Fertility treatment Mental health Self-care

Maternal Mental Health Week – preparing for IVF and motherhood

May 4, 2019

Earlier this week I tentatively reached out to fellow Instagrammer, Lauren, about the possibility of creating a piece about IVF and her path to motherhood for Maternal Mental Health Week.

While days and weeks dedicated to causes such as mental health can bring people together, they also carry the risk of excluding others. It’s not always possible to include everyone but it occurred to me that Maternal Mental Health Week also applies to those who are trying to start their families and yet I haven’t seen many conversations about it.

Lauren is openly sharing her fertility struggles and here, as part of #thebigselfcareshare, she talks about how she’s supporting herself with a whole heap of love and laughter.

Lauren - supporting your fertility

Tell us about yourself and your fertility experience.

I was born and bred in Surrey where I now live with my husband and 2 cats – Simon, Bruce & Maverick. The 3 loves of my life. Closely followed by wine. I used to always hear people saying “there’s never a good time to have a baby” but I have since learned that this is something only the super-fertile, super-fortunate say. My husband and I have felt SO READY to start our family for about 3 years and have been TTC since 2016.

Shortly after the first year of trying, we went to visit our GP who ran some tests and eventually gave us the news that there was a male factor issue making it pretty difficult for us to conceive naturally (in spite of all my efforts with ovulation sticks, thermometers, sperm-friendly-lube, bedtime handstands, pineapples for breakfast etc).

We were totally knocked sideways by the result but a lot of learnings came out of it.

We were referred for our first round of IVF in February which sadly ended without any embryos to transfer. We were totally knocked sideways by the result but a lot of learnings came out of it and we’re now looking ahead to our second fresh cycle which we hope will begin this summer.

What does self-care mean for you and how have you been looking after yourself on your fertility journey?

For me, self-care is about finding time for the things that make me feel like Lauren. Infertility – in all its forms – can be exhausting and miserable. Whenever I feel either of those things, I know I’ve been slacking on the old self-care. Being around my friends and family is my go-to remedy most of the time. Laughter heals me so I do everything I can to surround myself with people who make me LOL and LMAO and ROFL.

I’ve recently made a playlist of tunes that take me right back to that happy, exciting time in my life.

Music is another thing that really brings me out of a bad bubble. I spent years training as a dancer (my true passion although I have long since lost all technique) and I’ve recently made a playlist of tunes that take me right back to that happy, exciting time in my life. Some other fixes for me include sunshine, yoga and bubble baths – with wine and candles in emergency situations.

We first discovered each other through Instagram. How have you found the fertility community?

In short, incredible. It was September last year when I first “came out” about our struggle conceiving and discovered the online Insta-Sisterhood. Before that, I’d felt SO ALONE. Like I was the only one having a hard time getting pregnant. The people I’ve connected with on here make me feel stronger, more positive and more clued up about fertility. I love you all. I honestly don’t know how I’d be coping if I hadn’t found this wonderful tribe.

I believe our maternal mental health needs to be considered well before we have children. Is this something you’ve considered on your path to parenthood?

Absolutely.

As much as I don’t want to believe it, infertility has changed the way I think. It’s like my brain has sort of rewired itself to associate babies/pregnancy with a feeling of pain. I’ve had my low points but I’m determined to get myself into a stronger frame of mind ahead of our next IVF cycle.

We need to look after ourselves to make sure we don’t burn out the moment we cross the finish line. Because, in reality, it’s actually another start line.

Rumour has it that the pregnancy/motherhood malarkey is no walk in the park and, ideally, I’d like to enter that chapter of my life feeling ready for the challenge. For those of us dealing with infertility and IVF – that challenge starts a long time before conception. Making a baby this way takes BALLS (excuse the pun), unrelenting commitment and a whole heap of love. We need to look after ourselves to make sure we don’t burn out the moment we cross the finish line. Because, in reality, it’s actually another start line.

Lauren, thank you so much for creating space for those experiencing fertility struggles during Maternal Mental Health Week. At your rawest, you’re supporting others and I’m sure it’s a self-care piece that will touch hearts!

You can find out more about Lauren by visiting:

www.instagram.com/laurenifen
www.thedinkyblog.com

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