How to Declare Independence from Infertility

How to Declare Independence from Infertility

Couple riding their bikes
Reclaim the part of your life that has nothing to do with infertility. Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images

Remember the days when you didn’t know exactly when you ovulated? Or the exact hour your period is due? Remember when your online searches were for topics BESIDES how to beat infertility?

Infertility can quickly take over your life. Its long shadow can darken your relationships, your sense of self, and your life goals.

Everything becomes about becoming pregnant.

It doesn’t have to be like that! Here are some ways to declare independence from infertility.

Whatever You're Not Doing In Case You Get Pregnant, Do It Already.

two women in store looking at clothing rack
Go ahead and buy yourself that outfit. Stop putting it off "just in case you get pregnant.". / Getty Images

Have you found yourself thinking like this?

I can’t start losing weight now… I’ll just gain it back when I get pregnant.

I can’t buy that outfit. It won’t fit me when I’m pregnant.

Oh, I can’t start those dance classes. I’ll have to quit when I’m pregnant.

Meanwhile, months or even years later…you haven't lost the weight, you didn’t get the outfit, you never started the dance classes, and you're still not pregnant.

You can’t live life like this! It took me years of infertility to learn this. Save some time and know this: do what you want to do NOW.

Stop waiting “in case you get pregnant.”

Refuse To Be Known as "That Infertile Friend."

Two women behind a blurry glass
Don't like infertility become the filter through which all your relationships are seen. You are more than that. Cultura RM/Frank and Helena / Getty Images

This does not mean remaining silent about your struggle. It doesn’t mean keeping your pain to yourself, or crying alone when days are hard.

I encourage you to “come out” to your supportive friends and family about your infertility. You need support!

However... don’t let them mark you as the “infertile” relative or friend.

You know what I mean.

If when they see you, the conversation always turns to your fertility adventures, or whether you’re pregnant or not, or whatever research study they found that they are certain will solve all your problems – if that is happening, stop them in their tracks.

Unless you want to talk about it, gently ask them to focus on the parts of your life that don’t have anything to do with your fertility.

Can’t remember what you talked about infertility? Or maybe they can’t remember what they talked about before they had kids?

Make a list – you can do this together with a really great friend! – of all the things you used to chat about, and what you’d like to talk about in the future.

Only rule: fertility issues can’t make the list!

Stop Tracking Your Cycles.

Woman stretching in bed with eyes closed and smile on her face
No more body basal temperature charting means you can sleep in sometimes, without worrying about messing up your chart. Quiet Noise Creative / Getty Images

There is a time and place for body basal temperature charting. Those moments may include:

  • The first six months of trying to conceive… and maybe the first 12 months, at most
  • During fertility treatment, if your doctor has asked you to do so

And… that’s it.

At a certain point, you have a good idea of when you ovulate and how your body feels before ovulation. You develop an intuition that no longer requires charts.

That’s when it’s time to stop.

Otherwise, the moment you open your eyes in the morning, you are sticking into your mouth a thermometer and reminded of your fertility struggles.

Enough! Forget charting! It’s not helping. So drop it and open up your eyes to something else.

Throw Away Your Stash of Early Pregnancy Tests.

Pile of pregnancy tests
Do you really need all those pregnancy tests? Best option: throw them ALL away. When you really need one, go buy it. Less temptation. Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

The two week wait is one of the hardest times to declare independence from infertility.

But you know what makes the two week wait worse?

All those early pregnancy tests you take. Or spend energy resisting.

Should I take a test? It’s too early. Well, I’ll just take one, and if it’s negative, I already know it’s early so it’s no big deal. You know what, I’ll just wait until tomorrow.

Stop making yourself crazy. I have a radical step for you to take:

Throw away all your early pregnancy tests.

Yes. Dump them in the trash. Right now.

Make Long Term Plans That Are Not Baby Related

Couple making long term plans with a digital tablet
When you create long term plans that are not fertility related, you'll be better able to see yourself having a brighter future. Mint Images - Tim Robbins / Getty Images

Infertility can create not only tunnel vision but also limited vision. You may only see your life a few months ahead. Or, if you see further, you may focus only on fertility plans.

Rewire your brain. Write down some five and ten year plans.

Make these plans without considering whether or not you’ll have a child by then or not. YES, you can do this!

Where do you want to be in your professional life in five years? How about ten years?

Do you have hobbies that you take seriously? What do you see yourself doing in those areas in five years? Or ten years?

What about financially? Are there some big trips you’d like to take or maybe you’d love to go back to school? Can you create a savings plan to make those dreams happen?

Where do you live? Do you want to stay there?

You do not need to know whether you’ll be a parent or not to make these choices. You really, really don’t.

But if you can’t resist falling into the “but if we have a baby…” mindset, then create two sets of plans. One that assumes you’ll be a parent by then and one that doesn’t.

Think BEYOND your fertility.

Take a Fertility Blog and Forum Sabbatical.

Woman's hands in dirt by small plant
Get away from your computer and back out into the real world. Dougal Waters / Getty Images

Are you spending a lot of time online chatting with fellow fertility warriors? Or reading fertility blogs?

Consider taking a sabbatical.

No, this won’t be easy! But after a few days, you’ll find other ways to fill your time.

You might need help. I suggest announcing your sabbatical to your friends. (You don’t have to say its fertility focused.)

I also suggest creating a list of what you’ll do instead of looking at forums and blogs.  (Think of all those things you could or want to do instead.) This way you when you find yourself itching to check-in, you can instead choose an option from the list.

How long of a break should you take? It’s up to you.

I suggest taking at least a week off. A month is even better.

Just don’t do it during an important fertility month for you. (For example, I wouldn’t suggest doing this when you have an IVF cycle scheduled… but in between cycles can work.)

Make Lists of All Your Successes

Woman smiling and celebrating success
Remember everything that your body HAS done for you. Colin Hawkins / Getty Images

Infertility can cause you to feel like a failure.

But remember, again, you are much more than your fertility! It does not define you.

Create a list of all the things you have succeeded in your life. Consider:

  • Professional achievements
  • Relationship achievements (Are you an awesome friend? Do you have a lot of social support?)
  • Physical achievements  (Yes, make sure you list what your body is GOOD at!)

Put anything you can think of. No achievement is too small. This isn’t about listing only what you’d put on a resume. This is about reminding yourself of all the good in your life, especially the smallest things you may forget.

(Note: This is NOT a list for making you feel guilty! You can have everything great in your life, and infertility will still be painful. This is just a practice to help reminder yourself when the pain is difficult to bear.)

Keep the list handy when you’re feeling like a failure.

Become a Fertility Warrior

One hand reaching for another
Reach out and help someone else. PM Images / Getty Images

This may almost seem like the opposite of the rest of the list, but it’s actually not.

True, most of my suggestions are to get away from focusing so much on fertility. But one way to stop feeling like a victim is to become a fighter. Become a fertility advocate. Take real action to make a difference for those with infertility.

Participate in a Walk of Hope! Join a RESOLVE support group. Make plans to attend Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C.!

Get lots more ideas here:

When you’re advocating for others with infertility, you will feel stronger and empowered.

It is a sneaky way to declare independence from the emotional stranglehold of infertility.

More Ways to Take Back Your Life From Infertility

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