“A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love” Marianne Williamson
One of the most significant stresses for couples trying to conceive is the battle between the, often overwhelming, desire to become pregnant and the, equally overwhelming, fear of not becoming pregnant. Sadly, this battle isn’t the only stress that trying to conceive (TTC) can bring. My experience working with TTC women and couples always reminds me of the importance and benefit of taking time to manage stress and anxiety while trying to conceive.
Trying to conceive will take over pretty much every aspect of your lives. You may have significantly altered your diet, perhaps omitting the foods you love – chocolate and wine are often prime candidates. Finances may well be at an all-time low: IVF, regular acupuncture, organic food – it all mounts up! And, of course, the dreaded family gatherings where not only are you surrounded by proud, round bumps but huge efforts are made to dodge the dreaded question. I have known TTC women afraid to leave the house in case they come across a pregnant bump.
What is important to recognise here is that fear, anxiety and stress closes, they shut you down, life is on hold. Your happiness, it feels, depends on one thing – a blue line. While fear closes, love opens – it is by its nature receptive and transformative. Love offers a sense of connection with life itself.
I have two simple suggestions to share to help you take a break from the rigours of trying to conceive. The first offers ways of rekindling passion and intimacy with your partner. The second, and equally important, are tools for making time to reconnect to yourself with loving kindness.
What better place to start than in the bedroom!
If you have been TTC for a while than it is very likely that your sex life has taken on a monotonous or even gruelling quality. It has become a chore, your partner (if a man) has become a sperm machine and it is likely that he too dreads the mechanical aspect of your mid-cycle ovulation stick that says drop everything and go! Do you remember what it was like when you first met? When you wanted to spend hours just kissing because it just felt so good? All that delicious eye contact and hand-holding. When you got home and started tearing each other’s clothes off the very second the door closed. When you would go to bed at 7pm because a night under the duvet together was more fun than any movie or outing could possibly be? It felt so good because your love hormone, oxytocin, was at an all-time high. Things may have taken a downwards turn while TTC, but all is not lost – the magic of the chemistry of attraction is at your fingertips.
Oxytocin is a shy hormone – it needs gentle encouragement and no pressure in order to bloom. Hand-holding, gazing into each other’s eyes, stroking, a full-contact, head-to-toe hug for 20 seconds. All the above are even better when naked! Get your juices flowing with whatever rocks your boat: dressing up, props, outdoor sex, role play, erotic imagery. Stimulation is the key word here. Have fun! Try to broaden your emphasis away from trying to conceive and focus your energies into attracting each other and turning each other on. This openheartedness will trickle into other aspects of your life easing anxiety and strengthening bonds.
While trying to conceive I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to show yourself loving kindness – be your own best friend. Suffocating feelings of inadequacy can creep in in stressful times in our lives – and TTC is just such a time.
If you have practiced meditation you may well have come across Metta (cultivating loving kindness). This is a wonderfully simple way of inviting peace into the demands of trying to conceive. This beautiful practice awakens us to our connectedness with all of life. This practice has been taken from the book True Refuge by Tara Brach.
Start by sitting comfortably and quietly, and relax any areas of the body that may be tense or tight. Take some moments to feel the breath at the heart. Breathing in, sense that you are receiving warmth and energy. Breathing out, sense that you are letting go into openness.
Silently, or in a whisper, begin offering yourself prayers of loving kindness. To start, choose four or five phrases that resonate for you. They might include:
May I be filled with loving kindness; may I be held in loving kindness
May I feel safe and at ease
May I feel protected from inner or outer harm
May I be happy
May I accept myself just as I am
May I touch deep, natural peace
May I know the natural joy of being alive
May I feel true refuge within my own being
May my heart and mind awaken, may I be free
As you repeat each phase, open yourself to whatever images and feelings arise with the words. Approach the meditation as an experiment, sensing what words and images best serve you and open your heart. You might explore placing your hand gently on top of your heart to see if this deepens the experience of holding yourself in kindness. Take as long as you like, offering yourself these phrases and reflecting on them.
As you end your meditation, sit quietly for a few moments and notice the feelings in your body and heart. Is there a new sense of space and tenderness? Do you feel more at ease in your being? With this sense of openness and acceptance you can experience a sense of surrender and letting go. Surrender and letting go can be especially challenging when faced with the profound need to bring a baby into the world.
Offering your partner and yourself space and love in these ways can ease anxiety and help stimulate a connection with life and each other that can be lost through the anguish of trying to get pregnant month after month.
Finally, whether-or-not you end up carrying and birthing a child from your own womb, there are many more ways of connecting with your intrinsic femininity. If you have found reading this to be of benefit, please have a look at my blog Menstrual Seasons. It encourages you to tap into the wonderful power that lies within your own menstrual cycle. Your periods have great purpose if you understand them and use them wisely. Many of you TTC are charting religiously but all the focus tends to be on the mid-cycle. I hope that in reading Menstrual Seasons you will see that the rest of your cycle deserves equal attention for you are whole and awesome