 years for baby #2 after our successful IVF in 2017. We booked a trip to Mexico at an all-inclusive resort to see our favorite band and if I can’t drink, I will be so happy I’m pregnant that I won’t care! If we are coming up on a transfer, we can push it back 5 days until we get back.
Make plans, do things you look forward to, and reroute if needed.
Make sustainable changes
I know I don’t have to tell you, but there are endless changes you can make to your diet, exercise routine, and life in general, to “optimize your fertility”. Be careful with what you take on, and what you ditch. Who knows how long your fertility journey will be, and if you make changes that you resent, it’s only going to feel longer and harder to wait.
Again, don’t self-sabotage, but if you live for coffee in the morning, maybe cutting it to 3 cups a week from 10 cups a week, instead of cutting out coffee completely.
It’s easy to fall into the all-or-nothing mindset when on a fertility journey and go all-in OR not-at-all, but you don’t have to. Make small changes that you can keep long term.
Watch what your mind consumes
It might feel impossible not to “research” all you can about increasing your chances, but there is too much of a good thing here. When all you listen to, read, and discuss is fertility, it does become all-consuming and obsessive. I find it made me more confused and made the stakes feel even higher.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and confused, take a break. Listen to and read about other topics. What were you reading about and talking about before you went down this fertility road?
Find your supportive communities (like Circle+Bloom’s Private Facebook Group) and places for factual information, but also include a variety of other topics you enjoy besides things all around TTC. Set limits on how long and how often you let yourself fall down the Google rabbit hole of information.
If you take one thing from this post, I want it to be that the overarching goal is doing what is best for you on this journey so you can enjoy your life while working towards motherhood.
Samantha Kellgren is a Health + Mindset coach living in Asheville, NC. Samantha provides 1:1 coaching through her company Simply Well Coaching, for ambitious women who are exhausted of going through the motions, go from scattered and overwhelmed to streamlined and present. She does this by helping them set and hit purpose-powered goals.