In two previous posts I have listed the varied and unique activities I have done to help improve the odds of our IVF cycles working. I discussed meditation, golden fertility eggs, gluten-free diets, and so much more. But I didn’t mention one very important practice that has been a part of this journey from the beginning. Yoga.
There are a variety of fertility yoga DVDs available to those seeking poses to increase the odds of success with either assisted or unassisted reproduction. Over the years I have done many of them, and now I choose one of a few available to stream at the click of a button on yogaglo.com. However I rarely do yoga these days, and I think its an interesting way to begin to frame up the difference between primary and secondary infertility, a subject I plan to dive much deeper into in later blogs.
WARNING- for those of you still struggling to have your first child this post may be challenging for you.
If you have read earlier posts you know that I have only recently become a hippie. I don’t associate yoga with hippiness, it is far too mainstream. Plus, I have been doing yoga for nearly 20 years, long before my hippie transformation. My first yoga class was a gift I gave myself in my early twenties when I quit smoking. It was a way to keep the weight off while also calming the mind. Since that time it has been a somewhat regular part of my life, coming and going in phases. Waxing and waning like the tide. These days the tide has definitely been waning.
The photos say it all. It is extraordinarily difficult to do yoga with a two year old. Sure I can wait until she goes to bed, but there are a number of other items on the to do list that need to be checked off during that time. Things like picking up toys, paying bills, catching up on work, and blogging. Yoga is somewhere below those on the priority list. Which is why it is very difficult to do and so easy to forget.
I try to convince Spork to actually do the yoga poses with me and she will for about 5 minutes into the 45 minute practice. After that she gets bored and I become a human jungle gym. As those of you with kids know, the floor is their space and anything that they find in it becomes their domain, including other human beings.
For the record. I didn’t dress my daughter yesterday when these pictures were taken. I was working and this is the glamorous oufit her father chose. Clearly the socks, clothes, and television in the background prove that these photos aren’t staged and that we are very, very, normal. I would never allow a picture of me with the band to my yoga pants completely unfolded and riding up my back to be posted on the internet unless it were a completely candid moment shared to prove a point. But I digress…
Yoga for fertility, and how it has come and gone pre and post baby, is the perfect way to describe how secondary infertility is different than primary infertility. Let me explain.
Many women experience secondary infertility after having no trouble conceiving other children. There are numerous reasons why this happens to women. The most common category I see in the online fertility community is women who are facing secondary infertility because they have aged since their first child or children. Either this woman decides many years later to add to her family as the clock is ticking, or she is building a family in a new marriage or relationship. There are also a number of women who experience secondary infertility that is simply unexplained, at least initially. These sufferers may still be young and may have given birth to one or more children and for some reason it just isn’t happening again like it did before. And then there are those like me, the lucky ones who have always been infertile but had a first child or children with assisted reproduction.
Whatever the reason for it, secondary infertility is hard. It is made even more difficult by the fact that you lose the ability to connect and identify with a large portion of the infertile world, namely women who are still striving to have their first child and would change places with your whiney ass in a New York minute. It can be very difficult to still feel connected to the community at times.
It can also be really annoying to have to smile and bite your tongue when you hear “I am so sorry that it didn’t work again, be thankful you have Spork. You should go home and give her a big hug tonight.” This statement, or some variation of it, is to those of us with secondary infertility as “Just relax and stop trying so hard and it will happen” is to anyone with infertility. It is just one of those things well meaning people who don’t know what to say lean on to fill awkward space without realizing how many nerves it touches.
Don’t worry, if you have said this to me I don’t remember that you did and associate it with you. Everyone has said this to me.
The statement is crappy because it assumes that we need to be reminded to be thankful for the child we have, as if someone with infertility needs to be reminded of that. It also seems to suggest that we should just be happy with the one child we have, even if we know deep in our soul that our family is not complete. And finally, it touches on a very sensitive nerve. The guilt nerve. It speaks to the little voice inside of my head that says “should we really be putting all this energy into trying to get pregnant when we could be investing it into the amazing child we already have?”
Yes, secondary infertility is hard. But its not as hard as primary infertility, at least not for me and I would guess not for most of us. While it is more difficult in different ways, it is easier in many more ways.
This is how yoga led me down this rabbit hole today. It caused me to contemplate the differences between primary and secondary infertility because of the difference yoga itself has played for me at various times. When we were working so hard to have Spork it was relatively easy to fit in meditation, yoga, running, acupuncture, etc. It was easier to manage the IVF process and everything involved in it like ordering drugs, scheduling appointments, timing shots and medications. Those things are much, much harder with a toddler. Those things are much, much more stressful with a toddler. I am far more stressed with these cycles than I ever was with Spork’s cycles. Ironically I have very little time to do things like yoga to manage the stress which is intensified in the way only a toddler can intensify stress.
But take a look at the photo below. See that smile? I didn’t have that smile before Spork. That smile is a smile of a mother, a happy, albeit slightly inconvenienced mother. In between the sadness, hope and the fear I have with my cycles now, I have those smiles. I have been pregnant and had a perfect, healthy baby. My dream came true. It seemed so sad, so distant, so impossible when I was dealing with infertility before Spork. Now I know it is possible.
So maybe I am a little more stressed, A lot more stressed. Maybe I am still sad and desperate to have my family be complete. Maybe there is also a part of me that knows what I am missing and it makes me want it even more. Those are all very challenging things. But I have those smiles, and those smiles do help. Those smiles make it a little bit easier.
For those of you who don’t have those smiles yet, I am so sorry. I pray with every ounce of my being that you too someday will become a smiley human jungle gym.