At the beginning of September, I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert with a friend of my husband’s. I have been a longtime fan of Bruce’s ever since I was 14 (so, most of my life), and I’ve seen him no fewer than 10 times. I know what to expect at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Still, I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened.
I was having the best time at the concert. One minute I was singing and dancing away; the next minute I had a feeling wash over me. The best way I can describe it is that I felt so deliciously alive. I’d felt this before – at prior Bruce Springsteen concerts, when I completed both of my marathons, when I made needlepoint gifts for friends.
When I felt this at the concert, I welcomed it. Then I realized, I hadn’t felt this way in a long time.
Later, when I sat down and thought about my experience at the concert, I realized that I used to do lots of things I loved – playing and listening to music, needlepoint, writing in my journal. And even exercise – as you know, exercise isn’t on top of the list of things that I love to do, but it had also been absent from my life, and I missed the euphoric feeling that it gave me.
I found myself feeling like I’d become a “shell” of my former self. It wasn’t a great feeling; I was both sad and shocked. When I reflected on this some more, I pinpointed the time that I lost myself as my fertility journey, 4 years ago. I became so consumed by trying to conceive – the doctor’s visits, procedures, medications, stress. It’s a journey that requires immense focus and can overtake your life.
It did for me. Even though I had come out successful on my path and now have a son, I hadn’t resumed my interests and passions for 4 years.
And, as happened to me, sometimes you can lose your way and not even realize it until you get a wake-up call like I did at the concert.
Do you feel like this has happened to you as well? It can be very disheartening to feel like you’ve lost your way but the good news is, all hope is not lost. It’s entirely possible to find yourself again, if you’re willing to do the work.
Here are some tips for reclaiming your life on your fertility journey:
- Keep doing the things you love, or if you’re not doing them anymore, start doing them again. Think of the things that make you feel happiest. This is a 2-step process. First, determine what it is you want to bring back into your life. Limit it to about 2 things, to keep it manageable and focused. Once you decide what to bring back into your life, the second step is to schedule time to do those things. Block the time out on your calendar and do them. Even though they’re things that you love, it won’t just magically happen in the beginning that you’ll do them. You need to schedule it. Again, keep it manageable. Try a few hours a week, or a small chunk of time every day. Chances are, as you remember the joy that these activities bring you, you’ll allot more time in your schedule to do them.
- Give yourself a change of scenery every so often. This does wonders for our psyche. So often, we get caught in the rut of the same old thing, day after day. The same commute to work. The same routine, day after day. Shaking things up with a little change of scenery every so often can help jump-start our creativity, improve our mood and outlook (crucial on the fertility journey), and reduce our stress levels (also extremely beneficial while trying to conceive). The important thing to remember with a change of scenery is that it doesn’t have to be something as grand as a trip halfway around the world (but if you can swing that, more power to you!). Sometimes, just a few hours one afternoon out of the city, or even in a different neighborhood from where you usually spend your time, can be just what the doctor ordered.
- Spend time with loved ones. Humans are social creatures, wired to thrive on social interaction and companionship with others. We aren’t islands, made to withstand ups and downs alone. We feel better when interacting with others. This piece of advice is a double-edged sword, however. Be selective with whom you spend your time. If you feel like your friends with kids don’t “get it” or understand what you’re going through, or if being with certain people triggers you in some way, perhaps they’re not the people for you to spend time with right now. All through your life, and especially during the fertility journey, you need to be surrounded by people who lift you up, not bring you down. Just as with your interests and pursuits, reach out to the people you want to spend time with and schedule it into your calendar. Things aren’t real until they’re scheduled.
- Give yourself permission to let go. This is one of the most difficult things to do, but it’s also one of the most important. So often, as women, we feel as though we need to be all things to all people, and we neglect ourselves. It’s so important to remember that it’s okay to take an afternoon to release ourselves from our other responsibilities, to escape for a little while from the grueling demands and stresses of trying to conceive, and reconnect with ourselves. Not only is it okay, it’s something we need to do – for it will give us the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and give us renewed energy to continue on the path.
This process can be healing and liberating, and the best part is, when we make ourselves whole again, we’re becoming the best possible person that we can be – which enables us to be more present and loving to our future babies. The best mama is a happy mama.
Do you feel that you’ve lost part of yourself on your quest to conceive? Are there things that you’d like to bring back into your life? I’d love to hear what steps you’re taking to reclaim your Self – leave me a comment below!