There are many paths in the IVF journey since people come to it with different bodies and different lifestyles. But one place where each path intersects is the effect that it has on the mind. According to the journal I kept during the process, I did a pretty fair job handling my feelings through the first half of the journey. But once the third round of IVF fell through, I began to let very unproductive, negative thoughts start crowding my thinking: how my parents used to be on my case about “running out of time,” how I used to tease them with talk of a “frozen pop” if the right guy never showed up, how I was ruining my chances every time I breathed too hard. Like Dr. Seuss’ book, “Oh, The Places You Will Go,” I was stuck in a little boat and the Hakken Kraks were HOWLING.
In a strange twist of fate, Boston IVF Waltham shared a ceiling with The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, one of the first centers to deal with women’s issues through the Mind/Body connection. Dr. Alice Domar, the center’s Founder and Director, was someone I had studied several years earlier when I was in massage therapy school, researching the effects of massage on fertility (I had no idea how hard the foreshadowing was here). Through my conversation with her, I learned that although massage had not been proven to help with fertility, it did reduce stress which DOES influence fertility. The effect of stress on fertility is the foundation of many of the center’s offerings (yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, counseling) and I felt that ending up here several years after my research (and with no recollection that it was so close by) was a good omen. After considering their wide array of services, I decided to go the acupuncture route before and after the embryos were placed back in my body. This helped take the edge off my anticipation and created what I hoped was a serene environment for my new guests. It would also be two very long weeks (also called The Two Week Wait) before I would find out whether I was pregnant so trying to establish a platform of equilibrium was important.
For more of a counseling approach, though, I decided to call on someone I consider to be my Spiritual Counselor. Her name is Chantal D’Arleville and she works from her home in Bedford. On the surface, she’s a Reiki Master, but in her practice, she provides so much more. While acupuncture helped with the immediate procedures going on, Chantal helped me cope with the overall picture as I began to struggle (embryos would start implanting and stop due to some genetic abnormality that the body sensed). While I was fascinated by how smart women’s bodies were, I was also saddened to have been pregnant for such a short amount of time. I credit Chantal with providing me the peace, guidance, and positivity that I needed to keep stress from torpedoing my hopes.
In general, talking to people about the process was difficult since there were very few people around me who had to utilize IVF. I know that I often ask a lot of questions so it made me hesitant to contact the few people I was connected with. So, simply put, I would turn to my journal often. Any time my mind was filled with too many facts, any time I had too much emotion churning around inside it would go down in my journal regardless of the hour. Occasionally, in my massage practice, a person comes in with a lot on their mind and I encourage them to talk while I work. Not that I hope to solve their problem since I am not a trained therapist that way. What I provide is a space for them to talk so that they can hear themselves say what’s on their mind and they can feel heard. Most times, that’s all they needed. That is what there is to gain from journaling.
[ To Be Continued – Next Stop: The Beginning]