Guest Blog Post by Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, Patient Care Manager with Fertility Authority.
When I was in the thick of infertility treatment, I was open to trying anything and everything that might help. Whether it was cough syrup to help make my cervical mucus extra sperm friendly, drinking herbs that tasted like a mud puddle that a pig rolled in or buying crystals that were said to improve your fertility.
Along my journey, my acupuncturist asked me if I had ever tried hypnotism. I was taken aback by the suggestion. Granted, if I was tricked into being a chicken, perhaps I would produce better eggs but that seemed a bit far-fetched. I would soon learn that hypnotism wasn’t really about dangling a pocket watch or making a fool out of yourself. It could also be about just changing your way of thinking and getting yourself into a relaxed state (which is a huge accomplishment when you’re cycling!)
I had several meetings with a hypnotist and one of the first things she suggested was to stop saying that I was, “Trying to conceive”. She suggested instead that I say, “I’m working towards conceiving”. At first, this seemed a little silly to me but the more I changed my wording, the more in control and proactive I felt. It’s also simply a positive way to approach things. I’m not trying and failing. I’m working towards a goal and it’s still in progress!
The next thing she suggested was to picture my uterus as a room and to decorate it. Again, this initially felt a little strange (especially since in my mind, my uterus was way bigger and fancier than my apartment). As time went on and I worked on it though, my uterus became a decadent and even opulent living room of sorts! It had a crystal chandelier, super comfy couches, was a friendly environment and had classical music piped in.
After every cycle (whether it was timed intercourse, trying on my own, IUI or any of my IVF’s), I would picture an embryo there, making itself comfortable, having some snacks from the buffet and feeling like a very welcomed guest. My hypnotist even suggested I appointed someone special in my life to join the embryo and act as a guardian. So, if you can stand it, I imagined my grandmother who had passed away a few years back watching over the embryo. Between the furniture, hors d’oeuvres, a baby and a deceased relative, it became quite crowded in my uterus but it was still a happy place to be!
Another valuable tool was guided meditation where I would picture myself in a garden. It would be sunny; I would plant seeds in the ground that was very fertile (unlike me) and watch as each flower bloomed. More than anything, it was incredibly relaxing. It would feel like a mini-vacation where I didn’t need sunscreen and I could take a break from sonograms, blood work and hormone injections. I would visualize this almost every night for thirty minutes.
Eventually, I started coming up with my own little visualizations. The one I did on my successful cycle was every day during my two week wait, as graphic as this sounds, I would imagine stitching the one embryo they transferred into my uterus. Again, it sounds very “Nightmare Before Christmas” but I found it incredibly helpful as I would put my sole focus on imaging threading the needle, slowly sewing each stich one by one and it gave me a sense of control. I was, in my mind, making this embryo stick come hell or high water.
In the end, do I know for if any of this helped me get pregnant? Honestly, no. I do know though that it helped me cope, have moments of true calm and in times of stress, it gave me tools to think positively and stay sane.
When you go through infertility treatment, you control so little. Yes, you can pick your doctor and be your own advocate when it comes to your protocol and comfort level but when it comes to outcomes, no one gets any guarantees. Even though some may dismiss the mind/body connection, I say what do you have to lose? It doesn’t hurt and if it buys you even five minutes of peace, it’s worth it!
So, keep an open mind… and decorate your uterus as you see fit!
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a writer, infertility survivor and brings her wit and eagerness to help those who are going through fertility treatment as the Patient Care Manager with Fertility Authority. She was named one of the “10 Standout Stand-ups Worth Watching” by BACKSTAGE Magazine and her blog, The 2 Week Wait, shares both her sense of humor and personal struggle with her own journey to get pregnant.