Top Tip number 1 for beating sub-fertility!

I keep coming across a lot of blog posts, articles and TV programmes about infertility at the moment, and that has spurred me on today to revive my tips for getting pregnant posts that I put on my now abandoned infertility blog (which no-one is allowed to read because it is too raw!)

It is hard to imagine now that only 4 years ago I was a woman on the verge of despair. I had been trying to get pregnant for over two years, watching with ever increasing envy and frustration as women around me fell like fertile dominoes. With medical investigations offering up no explanation as to why I was failing to conceive, I was losing all hope and my marriage was stretched to breaking point.

I would trawl the internet for hours and hours every week, addicted to researching infertility and/or early signs of pregnancy, depending on where I was in my cycle. I felt that there was surprisingly little advice out there for those like me with unexplained infertility, or sub-fertility. Either that or I just wasn’t finding it. After all if it’s not in the first couple of pages on Google it just ain’t there. Now I have two beautiful children, who almost never make me look back fondly on those days. So what changed?

I’m going to devote a couple of stories to some top tips for getting pregnant, in the hope that someone, somewhere, might read them and it could help. Here is Tip number 1.

*****Stop stressing!***** (Please don’t stop reading at this point!)

I expect lots of well-meaning people have been telling you this for a while and you have to resist the temptation to punch them in their ignorant faces. I know ‘stop stressing’ is much easier said than done. I know how high the stakes are. I know how much having a baby would mean to you and how difficult it is not to stress about the fact that it might not happen. I know that ever time someone says it you think they’re implying that your failure to get pregnant is down to you, that it’s your own fault; that in stressing you are sabotaging your own chances. I know you don’t enjoy feeling this way and that you would change your outlook if you could.

I believe it’s really important to relax, however. I say this with the benefit of hindsight, and with the ability to be objective about it because I am no longer in the doldrums of despair. I’ve been where you are, though, so please take this as the advice of a sister who wants only to share her experience with you.

1) Seek out women who haven’t had children and talk to them about it, if you can. If there’s no-one you have a personal acquaintance with who you could approach without it being super awkward, join a forum, or support group like infertilitynetworkuk.com. It’s good to understand what the very worst case scenario really means for you. If the worst case scenario is being childless forever, what does that look like, what does it feel like? I talked to some really inspirational women who helped me to understand that there can be plenty of positives — not least having plenty of spare time and disposable income! What I’m saying is that if you can make peace with what could be it’ll take a lot of the pressure off.

2) Put yourself first in the feelings stake. I remember getting stuck in agonising conversations with pregnant colleagues and not wanting to offend them by cutting off their flow of excited baby talk. Eventually, my lovely GP advised me to do just that. You don’t have to be rude about it, but nor should you have to be a martyr to it. Change the conversation by any means necessary, or if nothing works just tell them the truth. They might be a bit shocked but at least they won’t make the same mistake again! Chances are that they’ll be really supportive, and if they feel temporarily awkward around you, so what? You feel awful around them anyway!

Now, here’s the controversial advice that I don’t expect everyone to agree with… all I can tell you is that it worked for me, and I think it was actually the key to unlocking my fertility. One month later, I was pregnant.

3) If you can’t change your mind set by yourself, don’t be afraid to seek help to change it.

About a week after my laparoscopy (which had revealed no cause for my infertility) I was at work when I found out that one of my close friends was expecting. Whether it was a hangover from the general anaesthetic or just the accumulation of disappointment after disappointment and not being any closer to understand why, I just started crying at my desk. I made a break for the loo, and after silently sobbing for an hour with the words ‘Why not me?’ running on a loop through my head, I realised that enough was enough.

My very lovely and understanding manager told me to go home. Saying goodbye to my husband (we were working together at the time) I could see a look of panic on his face that said ‘where has my wife gone and who is this nutter who stands before me?’ That look steeled my resolve, and I called my GP and managed to get an appointment for that afternoon. As a footnote, the bear totally denies that look ever occurred but I know what I saw – or at least what I thought I saw and that was enough.

I explained to my GP that I was feeling very emotional all of the time and unable to cope, and he prescribed me an anti-depressant. The stigma around mental health and medication is such that admitting this here feels like turning up to work in my nightie. Honestly though, it was the best thing I ever did. Within days I was able to respond to the question ‘How are you’ with ‘Great, thank you,’ and mean it. The meds didn’t change me per se they just allowed me to be me at my best. They ‘rubbed the corners off’ anything unpalatable or upsetting. They allowed me to contemplate the worst case scenario without it being too scary or bleak. They allowed me to approach sex (yes, I have to say it, after all, it is a fairly crucial part of the conception process) with a bit more enjoyment and enthusiasm, as opposed to just a ‘task’ to undertake as part of Project Bun in the Oven. Basically they just allowed me to relax.

Of course I stopped taking them the second I saw that little pink line appear in the test window, and I haven’t needed them since, as my depression was definitely situational. I’m not saying rush straight out there and get yourself a prescription. I don’t want to suggest that this is a miracle cure for your infertility – I can make no such promises sadly. That said if you have ruled out any ‘mechanical problems’ as the cause of your infertility, it might be worth looking at the options for changing the way you are thinking and feeling. Maybe for you it is hypnosis, or Mindfulness meditation, rather than a chemical solution. It’s worth trying really hard though to get yourself into a better place mentally, for your own sanity if nothing else!

More tips to come….

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