Infertility Awareness Week -
Zoom Out, There's More to Life Than Trying To Conceive
It's Infertility Awareness week again, and this post is for all of you who have been all too well aware of infertility in the past months or years. Let's take this Awareness Week to have a different take on TTC.
Having a baby means everything. You want it more than you’ve wanted anything and you’re willing to do anything to have one. But when you’re working to get something you want, your view on life can turn into tunnel vision. You stare and stare at that thing you want however far down the road, and soon your eyes start to cross and you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Striving can take us so far away from ourselves that we can’t remember who we were before we started struggling. I can offer some momentary relief from the struggle, but bear with me:
Remember when you did everything you could not to become pregnant? You thought “I can’t get pregnant now, I ____” What was it that you still wanted to do or thought you couldn’t do with a child?
I know part of you might be thinking “yes, and I did all that. I’m 30 something or 40 something years old and I’m ready to be a mom!” I’ve got news for you: just because you become a mom doesn’t mean all your other development must cease. In fact being an independent adult while parenting may help to make your children into independent adults (Lythcott-Haims). In the age of "helicopter parenting" people have come to believe that successful parenting means hovering over their child's every decision and play choice. And in a way helicopter parenting can begin in the TTC phase.
I understand that you must monitor your cycle, eat certain foods, attend certain appointments, etc. And so must you make sure your future child is clean, fed, housed, and clothed. But you’ll be doing lots of other things at the same time. One might be working outside the home, or working inside the home. What else do you do? Exercise, socialize, read, watch tv, be creative, cook, plan vacations, advance your career or envision a new one, bond with your partner, listen to or play music, learn a new skill?
Sometimes my clients begrudge the assignment of figuring out something else they could be doing because they see it as a distraction from the goal of getting pregnant. The thing is that some days it doesn’t matter what you do, focusing on getting pregnant won’t get you pregnant. It just makes you more stressed, overwhelmed, disappointed, frustrated, angry, bitter, take your pick. What if during certain moments, hours, days in your week you could focus on another part of you and still be someone who is TTC? There are many facets of us as human beings. I know it can feel like becoming a mother is the one thing that would tie everything together. But it’s not, and thinking that way will make you anxious, lead to an anxious pregnancy, and anxious parenting.
While TTC is hard, you also have an opportunity to explore your adult preferences. You have time to participate in your life right now that you may not have in the future. Many times women finally become mothers and say I wish I could have told my TTC self that it was going to be okay. That I could have been reading more fiction and seeing friends more often instead of fighting with my spouse or looking up pregnancy symptoms, planning for ovulation, and expected due dates. Like many other things in your life, you allow time for eating, working, and sleeping. You can also allow time for TTC. And what else is there time for?
Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and certified grief counselor specializing in infertility in the Asheville area. She’s a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and completed their certificate training in infertility counseling. Find out more on Infertility Awareness Week.
Reference: How To Raise An Adult By Julie Lythcott-Haims