I had a reminder about self-care the other day, and to be honest, my self-care has been slipping. The stress of multiple back to back IVF’s has been taking it’s toll. I found myself escaping into day dreams, which can be helpful at times to cope with the vast hardships that this process brings. But it can also make you miss the pleasures and moments that are right in front of you. I’ve felt disconnected, withdrawn, absent. With the long dark nights brought by a cold winter, I’m reluctant to go outside. Stagnation set in. Knowing that this isn’t the place in which I want to be, I’ve searched for a guiding light in the darkness.
In many circles, as the New Year approaches, I’ve encountered the idea of selecting a “word of the year”. This isn’t a new concept, but one that I much prefer to resolutions that are often forgotten and sometimes forced. The word of the year is meant to be an intention. A focal point that can help guide actions throughout the year. I’ve never used one before, but felt particularly drawn to try it this year. As I though of what my word might be – what intention I wanted to send out to the universe – I became stuck. I found it hard to find something that wasn’t directly related to an infertility outcome. Some words seemed to fit with how I would feel if IVF were successful: transformation, trust, faith, enjoy, connection, becoming, thankful. Other words reflected qualities I would need to carry me through IVF failures and the end of my journey toward a second child: strength, endurance, courage, overcome, emerge, live. None felt right. I didn’t want to pick a word that reminded me of either outcome. I wanted something that was just me.
So what if I took infertility outcomes out of the picture? Could I find a word that embodies who I want to be? On what I want to focus. Would that not help me stay true to myself no matter what the outcome may be? And then, when I least expected it, it finally came to me: Revitalization.
After going through the pains of multiple rounds of IVF, I am in desperate need of revitalization. And at the core of revitalization, at least to me, sits physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual self-care. When you’re in a rut, it is so easy to stay there. Or even sink deeper. It’s easy to right off self-care by saying “it’s too late to help my eggs this cycle”. I can’t be the only person that’s felt like that. But it isn’t too late. And regardless of the outcome, I want to care for myself. I’m putting my body through so much stress and I want to give something back. And I want to live my life.
I’ve started making some changes in the spirit of revitalization, and going back to some of the things that I know are good for me. I’ve put on my big fluffy jacket and gone for walks in the cold; pulled out my paints and let some creativity flow; soaked in a warm bath (not hot of course for fear of creating hard boiled eggs – can that happen?) complete with salts, candles, and relaxing music; and took in big belly breaths, filling my blood with oxygen and releasing tension.
As I move forward this IVF cycle and beyond, I’m reminding myself to choice actions that revitalize me. During infertility and IVF, so many choices get taken away from us, but choosing my actions is something that I can control. It might not always be easy, and sometimes I need to give myself a little leeway, but I am strong – this process has thought me that.