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Managing Expectations During Infertility – What Does That Mean Again? Blog Feature
Lisa Rosenthal

By: Lisa Rosenthal on September 15th, 2015

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Managing Expectations During Infertility – What Does That Mean Again?


managing-expectations-infertilityManage expectations. And infertility.

I’m a writer. And an artist. And I see words as art. And as complete thoughts.

They catch my eye.

And they catch my ear.

I’ve been hearing a lot about managing expectations lately. It’s coming up in unexpected places. There are the places I would expect to hear that phrase– in business situations and project deadlines. And there are the places I do not expect to hear the phrase, like a peer support group or a yoga studio.

Lately, in the last week or so, I’ve been hearing it in my head. It started because I heard it in Ladies Night In – thanks beautiful women?

Managing Expectations During Fertility Treatment

Managing expectations seems related to cautious optimism. Maybe not siblings, but distant cousins? That’s a phrase I hear a lot with fertility treatment. “Don’t get your hopes up too high, but it’s looking good. Let’s be hopeful. But not too hopeful.”

Managing expectations has been presented to me as not getting too hopeful or too despondent. Staying in the middle, where some people describe “the wise mind”. Neither too high, nor too low. In the reasonable zone. Where we find a place of comfort and steadiness.

When it comes to infertility, we tend to be pro’s at both of those- highs and lows. There is no reasonable zone. Hence we see the often used symbol of a roller coaster. How do you manage expectations on a roller coaster? I hold on as tight as I possibly can on a roller coaster. I hold on with my hands and my stomach, my heart and my breath. I keep my eyes wide open because I think, I hope, that if I see what’s coming, even if only a second before hand, that I can stay stable.

There is no stability on a roller coaster. Interesting that even if you have been on that roller coaster ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times- you are not prepared for the extreme up’s and downs. Or the ripping around corners. They’re still extreme. They are still jarring. The movements and gravity still shove you around at will.

Support During Infertility

I found that my middle ground with infertility was slightly depressed or even numb. This is not what I am recommending or suggesting is healthy. In fact, it felt pretty awful. It felt isolating and lonely. If that’s how you are handling the ups and downs of fertility treatment, let’s find something to help. Simple suggestions- Lisa Schuman, LCSW, Melissa Kelleher, LCSW for fertility counseling; Amy Matton, Jing Zhang, Elaine Matton for Acupuncture; Ladies Night In for peer support; Fertile Yoga for mind/body relief.

Managing expectations could also mean that we respect each piece of information as it comes along, for what it is and what it isn’t. When I avoid jumping to the next piece and allow myself to absorb what is in front of me, I stay present in the moment. Expectations can be challenging in that way- they take you out of the moment at hand and put your interest in the future.

We have to plan. We have to schedule. We have to look ahead. Those three sentences are all a variation on the same theme, creating what we want in the future. For the future.

But if we’re looking for stability, managing expectations makes sense. And managing expectations can be about having a long view, and focusing on this moment as well. One does not negate the other. The future will unfold; will reveal things that we can’t even anticipate. The present moment is the one we can laugh in. It’s the one we can cry in. It’s the one that we can see all the way to the stars or the ocean.

Managing expectations, to me, means planning what I can and then seeing the reality of this moment.

Finding the joy of the roller coaster, why not? The abandon. The thrills of the up and down.

All we have to do is hang in there.

And when we are off the roller coaster, we can revel in that calmer place. The delight of a more soothing pace.

Deep breath in.

Long breath out.

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.