I was raised by a single mum of 3.
I was taught that if you work hard, the sky is the limit.
So I studied hard at school, achieved good grades and got into University.
I pushed myself at University and I got a good job.
I worked hard at my job and got promotion after promotion.
I was successful in my career and in life.
Quite frankly, I was nailing it!
That’s the pattern, right?
If you work hard, make sacrifices, set goals and targets, you can achieve anything. It was always my motto in life and I prided myself on the fact that I didn’t believe in luck. You make your own luck.
And THAT is why infertility hits us so hard.
We approach having a baby with the same tenacity we would a business project. We do the research, develop a well thought out strategy, schedule it in our calendar, and set the goal.
After the first few months with no pregnancy, we increase the effort. Our schedule is filled with acupuncture appointments, we change our diet, take different supplements, try different sexual positions, we monitor our ovulation like a pro and when it’s go time, we march our partner to the bedroom with all the romance of a board meeting.
And then nothing.
So, we call in the big guns. A fertility specialist.
We have a problem and they can provide a solution. So, we turn to assisted fertility and go down the path of IVF. We go cycle after cycle and ride the rollercoaster. Our stomach is filled with bruises from the hormone injections, we stop exercising, drinking alcohol and make all the sacrifices we’re told to make.
And we still can’t work out why this isn’t working.
It took me 7 years to work out why. 7 years, 9 IVF cycles, a surrogacy baby, miscarriages. 7 years of pushing my body to ridiculous lengths. 7 years of heartache. 7 years of wondering whether I had done something wrong, whether I was being punished, whether it was a sign that I would be a terrible mother.
And then it happened. I fell pregnant naturally at the age of 39.
Ok, maybe I’m a slow learner.
The simple truth is that having a baby is not about increasing effort and pushing. Its about slowing down. Decluttering your life. And putting yourself first.
But how do you do that if the concept of slowing down is completely foreign to you? And how do you justify putting yourself first in a world where we’re raised to think that it’s selfish or self-indulgent?
Today I’m a fertility coach, supporting other women, like me, survive the path to motherhood.
Here’s an exercise I shared with my coaching clients this week that may help you to shift your mindset around self-care and slowing down.
Firstly, let’s get this straight – self-care isn’t just about manicures and massages. It’s about doing the things that allow you to recharge. And this looks different for everyone. I’m an introvert, so my idea of recharging is being alone to read a book, sit in the sun, a walk along the beach, and silence. But it may look a little different for you. Work out what you need to do in order to start firing on all cylinders. In order to put the pieces of yourself back together.
Secondly, make a list of how you doing all of these things is contributing to your goals, those around you, and how it’s actually being productive. Instead of looking at self-care as a waste of time, what is it actually achieving.
One of my favorite quotes is “You can’t be brave if you’re tired”. But more than that, you can’t be ANYTHING if you’re tired. In order to be a better wife, a better employee, a better friend we need our own cup to be full first. We cannot pour into others when we’re running on empty.
Here are some examples to get you started –
If you go for a 30-minute walk on your lunch break, it will increase your productivity tremendously.
If you have a 15-minute bubble bath, you probably won’t snap at your husband AND you may actually feel like having sex.
If you unplug for an afternoon, you may find yourself actually smiling and laughing when you get together with your friends next.
And give yourself permission to slow down.
Your body is working for you. It’s trying it’s hardest to make a baby. And in order to allow that to happen, you need to slow down. Recharge. And give it space to happen.
Jennifer Robertson is a fertility coach and has helped women all over the world to transform their mindset and take back control of their life in the midst of infertility. She is also an author of The Injustice of Infertility, a true account of her own seven-year fertility journey.
Throughout her fertility journey, Jen discovered that her old ways of pushing and working hard weren’t serving her. She is now using the lessons she learned along the way to develop programs and support those who are still struggling to conceive.
A former chief financial officer and your typical Type A, get shit done personality, Jen now lives by the beach with her husband and two beautiful children. She uses her experience and voice to raise awareness for a disease that affected her personally and continues to touch so many others around the world.
Catch today’s episode of The Hormone P.U.Z.Z.L.E Podcast and learn more about ‘Fertility Mindset and How It Affects Your TTC Journey’ with Guest Blogger Jennifer Robertson.
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