Have you heard about or do you know what ‘Self-Care’ means? Is it something that’s on your radar or is it more in the Bermuda lost triangle zone as far as you’re concerned? Do you even know what I’m talking about?! Self care is essentially about taking responsibility for yourself, your health and mental wellbeing. It essentially means to look after YOU. I knew of the term but despite doing a lot of things for ‘myself’ I didn’t really acknowledge that what I was doing was called ‘self-care’. Listening to Women’s Hour on Friday (I know, I’m WILD) there was a segment about this topic, where it took one woman finding out she had cancer, going through all the treatment and coming out the other side, before she realised that she hadn’t been taking care of herself at all. She realised pre-diagnosis that she’d been burning candle at both ends, running herself into the ground working and partying too hard. Having cancer made her realise she needed to slow down and start loving herself a bit more. The programme really got me thinking. Certainly leading up to IVF I was really good at meditating on a regular basis, I was getting loads of sleep, drinking loads of water etc but then the pregnancy and sickness stopped all of that, and then after the miscarriage everything went to shit, quite frankly. I went off track by way of rebelling and showing my anger I suppose. I stopped doing all of the things that were good for ME. I realised that I hadn’t been looking after myself at all.
I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve had a hectic few weeks despite not really doing anything. It’s this time of year I think, everything seems to come to a head at the end of twelve long months. We’ve had coughs, colds, teething, sleepless nights, fertility drugs side effects and slow realisations that I’m going to be thirty eight in less than two weeks (sobs into wine). The kid has had permanent snot face since she started nursery in September (the joy of shared germs) And teething hit her hard a few weeks ago. This lead to a stint of interrupted sleep, traipsing the corridor back and forth in the small hours between her room and ours, running on mumbie mode (zombie mum). Everything then came to a head and I found myself weeping down the phone to my mum, wine in hand. To help me get out of this funk, I’ve reverted back to a few simple things, that help me relax. To get me feeling more ‘me’ again.
When my husband and I were ready to start ‘trying‘ (cringe) for a baby, it felt like every where I turned I’d see a woman with a massive pregnancy bump or pushing a buggy containing a tiny new baby. All of a sudden, it felt like everyone else was pregnant and I wasn’t. My eyes were drawn to every car, with those signs saying ‘Baby on Board’, I felt like people were rubbing it in my face that they had a baby and I didn’t. Everything I saw was baby related, even any magazine I picked up included articles about ‘fertility fears’ and how, ‘being over 30 meant that it would be much harder to get pregnant’. I felt incredibly sad and I felt a lot of pressure (from myself) everywhere I turned I was being reminded of the fact that I wasn’t pregnant but everyone else was.
Because of this, right from the start I had this feeling of urgency and pressure about getting pregnant. Some family and friends knew we were trying and I constantly felt like I was getting the once over look at gatherings, being checked for ‘signs’ or if I happened to be driving and not drinking then I’d be aware of nudges and winks, people expecting ‘news’ anytime soon. I was always thinking about it too, why wasn’t I pregnant, am I being punished for being bad in a previous life, when was I going to get pregnant, oh look at her she’s pregnant, its like groundhog day in your brain. I found myself feeling very negative about the whole situation. Because of this, I started to look at ways that I could help myself be more positive. I also decided that if things weren’t happening as quickly as I’d hoped, then I wanted to arm myself with information about how I could help my body ‘get pregnant’. Aside from the physical act itself, I wanted to know what I could do to help my body be ready for pregnancy.
Firstly, I got busy reading, knowledge is power and all that. I read a load (I counted six on my kindle) of books about fertility however the only one I actually found useful was ‘The Baby Making Bible‘ by Emma Cannon (whose a fertility ‘guru’ so they say). Emma covers many things in the book, here are the things that I tried and tested:
- When you’re feeling low, write a daily list of all the positive and good things that you have in your life. Often you can’t see the good things because you are focused on negative thoughts so this can help you see the bigger picture.
- Saying daily affirmations, like ‘I am a healthy, strong woman’. Okay, I know, this seems a bit ‘new age’ but I honestly found that saying some statements out loud every day did help me feel more positive. I’d say them when I was driving to work in the morning.
- Meditating & Acupuncture.
- Using Chinese medicine to pinpoint and recognise any underlying issues in your body (like digestive problems for example)
Now, obviously you can buy into everything that’s in the book, and Emma does recommend loads of things to try like reflexology and moxibustion (a Chinese Medicine treatment using fire/heat, sounds dangerous right?!) or you can just take the bits from the book that suit you. For me, the book gave me a starting point, it gave me some things to think about and focus on, I found it really useful.
I’ve mentioned meditation above, this was something I’d read lots about on a website I found called The Wellness Warrior (the site owner, Jessica Ainscough has unfortunately now passed away) and also in Emma’s book. Initially the thought of meditating conjured up images of tie dye clad ladies, ohhhhmmming whilst clinking small bells (which is totes acceptable by the way ;). It was never something I’d tried but hey, I thought why not try it. I was stressed at work and I was stressing that I wasn’t pregnant so some time out to meditate couldn’t be a bad thing. Here is a video clip I found to help get me started (and for those that ever watched home and away years ago, yes, its Melissa Ambrosini!) If it was a nice afternoon I’d sit in the garden or just on our bedroom on the floor and I’d just be…still…it was actually really lovely. Note – I always did this when my husband wasn’t around because he would have definitely laughed at me or would have tried to start talking to me when I was ‘in the zone man’! All in all, I found meditating really nice and chilled and because around this time I was beginning to panic about not being pregnant (obsessivethinkingaboutbabies24/7) meditating helped me clear my thoughts for a while.
Acupuncture was something else I tried. I found a lady called Anna Dennis who specialises in acupuncture for fertility. Because of Anna’s background in the IVF clinic in Hammersmith Hospital, she knew what fears and concerns I had and it was really nice to spend my sessions with her talking through everything. I found that I didn’t want to constantly be having the same discussions with my husband about not being pregnant, as it was a bit ‘broken record’, so having Anna to talk too as well really helped. Also, despite hating needles I actually didn’t mind the treatment at all, the needles are so fine you hardly notice them. I started seeing Anna in March and got pregnant in May, whether or not the treatment helped, who knows but I know that personally it helped just having my 30 minutes with Anna just to chat and put the world to rights.
And finally, yoga! I started yoga to help me reeee-lax. I found this great website called Ekhart Yoga, where you pay a certain amount each month and have access to loads of online videos. It was really useful as it meant I could just do yoga at home in my living room and as a complete yoga novice, there were loads of beginner videos to watch and practice. When I got pregnant I stopped sport, but continued with the yoga videos for a while, then started pregnancy yoga classes, it made me feel like I was still doing something to keep me mobile.
There you go, these are the four things I found useful to keep me focused and relaxed, when I was trying to get pregnant. What about you? Did you try anything I’ve mentioned and find it useful, or were you not worried about getting pregnant and just knew it would happen?