Thursday, July 23, 2015
Letting go of doing it right
Somewhere along the line, I think I got the idea that I have to work for this baby, that pregnancy is only going to happen if I do everything just right. I must prove that I am willing to make sacrifices and put in the effort, like I'm training for the Olympics! The internet encourages this mindset:
Eat the right foods
Exercise - but not too much!
Stretch - but carefully!
Avoid everything you enjoy eating!
Eliminate stress! (Ha!)
Deal with your emotional baggage
I seem to be surrounded by people who either get pregnant without trying at all or who only have to 'try' for a month or two. And I'm not talking about twenty-five-year-olds either. A relative of mine recently had a healthy and very unplanned baby shortly before turning 44. The baby was so unplanned, in fact, that it didn't even occur to her that she could be pregnant until her fourth month of feeling 'off'!
Why does it seem to happen so easily for everyone I know but not for me? For most of the ones I've actually talked to about this a little, it quickly became clear to me that it had never even occurred to them that they wouldn't easily get pregnant. One person close to me even planned her kids' births for a specific month so she could have summers off for maternity leave. Her first little one very accommodatingly decided to arrive right on his due date, on the first day of summer! And the second was born almost exactly two years later. And she doesn't find that at all out of the ordinary. Why wouldn't you plan to have your kids when it's convenient for you? And why would think you'd have any trouble making this happen? This is the kind of attitude I need to embrace!
I'm definitely starting to wonder if trying to do everything perfectly is more crazy-making than helpful. That photo above shows the teas, herbs, supplements, vitamins and other drugs that I am supposed to be taking every day on the advice of various health care providers. A few of them I would be taking even if I weren't trying to get pregnant but fourteen pills plus raspberry leaf tea plus three doses of Chinese herbs?! My doctor says the raspberry leaf tea "tones the uterus." I don't even know what that means! And some of these pills and teas are supposed to be taken with food but not at the same time as each other, and some are supposed to be taken hours before or after food. It's crazy! I actually contemplated getting one of those pill organizers with the little boxes for each day of the week, and making up a chart for what needs to be taken when. That's when I knew I'd gone too far!
I realized that I was trying to engineer my life around my meals and drugs and teas and supplements to the point where I was starting to sound (at least in my own head) like an 87-year-old with numerous chronic conditions. It felt like I was sending my body the message: "Red alert! Red alert! It is critical that you take all of these things in exactly the right amounts and combinations at exactly the right times or you'll never get pregnant!" It was certainly not helping me to relax and didn't seem healthy either. It was like the worst version of a placebo effect: "Hey, if I'm taking all of these drugs and supplements, there must be something really wrong with me!" After several months of this nonsense, I've finally decided, "This is ridiculous. No more!"
I still take the four pills I have to take regardless plus the prenatal vitamins. And I take maybe one additional supplement (occasionally two) or tea each day, if I remember and if it fits with my schedule. But that's it. I also exercise regularly, eat my usual healthy diet, and work on trying to minimize stress and on working through my emotional stuff. But I'm thinking of it all in terms of being healthy overall. Aside from the prenatal vitamins, most of these I plan to continue even once I'm no longer in trying-to-conceive mode. Like, when I'm a healthy, happy, well-rounded mom. I feel less stressed when I stop worrying about whether I'm doing everything I can to conceive.
Here's my new motto: Boost your chances by making healthy choices most of the time, but let go of being perfect. A bit wordy, but... gets the idea across! "Letting it go" has become a bit of a cliché lately, but it's still a good idea most of the time. I'm sticking with Idina on this one! :)
Sending love and a big dose of sanity to all,