We all do the best we can when managing a crisis. There’s no “best” way. There’s figuring out what to do and how to take care of the situation and ourselves. But because it’s a crisis, which normally puts people into stress mode, we may not be thinking as clearly as when we’re not in a crisis.
By definition, difficult conception or infertility is a crisis:
a. An emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life.
b. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point.
Isolation is many times, a tool of choice, especially because of the intimate nature of difficult conception. There may be a few people for whom that works well, but only for a short period of time. We are social creatures. We really do need each other. Women in particular, process difficulties by talking with their girlfriends.
Others very naturally reach out to others for help and support. Unfortunately, with difficult conception, the girlfriends may already have children and may not understand or be able to comprehend the emotional upheavals, frustrations and relationship stresses that go with difficult conception. Unhelpful suggestions (you know what they are) are not just unhelpful, they are painful and lack the compassion that’s truly called for.
Brené Brown speaks beautifully about the importance of “connecting” with others in this TED talk: The Power of Vulnerability. While researching shame and fear, she discovered the value of vulnerability, of allowing herself to be seen, even and especially when experiencing “excruciating vulnerability”, one of the many traveling companions on Fertility Road.
Scientific studies now show that social connection improves physical health and psychological well-being as documented in the article, Connect To Thrive, by Emma M. Seppälä, Ph.D. People who feel more connected to others have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Connecting “strengthens our immune system (research by Steve Cole shows that genes impacted by social connection also code for immune function and inflammation), helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life.
We’ve known for decades that “people who are suffering from their own difficulties find that their painful experiences can help others in the same boat, thus enabling them to realize the humanitarian or existential meanings of their experiences. Additionally, people can deepen their understanding of their own problems by helping others in similar circumstances.” Riessman (1965, p. 27).
This correlates to Brene Brown’s assertion that through connecting with others, we find purpose and meaning in our lives. Yes, having a baby will give much meaning to your life. Until then, there is this road that you must travel and much to be discovered. Clearly you will benefit from being with others going through the same difficulty. In the process, you will be helping others.
Allow yourself to be seen. Begin to embrace your excruciating vulnerability with kindred spirits in a safe, compassionate environment. This crisis can be a turning point, a realization, an opening to something greater than you have known before. Through your connection with others, you find and give meaning to a difficult struggle.
The Fertile Mind-Fertile Body Workshop is 10 years old this year. It was created for women in the throes of difficult conception. Participants learn the physiology of stress, what it does to their bodies and methods that change the impact that stress has on the body and mind. We focus on the things that we can control and nourish those aspects of ourselves that contribute to a healthy body and mind. Women share the journey that they’re on and listen to others’.
New perspectives; practices and behaviors; connecting with others; reducing stress… all serve to create a more receptive environment for conception. Decades of research support the positive effects of such groups. Current studies reveal the neurological changes in the brain as it is affected by contemplative practices. Mind/Body programs are no longer considered “alternative”.
Improve your chances for healthy conception. Register today for the Fertile Mind-Fertile Body Workshop. January 15 – March 5, 2014.