Not being in control makes me feel anxious. I like structure, I like being organised; I like knowing what is expected, what to expect, and what I need to do to achieve my goals.
Up until now, the goals have been attainable. What you put in is what you get out.
I expected the same with trying to conceive (TTC). Eat well, exercise, take vitamins, understand your menstrual cycle, time it right and fall pregnant. Of course, it doesn't always work as well as one would expect, and after months of trying without success, I was reaching epic proportions of frustration.
I finally made peace with this and decided to take the pressure off by not living my life according to ovulation (if anyone has been able to find balance without it becoming all-consuming, please let me know). We're just going to try to BD every two days and we’ll see what happens.
I was getting into the right frame of mind to give up the charting, to "relax" (I hate that word), and had promised myself I wouldn't worry so much ... then we had an earthquake in Wellington.
My partner had coincidentally phoned me just before it started, so I climbed under my desk and we kept talking. I felt strangely calm. I knew it would stop, I could hear him, he could hear me, that's all that mattered.
Once it stopped, the adrenalin kicked in. I ran through town to get a lift home, we tried to find each other in the throngs of Wellingtonians trying to get out of the city. By the time we got inside I felt completely shattered.
Monday morning was a bit difficult. As I settled in for the day, I saw there was a 90 per cent chance of another earthquake – as big, if not bigger – happening.
I could feel the anxiety rising, the "what-ifs" taking control, the fight-or-flight response, the desperation for an answer - is there definitely going to be another one?
It dawned on me that there at least two things are absolutely out of my control and entirely up to Mother Nature: making babies and earthquakes.
I don't know if or when either are going to happen. It’s just not up to me and thinking about it has gotten absolutely exhausting.
I certainly don't have all the answers here, but I have found these things have helped me take a little bit of the anxiety out of giving up control. Whether anxious about possible earthquakes, or putting away the chart and just trusting Mother Nature, maybe they’ll help you.
Leaning on my partner more (literally and figuratively)
I needed lots of hugs this weekend – nothing fancy, just hanging out together on the couch holding each other. Believe it or not, the act of hugging helps calm the nervous system. When you hug, your brain releases oxytocin (a feel-good hormone) and has an immediate anti-stress effect. Talking about the fact I was feeling anxious helped, too.
Be kind to yourself
I went for a hair cut, and just a couple of hours of zoning out and reading trashy gossip mags felt good. It could be a sneaky treat of something you really enjoy eating, or baking for the whole day, doing your nails, writing, dancing, watching movies in bed, a long bath, whatever … just be kind to yourself.
In almost any form, exercise is a good stress reliever. Basically, exercise pumps up endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters – and it's a break from the constant (over) thinking and helps lift your mood.
Get out your comfort zone
There are so many things I think would be nice to do, but don't do them. So I signed up for an awesome group called High Tea Honeys (who doesn't want to do high teas just for fun?). I also made a note of some things coming up at the theatre that I would like to see and thought about what other things I want to give a go.
I find that it’s always good to stop and think of all my blessings and about what I’m grateful for, just to get things into perspective. I love the train ride into work – the sun is just rising and the bay looks absolutely beautiful. Sometimes just being in the moment helps your outlook on things.
Reach out to your friends
It's amazing how some unexpected people become amazing friends, and the ones you were sure you could open up to turn out to not be the right people to speak to. Either way, the universe has an amazing way of bringing the right people together at the right time.
Eat and sleep
Seems simple enough, but good nutrition and enough rest can never be underestimated.
Finding humour in things is a good way to break the tension. As my husband pointed out after reading my blog, another similarity with earthquakes and making babies is that "there is rocking and shaking required for both".
So this is the challenge for week one of not worrying about TTC. It's early days but let's see how it goes ...