Once again, I am trying something new when it comes to my approach. Once again, I am trying to let go of The Plan. (Something I tried and failed to do several cycles ago, see here for my thoughts on how I'd do that in September. Of 2010. Yeah, did a great job of that one.) But I mean it this time, really.
I feel consumed. For all of my planning, my careful research, my calendar filled with appointments for acupuncture, maya massage, regular doctor's appointments, therapy, support groups, etc. -- none of it has worked out particularly well for me. And if anything, I have become a woman obsessed, beyond the bounds of what's truly healthy or helpful. I have told myself that I'm taking control of my infertility, but really I let it completely take over my life. I have been guilty of "if this, then that" thinking.
The problem is that all of the things that I do are for the express purpose of getting me pregnant. I don't do them to relax, or let go, or be in tune with the Universe (without caveat). I do them because they worked for someone else. I do them because I believe that if it worked for someone else it can work for me. Everything, almost everything, that I do in terms of my rituals and routines is something that I heard worked for someone else, and so of course I should incorporate it because then it can work for me. The red candles that must be snuffed and not blown out, the onesies, the welcoming ritual--all suggested by people who have succeeded ahead of me. The elephant's mine (courtesy of the internet, and delving into a little fertility feng shui). How I've used my onesies is mine. How I've developed my welcoming ritual is mine. The acupuncture was recommended by resources, by other infertile friends, and I had seen acupuncturists in the past for migraines. The maya massage was recommended by other infertile friends. Herbs and supplements and particular vitamins have been encouraged by practitioners (not medical) and supported by friends, many of whom have crossed over to success. Yoga was recommended by infertile friends. Support group participation was something I sought but was also recommended by resources.
All of these things can be very helpful to varying degrees. Some of these things I am keeping. But my problem was that I had a snowballing list of things I felt I HAD to do to increase my chances. I wasn't going to acupuncture to relax. I was going to acupuncture because it WAS going to increase my chances. If I went to acupuncture frequently and at key times in my cycle, I would get pregnant. If I went to maya massage, I would prepare my uterus and I would get pregnant. If I took particular vitamins or supplements, then I would get pregnant. If I did all my rituals, then I would get pregnant. And if I took any of them away...I would have a much lower chance of getting pregnant. I wouldn't be doing everything I could to take control of my fertility.
Well, guess what? I can't truly take control of my fertility. It's completely out of my control. I have been using all of these things not as a way to relax and be more grounded and let go of the stress that comes with infertility, but as direct routes to success. And I've been more and more frustrated as each cycle goes by and I have not achieved true success. I feel let down. I feel failed. But I obsessively keep marching through everything because if I drop it, I won't be doing enough. I won't be trying hard enough. I won't be as dedicated to my cause as I could be.
Well, I have realized that that's total bullshit. And I am taking control, in a different way. This upcoming cycle is going to be different. I am going to do only the things that help me to relax. I am not going to do ANYTHING (other than inject myself with a crapload of powerful hormones) with the thought that it will get me pregnant. The only thing that is truly going to get me pregnant is having embryos transferred into my uterus and having them stay. If any of the things I've done could help me get pregnant, well, I'd be pregnant already. And at the moment, I am definitely feeling like it is more stressful to put pressure on myself to do all of these things when I think that they are actually increasing my chances of getting pregnant. Financially it's definitely more stressful. I have spent an obscene amount of money (in excess of a frozen cycle) on all of my alternative treatments--from ingestibles to fertility massage to acupuncture. That is very stressful to me. It has taken me a really long time to come to this realization, and I didn't do it on my own. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a patient, caring, patient, loving, and patient husband. I hit a breaking point after our frozen failed and he inspired me to really examine why I do the things I do. And he forced me to take a long, hard look at what I've become through this process. Because he loves me. He has been so supportive of all of my choices and wacky rituals. Rather, he has been so supportive of me and my need to do all of these things, even as he was thinking (and seeing clearly through the haze of red candle soot when I couldn't) that I couldn't keep this up forever without serious cost. In every sense of cost you can think of.
So, I have decided to make my plan the following. I am not going to do anything other than medical intervention that is done for the purpose of getting me pregnant. I am only going to do additional things that are a) vetted by my doctor or a medical study and b) make me feel relaxed and take me AWAY from fertility. That means these are the only things that are staying:
- Therapy (Best thing I have ever done for myself. Tremendous value for the money.)
- Yoga (I get so relaxed by yoga. But if I don't feel like going, I won't. It is only helpful to me if it is a relaxation aid, not if it is something I SHOULD be doing.)
- Support (But only one support group, not two. And again, if I can use that time better on a given day, I will not feel guilty for not going.)
- Vitamins (Specifically prenatal, fish oil, L-Arginine, CoQ10, Calcium w/Vitamin D, and baby aspirin. Which is technically not a vitamin but it's to help with bloodflow/no clotting and I swallow it. NO MORE HERBS. I tried them twice, they didn't work, they cost money and could be potentially harmful. So for me, no more.)
- Relaxation Massage Only (I can't go to Maya or Acupuncture without it being specifically for fertility. I can't be in either of those appointments without thinking about my uterus or my lining or how my ovaries are progressing. It is not helping me get away from all that, it pulls me right in. And while that is helpful to some, for me I think it is a better use of my money to lower my stress levels and take my mind away from all this. So I am planning on scheduling weekly or biweekly massages in lieu of everything else).
- Circle + Bloom Meditation (This nighttime ritual during cycles seriously results in some of the best sleep ever. It is relaxing and good visualization. It has value for relaxing, I just have to remember that listening to it will not actually get me pregnant.)
That is pretty much everything. I am going to take my newfound time, money, and energy and do something completely unrelated to fertility. I am going to try to teach myself to knit. I am going to play my violin more. I am going to write more (and try to do more writing that's not fertility-based, although I enjoy the blog and am not dropping that). I am going to hang out with friends more. I am going to get my ass off my couch and try actually living my life without having fertility take it over. I am going to enjoy and nurture my marriage. I am going to spend time with my husband that celebrates why we want babies, and not spend all our time fixated on why we can't quite achieve that yet. We are going to take a mini vacation, a honeymoon of sorts, and really foster quality time together.
This is all obviously easier said than done. I literally had the shakes over the idea of not going to acupuncture, but then I had to ask myself why. It was a SHOULD. And in the words of my very wise therapist, I need to stop "shoulding on myself." I need to try something different. The danger is that my new plan cannot become something else that I'm doing specifically to increase my chances of getting pregnant. If I start getting back into my cycle of "if this, then that" thinking it could be so easy to say to myself, "Well, so and so did less and changed their approach for a cycle and that was the cycle where they got pregnant." Because I know people where their last cycle was a "fuck it" cycle and they didn't do as much and BOOM, pregnant. Which is great, but the number one thing I keep forgetting is that I am not those people. Just because it worked for someone else does NOT mean that it will work for me. I keep getting smacked in the face with that particular two-by-four but I keep coming back for more. I need to do what's right for me. (Which means, conversely, that you have to do what's right for you--so if doing acupuncture and taking herbs and going for maya and doing all of these 8 billion things makes you feel better, then I am certainly not going to say that my way is THE way. It's not. It's just My Way.) That's the danger. Everyone has something that works for them and it is impossible not to share it like it is some mystical secret to success. I find myself doing the same thing--offering up options to infertile friends of mine like they are silver bullets. To all of us, myself included: It's great to have options and awareness of everything that is out there that can help fertility (or, more importantly, claims to help infertility), but when we talk to each other and make it sound like this is the thing that will totally seal the deal, we are wrong. It may have worked for someone else, but there is no guarantee that it will work for the next individual. We all need to find our own path. Let me rephrase that. I need to find my own path. As a woman grappling with infertility, I am vulnerable. I am eager for results and will try anything to get them. I am easily relieved of my time and money. I am looking for control in a situation where there is very little. And I am realizing that in seeking control, I lost it. So now I'm trying again, my way, and I'm going to give this a go without all my Shoulds. It's not easy for me, not at all. But it's so necessary. I want to come out the other side knowing that I didn't sacrifice too much for the prize. I may not be able to accomplish that, but I can try. Because I want to, not because I should.