First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the most dreaded word in any relationship- Infertility. Trying to conceive or TTC as it’s “fondly” known, is a state of being that creeps up on you quietly, unassumingly, until it occupies every part of your psyche; and one day you find yourself willing to run around naked, upside down, needles in your butt, in the pouring rain, if it all means holding a baby of your own. So this week of all weeks (National Infertility Awareness Week) , we reached out to a few super women friends to share their tips for Surviving the dreaded TTC.
- Know that You are NOT alone:
In many cultures, it’s pretty much a taboo to speak publicly or acknowledge difficulties in life, including trying to conceive. For this reason, a lot of women feel that they are alone in that journey and it seems that much harder to find someone who understands what you’re going through. I was pretty vocal about my husband and I trying to conceive, and it wasn’t until after I spoke up about it that I realized just how many women were in the same boat! I actually had friends who had been bottling up their frustrations through it, and only mentioned it after I was open about it. You don’t have to go as public as I did on my blog and Youtube, but you will most likely find someone else who will cry or pray with you and encourage you through the journey. Above all, know that God has not abandoned you. He knows everything you’re going through and is present with you at all times! You may end up having to look at other non-traditional options (e.g. adoption, surrogacy, fertility treatments, etc) but that’s for you and your spouse to come to agreement on. Speaking of your spouse, now is not the time to play the blame game – no matter what the doctors and test results say. Grow together through the difficulty, and lean on each other as you’ll need each other more than ever. I hope and pray that your TTC time is short, and I’m open to communicating with you if you feel like you need a friendly voice. God bless! – Berry Dakara, Lifestyle Blogger
- Throw the Guilt out of the Window:
There is no point blaming yourself or your partner. Do not think that you waited too long to try. Do not think that karma is catching up with you for aborting a child previously when you were not ready or taking contraceptive pills. Life doesn’t take revenge like that! You are just someone – like scores of others – who are all trying to be a mother. Blame game doesn’t help in the least. Refrain from it, and make it sure – Being the Parent.
- Put Down the Pregnancy Tests:
When you’re trying to conceive, pregnancy test taking becomes a science… one that kind of ignores all the real science behind the tests. But, a science!Like a lab scientist, you have your supplies. (That stash of cheap pregnancy tests in your bathroom cabinet.) You experiment taking the tests earlier an, d earlier. You take your tests out into the sunlight, into the dark closet, under a flashlight, whatever, searching for that second pink line that just won’t show up. You’re not going to like this suggestion, but… you need to put down those pregnancy tests. Throw out your stash. (Or, at least give them to a friend to hold onto.) Resist testing until your period is at least one day late. As long as your life centers around pregnancy tests, you are going to struggle. – Rachel Gurevich, 11 Ways to Cope When Trying to Get Pregnant Overwhelms You.
- Distract Yourself During the Dreaded Two-Week Wait:
That time between ovulation and your missed period can be brutal, as you analyze every twinge, reaction and bodily function. And doing so month after month is emotionally draining. Instead, make plans during this time that you can look forward to — date night with your partner, a massage, or mani/pedi with your bestie — and refrain from Googling symptoms, it will only drive you crazy. – Brittny Drye, Love Inc.
- Communication with your Spouse is Key:
First, know that this is real and a bonafide medical concern. As a result, you are both entitled to have feelings about it. Share these feelings with one another as communication is key. Decide about what boundaries are important to set with family and friends. Figure out who can play the role of support people for each of you and then enlist their support. Continue to practice self-care in the form of pampering, exercise or other stress-reducing activities. Do things as a couple, such as travel (especially to places where children aren’t likely to be), frequent date nights, or try something new together. Make sure to laugh and have some fun, despite feeling like your life is being ruled by an ovulation cycle.- Julie Bindeman, How to Survive Infertility as a Couple.
Know that it’s coming:
- It’s Okay to put Self first:
You don’t have to go to all events you’re invited to. If you are not comfortable going for naming ceremonies, baby showers, baby dedications, 1 st birthdays etc., please you don’t have to go. Pace yourself, eventually you would get to a point where you’ll be confortable going to all these places again especially when you seek help and support. Social media may trigger different emotions depending on whom you are following. If there are certain people that remind you constantly about what you are lacking please unfollow.The only people you should follow or make a conscious effort for are those that mean a whole lot to you. Everyone else really isn’t necessary. – Omotade Alalade, Beibei Haven Foundation.
- Have Fun with the Process:
The TTC journey can be very frustrating. The pressure becomes so real once you realize it isn’t quite like your parents warned when you were a teenager. Have unprotected sex and you will get pregnant, they said. Yeah right! In addition to all that pressure of timing ovulation (yeah there’s a window) and the monthly arrival of your period to announce your “failure”, you have to field off all the womb watchers and their nosey questions with a smile on your face, so yeah it gets very frustrating very fast. Find someway to make the most of the compulsory sexy time with your spouse. Play dress up, light candles, try all the positions in that book you have in the back of your closet or that webpage you bookmarked (no shame in your game girl!) You might as well have a great time while trying right?- Tayo Adebanjo.
- Know your Feelings are Valid:
Yes, it helps to have a supportive spouse, family members, etc, that’s a given. But this journey, this struggle, it’s only you that fully gets it. It has to overwhelm you, consume you, and leave you helpless and vulnerable. What you yearn and crave for is something as old as time, almost as innate as the belief of God. It is a waste of energy to try and pretend it does not overwhelm your every thought, your waking and sleeping, that you don’t live and breathe everything baby. Run mad, cry, embrace it, recede, disappear, you cannot reject your own skin. And one day it becomes a part of your daily struggles, you learn to juggle it with other parts of life, you learn to maintain some modicum of sanity and even start to enjoy moments; or maybe not. TTC will continue to consume every free moment and thought, and that’s okay. – Nneka Osoka.
- Be Confident in your Choices:
Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do. Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking your method to starting your family is “less than” in any way. whether it’s IVF, Pre Genetic Testing, Surrogacy, Adoption, Donor Embryos, whatever. You are doing what is best for YOUR family and you should be very proud of your strength and ability to make it happen for you. Stand strong in your choices mama and God will do the rest. – Michelle Taylor.
- Do not Underestimate the Power of a Support Network.
Talking to someone who gets it makes all the difference. Someone who understands the strain of the 2ww, the anxiety of the entire process and/or the paranoia that sometimes comes even with that positive pregnancy test. Someone who will be there to cry, laugh and endure your ‘crazy’. Someone who will help you know your feelings are valid. It doesn’t have to be a family member, or even someone in your circle of friends. There are online support groups you can subscribe to and I’m also so willing to be that person because my support group changed my story and I totally get it. – Mrs. A.
- Live your Best Life:
I know it’s cliché, but sometimes you just need to give your mind a break. Take the pressure off. Remember to take in and appreciate where you are. I have found that it is when you take your mind off it and just decide to be happy and grateful for what you have that it happens. – Tito Idakula, My Lighthouse