2021 New Year’s Resolutions: Mindful Reflections Through Infertility and Pregnancy
Ready to say goodbye to 2020?
Infertility is a stressful and isolating experience, even in “normal” times, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. If you are one of the many struggling to grow your family during this global crisis, know that you are not alone in feeling frustrated, defeated, and sad. Fortunately, despite the challenges that lie ahead, there is hope on the horizon. With a newly available vaccine in the early stages of distribution, there is optimism that 2021 will bring about positive change.
While many of us make lists of New Year’s resolutions each year, this particular annual transition is unlike any other in our lifetime. One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been an opportunity for reflection, which for many has resulted in a re-evaluation of priorities.
In my role as a Reproductive Endocrinologist, I’ve had the privilege of hearing many patient perspectives throughout the pandemic. As my fertility patients look toward the future and plan for pregnancy, a few common themes have emerged. I hope that sharing these pearls of wisdom and goals for 2021 will help others who are also struggling to grow their families.
New Year's Resolutions for the Fertility Patient
1. Control the things you can, make peace with what you cannot.
Uncertainty and lack of control are two of the most challenging aspects of infertility.
There are many facets of health that can be optimized when trying to conceive, and there are benefits to being conscientious and proactive when attempting to build your family. However, it is very easy for feelings of frustration and despair to creep in when you’re doing everything “right” and yet are faced with month after month of negative pregnancy tests. You should know that any efforts that you are making (eating well, exercising, focusing on health and stress reduction) are great for general health and fertility, too! And while the journey is not the same for everyone, there are many tools to help you to achieve your dream of having a family.
Finding a balance between patience and persistence can build resilience and help with coping during your fertility journey.
2. Prioritize what is important to you, and seize the moment.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we never know exactly what the future holds. The pandemic has forced all of us to contend with unanticipated life changes and circumstances. These challenges have served as a reminder to appreciate some of the simplest things in life, which we may have previously taken for granted.
For many people, it has reinforced the importance of family, and the value of time spent with loved ones. Some have realized that they are ready to start their own families and plan to make this a priority in the coming year.
I have also seen many patients find a renewed focus on their passions and interests, and discover new creative outlets during their time at home. The increased solitude and time for contemplation in 2020 has caused a reframing of priorities that will influence life choices in 2021 and beyond.
3. Take care of yourself.
During stressful times, it is easy to put your own needs last. Habits have been a mixed bag in 2020, in the setting of disrupted routines and schedules. Some have found that the extra time at home has made it easier to engage in healthy activities such as exercise or meditation.
Others have found it harder to focus on self-care given the stresses and unpredictability of the pandemic. I have seen patients struggle and self-medicate with food, alcohol, or drugs as a negative coping mechanism in the face of stress. If you are having a hard time taking care of yourself during this unprecedented year, know that you are not alone.
2021 can provide a fresh start for setting positive routines and focusing on healthy habits. Quitting smoking, eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, and exercising are classic New Year’s resolutions that may be more relevant than ever during this pandemic. Optimizing your health prior to pregnancy will help your chances of conceiving and lower your risk of complications during pregnancy.
With the new year, is it time to try a new form of reflection?
4. Take the time to connect with others.
Remember life in 2019? Attending a party, grabbing dinner with a friend, and traveling to visit family were commonplace activities, and many of us never conceived of a time in which these routine rituals would be difficult or even impossible.
It is no surprise that many people suffered from feelings of isolation in 2020. Infertility, in and of itself, can also be an isolating experience, adding to the difficulty of struggling to conceive during this particular year.
It is all the more important when facing hardship to find time to connect with your loved ones. In 2020, that has often meant phone calls, zoom chats, and FaceTimes. Hopefully, in 2021, there will be more opportunities for safe in-person visits. Emotional support and connection are important for both health and happiness, and seeking these out may take additional effort until the pandemic is under better control.
Looking to find support within your RMA of Connecticut family? We offer regular virtual support groups that many have found helpful during this time. Check out our upcoming events here.
Finally, if you are struggling or suffering from depression or anxiety, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your fertility specialist can be a great resource for connecting you with a mental health professional.
2021 Is Your Year
It feels like a great time to reset back the basics: focus on our relationships with others and ourselves, and try to freshen our mindsets as best we can with the turning of the year. As you make your resolution list, remember that there are many people here that will support you and your journey well beyond the current global climate. Happy New Year.
Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed as we begin 2021?
You are not alone.
About Dr. Laura Meyer
Dr. Meyer provides comprehensive, compassionate, and individualized care to all of her patients on their journey to parenthood. Says Dr. Meyer, “I believe in empowering patients through education and counseling, and partnering with them to develop care plans that meet their specific needs, values and treatment goals.” Dr. Meyer has extensive experience in ovulation induction, egg freezing, in vitro fertilization, preimplantation genetic testing, and recurrent pregnancy loss. Her areas of interest include reproductive genetics, third party reproduction (donor sperm, donor egg, and gestational surrogacy), and medical fertility preservation for girls and women with cancer.