My Story, Coping with Infertility
!(http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/fertilityflash/vol7-6/wickham1.jpg) Lisa Wickham.regained a sense of control in my life while continuing treatment. This is what saved me: A powerful combination of group support and mind/body techniques. My [Pacific Fertility Center acupuncturist](http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/blog/acupuncture-and-infertility) (seeing tears stream down my face) recommended a Mind/Body class to help ease my obvious difficulty in coping with the emotional stress I was under. This was huge. This was the first step I would take in reclaiming my 0ormer self. What are Mind/ Body techniques? They are tools including deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive reframing, light yoga, tai chi and journaling exercises. My first thought was, Will this be too new age-y for me? I could barely comprehend the fact that I was doing acupuncture regularly, let alone meditate. The great thing about Mind/Body is that it is a tool box, so you pick what works for you. I never really did learn to meditate, but the regular use of relaxation CDs for deep breathing, muscle relaxation and guided imagery has given me profound peace of mind. Cognitive reframing (learning to recognize destructive thoughts and reframe them) was also powerful for me. I used to hear a tape playing in my head over and over, Ill never get pregnant, Ill never get pregnant. I learned to challenge the truth of that statement and rethink how it made me feel. A 10-week Mind/Body course I took was a key turning point. PFC offers a one-day workshop that offers an introduction to Mind/Body and is free for patients. The other key component to my peace of mind has been meeting others who get it. Its hard to explain to someone not experiencing infertility themselves just how this takes over your life. Well-meaning family and friends try to understand, but they truly cannot. Only my best friend, who also experienced difficulty in trying to conceive got it. That is, until I did my first IUI. Having to explain washed sperm to her and describe what its like to have your legs in stirrups as the washed sperm is inserted into you was beyond depressing. I knew I needed to meet others going through similar situations.
!(http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/fertilityflash/vol7-6/wickham2.jpg) Lisa and Jonathan Wickham.I attended my first Open Path group support meeting last year and had no idea what to expect. I only knew I needed to at least talk to someone else who knew what an IUI was. Open Path (fertilityandadoption.com) is a Bay Area organization that provides regular group support. There I met two amazing women and we are now a larger group of women who meet regularly and support each other over email, coffee and even cocktails in between cycling. We are a Sisterhood of Infertility. We all have different stories whether doing IUIs, IVF, using donor eggs, considering a gestational carrier or considering adoption. We have different personalities, some are quiet, some are loud, some blog their innermost thoughts to the online world (google Stirrup Queens), some are closeted with their infertility secret to all but a few. But our common thread is infertility. We all wear the red, pomegranate string around our wrists as a reminder that we are not alone (you can google infertilitys common thread to read more about this). We support each other when we are down and we celebrate our victories (small and large) together. While most of us could not find it in ourselves to feel happiness for friends we had known all our lives that got pregnant, we were able to give loud cheers of joy when one our IF Sisters did. This was healing beyond words. And this gives us hope. Ive heard the statistics about Mind/Body and group support increasing pregnancy success odds, but, for me, even more important than getting pregnant, was the peace of mind that came. My hope is that my story can, in some way, help bring peace of mind to someone else as they navigate their own path. You are not alone. You do not have to do this alone. And there are concrete ways you can make yourself feel significantly better while undergoing treatment. Try these resources for more information:- [Mind/Body at Pacific Fertility Center](http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/events/mind-body-fertility-workshops) - [Stress and Infertiltiy](http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/blog/stress-and-fertility-causality) - Resolve - [resolve.org](http://www.resolve.org "Resolve") Lisa Wickham, Current PFC Patient, San Francisco, CA