by Lisa Marsh, The AFA's London Correspondent
What is it about summer that makes everything slow down or grind to a halt? I have had quite a few people tell me that they want to put a new project "on hold," deal with a health issue later, change a date or sort out some problems.
I'm not the only one; several others have queried the same thing...canceled appointments, a laissez-faire attitude toward agendas, trying to get a hold of builders, decorators, doctors... The irony is that if you are self-employed, your clients drop out on you, but if you need someone who is self-employed, as above, you can't reach them. It seems everything can wait until September. Could it just be the unusually good weather we have been having so far this summer? Knock wood.
Who can't afford to procrastinate this summer? Inevitably, it's those in the IF community. It's understandable that infertiles want or feel they need a break from trying to conceive. Time marches on, whatever the weather. It's understandable:
- If they have had a disappointing, difficult or grievous year, the summer represents relaxation;
- If their marriage has seemed confusing, strained or argumentative, summer gives them opportunities to find each other again; and
- If they are not sure what to do about a procedure, their doctor's summer vacation plans can be the deciding factor.
There are two reasons why you (especially if you are 35 or older) might want to go ahead with the fertility treatment you need, on schedule.
- Your ovaries do not know that it's July/August; and
- You will have lost 2 cycles and could regret it in the fall, when life/work will be busier.
Here are eight tips that could make a difference in how you enjoy and employ summer to work for you, even while going through your fertility regimen:
- Nutrition and Weight - Summer is a great time for making positive changes in your food. Lighter meals can make use of the freshest fruit and vegetables, meats and fish can be cooked on the bbq to reduce fat and there are free, healthy, summer recipes available on give-away cards in the supermarkets. Choose refreshing treats that are low fat/low processed sugar, so you don't feel left out of the group at meals and parties: watermelon, fat-free frozen yogurt, homemade lemonade, brewed iced tea, etc..
- Exercise - If you like going to a gym, keep it up. At least they are air-conditioned. If you would rather be outside, you and your partner can spend some quality time together and be supportive of each other on a pre-mapped walking route, going for a swim or playing tennis. Dancing counts as exercise too, so see if there is a salsa class nearby. It's quite sexy.
- Job stress - If you want to make the most of summer days, change your routine. Change your arrival and departure times at work to allow you to fit in your visits to the clinic and some down-time. Create a more relaxed environment in which to work. Meetings can be held outside, or if that's not possible, lunch on the patio to relax and promote good working relationships before the meeting inside.
- Relationship - Everything looks better with a little sunshine on it. If the two of you have been starving your relationship of fun, enthusiasm, intimacy, laughter and the friendship you thrive on, take it outdoors. Find outdoor entertainment, meet up with friends at sidewalk cafes, visit weekend-morning garage sales or flea markets, re-introduce spontaneity and put some effort into it.
- Finances - If fertility treatment is bleeding you dry financially, you could feel depressed or resentful. You deserve some time away! Instead of the 1 or 2 weeks you would like, pick 2 separate nights that you can go away this summer. Use sites like lastminute.com to get the best deal at a location which requires little travel. Take off after work, check in and relax, then go out for dinner, a walk, a film, people-watching, etc... Even better, book a hotel that has a spa where you can have a couples massage. When you go home, your re-entry into home life is smoothed by the knowledge that you have another night coming soon.
- Mental space - If your concern is how mentally tired you feel, consider how difficult it would be to sustain a self-imposed ban on thinking or talking about your fertility treatment during your summer off. Instead, plan a wordless day in the week and ask your friends and family to respect it. Other effective ways to clear your head without stripping your bank account: anything that requires focused attention, like painting, sewing, sport, gardening, sudoku, etc. Set a small goal and finish it within the time allotted. You won't be over-thinking your issues while you are concentrating on what you are doing.
- Friendships - It can be really painful to be with your friends who already have children, and children are always present during the summer. At the same time, you don't want to not be invited. Take the lead and tell your friends that for this period of time, you would like to be given the choice of going, or not. Ask them not to be offended if you choose to stay away...just a bad day. It's also a good idea, if you can handle it, to go ahead to a family day out, reserving the option of leaving early. It builds resilience; give yourself points for every minute that you stay. Watch the kids and think "I'm going to have that one day too."
- Motivation and self-confidence - Self-talk can be positive or negative. Whichever you use is what you will have. Negative self-talk will get you nowhere good and can be quite self-destructive if you begin to believe it. If you desperately need to take a break from fertility treatment this summer, talk to your doctor about how you feel and ask his opinion of whether it could set you back and how much. If your need has more to do with that tempting summer feeling, consider doing a simple exercise: Write down your negative self-talk and then rewrite it so that it reads like a positive, but realistic, script of your summer. Then, when you have been sufficiently motivated, get out there and live it. Keep your eye on the goal and have your fun too.
Whether you decide to take that break from trying to conceive over the summer or not, these tips can help you get through the unexpected bumps in the road. It's all about keeping all the different aspects of your life balanced, your thoughts positive, your priorities true and your plans flexible.
Lisa Marsh is an American fertility coach who lives and works out of London, U.K. and London correspondent for The American Fertility Association's blog page. You can find more information about Lisa’s work at http;//yourgreatlife.typepad.com or follow her fertility and miscarriage-related Tweets on Twitter @yourgreatlife.