Planners and Control Freaks in the World of Infertility Treatment  

Infertility turns your life on its head. This is especially true of people who label themselves as planners or control freaks. Unfortunately, there seem to be a lot of control freaks and planners in the world of infertility treatment.

I really am not sure why this is so. There is nothing about the world that we can control, really. We can’t control the weather but maybe we can control the type of clothing that we put on. We can maybe control the type of food we put in our mouths. We can control how fast or slow we drive. You can control which clinic you work with. But when it comes to the big stuff, like a medical problem like infertility, we cannot control it at all. We can only control our approach to it.

Infertility treatment is physically, emotionally, socially, and financially challenging, as you well know. One of my patients called infertility, “controlled chaos. It is a lot of juggling.” All of the required medical appointments wreck your work life. The timing of an IUI or IVF cycle wreck your personal life. So what you do? You try to control other things. You go to the gym to work off the anxiety and try to control your body, because the hormones you are adding weight to your adorable body. You go to acupuncture and maybe take herbs. You quit caffeine and alcohol. You figure out how to eat “right” or perfectly.  I have wondered if planners take on the strict regimens of infertility treatment as a good thing or not so good thing. After all, it is something that can actually be planned. Another patient said, “Infertility feels like one too many things. It is so much to take track of.  Which times to take medicines. Which doses. Which days to be at the clinic.”

Control freaks are trying to control anything and everything, as a way to tamp down anxiety. In my experience this is the case prior to a diagnosis of infertility. The codes words “I am a worrier” are often my clue that I am working with someone who calls themselves a planner. Often this goes back to childhood. It is code for anxiety. The uncertainty of infertility sets up all kinds of “what if’s” that are beyond our control.  What if I get pregnant just in time for the family cruise to South America? What if I lose the baby? What if my boss doesn’t appreciate my working less? What if I drink too much coffee? What if I never get pregnant? And then there are always the coulda/woulda/shoulda’s.  Control freaks look for something—or someone—to control.  But control is a myth.  You can make as many plans as you want. Life has a way of happening right under our nose.

I feel for you. I really do. Humans look for answers and certainty. Medical problems like infertility offer question marks and uncertainty. I have learned over the course of my life that I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’ and that flowing works better than controlling or planning.  What I know, in truth, is that the only thing we can control is ourselves. Yeah, that sucks but it’s real.

Let me share something with you that is very helpful during anxious times. Break down time into 15 minute blocks. Most of us can control our lives in 15 minute blocks. When you get to the end of that time block, start the next 15 minute block.

You can plan, perhaps, for the next 30 minutes or hour or day, but don’t get too far out ahead of yourself, because anxiety is waiting to say hello and kick you in the behind. Meditation can help, too, but I think that moving meditation maybe works better for somebody who is anxious. Walking slowly, and I mean slowly, while you just observe your thoughts or physical sensations without judgment can be very helpful. Step by step.  Just like life.  Another way of moving meditation can just be to sway slowly back and forth and just letting things be.

So be aware of what you can actually can and cannot control.  Make plans as long as you know that plans are just a thing, not something that may come to pass. I’ll tell you personally that when you let go of the need to control your world, things ease up. It may seem counterintuitive but it’s true. And the 15 minute time block idea may change your world for the better…

#NAIW #ListenUp

 



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