Our secondary infertility journey: Part 9 – Stop telling infertile people to ‘relax’.

When I wrote this in March 2016, I was in a tough place. I kind of got my ranty pants on. But reading it back, I don’t regret it and I don’t have any problem with sharing it now. I hope it doesn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers or make anyone feel defensive – that’s not my intent. I know people mean well. I’m just trying to shed some light on what it’s like when you’re struggling. 

You can catch up on the rest of my story so far here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Mr Unprepared and I are going through what is called ‘secondary infertility’. This means that we are lucky enough to have a child already (conceived naturally), but are struggling to conceive a second. To qualify for this reluctant title, it means that we tried for over a year on our own before needing to seek medical advice and testing.

Everyone in our lives has been so supportive and caring, since we’ve shared our situation. Choosing to be fairly open about it has been the best thing I’ve done. It has strengthened my relationships with those close to us and I am sure it has prevented a lot of awkward questions and conversations.

However, there’s one thing that irks me. Something that I keep hearing and reading. Nobody who says it means harm. There is surely an element of truth in it. But I still struggle with it.

“Maybe you just need to relax and not stress. I know someone who tried for ages and then when they finally relaxed and stopped worrying about it, they got pregnant right away!”

Yep. That old chestnut. Heard it a thousand times.

Thing is, it’s kind of complicated, this ‘stress’ factor. At least it feels that way for me. Which is ironically quite stressful.

See, I’m sure that stress can affect hormones. I know that excessive stress is bad for our physical health in general. I mean, it all follows that it can probably affect fertility.

I am not disputing that.

It’s just hard to be told constantly that you just need to ‘relax’ and ‘stop thinking about it’. Because, when you really really want something, you will think about it. You do have to do certain things that cause you to be reminded constantly about your fertility status. It cannot be avoided. And I have been known to fall into the trap of stressing about whether I’m stressing too much to conceive, which causes more stress! Surprise, surprise.

This is why I don’t react so well to being told to ‘relax’. Because duh. Someone who really wants to get pregnant will do anything it takes. Including efforts to reassess the stress in their lives and to try to make sure there isn’t excessive stress where unnecessary. We are not stupid. We’ve thought of it. Our doctors have probably mentioned it. Trust me. At this point I kind of feel like unless you have some specific, helpful advice on what to do in order to relax, please refrain from telling me that story about a friend of a friend who stopped trying and suddenly – voila – pregnant as fuck!

Would I love to be THAT friend one day? Of course. I do love hearing success stories, do not get me wrong. But some days, those success stories just sound like more people who managed to be better than me at fertility. And those days are the worst days.

So I have decided to try to stop analysing my stress. I know I’m the worst over thinker on the planet, but the thing is, when we conceived the Little Mister I was under a lot of stress (maybe even more than I am under now because I’m trying harder to not let things get to me given the circumstances). But he came along. Puts things in perspective.

If I have a ‘stressed out’ feeling, I will not freak out that I am too stressed to conceive. I will just be stressed out (like a normal person), think about how to stop/relieve the stress and move on. I’ve got to stop making the stress about how it may relate to our fertility efforts. People have conceived under way more horrible, unwanted circumstances throughout history. People have fallen pregnant during crazy times – with terminally ill partners and during times of grief. If they are going to get pregnant, they are going to get pregnant. If you are not, you are not.

Let’s stop making it all about the hopeful mother to be. We carry enough responsibility for all of this on our shoulders. We can’t control everything. I refuse to be told I just need to ‘relax’. When in the history of being told to relax, has a stressed person ever felt like relaxing and not strangling the person who suggested it?

Even if, by some miracle, I am suddenly super relaxed and ‘stop thinking about it’ and fall pregnant one day, I will NOT be preaching to those who are struggling. I will not be telling everyone to relax. I might pass on some of the things that helped me to relax (if asked), but I won’t attribute everything to my ability to calm the fuck down. Because it takes more than that to conceive. And every person, every couple, is different in some way. Everyone has their own journey, physically and emotionally. Yes, I said ‘journey’. You can spew now.

So how about we calm the fuck down and chill the fuck out about telling everyone to ‘just relax’. Just ‘stop trying’.

No amount of ‘relaxing’ will help someone who has an actual physical medical complication that prevents the ability to conceive.

Because people can’t always just stop trying. That’s fucking dumb. You don’t stop trying until you’re so over it all that you think your dream is over and you’ve exhausted a bunch of medical options. And I am sorry but I refuse to stop dreaming and hoping right now. So deal with it.

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