“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
Six years ago, I struggled with secondary infertility. While all my friends were getting pregnant with their second and third children, my husband and I were undergoing in-vitro fertilization. I never knew at the time, but this experience and all the pain I endured was a piece of a much larger picture.
Luckily, our treatment worked the very first time. We inserted two embryos and nine months later, I gave birth to a darling girl and a beautiful boy. I am not going to lie. Nine months of a pregnancy with twins were filled with anxiety and trepidation. What did I worry about? It is probably better to ask what I didn’t worry about. Among my major concerns were all the horror stories about pre-term labour, and the reality of twins being high risk. I managed to make it through. There was a lot of lying on the couch.
When the twins were four months old, my anxiety returned. What if they stopped breathing? What if I dropped one? He’s doing this, she isn’t.
What if, what if, what if?
One day, however, a lightbulb went on and I was able to see a common denominator. It was my anxiety. At first, my anxiety was about not being able to get pregnant. Then it became about carrying the pregnancy. And, later it was manifesting in my constant worries about my babies. I realized that I needed to get a handle on this draining energy. It was disrupting and depleting. If I let the anxiety rule, it would continue to affect me negatively, likely for the rest of my life.
As I looked for answers, I found the missing piece. This piece laid in my new found love, mindfulness. Mindfulness is moment to moment awareness. It is a quality or a way of being that involves our full attention and awareness. The wonderful thing about mindfulness is that it is the complete opposite of worry. It’s a tool that takes you out of the worry and into the now, into your sensations, into yourself. It has you let go of any judgments.
Mindfulness is moment to moment awareness.
The framework that mindfulness offered gave me my power back. I realized that my thoughts and feelings impacted my body. Just by being aware and noting, in a non-judgmental way how I was feeling, I could shift my reality. I learned that in between a stimulus and response, all of us have the freedom to choose how we feel, how to react and how we wish to respond. Our difficulties and struggles are a calling for us to heal something much deeper. I focused on changing my relationship with the anxiety. When I did, it morphed in a way that complimented and propelled me instead of scaring and weighing me down.
Mindfulness is a way of living.
It can be harnessed in the face of any challenge, relationship or opportunity. In the end, I was fortunate to have twins. But I was even more fortunate to learn about and understand the value of mindfulness. It has enabled me to change my life in a positive way. It has enabled me to grow.
When I teach mindfulness in my mind body fertility group, I use an acronym with the ABC’s. I make it really easy to remember. As you practice the ABC’s it integrates into your everyday thinking.
Whatever it is that we are experiencing in the moment, good, bad or ugly, we must move into it and accept it fully and completely. As we consciously let go of any resistance to what we are experiencing, a natural release is often experienced.
Once we have brought ourselves back to the present moment, we now take a conscious breath.
After your conscious breath, just take a moment to be where you are, in the moment.
Have you struggled with fertility and anxiety issues?