The Infertile Guide To Making A New Year's Resolution
“Happy New Year.” Is that even a thing when you’re focused on #TTC, fertility treatments, and appointment times? When nothing seems to be working, and it hasn’t been working, even though you were hoping and praying that 2019 would be your year?
Making a New Year’s Resolution Work for You
Let’s make “Happy New Year” a thing.
We’ll start by kicking 2019 out on its butt! Done and goodbye to negative pregnancy tests, insensitive questions from friends and family, waiting impatiently for day one, hearing yet another pregnancy announcement from a friend, strained relationships, and unsuccessful fertility treatment cycles. To use a term I’ve been hearing a lot (and secretly like) “Thank U, Next.”
2020 is a fresh start, a new decade, 365 days to achieve your family building goals. A blank slate, full of possibilities.
Let’s press the restart button. And here’s how.
A New Year Without a Baby — It Sucks.
We know that starting off the new year without the baby you've been dreaming of and actively working to have hurts. We know that it hurts a lot. It’s devastating, in fact. Is there a way to leave some of that behind and move forward?
While there are tons of suggestions out there for New Year’s Resolutions, big and small, many of us have a similar experience. We make our resolution, stick to it for a short time and then either abandon it deliberately or without realizing it. Next comes shame and guilt, and instead of any positive change, we feel like crap.
How about if we focus on leaving something behind in 2019 that belongs left there?
Choosing What to Leave Behind in Suck Ass 2019
Let’s face it, 2019 wasn’t great. You put time, money, energy, love, and dedication into making your family-building dreams come true, and it didn’t work.
This is a message from the CEO of RMA of Connecticut to our entire team, “Our next theme for our staff bulletin board has to do with leaving things behind to start the new year off right. These “leave-behinds” should be feelings or behaviors that you believe are holding you back from being your best self. Thoughts of self-doubt, procrastination, dwelling on past mistakes – all of these feelings hold us back from our full potential. Leaving behind toxic relationships (some “friends” can wreak havoc on our self-esteem!), being overscheduled and feeling overwhelmed by our overscheduled lives – all things we can work towards improving. I will be updating our bulletin board to ask this question and look forward to leaving all of the negative thoughts behind to welcome 2020 with open arms and an open mind.”
How to Leave Things Behind. For Good.
Most of us know what we should leave behind. We know what we should let go of. Right? You’re probably thinking of something right now…
The Classic “No” or “Less” List:
1. Less food
2. Less alcohol
3. Less coffee
4. No cigarettes (number one way to premature fertility aging)
5. No recreational drugs
6. Less time on my phone and social media
The Classic “Yes” or “More” List:
1. More time in the gym or working out
2. More time doing a hobby
3. Save more money
4. More healthy food choices (notice diet sneaks on both lists?)
5. Read more
These are the things that make the New Year’s Resolution lists year after year, after year. After year. After decade. And so on. Unfortunately, these things often end up in the New Year’s Resolution graveyard… am I right?
If perseverance, self-will, and dedication would work on any one of those things, we’d be all set.
We all know intellectually, in our brains, that letting go or changing things that hurt or stop us is the right idea. So why don’t we keep up with it?
Eating too much or too little: unhealthy and bad for you.
Binge watching TV instead of going to gym: ditto.
So why doesn’t understanding this make it possible to stop? We know what’s good or bad, for the most part, so why can’t we keep up with these resolutions?
Because just knowing isn’t enough.
Your Brain is Not the Only Organ Needed to Leave Things Behind
I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked or asked myself, “Can we look at this rationally?”
In fact, it’s the wrong question to ask, because if rationality was all that was needed, we’d be all set.
Our brains are perfectly happy to go around and around in circles. How many times have you thought about and evaluated a situation, come to a conclusion, and then reexamined it again two minutes later? I know it’s not just me who does this - admit it! Infertility and fertility treatment are a perfect example. We have a plan. Then we second guess our plan. Then we third guess our plan. And so on.
We know, intellectually, that we can’t time travel and “know” if we’re pregnant or not. Yet, how many times do we anxiously wonder, “is that a pregnancy symptom?” We know that the endometrial lining won’t be any thicker the next morning if we think about it 150 times the night before.
We know these things. Rationally. But our brains don’t let it go.
So it’s not really rationality and more brain power that we need.
Your Secret Weapon—The Organ to Leave Things Behind
Less rational brain and more heart.
Making a tough decision? Go ahead and make your pro and con list. That’s a very helpful tool, one that I use quite often.
Then what happens? The con list is twelve deep and I go ahead and do it.
My heart says yes when my brain says no.
How often do I regret it? Rarely. Almost never.
Our hearts have much quieter voices than our brains. And if we don’t politely ask our brains to shut up, we can’t always hear our hearts.
We all have different ways that we hear our hearts. My heart voice gets courageous and louder when I’m taking a walk, stroking my cat, during yoga, and in meditation. Ideas, thoughts, and solutions come to me that make no sense at all. No rational brain sense, but all the heart sense in the world. It’s where I stop talking myself into or out of how I really feel, what I really want and need.
If you’re out of practice and this feels completely foreign to you, give yourself a minute of quiet. Literally. One. Minute.
Set the timer on your phone. Close your eyes. See what floats up. Do it a bunch of times in one day. You may have to get past the initial irritation at doing such a dumb exercise. And then you may hear it. A little, but very powerful voice that say something you need to hear.
Speaking of your brain...
New Year Resolution Suggestions
Remember those lists we made earlier? Here are a few more suggestions.
The New “No” or “Less” List:
1. Less “shoulds”
2. Less scolding of yourself
3. Less saying “I’m fine,” when you’re really not
4. Less doing things that end up making you exhausted emotionally
5. Less FOMO
The New “Yes” or “More” List:
1. More saying yes to yourself
2. More self-forgiveness when you’re disappointed in yourself
3. More time to be honest with people you trust about how you’re feeling
4. More time spending doing things that bring you joy or serenity or laughter
5. More time telling yourself how capable, loving, compassionate, smart, funny, healthy, strong, lovable and talented you are
One last important thing to remember is that January 1st, 2020 is a day like none other. It’s a new beginning. 2020 is Your. Fresh. Start.
Here’s another true thing though. So is January 2, 2020. And February 3. And April 12.
We can restart any time we need to, with the goal that this is the year that your dreams come true.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.