Deciding to start a family is a time filled with wonder, excitement, and happy plans for the future. The unfortunate truth is that for some of us, these exhilarating feelings can often turn to worry, confusion, and sadness as time goes by. Trying to conceive, #ttc as we in the know like to say, can be an overwhelming time if we find ourselves in the not so coveted sister sorority that is infertility. The good news? There are things we can do, support we can seek, and changes we can make to help ease the difficulties that this journey can present us with.
After my own battle with infertility, I decided I needed to do more, to share my story and help others through their own. That is why I decided to use my background as a mental health therapist to create a platform to help educate and support women struggling with infertility and become a Fertility Coach.
In my work, I provide education around the medical world of fertility and ways to help increase your chances for the most successful outcome. I deliver helpful ways to cope with difficult emotions and situations which can arise throughout the road to motherhood. And most importantly, I provide a supportive, compassionate, and understanding environment as someone who has been down this road myself.
Here, I would like to share with you my top 5 tips whether you are just beginning your #ttc journey or in the midst of it.
The scary truth is that many of us know very little about our bodies and how they work, especially our reproductive system. So, start at the beginning if you need to. Learn about your cycle and learn about the ways in which you can naturally enhance your chances of conceiving. If you are past this step and are wondering what happens now, educate yourself about the incredible ways fertility specialists can help you grow your family. There are some great resources out there (books, articles, blog posts, videos...) that can provide helpful information to make you more aware of your options.
Be Your Own Advocate
In other words, put yourself first. This journey can be incredibly overwhelming. For example, I just told you to educate yourself, right? Well what happens when all of the information you gather ends up causing anxious feelings? Well, you take a step back. Stop researching and take some time to process. Other ways to be an advocate include saying no when you need to, asking for clarification when you don’t fully understand something, speaking up when something feels uncomfortable. To sum it up, do what feels right for you. Another topic worth mentioning here is being cautious of how you use social media and which friendships/relationships you give more of yourself to. Find what feels comfortable in this season and trust yourself and your needs.
One of the most difficult pieces of the infertility journey is the feeling of isolation that comes with this diagnosis. Often, we feel like we must hide our reality from others because we feel ashamed or we feel like others won’t understand. This journey is hard enough, we do not need to make it even more difficult because we don’t have anyone to lean on when we need to. Find support. That may look different for you versus someone else. Some people choose to be open about their struggles. Others partake in therapy/coaching or find support groups. Whatever feels the most comfortable for you, reach out and find a support system that can help.
Engage in Self-Care
This one can be tough. When our minds (and calendars) are consumed with all things related to making a baby, we often forget to take care of ourselves in the process. It is so very important not to forget about YOU during this process. And it is perhaps one of the best ways to help increase your chances of a successful outcome. You see, when your mind feels rested and peaceful, your body also feels rested and peaceful. This can only help when trying to get your body ready for baby. So, take a walk, read a book, indulge in your favorite TV show, go out for a nice meal, engage in meditation…whatever self-care looks like for you, do it. And do it often.
Take Control of What You Can and Let Go of What You Cannot
The process of making a baby seems pretty straightforward. However, for those of us who find ourselves walking the path of infertility, it is anything but straight. So much of this journey is out of our control. We must give up our timelines and find ourselves at the mercy of our reproductive treatment team. Learning to let go of the control we so desperately wish to have is perhaps the best advice I can give to anyone on this journey. Remember, you can find control in other ways such as eating a healthy diet or engaging in exercise and self-care activities – here you are in control of boosting your health to help boost your outcome. But the more you fight the process, the harder it will be. The more you lean into this twisted and winding road, the more empowered you will feel.
Cristina DiBartolomeo, MA, LPC is a fertility coach, licensed counselor, IVF warrior, and proud mama to a beautiful miracle baby girl. Cristina uses her experiences with infertility as well as her professional background to create a space where women feel welcome. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of fertility coaching or set up a complimentary coaching session with Cristina, please visit www.theenlightenedmommy.com.