Tag: stress

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.

Endometriosis.

I want to have a little chat about endometriosis. Because I have just been diagnosed with it and, quite frankly, I am still learning about it. In some ways it’s a big relief to know I’m not just being a wuss each month – when I’m not leaving the house when it’s at its worst, and dreading my period like you would not believe. In other ways, it’s tough because it’s a relatively new problem to me (it seemed to get really inflamed a few months ago – going from a really small ‘not seen as a problem’ cyst to my current diagnosis) and I just want it to be gone.

So what the hell is it?

Here’s my most concise definition, gleaned from my basic internet research (i.e. Wikipedia – my old uni lecturers would not be happy haha)…

“Endometriosis is a disease in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside it.”

Simple right? Apparently my main issue is the endometriosis in my left ovary.

Here are some of the symptoms I’m primarily dealing with…

  • Bad cramping both before and during menstruation.
  • Very heavy period – to the point where I can’t even comfortably leave home for a few days. Trust me, you don’t want to know.
  • Obviously it’s not helping with fertility (I feel like that’s an understatement).
  • Social and psychological effects. I’ve been a hermit recently, when I’ve had symptoms, and it does get you down. Also, talking about periods all the time is considered to be quite gross, so it’s a bit embarrassing. You don’t want to be all, “Sorry everyone – can’t make it to that thing because I’m BLEEDING EVERYWHERE.” Thank goodness I at least have a name for it now. I also feel really guilty because I often don’t know how well I’ll be until the day of an event, which makes me look like a big flake when I have to cancel at the last minute. I hate letting people down and I hate the fear I have of being excluded next time or not having people understand. I also suffer from a lot of mummy guilt because it can affect whether the Little Mister gets to do fun stuff with me or whether he gets stuck at home too. Another psychological issue is the pure dread I feel about getting my period. It weighs on my mind for at least half of my cycle because I know it will disrupt my life so much and it affects the choices I have to make and how I plan my work/ school mum/exercise routine/social life. I don’t like it taking up so much of my time, energy and brain space. It’s stressful – things feeling like they’re up in the air, pending more symptoms, when I know my period will be due on certain dates (although I’m grateful to have a fairly regular cycle).

As you can see, the psychological stuff is what I’m struggling with almost more than the physical stuff right now.

I am booked in to have laparoscopic surgery for it next month. I’m nervous, but I am starting to really come around to the idea, because I just want my life back. I am really hoping it will help me. At first, all I could think about was the fertility side of things, but right now I just want to feel better each month. I guess we’ll figure out the rest later. If I let my mind dwell on the setbacks, it’s not a good place to be. I’m trying to just take all of this one step at a time.

If you have any of these symptoms, don’t feel like you have to soldier on like it’s normal. I’m lucky I’ve been closely monitored, but if I wasn’t already having really regular check ups/scans, I probably would have been less kind to myself, thinking I was just not matching up to those girls in the tampon ads – the ones who can do kickboxing and go clubbing in white pants, even though they have their periods. It can be hard enough to do the shopping or turn up for work sometimes! I can’t give you medical advice, but do get things checked out if you feel like your period is ruling your life.

If you have a friend who has a similar diagnosis, please be kind and patient. She’s not just being a princess complaining about her period. It probably is everything she says it is. Every case might be a little different, so try not to compare her unfavourably with others. Try to find other ways to make her feel included, if she has to cancel on stuff or feels like she can’t commit, knowing her period is due. Don’t stop inviting her out. If she’s like me, she might be feeling insecure about being a lousy friend. Check in. We need to have more conversations about stuff like this and shake off the awkwardness.

Thank you so much for reading. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that I am better by the weekend – I have a super rad trip to Sydney coming up and I plan on enjoying it!

Have you ever had endometriosis? Just wanna vent about being a lady in general? I’m all ears/eyes x

‘Twas the weeks before Christmas and everyone was stressed…

I found this in my ‘drafts’ folder. I wrote this last December (2012) in the lead up to Christmas. I don’t know why I didn’t press ‘publish’. I think my main message still applies – let’s all make this year’s festive season as happy as it can be and remember what’s really important xx

5be92a46d8676c6cad4be73d37582d99

Christmas.

I sometimes feel like I’m the only person wandering about just moderately stressed (as opposed to extremely). Am I doing it wrong? I still have a crapload of shopping to do, and while I do worry about whether I’ll get it done in time, I’m fairly confident I can. Maybe it’s the last few years that have helped take the edge off. Five years ago, my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Thailand until the 20th December, so the pressure was off – we just scrambled about when we got home and nothing bad happened! Last year the Little Mister was not much more than a newborn so we ordered a bunch of brag books online for all the grandparents and great grandparents, and no-one expected us to give anything, so anything above and beyond their expectations made us feel like superhumans (we managed to do pretty well considering).

Yesterday, I hit the shops early. I was in a clothing store with the Little Mister strapped into his pram. He’s a sociable little man and he tried to ‘speak’ to a lady who had her back turned. It was just cute babble (so nothing shocking or screamy). The lady jumped a mile. She whizzed around and looked so relieved that it was just a little kid. She said he scared the living daylights out of her and held her hand over her heart, saying it was still beating really fast from her scare. The Little Mister sensed her fear and began to cry (after being so happy and friendly a moment earlier).

Later, I was manouvering my way into a car park. It was a very busy time of day, but there were spots opening up everywhere and I was blessed when a great one (in just the right position) became free. I pulled in, but because of other drivers consistently moving past in the opposite direction (off-putting), my angle was a little off. I decided to put my reverse lights on and adjust my angle ever so slightly so as to make sure there was ample space for both cars that were next to mine. I slowly but surely (and vigilantly) inched backwards (we really are talking inches – it was all I needed) and in the space of 30 seconds two drivers (who had been several metres away at the time) kept beeping their horns at me. They were so sure I was about to hit the lot of them. Their defences were well and truly up.

Everybody is so on edge that the smallest things are spooking them. I just wish I could hug everyone (well the ones who won’t bite) and say that it’s OK to feel the way you feel (who knows what each person’s life story is), but it’s also OK to just slow down. Chill out. Remember what Christmas is all about. Wish the exhausted shop assistant a Merry Christmas. Wish your tired customers a Merry Christmas. Have a laugh when you come face to face with a pram or a shopping trolley in a squeezy store (rather than giving a huffy puffy look of anger). Treat others how you would like to be treated. Tell your family you love them and accept them for who they are. Don’t make mountains out of molehills.The good tidings you receive back will make you feel so much better about the tough things you might be dealing with at the time. You might be having a tough day/month/year but be careful. The innocent person who you might be glaring at or abusing might be having it tough too (they may just have a better attitude about it). Be nice in car parks – I’m talking to you, That Guy Who Flips the Bird at People Who Aren’t Doing Anything Wrong.

Stop jumping at every little thing. Breathe! Take a break when it starts to feel suffocating. Fresh air is good. Step out for a bit! Plan your day out carefully (but take it easy when those plans don’t work out so well). When in doubt, give to others (whether it’s simply kindness or a special good deed). It will make everybody involved feel good.

Beating the burnout & regaining sanity.

615a0c9b51888dbf68ae61c5e045ccc4

pic

I’ve written about it before, but it can be easy to get burnt out as a parent (or any adult living a busy life really). It happens to me every few months. I’m not just talking about when you feel tired after a long week of less sleep than you would like and a couple of mishaps. I’m talking about that feeling where you start to wonder if you’re insane and the burn out that you feel starts to impact on your relationships.

For me, it comes from looking after the Little Mister for very long hours, feeling guilty because we both haven’t had a break in a long time to just play (quality one on one time) and be peaceful/content in our own space. It comes from weeks/months of not looking after myself properly and somehow putting myself last. I don’t do it to be a martyr. I don’t do it on purpose. It just sneaks up on me. If my husband or the Little Mister need a doctor’s appointment or anything else that is good for their health/wellbeing, I will jump at it and make sure it happens. Me? Not so much. No time for that. I’m too busy giving away my time to my family.

This is a dumb idea, because I end up feeling drained and hating my job (being a stay at home mum/wife). Now, I ordinarily love my job. I love being at home. I love the Little Mister to pieces. I do love trying to do those nice extra little things for Mr Unprepared to make him feel loved and appreciated. It’s only when burn out approaches that I feel resentful and easily irritated – a sign that it’s time to look out for me.

This past few weeks has been full on. We’ve made lots of big decisions. We’ve hosted or been to several parties/social/family events (which can often mean the Little Mister skips his naps – eek). Our cars have needed work done on them (which means a lot of money, time and running around). We’ve been working on our house/yard (or getting quotes from tradies etc). We just bought a camper van (off a loan we applied for). We’re planning a rather significant overseas trip next year which is going to be fun to somehow find the moolah for (I’m sure you’ll hear all about it in due time). Mr Unprepared has worked longer hours, which means I have done the same at home unassisted. And…I’ve got to out my husband as a bit of a stress head (he’s addicted to always finding a new project aka something new to worry about), which then further fries my own brain. Sorry, husband. It’s true. Knowing your partner is stressed can often be the most stressful thing of all.

None of the above is exactly earth shattering stuff. It’s not a hard life by any means. We’re very blessed. Lots of exciting things are coming our way. It’s just tiring. And while that’s OK for a while, eventually it becomes hard to keep up with. It can take months, but eventually we need to stop (or pause) and take a breather – even if it’s just mentally.

We need to be able to focus on the positives (and there are a lot). We should be enjoying ourselves. Not worrying about whether it can all happen, whether we can afford it or just freaking out for the hell of it. As long as we’re rational and take things step by step, things will work out. Why stress? It won’t change anything. We need to conserve that energy!!

f356a49b1a97cb4f6dc4104c2dc19f5e

pic

I’ve decided I’m on strike. I’m not making big decisions, bringing new ‘issues’ or ‘projects’ into the mix or making appointments for anybody else (unless it’s an emergency) until I have two things: a doctor’s appointment and a hair appointment this side of Christmas.

Yeah, totally outrageous. Don’t get too crazy, Kez.

I told my husband and he took it rather well (perhaps he’s still in shock). I also claimed that I am his union rep (he signed up for membership when he married me haha) and I am ordering him to take industrial action too. No silly over time at work (voluntarily getting up at 2:30am because he feels pressure to provide more than we need). No finding new (unnecessary) things to stress about. No squeezing of new and complicated (but not urgent) tasks into days that are already too short.

After all, we can’t BOTH be burnt out. We need to look after ourselves so we can look after each other. Not to mention the Little Monster Mister needs the best of us.

Enough of the zombie eyes and the inability to just talk sh*t and laugh. Our lives aren’t hard enough to justify that.

This week, I am determined to be selfish. Not uncaring. Just remembering that I’m important too. I’ll start with a couple of appointments booked, a dinner with the girls and I’ll work upwards from there.

7dae0e4cd0b5db2ee7f9931ae1d36ccd

pic

What will YOU do for yourself today/this week/this life?