For those tired by the journey of IVF and seeking some encouragement and motivation. This is for you..
A wise man once said "What we do, Miss Ventura, does not define who we are. What defines us is how well we rise after falling". Well, it was the concierge from the movie, Maid in Manhattan- but the poignancy of his words remain.
I wanted to write this to share some thoughts on what many here are going through in the process of becoming parents or finishing their families. Most arrive here not at the beginning of their journeys but having already navigated obstacles on their travels; some are tired and lost- but the thing that unites all of us is hope. Hope that the perseverance will pay off and what we have worked for will become our reality.
I have heard many people hit the crossroads on the fertility road wondering after repeated failures when to call it quits and call it a day.. when is enough, enough?
Over the many years of reading threads and meeting people who have started their journey to be a parent, I have noticed one thing sets aside those that make it and those who don’t.... persistence. Those that after grieving a loss or setback pick themselves up, dust themselves off, re-evaluate their plans, remind themselves of their dreams and continue on… and after they get there I have heard many say when looking at their child that they would do it all over again to be where they are.....the parents of a beautiful child.
I was hoping the following might be food for thought for anyone feeling a little lost or a little uninspired.
1. Stop, Reflect, Recuperate
Sometimes when the world seems a little overwhelming and the weight of your journey seems too much to bear- the best thing is to take a break and look after yourself. Whether it be a few hours hidden away in a good movie or book- or a weekend away doing something you love and letting the past rest for a period of time, while you do some living.
You may have heard the saying “A healthy body is a healthy mind”- Take care of yourself, Get sufficient sleep and eat well- Taking care of yourself physically will help with the emotional and mental health toll that the trying to conceive journey will take on you and then leave you better equipped to deal with each day as it comes. Sometimes a simple perspective change helped by taking yourself out of the muddiness of the journey, can give you a renewed lease on life... ready for the next step.
2. Revaluate your strategy- Keep the end point in mind
Revaluate your plan- when you are ready to try again, take a fresh look at your strategy and revaluate your plan, assessing what worked, what didn’t and what you want to do differently.
Create a plan and break each step down into smaller more manageable pieces. When you identify a roadblock, develop a realistic plan to overcome it.
“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ~ Chinese Proverb
Focus on what you can accomplish rather than obstacles. Direct your energy toward achieving a goal and tackle the problems with an emphasis on edging closer to a successful result. Remember...always focus on what you want...not on what you don’t want.
Keep your priorities in check. As much as keeping your eyes on the prize is sometimes much easier said than done- the end point is your focus and the pinnacle of your journey. Visualise where you are going and keep it in mind as you take each step forward.
3. Learn from your Mistakes
In the world of IVF where there is no “one size fits all” solution to success, learning from your mistakes and using them as a valued learning experience turns an apparent failure to a positive step forward in the right direction. Sometimes its hard when to know when to hold your ground and when to change tactics- I have seen a few on their trying to conceive journey doing cycle after cycle of exactly the same thing with the same FS while going nowhere fast. They say “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time”. It is important to evaluate what is working and what isn't. As reiterated in point 2- Evaluating your plan and taking a fresh look may help you move in the right direction.
Some will remember the archetypal story about facing failure with persistence is Thomas Edison’s experience of over 700 failures to create an incandescent light bulb. He persisted by living with the apparent failures and reframing them as learning 700 things that did not work. His persistence paid off when he was successful, but his attitude and outlook on the situation made him amazing- when many before him might have just stopped and walked away faced with a challenge that seemed impossible.
4. Education and Knowledge is Power-Be your own advocate
I think it is so incredibly important to know your own treatment plan, your goals and be your own advocate on your journey. Know what is going on, know your plan, what you are trying and why. If you don’t understand why something is being done or have doubts- ask.
Read, research, talk about it and ask questions when it comes to your options. Make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance of success.
5. Get the best support team
Support- this is one of most important factors to a successful outcome. It includes your Fertility Specialist, Nurse Coordinator, Friends and Family you can rely on and even other sources of support such as forums like these.
With Fertility Specialists, I have heard women who have little faith in their FS, but are afraid to move to someone else in case they hurt feelings or other similar reasons. I think in a journey such as this it is important to have trust and confidence in the team who are treating you. Your own decision to be backed by the people who you believe will deliver you the best possible outcome is paramount. This is your life and your future family and your responsibility to make the best choices for what you believe will get you to your desired destination.
With family and friends- choose those around you who understand and support you in what you want. Distance yourself where possible from those who make you feel discouraged and second guess yourself. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging and supportive people.. their strength will help keep you strong.
Utilise as many assets as you can- This forum, clinic counsellors, alternative health support services such as massage therapists, acupuncturists, naturopaths- anything that you feel with best help you achieve your desired outcome.
6. Keep Motivated
Keep your end point in mind! Always remember what you want to achieve and what you want the outcome to be when you are starting your journey and each step along the way. When times are tough, remaining motivated is so much easier said than done. Inspiration can fuel motivation- and can be found in the most unexpected places.
It has been said “Inspiration is the purest and most powerful source of human motivation. It is the fuel for persisting and the power to face down the fear of failure.”
Inspiration can come in a myriad of ways- reading stories of others success, books and movies that get you to look at things outside the square. I know a couple of Intended Mums who are now either pregnant or have their dreamed of bubs that kept memento’s at home to remind them why they were still trying. One kept a picture of a baby on her wall and the other kept a pair of baby booties in her room.. while some would see this as a reminder of past failures, they saw it as something to aspire to and hope for the future. It’s all about the perspective that we choose.
The Power of Persistence
Sometimes with trials along the way,bfn's and searching for a donor when it seems an impossible ask, the dream can seem so far away. It seems so many ponder where to draw the line- when to throw in the towel and when to keep trying. I remember a discussion once where a member here sat in her FS's office venting and asking him 'when is enough, enough'? He replied to her " The simple answer is that you either can be go on and be content being without this baby or you can't. if you really want this- all you can do is try.".. which I think was a wise answer. It makes the decision much more simple.
“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”
I hope this post encourages a few to change the way they view the journey, inspires others to keep trying and gives others strength to make the most of now and keep their eyes fixed on the beautiful times ahead. Challenges aren't just fixed around trying to conceive but in every aspect of life. We cant always change what happens in life or the outcomes, but we can change how we deal with it.