Stop Trying To Relax While TTC (or The Power of Dishes)

Welcome back!  I feel like I could give a lengthy apology for how 2 weeks morphed into almost 8 weeks but that would just be more stalling.   Please know that I really do care about you dear reader, sometimes I just overestimate what I can get done.  That would actually be a great blog post or fodder for my therapist…..but I digress.  In our last post, Jessica shared her beautiful story of becoming a mother.  Many themes emerged including, being “that couple” as she puts it.  The one that gets pregnant once they start the adoption process (or adopt).  She also speaks to the fear and insecurity infertility creates during pregnancy.  Lastly, making decisions and switching gears.  All are important issues and I will explore the first in this response post.

All of us who have experienced infertility have had some version of the “just relax and it will happen”  touted to us by a well-meaning but ill-informed friend, acquaintance, or family member.   This statement stings because it puts the onus of infertility on the couple.  It also feeds into the myth of control.  Like this is something we can simply will our bodies to do. Many women experiencing infertility have spent the decade or so prior intentionally and successfully not getting pregnant so when they are trying to conceive it feels like they should be able to switch the gate open and get pregnant.  This is logical, if using birth control worked, then why wouldn’t not using birth control work?  For most couples this is true and in fact, roughly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.  However, when you are experiencing difficulties it feels shocking. Unfortunately, many women who are having trouble conceiving feel shame.  This is either directed at their body for not “working” correctly or at themselves, feeling like they are being punished in some way. Being told that all you need to do to make this terribly devastating phase of your life end is relax compounds the shame.

It is also not true.  Yes, certainly reducing stress is great for your health in multitude of ways but there is no concrete proof that it will increase your fertility.  One thing we are clear about in our work is the mystery and miracle of pregnancy and birth.  We never offer one special protocol because, as Jessica says “There isn’t a scientific explanation for everything.  Sometimes it’s inexplicable.”  In fact, these how-to-get-pregnant-plans feed into the myth of control and when they fail, lead to more frustration and shame. (Many of the conception protocols will improve your health so may be worth following from that perspective.)  I also started to look into statistics about conception after adoption and they are parse.  This makes sense, though because many couples may start using birth control after they adopt as they may not want subsequent children, they may be truly infertile (i.e. the male had cancer treatment and is now sterile, the woman had a hysterectomy and cannot carry a child), and, if we are being really honest, sex life can take a major dip with a newborn around. Simply, there really aren’t statistics around this issue.

Reducing stress and maintaining a positive attitude offers a plethora of benefits, not just for living your best life while trying to conceive, but also for pregnancy, birth, and parenting.  There are many ways to do this.  The most important thing is to be mindful about what brings your joy.  This changes at different stages of your life so keeping your options open helps.  Being present during your daily experiences will help guide you and connect you to things and people and experiences that feel nourishing and keep you away from those that drain you.

A simple way to start the process of developing mindfulness is to wash your dishes mindfully.

  • As you approach the sink, take notice of your posture. Where is your tension?
  • Take notice of your thoughts? Are you annoyed, neutral, curious?
  • Observe the dishes. How many? What type of food stains?
  • How does the faucet handle feel? Turn on the water, how does it sound?  How does it feel on your hands?
  • How does the scrub brush feel? The soap?
  • What are you hearing? What are your hands feeling?
  • Every time your mind wants to go back to something non-dish, gently bring it back to the task at hand.

Mindfulness is like a muscle, it will take time to build but doing this simple exercise daily will help.

Photo by Jim DiGritz on Unsplash

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