Monday, 30 October 2017

:: COLUMN :: Endometriosis and infertility, part 3: 10 tips for surviving

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2DIzyXI

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


So far in my Endometriosis and Infertility series, I’ve spoken about the emotions you might face while you are trying to conceive and those you might face post-baby. In the third and final part of this series, I want to offer some advice that I found helpful when we were trying to conceive.

1. Don’t blame yourself
Infertility isn’t your fault and self blame only leads to self hate. You have no control over how your body works - some things are, sadly, out of our hands, so be gentle with yourself. You have enough emotions weighing you down right now without this added guilt.

2. Allow yourself to feel a myriad of emotions
Infertility will leave you feeling every emotion going: anger, guilt, sadness, distress, grief - the list goes on. Understand that it’s OK to feel however you may be feeling. Infertility might be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to go through and facing up to these emotions will make the journey much easier.

3. Communicate with your partner and make time for each other
When you're going through infertility, it’s easy to live your life in a bubble and lose focus on those closest to you. However, your partner is travelling this road with you and they might be feeling the exact same emotions. Talk to your partner, understand how they are feeling and share how you are feeling. Set time aside to spend together and reconnect - go out for dinner or a movie, or sit with each other at home. You need to gather that strength from each other to get through every single day. It’s you two in this, together.

4. Similarly, work with your partner
When it comes to fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), it can feel like it’s you taking the brunt of it all while your partner get the easy part. Talk to your partner about the medications or different parts of the treatment, and how you feel about them. You could also get your partner involved in the process; for example, if you are self-administering injections, let them help. 

5. Communicate with others around you
Your family or close friends may not fully understand what infertility can mean or what someone going through it will face and, sometimes, this can lead to things being said that might cause upset. It might also leave you feeling like you have no one to turn to. It’s all well and good putting on a brave face, but if you bottle all of these emotions up, others might think there are no issues. This can only lead to you feeling more alone. Let other people in and let them give you that support. They might be able to help you with this turmoil you are facing.

6. Find other outlets of support
I, personally, found it very difficult to speak to those around me about our journey with infertility. I didn’t want to face those raw emotions. However, I found it really therapeutic to write those feelings down. For me, I blogged about it from start, to finish, to those emotions resurfacing post-baby. If you find it difficult to talk to others, or you don’t feel you have anyone around that you can speak to, try writing these feelings down in a journal, type them into a blog, or get online and find others in a similar position. You could also ask if there is any counselling available that coincides with your fertility treatment.

7. It’s OK not to attend difficult social events
You are not obligated to face anything or anyone that will make this journey more difficult for you than it already is and others should understand this. For me, I couldn’t be around my friends babies and, at times, I had to stay away from social networking. If you do attend a difficult situation, try to enjoy yourself and take time out by leaving the room if you need a moment.

8. Ask questions and get informed
Learn everything you can about infertility. What is causing it? Can the cause be treated? What fertility treatments are available? If you have any queries, ask away.

9. Look after yourself
Try to take time out for yourself. That might be time pursuing hobbies, a trip to the salon or just some time with your own thoughts. Whatever, might help you, do it. And remember, it's not selfish to look after yourself.

10. Realise that your options don’t end at infertility
Adoption and surrogacy are just two of the many alternative avenues to becoming a parent, and, though these alternatives might not be how you imagined parenthood to begin, they are options you can explore.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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