How to Overcome the Fear of the Unknown
At this point I have experienced my second ectopic pregnancy. I am childless, believing this is my end and pretending I have no desire to pursue motherhood. During my annual OB visit, my doctor advised the statistics were stacking against me due to my age. The older I get the lesser my chances or higher risk. He suggested I contact an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Specialist to see what my options were.
I was unsure if this was a path I wanted to take, but I made the call. After review of my medical history, The Specialist suggested a few tests. I was hesitant to proceed, for fear of what the outcome may be and decided against it. By this time, my husband and I had been having unprotected sex for about 4 years with no pregnancy. Using my Google medical background, I deduced that I was unable to conceive and was afraid a test result would further confirm the same.
After much contemplation I decided to proceed with testing. It was confirmed that both my fallopian tubes were either blocked or non-existent - as a result of the ectopic pregnancies. I was devastated. However, my specialist reassured me that I had options and recommended an alternative for my situation. Though this was great news, I was still afraid and the fears consumed my thoughts:
How much will the alternative cost?
How will we afford this?
What if it doesn't work?
What if it does work?
What if I lose another child?
I contemplated these questions over and over, until one day... I realized, I would never know the answers, if I didn't try. That's when I decided to move! Move through the uncertainty and trust the process. Through my journey I learned a lot about my self and the process. Here are a few that may help you when dealing with the uncertainty of infertility:
Steps to help you deal with the unknown:
1. Research and gather information
I joke about my Google degree, but I encourage you to do your research and gather information. Be sure to use reputable sources when searching. A couple I found helpful were, Resolve.org. SART and Ohio Reproductive Clinic.
Also understand, when gathering information do not internalize. Everyone's situation is different, what didn't work for one may work for others. You are simply gathering the information to have a better understanding of the process - not to predict your outcome.
2. Connect with a support team
Connecting with others who have a shared experience provides a safe place for you to share without feeling judged. In addition, you will find that you are not alone! About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you are unsure where to start, try Facebook, they have a group for everything.
3. Practice Self-care
The journey to fertility can be an exhausting one. Make sure you are allowing time to care for yourself. Studies show that reduced stress and focus on wellness improve your chances of conceiving. Commit to take time for yourself doing what gives you joy, peace and rest. This could be anything from massages, hair and nails, wellness routine (i.e. healthy eating, exercise), etc. Don't wait until you are stressed to take this time. Be proactive in scheduling your time.
4. Focus on the present
When I received my diagnosis, all I could do was focus on what I could have done differently. Once I started my fertility journey, all I could think about was, "What's next?" or "I can't wait until...".
Time will continue regardless of your thoughts. Your outcome will be what it will be, so enjoy the moment. Thinking of what could have been or what's to come, can potentially induce stress - and stress is not our friend. Focus on where you are right now. If you are researching your diagnosis, sit with it and understand what it means for you. Don't go to the next step until you understand your current space and are ready to proceed.
5. Remove negative thoughts and energy
For some people this is easier said than done. It's me, I'm "some people". When I started my journey, I removed all negative thoughts and energy. This included friends and family. I remember, going to a specialist visit alone due to my husband being unable to attend. Someone close to us asked him "Are you sure you want her to go by herself? What if there's bad news". Our friends and family mean well. For example in this case, they thought they were looking out for me. However, the lack of faith and the way they asked the question created doubt for my husband. Thankfully my husband kept that from me until after we were in the clear. This is because he and I had an understanding early on to keep negativity at bay. If you were not in alignment with what we were hoping and praying for, there was no room for you.
6. Practice positive self-talk
Another way to say this is, be your own hype-man! On those days when its hard to get out of bed or remove your own negative thoughts. Talk to yourself, out loud! It's hard to think when you are listening to someone talking. Its also difficult to speak positivity and act out negativity. Talk to yourself daily, first thing in the morning, tell yourself how amazing your body is. How blessed you are. Tell yourself what you want your outcome to be. What you are believing for. Speak those things as though they were. And when that little negative voice creeps up, tell it to shut up and get out - there is no room here. Fill yourself with positivity on the inside and watch it move through every facet of your being.
7. Eat healthy
Research suggests that diets high in unsaturated fats, whole grains, vegetables and fruit are associated with fertility. "Eating as if you're already pregnant can actually help prime your body for conception," says Sarah Krieger, R.D., a nutritionist based in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Evaluate your diet make small changes daily.
8. Seek therapy or a fertility coach
The journey to fertility is a bumpy ride. It will stir up so many emotions within. If you need help navigating the emotion, a Therapist or Fertility coach can assist. Note there is a difference:
Therapist can help you heal from past and/or present pain.
Fertility Coach can help you navigate the fertility process, including understanding your diagnosis, helping you navigate treatment and a sounding board.
The journey through infertility can be scary. You can minimize the fear by equipping yourself with a compass and map. I have traveled this alone so you don't have to. Contact me at email@example.com today, to see how I may assist you. You are not alone!