I’ve just finished reading “Trying to Conceive” (edited by Michaela Ryan) and without exception, every one of the 15 couples had to “relax” and “let go” – both supposed fertility myths.
My own mother maintains that if and when I “give up”, it will happen. She also frequently says we should “take a vacation”. She says that in our family women either conceives immediately, like she did: immediately after going off the pill, or wait, like her younger sister – who married early and had children later in her life. My cousins are younger than me (and incidentally having many offspring). So that continues the myth of “Patience, you must wait”.
Let me say, at the outset: I love my mother. She is an expert in breastfeeding and nobody has my interests at heart more than her. She really wants me to be a mother. But because she comes from a place of fertility, she lacks understanding of where I am. So she vacillates between these myths and comforting sayings of how I will still have a full life if I am childless, that at least I will get my sleep etc? The point is she is trying, in her own misguided way, like many of the fertiles out there, to help.
The problem I have with sitting there, waiting, trying to relax, is that with every passing fertile year, opportunities are missed for a healthier child with more healthy eggs. If I can give Mother Nature a hand here, I’m absolutely going to do that. After all, this is my life. I need some control in a situation which is seemingly beyond control.
I have to say that everything I have learnt about fertility has helped me to make better decisions along the way. I mean, just imagine, if I turned my back on all this information, kept drinking coffee and guzzling sweets, made no attempt to change my diet, did not seek any professional help etc.. how would that get me pregnant?
To be honest, five years on, I have officially given up on natural conception. We have tried it – with the diet, with the homeopathic stuff. Now I’m in a more realistic place of what we can and cannot achieve. We are going to need some artificial help, along with natural assistance. I have just learnt a whole whack of stuff about where my body is at from my homeopath /acupuncturist, and I know for sure that if I hadn’t made the effort to go there, I wouldn’t have known it, and would have no chance of improving the situation.
To really achieve some kind of victory over the monster of infertility, one needs to have even one little bit of control. If I can choose to cut out caffeine and sugar, and get needles stuck in me, take loads of vitamins and potions – I will do it. I will not let go. I will not leave my family to chance. There may come a point when we are advanced in age and we have to give up for real. I promise you I very much doubt there will be a pregnancy then. We will have to turn to adoption. That is the reality. And all these romantic notions of letting go and taking vacations are just that – romantic stories. They happen to other people. Not to us.
Oh and here is proof of the “just relax” myth:
In a review of data covering more than 3,500 women undergoing in vitro fertilization or other fertility treatments, British researchers found no difference in pregnancy success rates of women who were stressed and those who were not. One of my very close friends told me she fell pregnant when they were moving house, a time of great stress.
So how do we cope with these myths and well-meaning advice from others?
With humour. And stoicism.
If you subscribe to my blog through the infertility survival kit, I’ll give you a bunch of funny answers I collected about answering that irritating question: “So, when are you going to have kids?” They range from the environmental “I’m part of The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement” to the humorous: “Why, are you selling some?”.
But it is the cold hard steely determination that will win you over in the end. Your ability to hang in there for as long as it takes (and knowing when to give up) is what will help the most in these trying times. To hear “just relax” and “take a vacation” for the thousandth time and crack a knowing smile is priceless, after all you have spent on fertility.
Because you are the one who really knows the truth.