Embracing the Chaos of IVF Part 4: Finding Positive Ways to Cope
posted by: Guest Blogger
Our first IVF attempt failed and it was now time to prepare for our second attempt. Before that happened, I had to mentally prepare myself to try again. As a self-proclaimed control freak and non-practicing Catholic, I knew it would not be easy for me to just have faith that things would work out as they should. I needed to be strong enough to handle what was to come – baby or no baby – and I couldn’t do it alone and couldn’t expect my family to manage my stress either.
After the miscarriage last spring, I searched for ways to manage the stress in positive ways as I knew infertility treatments would be an emotional rollercoaster for my family and me. I searched for alternative methods instead the typical ones like psychotherapy, prescription medications and lots of alcohol. I felt I would have to take plenty of medications while trying to get pregnant that I didn’t want to add more to the mix. I also wanted to find options that didn’t break the bank either.
Here are three methods that have helped me manage all of the ups and downs of my infertility journey:
Meditation – I’ve tried meditation many times, starting back in high school when I first learned about color therapy meditation in a stress management class. After that, I would pick it up again here and there, but never made it a daily practice until last spring. At that time, I was working closely with GG Johnston, a dear friend and amazing life coach who helps people figure out how to be the most authentic person they can be both personally and professionally. I could go on and on about GG and her ability to help others, but I only have 800 words for this post. She taught me new techniques and how the power of sitting silently can help you find your true self. I now meditate daily and am amazed at how much it helped me get through our failed IVF attempt. It was through meditation that I could really visualize my family as just Barry, Maya and me, and be OK with it. If you’re interested in trying meditation, check out The Chopra Center’s 21-day Meditation Challenge. It’s free and includes guided meditations to help you learn the practice without feeling overwhelmed.
Biofeedback – There are many scientific definitions of biofeedback, also known as quantum biofeedback, but let me try and simplify it. Basically, you get hooked up to a FDA-approved machine on your head, ankles and wrists, and it measures a variety of activities in your body, including stress level, heart rate, muscle activity and breathing. A biofeedback practitioner, like Kellie Smith, then reads these activities and tells the machine to even out any levels that are out-of-sync. It’s kind of like your body is a printer and biofeedback helps to recalibrate any areas that need to be adjusted. You also can work with your practitioner to send your brain positive, affirming messages like intentions via the machine to help you reduce stress. I know this sounds like something you’d read in a science fiction book, but I promise it works. Plus, Kellie is one of the most positive, enlightening people you’ll ever meet and she makes getting through the bad times a little easier.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture, the ancient Chinese technique of placing thin needles into the body to identify and release stress, has been proven to help women with infertility issues for decades. In addition to helping with overall stress reduction, studies have shown it helps to increase blood flow throughout the body as well as increase the thickness of the uterine lining. There are many great acupuncturists in Denver, but I highly recommend finding someone who specializes in infertility acupuncture treatments if you are trying to get pregnant. For instance, Heidi Alexander in Centennial understands how infertility can affect a woman both emotionally and physically, and she knows the right techniques to ensure your session goes well. She also knows the best techniques to use during the IVF embryo (egg) transfer process. This was a plus for me because I felt like I would have an extra cheerleader with me at that critical moment when the time came. Another plus is that acupuncture is sometimes covered by insurance so it’s a nice alternative if money is an issue.
So, am I completely healed from the IVF failure? No, but I’m getting there. Will doing these techniques guarantee that I will get pregnant? No. Will these work for everyone? I don’t know. What I do know is that I wouldn’t be able to cope and share my story without the expertise and support of GG, Kellie and Heidi. No matter your journey, I hope you find at least one of these options helpful for you.