- Allison Ramsey, Asheville Fertility Counselor
Stop Living For What If
Stop Living For What If
Trying to conceive can take over your life. After a care-free period of time, the tactics you take slowly creep in. It starts with tracking your cycle, monitoring for ovulation, then making BBT charts, possibly adding OPKs. Because that is not enough, maybe you start reading blogs and books about TTC, perhaps making some diet changes, then exercise changes, then sleep changes. Every now and then you get tired of all of it and decide to throw yourself into work, drink more wine, and go back to spin class.
It's hard to keep track of who you are while you try to conceive. You're willing to do anything and change everything in order to have a child. And sometimes those changes are healthy and helpful. But as I have found through my own experience and through hearing similar experiences from my fertility counseling clients, too many changes at once leave you feeling like a shell of a human being. "Better to Prepare You For Motherhood!" some may say, but I vehemently disagree.
It may take you longer than your fertile friends to get pregnant, but if you take a different perspective you can get something out of it. I know parents are also willing to do anything and change everything in order to make their child happy. But that also comes at a cost of the parents' sense of well-being, which ultimately affects the child anyway because kids are watching their parents for tips about how to be an adult all the time. Learning to take care of yourself while trying to conceive will lay the groundwork for taking care of yourself when you're finally a parent.
I know that action is the opportunity you have to exert any control over this uncontrollable situation. Unfortunately the most frustrating part of TTC goes on in your head. It's the part of you that reacts when it hears another friend is pregnant, sees another pregnant lady at the grocery store, receives another baby shower invitation. That part of you that has become singed by judgement, anger, and jealousy. Of course there is the other part of you that is controlling all the possible actions that I listed earlier, but after that it feels like there isn't a lot for your brain to do but worry. So you give it something else to do. (Hey! This is something else you can control, awesome!)
You were a person before you had a job, a spouse, a strong desire for a family. Think back to who you were before you were TTC. Maybe even back to high school or elementary school. What are things you used to enjoy doing? Many of my clients have rediscovered playing instrument, taken up reading fiction again, planned trips or adventures, or joined community groups of people interested in similar things like running, politics, or gardening. Spend some time researching this stuff instead of how much caffeine is in a piece of chocolate.
You may think "but what if I commit to something and then get pregnant and have to stop?" And I say stop living for "what if?". If your infertility journey lasts longer than you expect it to, you will be able to look back two years from now and not feel like you were wasting time. I'm sure you'll still do all the charting and tracking, but in the time when you would be googling "early pregnancy symptoms" try to redirect your search to something that represents a part of you that has nothing to do with pregnancy. Your future self will thank you.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and completed their certificate training in mental health counseling for infertility. Contact her to start feeling better.