7 strategies to deal with the stress of IVF: here's what worked for me!
Staying sane during IVF is difficult at best! There are so many worries, so many stressful situations, so many uncomfortable medications and procedures. Not to mention all the mountains of information and scary statistics.
In the previous post, I shared our 7 month IVF journey. We only did one stimulation cycle, and I'm thrilled to say we are 10 weeks pregnant! I am so thankful!
So how did I stay sane undergoing IVF?
Well, honestly, at times I didn't! Sometimes the emotions got the better of me. There were periods of depression and trepidation, moments of doubt, and lots of tears. Through it all I tried to keep a positive mindset, and I found little ways to keep moving forward and find the light.
A loving support team is so invaluable during this process. Don't be afraid to share what you are experiencing with close friends and family. They will help you deal with the stress and give you encouragement when you most need it.
Today, I want to share with you the strategies that most helped me cope. If you are starting/undergoing IVF or dealing with infertility, here are the things that kept me hopeful and reduced my stress.
Strategies to Deal with the Stress of IVF:
No. 1 Scale Back
IVF takes a lot of focus, time, and energy. There will be days you feel really crappy. There will be days when it is impossible to think about anything else. There will be weeks when you have 3 doctors appointments. So scale back your activities, commitments, and work load as best you can. It is not the time to run a marathon or take on an extra project at work or travel extensively.
I am so lucky that I have my own business that I could scale back during this time and a successful partner who could support us. Am I worried about the impact this time away will have on P&P? Absolutely, but it was time to prioritize our family. I know many of you will be working full time with limited sick days and vacation time, so anytime you can say no or reduce your responsibilities do it.
No. 2 Walk Daily
No matter how I felt, I tried to walk at least 10 minutes every day. My goal was 20 - 30 minutes a day, but sometimes I just didn't make it. Getting out in the fresh air and moving always made me feel better and helped me re-focus though.
No. 3 Get Informed
Knowledge is power! Learning more about the reproductive system, pregnancy, and the science behind IVF really helped me feel more empowered and in control. Which in a process that is so out of your control, definitely helps you stay sane.
I really enjoyed Dr. Aimee's Egg Whisperer podcast. She is an obgyn and reproductive endocrinologist who approaches infertility with care and laughter. Her shows are informative, inspiring, and enjoyable.
Dr. Lora Shahine's youtube channel was also my go to for IVF information and reassurance. She covers in detail what to expect during IVF procedures as well as lifestyle optimization tips and infertility facts.
Of course your fertility clinic should be your number one source of information, but I felt these programs really rounded out the information I was given and helped me ask intelligent questions of my doctors.
No. 4 Audio Books
I've always been a big fan of audio books, especially for road trips, but over the past 7 months I must have listened to 20 or 30. I put them on in the car, when walking, and when doing house hold chores. They really helped me get out of my own head and enjoy a bit of escapism. My Audible membership really came in handy!
Some of my favorites:
The Ruth Galloway Mystery Series by Elly Griffiths
Call Me Maybe by Cara Bastone
All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata
The Jane Austen Collection - an Audible original
No. 5 Clean Eating
In general S. and I try to eat healthy with minimal processed foods and choosing to cook at home, but in the weeks leading up to my embryo transfer I really kicked it up. By and large, I cut out refined sugar and carbs. I found Lindy's site foodsforfertility.com extremely helpful. I ate all the superfoods she recommends for IVF success.
I created this salad based on those superfoods and ate it more than once a week.
No. 6 Meditation & Prayer
Calming my mind and clearing out the worries and "what ifs" was really one of the most helpful strategies to staying sane during this process. Meditation and prayer often go hand in hand for me. I find that once I've cleared my mind I feel more grounded, connected, and ready to pray.
I've been a long time subscriber to Calm the app. I regularly did the "Daily Calm" with Tamara Levitt and love the messages and quotes she uses to help you process life and stay balanced.
Bettina Rae's youtube channel was really a positive yoga and meditation outlet. She has been through pregnancy loss and infertility, so her videos are very kind and empathetic.
The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim was very inspiring and helped me gain perspective.
No. 7 Little Joys
I tried to focus on small everyday joys that brought some light and pleasure to our home. Things like...
- Taking a hot bubble bath
- Buying fresh flowers
- Baking treats like cookies and muffins
- Sitting outside to read
- Keeping the kitchen clean
- Organizing and purging closets
- Playing good music
- Afternoon tea
I'd love for you to share what helped you cope with infertility/IVF! The strategies that worked for you may help someone else. Please share in the comments!