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Infertility Cubby

New Year's Resolutions for the Infertile Girl
by Chelsey Langland

We've come to the start of a new year. Maybe this year will be the year we finally realize our dream of becoming a parent. Maybe not. Either way, we've got 365 days' worth of living to do, no matter how much it sucks sometimes. I'm not usually a big believer in New Year's resolutions, because I try to break myself of bad habits as I go along, instead of saving them all up for the end of the year. But, here are a few reminders I need quite frequently, and I figured that I'd pass them along to share with you. So, without further delay, here are my resolutions.

1. I WILL TAKE CARE OF MY HEALTH.
You've got to take care of number one. So get some doctor's appointments on the calendar, and then actually go. My number one nag is for you to get out and do your pap smears. Yes, I realize that I've spent enough time in the stirrups this year for my butt to leave a permanent dent on the table. And yes, I realize that my nether regions have had more exploration than parts of California during the Gold Rush. But if none of those docs have been whipping up a ThinPrep, it's time for me to get in and have a pap done. I realize that for an infertile woman, sitting in an obstetrical waiting room is like spending an afternoon in Dante's third circle of Hell. Ask the receptionist if there's a time of day when the provider is less busy. Or, there are some REs who are willing to do routine stuff like paps. It may be that you can have your pap done while you're running another test. As a reminder, ACOG has recently revised its recommendations addressing how frequently women need pap smears. If you have a question, contact your provider and see whether you're due.

But don't stop there. Go ahead and schedule other age appropriate exams, including, but not limited to, a mammogram, a colonoscopy, and a cholesterol screening. Don't forget your mental health. We all have good excuses for feeling a little blue. If you get to the point where you realize that you're feeling sad more often than you'd like, find a mental health provider and make an appointment. Resolve has a listing of therapists who specialize in infertility.

2. I WILL GET MY FINANCIAL HOUSE IN ORDER.
You've probably noticed by now that doctors don't provide infertility treatment for free. And for me, the financial piece of the puzzle is absolutely the most frustrating. I tend to take a "head in the sand" approach to lots of this, which only makes things worse.

The start of a new year is a good time to get organized. Pull together your receipts; you may have spent enough money to be able to deduct your health expenses. Check and make sure that your prior referrals will carry over into a new calendar year. Make sure all of your physicians are still contracting with your health insurance company. Look into alternate financing, including home equity loans. If your company offers a 125(c) savings account, check and see if you can start participating, so your health care can be paid for with pre-tax dollars. Every little bit helps.

3. I WILL START DOING SOMETHING FOR MYSELF THAT I HAVE BEEN PUTTING OFF.
I think we all have stuff that we'd like to do, but we put it off for later. For when we have kids. For when we aren't cycling. For when things are better. Here's an example. I always wanted to start scrapbooking. (Go ahead and laugh; my husband does.) For two years I waited, thinking that I'd start when I had a baby book to prepare. Finally, I realized that I could start any time, and it would be a fun hobby and something I could do just for myself. And I enjoy it now. So, whatever your fun, frivolous thing is, get started.

In a similar vein, do some of that living that you've been putting on a shelf. Go on a vacation. Have that glass of wine. Buy yourself that pair of pants. Lose those last 15 pounds. Doing these things doesn't solve all of your problems, but it does help make this day, or this week, a little bit better.

4. I WILL GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO PUT MYSELF FIRST.
Once and for all, I give you permission to say "no" to things that make you miserable. Get invited to a baby shower? Explain that you can't attend, but ask where the mother-to-be is registered. Can't handle a birthday party that will be a kid-fest? Send your regrets, and a fun package. Having a day where getting out of bed to go to the bathroom seems daunting? Call in sick.

Look, I realize that I'm not the center of the universe, and there are people out there with lives. But, if my week is better because I don't have to paste a smile on my face and nod appropriately when I'm dying inside, it's all the better. I've found that for people who know my situation, they're very understanding. And for people who don't, I've had great luck by saying, "I'm so sorry, but we won't be able to make it that day."

Here's to the new year; may it be the year for all of us.

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