How Failing Hard Changed the Course of My Fertility Journey
I've had many low points during my almost five-year fertility journey. I want to tell you about a specific one because I feel it might be helpful for you to hear that:
You're not alone
Your feelings are normal
I've been (almost) exactly where you are
Well into my second year of trying to conceive, I did an ovulation induction treatment 12 times in a row. Ovulation induction is basically IVF without the surgery – it involves the same hormones pumping into your body, daily blood tests and the hoping and waiting.
It was month 12, and I was racing from project to project. I'd just come home from a business trip abroad and was still frantically trying to finish the project from that trip before my next one. I was sleep-deprived, full of adrenaline and anxiety — about work, unpacking, packing, and of course my upcoming ovulation induction round.
I had so much going on. I could've just skipped it.
The thing was: I didn't want to miss a single month, because every one is precious, right? Especially when your doctor tells you (at 30 years old) that you have the egg reserve of a 45-year old and don't ovulate on your own.
So I didn't take the month off. I got to the airport for a transatlantic flight (did I mention I was afraid of flying?) and rushed to a gross airport bathroom to unpack my needles and vials from a cooler bag and inject the trigger shot for ovulation.
My head felt dizzy from doing what felt like physics-level math so I could calculate exactly what moment to do the trigger shot, keeping in mind the time difference and the transit time until I met my husband.
I sat on the floor of the bathroom stall, hearing the excited voices of mothers with their children around me in vacation mood, and there I was — miserable, injecting myself in between business trips, desperately trying to become a mother, and feeling so alone.
I somehow managed to get through that long flight without an anxiety attack (watching Friends helped, as it always does), met my husband, had some awkward adult time, and then crashed. I didn't get out of bed for the rest of the day.
Spoiler alert: that round didn't work either.
I guess I didn't expect it to after so many failures. But I was still devastated. I thought I had planned everything so well. We had spent so much money, invested so much time and energy, muddle through so many emotions.
All the ducks seemed to be in a row. Yet, somehow they weren't.
My experience in the airport bathroom was something of an epiphany for me. I decided to turn things around; to change fundamental aspects of my life in order to nurture my fertility, not force it; to work with my body, not against it.
I hadn't wanted to fail. But as it turned out, failing hard was the best teacher I had on my fertility journey.
So what did I change? My mindset, my lifestyle, and my tactics.
Changing my fertility mindset with mind-body tools
I knew I needed to stop questioning whether I was worthy of becoming a mother.
I started with books. I read seven books on Buddhism that helped me find a spiritual compass (one that will probably guide me for the rest of my life) and introduced me to daily affirmations and non-negotiable positive self-talk.
The biggest change I experienced came from incorporating mind-body connection techniques into my daily life. I wanted to see for myself if the research – that mind-body tools can help you improve your fertility via your brain’s messages to reproductive hormones – might work for me too. And I truly believe they did.
What mind-body tools did I use?
Things like relaxation, calming breaths, gentle yoga, visualizations and journaling. I would start the day with a 10-minute meditation, calming my nervous system and allowing me to manage my emotions in a more controlled and safe way. Afterwards, I felt I was mentally equipped for whatever I encountered.
I downloaded audio meditations and relaxation tunes onto my phone and listened to them every time I felt I needed a break at work, on my commute, or before going to another baby shower.
Changing my lifestyle to support fertility
Changing my mindset made a big difference, but I knew it wouldn't be enough if I didn't also minimize the stress that was a part of my everyday life.
I improved my work-life balance by reducing my business trips and working from home more to avoid the stressful commute. I examined my nutrition and switched from store-bought meals to more home-cooking and organic whole foods. I started baking my own bread and slathered it with ghee and butter to make sure my body got enough calories.
And I dialed down my exercise routine from daily high-intensity workouts, runs and power yoga to a more balanced schedule that included gentle yoga, walking and rest days.
Changing my tactics to nurture, not force, fertility
And then there were the actual things I was doing to try to have a baby.
I switched fertility clinics and stopped rushing from one ovulation induction round to the next without letting my body rebalance its hormones. I realized my current clinic’s approach wasn’t right for me and that I needed more specialized care related to my hormone profile.
It took a year of on-boarding, doing tests and consultations until I could finally start a new round of IVF. While that wait felt excruciatingly long at times, I knew I was in the best hands and on the right track. I felt fully supported by the clinical team and the wonderful women I met along the way.
All of these small (or big) changes helped my body and mind to feel safe, nurtured and ready for a baby.
I finally understood that you can’t trick your body into getting pregnant.
You have to work with your body, hand in hand, be patient and stay incredibly kind to yourself.
Failing hard during my fertility journey helped me understand what it really meant for my body and mind to be baby-friendly. And it did not include a stressed version of myself frantically injecting shots in an airport bathroom.
What I needed instead was to be kind and gentle with myself, to get the right help for my situation, and to know that I could persevere through the hard times.
I am a Fertility Coach helping professional women like you increase your chances to get pregnant with less anxiety and more joy along the way. My Full-Circle Method is a holistic blend of solution-oriented coaching, powerful mind-body-connection techniques and a practical step-by-step guide addressing mindset, lifestyle and tactics along your fertility journey.
I’m a 4 time IVF warrior, a yoga teacher and a working mom with an MBA and 15 years of corporate experience under my belt. My own challenging journey to motherhood has made me passionate about helping you with yours.
I’m German native, but a global citizen at heart. I’ve lived and worked all over the world (Germany, US, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, UK), and now reside in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with my husband, daughter and red Labrador Retriever. I love re-watching Friends and never say No to chocolate. Have I mentioned chocolate?
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