by Corey Whelan
Blame it on the biological imperative but for many women, the desire to have a baby becomes undeniable somewhere between their late twenties and early forties. Those first ticks of the biological clock may sound like a boom, but actually begin with a subtle tock at the ripe old age of 27. The same holds true for men, although the male biological clock has a longer snooze control button, with most men not experiencing age-related fertility issues until their forties or later. While not every person on the planet will succumb to this seemingly hard-wired urge to change poopy diapers or hijack their life savings into a college earnings account, the yearning to become a mom or dad is basic, undeniable and for those who have trouble conceiving, painful.
Studies show the average couple waits two years or longer before seeking out the care of an infertility specialist. Given today’s economy, many wait even longer. As the months go by without a BFP, the emotional toll extracted by infertile men and women is considered comparable to the anguish experienced by those combating cancer.
The need to find shut-off valves for infertility-related stress is significant and may even support treatment success. However, seeking out ways to abate the emotions associated with this experience can feel like yet another task on the never ending “we can’t get pregnant” to-do list; some individuals report increased stress levels related to feelings of not doing enough to combat anxiety, thus perpetuating a seemingly never-ending cycle of emotional upset and self-blame.
While there is no magic button that can abate stress permanently, for those dealing with infertility, it may make sense to keep it simple. Small, daily stress-busters can be just as effective as month-long vacations on a foreign beach. While different techniques will prove more effective than others for different people, consider playing around with these ideas, look for what fits and come up with your own, individual stress reducers as well.
- Breathe It Like You Mean It – During periods of physical or emotional exertion, we often hold our breath without realizing it. Give yourself a few minutes each day to lie down and breathe deeply. Some people benefit by placing a few books on their tummies and lifting them up an inch or two with each breath. Let your lungs fill but don’t raise your shoulders. Try to have your brain achieve stillness during this exercise, or let yourself daydream, visualizing a place or time that brings serenity and joy.
- Laugh Often – Never ending re-runs of Friends, or goof-ball conversations with your BFF are not only stress-busters, they are life-enhancers. Fun is good, laughter is better, and you deserve both.
- Move Freely – You may feel that your body has betrayed you during this time. Maintain a relationship with your physical self by walking, dancing, stretching, doing yoga or participating in any physical activity you love. Movement supports physical and emotional strength as well as balance and clarity of thought.
- Write with Abandon – No one will see your words but you. Journal your experiences and if you need to, bleed into the paper. Read them back to yourself, or don’t. Bury your words or burn them at the stake.
- Read with Enthusiasm – Be it sumptuous fiction or celebrity tell-all’s, lose yourself in the written word. Let the hours roll by with Harry Potter or Anastasia Steele.
- Create with Passion – Cook up pasta primavera for twenty, splotch your living room purple, or plant a riot of roses. Do what you love, or find something new to love. Life is your canvass, now go paint it!
- Live. Love. Laugh. You are still you, despite this difficult bump in your road. Remember that postponing joy will not make you get pregnant any faster and there is no down side to reducing stress. Live your life to the fullest, love those who love you back and laugh until your belly hurts. After all, who knows what tomorrow will bring?