I don’t know that I have ever met a woman struggling to conceive who has not been given the “sound” advice to “just relax and you’ll get pregnant.”
I suppose amongst us “infertiles” this piece of advice has become somewhat of a canned joke that we all know by heart. And though seemingly funny on the exterior, this supposition is anything but funny on the interior.
Being told that simply relaxing will usher forth motherhood can feel like someone has added weight onto an already overburdened jackass (that is a donkey, and also the way we sometimes silently label ourselves) pulling a 1,000 pound cart up the steep hill in Santorini, Greece. It can feel like we are being told that our solution is an easy one if we would only just relax already.
So we sit there twisted up in yoga poses that make us resemble pretzels, we buy essential oils to rub all over our body–ruining our favorite sheets, we listen to “zen” music that sometimes sounds more like white noise than the rushing water it’s suppose to be, and we meditate to frantically racing thoughts about how we MUST relax, I mean RIGHT NOW, just RELAX darn it! Yes, it all sort of defeats the purpose.
So while alleviating stress and cultivating more relaxation in our bodies will aid in our fertility, we must practice this advice with gentle kindness to ourselves.
Relaxation comes from nurturing ourselves the way we will nurture our children, from loving ourselves with a soft touch rather than a judgmental harshness. Being intentional and mindful about relaxation is far different than being the dictator taskmaster who shames ourselves into forced, prescripted “relaxation exercises” to become the perfect vessel of life–good lord, does such a thing even exist?
So today, yes do meditate, but in a gentle way allowing room for wandering thoughts and holding no judgment over yourself for their presence in your time for silence. They are friends saying hello. Greet them, and then let them move along their path away from you.
And yes do make time for a yoga class. Yet do only those poses that feel soothing and calming to you. Leave the pretzel for the street cart in New York.
As for that zen music, heck, listen to whatever makes you feel like a deep, deep sigh. Listen to the lullaby that rocks you into soft silence.
The presence of stress in our lives can create and confound fertility problems. Yet the not-so-sage advice to “just relax and you’ll get pregnant” only serves to exacerbate the problem for many of us.
So today, for all of those women who have been told “just relax and you’ll get pregnant,” and who have made it their life’s mission to force/shame themselves into relaxation, I want you to know four things:
1. What you do is enough, it is perfect and it is enough.
2. This is not your fault, none of it. You have not created or caused your infertility.
3. Your inability to conceive is something that has happened to you, it is not you. Infertility is a circumstance that has come to teach you many, many things.
4. You are not your infertility. You are beautiful, whole, and perfect just as you are right here and right now–twisted in a pretzel, annoyed by the white noise, oiled up like a slip and slide, and hearing a million voices during mediation. You are perfect.
Now, as a bonus for today, one of my favorite secret tips to relaxation that will cost you under $5.00!
Rice Heating Pad:
- Big bag of the cheapest rice you can find (or flax seeds if you’re willing to spend a little more–they will retain heat longer)
- Cheap, but thick, long sock (think wool socks for winter time)
- Fill the sock with rice (or flax seeds)
- Tie the end of the sock so the rice/flax seeds can’t escape
- Place the rice sock in your microwave for 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the sock) until it is hot
- Place the hot sock (be careful that it’s not so hot that it will burn you) over your shoulders hugging your neck and enjoy feeling the tension drain out of your shoulder and neck muscles
Tip: For an extra treat buy some peppermint essential oil and put a few drops on areas of tightness before you place the warm rice sock on them. It’s heavenly!