7 Rules for How to Play The “Fertility Game”
7 Rules for How to Play “The Fertility Game”
There are no guarantees in life. As humans, we like to stack the odds in our favor – make the “right” choices, avert pain and have things go “our way”. And when life deals us a different hand than the one we expected, we can either walk away from the table or go all in and play the hand we’ve been dealt, knowing we may come out transformed by the experience in a way we didn’t choose, but because we played, we are better for the experience. Learning to embrace our vulnerability through the fertility journey brings us some of the deepest lessons possible as a human being. That’s why we at Strong Yoga® are committed to empowering couples facing infertility. Learning the rules of the game will help you play a little more consciously and allow you to possibly discover more about yourself along the way.
If the “Game of Life” includes the roll of the dice that leaves you the one in seven couples that experience fertility challenges, its good to know how to play this particular game to win.
Here are some helpful hints from those who have gone before you and understand the complexities of “the game”.
Rules of Engagement:
1. There are no guarantees. It bears repeating. Every person’s fertility story is different. A third of the people struggling with infertility are affected by male factor infertility, a third by female factor infertility, and a third are unexplained. Regardless of which camp you fall in, you are going down the road of uncertainty as to how and when you will get pregnant. The only thing you can choose is if you are willing to participate in figuring out the puzzle piece that will unlock the picture of parenthood that is right for you, no matter how long it takes. If you can make friends with “not knowing” how your baby will arrive and living with uncertainty, this will help you tremendously along the way.
2. If you want to become a parent, you will be. There are many paths to parenthood. Not all are the traditional route you may have hoped for, but if your commitment is to become a parent, the only thing you don’t know, is the how and when. The rest is an opportunity to go with what is in front of you one step at a time and discover what is next. If you are committed to the journey and not controlling the result, then your success is assured. And trust me, once that baby is in your arms, it will be yours, whether it is through insemination, In Vitro, surrogacy, adoption or any other path that opens before you to bring that child into your life. The key is to embrace “what is” and learn to be open to the possibilities without resistance of how you think it should go. Expectation usually sets you up for disappointment.
3. Get informed. 20 is the new 30. Statistics are now saying that fertility begins to decline in our 20’s, not the mid 30’s, as was previously predicted. If you are remotely interested in having children, go get a diagnostic work-up from a fertility expert. Find out about your hormones, FSH, your egg quality, whether or not your fallopian tubes are operating, etc. Information is power. Get informed about egg freezing if you don’t have a partner yet and you are a woman on a career path. If you are a man, age isn’t your friend either. There are higher rates of genetic abnormalities in sperm in older men. Freeze some sperm while you are young and get a morphology analysis. If you smoke, quit. If you can give yourself as much knowledge about your fertility landscape now, when you’re young, when you are ready, you will have a good leg up on the odds of having a biological child with your partner.
4. Get Support. If you are on the path to parenthood, don’t underestimate how important it is to find a support system. www.thepath2parenthood is one of the best FREE PATIENT ADVOCACY groups available, whether you’re married, single, straight, LGBT, or military. They are committed to helping you find the support you need from reputable sources. They have no vested interest except to help you not waste your time, money and emotional health worrying about what to do next. There are legal, emotional, financial and mental support systems out there to help you on your journey. And when you feel overwhelmed, they understand, because they’ve been there. This is a non-profit run by former fertility patients who recognized an opportunity to help others avoid the pitfalls of fertility challenges. This organization was formerly known as The American Fertility Association.
5. Self Discovery is Part of the Game. You are in for a very rough time if you aren’t willing to use this challenge as an opportunity to really know yourself and your partner. If you are going to become the best parent you can be, knowing and loving yourself in the face of adversity is only going to help your future child learn to love and accept themselves as well. Let’s be honest – fertility challenges can bring out the worst in us. We can be angry, fearful, full of anxiety, punishing (of ourselves and our mates), grief stricken and most of all, STRESSED. Learning to navigate through the darker emotions and be responsible for managing our fear, lack of control, anxiety and stress is difficult, but not impossible. The work we do at Strong Yoga® in our Four Fields of Fertility© Workshops addresses the mental, physical and emotional stress and helps to empower women and couples with coping mechanisms for the journey to make them strong enough to rise to the challenge. This education can be the difference between surviving infertility and mastering infertility. In our yoga classes and workshops, women and couples learn to accept that somehow this experience, however difficult, is FOR THEM and they learn to embrace and relax into the journey.
6. Games are meant to be “played”. The reason I have framed infertility as a “game” is that you can’t win unless you play. The only way to lose at the fertility game is to stop playing or never play. Playing includes the understanding, as in most games, that sometimes you make progress and sometimes you lose ground; but if your focus is on the “play” and not the “win”, then however long it takes you, is part of the game. Every outcome is different. This doesn’t mean that at a certain point you can’t come to a decision to make peace with being a childless parent. Many couples find after being on the fertility road that they would prefer to not go down the path to adoption once all the other biological avenues have given them a dead end. They make peace with the fact that it’s just not what they want. That is part of learning about yourself and your partner and coming to the decision that is right for you.
7. Privacy VS Secrecy. Understanding the distinction between these two will help you navigate the tricky road of relatives, friends, and even the future story you tell your child of how you found each other.
Privacy: This means that you have every right to say to your family and friends when they pressure you about starting your family, that you are doing the best you can and seeking the advice of professionals who will help you solve your fertility puzzle. Let them know how difficult this is, and that sometimes you may need space from having to air every detail of what is happening. You can also share what you want, but let them know that you will ask for help or advice when you need it, but would prefer to come to them since it is such a sensitive subject.
Secrecy: Hiding that you are having trouble getting pregnant and seeking help, whether through sperm or egg donor, IVF, or any other means from your friends and family will set you up for a cycle of shame and aggravation. When they offer their free advice to just relax, or take a vacation, or lose weight or whatever they think is stopping you from conceiving, it will only make you retreat and hide the pain. This can set up a cycle of depression and withdrawal and ultimately, if you succeed in conceiving and they don’t know what you went through, they will always be on the outside of your journey.
Learn to create healthy boundaries, but be honest. When your children learn how hard you worked to have them, they will only feel more loved and wanted.
Blessings on your journey,