i’m doing it wrong

Things I’m not supposed to do, but do anyway:

Drink coffee.

Drink wine.

Take ibuprofen.

Use K-Y.

Take baths.

Drink tap water.

Stand up for more than 20 minutes.

Things I’m supposed to do, but don’t:

Lose 20 pounds.

Stay away from traffic.

Eliminate stress.

Enjoy sex.*

Drink 2 liters of water per day.

Play with newborns.

Why does almost every book on fertility include a list of do’s and don’ts?**  Is it just so that we can feel like we’re doing something while we’re running to stand still?  Or is it more insidious?  Is it to give us something to blame ourselves for when it doesn’t work?  Taking these recommendations seriously makes it inevitable to turn inward when things don’t work.    They are invitations to guilt:  of course I know I should reduce stress and lose 20 pounds, and don’t you think I’m trying?  It’s just one more failure to chalk up if I can’t achieve the ideal BMI and stress-free life.  And no one can do everything right all the time. There will always be something to blame yourself for if you look hard enough.

On the other hand, I can’t even bring myself to feel guilty about some of these recommendations:  I seriously doubt that it’s my exposure to traffic that is keeping me from conceiving–and I have zero expectation that playing with a newborn will help me get pregnant–but still there is this idea that if we only followed the rules, if we only did everything just right, things will turn out right.

It’s magical thinking and it’s poison.  Am I supposed to spend the rest of my life wondering what would have happened if I had just stopped drinking coffee?

I really find this malicious.  Infertility is something that is happening to us.  We didn’t do it to ourselves; it’s not our fault, even if we can’t always toe the line.***

*Here I thought I was enjoying sex, but apparently if I were really enjoying it I would never have vaginal dryness, stress, or depression.  Go figure.

**I’ve only listed the “rules” I’m breaking.  There are lots of others with which I’m  in full compliance, whether on purpose or in spite of myself–such as eating organic, getting moderate exercise, etc.   I’ve also left out the ones that have a strong basis in medical fact–like checking cervical mucus and having sex every other day.

***Now ask me if this self-righteous analysis has helped me to feel less guilty.  I think you know what the answer is.


3 responses to “i’m doing it wrong

  1. You are right, SO RIGHT.

    You could do everything or nothing on that list and still you may or may not be pregnant.

    I have moments of needing to feel like I am doing everything possible and other moments where I figure a more balance approach is necessary.

    I always keep reminding myself that if stress were a major factor then how do all those woman in 3rd world countries keep getting pregnant?

  2. Thanks for posting this – definitely true – it’s like we have to stop living life sometimes and are made to feel guilty when we don’t.

  3. Hey, good to know playing with newborns will get me pregnant! I hadn’t heard that one before. I should be pregnant any day…oh! I just got pregnant. Sweet.

    I still feel guilty about various things I’ve done at various times, but I assume it’s just my mind’s way of coping, you know, searching for explanations and control. Sounds like you’re doing brilliantly at taking a path of moderation.

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