I had a six-year journey (that, believe it or not, is not over) to hold my baby in my arms. When my husband Mark and I started, we were excited, optimistic, and dreaming of our future family.
However, it was not long before the excitement turned to disappointment, with test after test coming back negative. All of a sudden, trying to get pregnant — something that should be fun — took over our lives.
It was this ‘taking over’ that suddenly made me feel out of control. I was in control of my life – until now, at least: completed college, working in a job I loved, married to my soulmate, and blessed with fantastic friends and family.
And yet the one part I could not control was getting pregnant.
I suddenly felt in ‘limbo’, which is a particularly apt description as it implies a temporary state, a lack of movement forwards or backwards in life. And let me assure you, being in limbo, and all that it entails, is incredibly uncomfortable. Being in limbo meant — or at least felt like — I had no direction, no goals or actions in my life, no meaning, and I was not moving forward.
There’s a famous quote by the late Maya Angelou about the power of change:
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
Applying this to how I felt in limbo, I realised that change was required. I could take a proactive role in my fertility health. I decided that I would take control of the ‘controllable’ things.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, sadly, but what worked for me may be helpful to others. So, with this in mind, here are some of the things that helped me get ‘unstuck’ from limbo and take control during my fertility journey:
Do you have a plan for your fertility journey? It might sound boring, admittedly, but taking steps to plan and prepare for your fertility journey is essential. Having a plan kept me — a self-confessed planner — focused and more in control.
Take time out with a piece of paper and a pen and think of your plan. Do you have all the information you need to understand where things stand with your fertility?
Armed with information, you can better understand your options and how appropriate they will be for you and your unique circumstances. Only then can you make an informed decision about what the next right step is for you.
Allow yourself to hope
Every month, I expected to see those two pink lines, and each month I was presented with a blank space. As the months began to blur (and the pink lines still failed to materialise), my hopes, which were already dwindling, started to plummet.
Looking back, this was my self-protection mechanism: by not allowing myself to dream, I was saving myself from the inevitable hurt. But no matter how hard you try to convince yourself, you can’t cheat your feelings. No matter how much I convinced myself there was no chance of conceiving, it still hurt me to the core.
And that’s when I thought, sod it! I decided that I would let myself hope, and hope BIG.
I allowed myself to visualise what I wanted in life: a baby. Research has shown that visualising what you want in life can accelerate how quickly we achieve it! And that’s why it’s important to make time daily to imagine the family you dream of. Create a visualisation board with pictures, words and thoughts to bring that vision to life.
Talk & get the support you need
I am a private person and, consequently, felt our journey did not need to be shared. But I was WRONG. There are far too many emotions, feelings, and (usually negative) thoughts associated with fertility struggles to muddle through and sort all by yourself.
Having fertility challenges can be incredibly isolating. It’s important to find someone you trust and feel comfortable to share your story.
Allow yourself to cry
When it comes to emotions, they’re usually better out than in.
I spent far too long bottling my emotions up because I was supposed to be the strong one, and — more than ever since I felt out of control when it came to my fertility struggles — I needed to control my feelings. Instead, I was like a volcano, ready to erupt at any moment.
Find a safe place and time to express these feelings. Allow yourself to cry.
Pick yourself back up
Disappointment is lurking menacingly on every corner of a fertility journey. You build yourself up so much, then you see a big fat negative, and it all comes crashing down.
And that’s why it’s so important to learn to pick yourself back up.
Good things are not always easy to come by, and failure is part of the process of getting there. Take each step daily but still know there is the next step – every step brings you closer to your goal.
Do what is right for YOU
All too often, we told what we should eat, how we should move, how we should think – yes, these are all important. But the one thing I learned was to do what was right for you.
Your fertility journey will be full of different phases and stages, but it’s unique to you. It is your decision as to when and how you take each one of those steps.
Jill Martin is the Business Development Director at Nua Fertility