Monthly Archives: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

How do you motivate?

When I first got pregnant, I made a promise to myself. If my body would cooperate and carry this baby to term, I would be forever grateful. And by grateful I meant that I would no longer talk down to myself about my body. Whatever condition it was in, for however long, I would accept it and thank it for doing the amazing work of producing a human. I meant that sincerely, and I’ve stuck to that promise – wrinkled stretch marks and all.

I came upon an obstacle recently, though, when I started trying to lose the last five pounds. I discovered that my go-to method of motivating was self-deprecation. I caught myself starting to feel shame and frustration with the state of my body and my willpower, or lack thereof, for working out regularly. The negative self talk started to creep in.

What startled me was that this was the way I knew how to motivate myself to do the work. I focused on my flaws that needed fixing. It’s what I’ve always done. Then I looked more closely and realized that this method extended beyond just weight loss and body image. I’m embarrassed to admit that this is how I typically motivated myself to make any kind of difficult change. I shamed myself into it.

Of all the ways that motherhood has changed me, this may be one of the most important. I refuse to do that anymore. I won’t denigrate the body that brought my son into the world. I won’t disparage his mother – her intelligence or strength or worth. In a way that nothing else has, becoming a mom has proven to me once and for all that I am okay the way I am. Precious even. 

So now that I’ve given up that practice, what do I do? How do I motivate myself to make changes? Set goals that scare me? Sometimes succeed but sometimes fall short? How do I challenge myself without bullying myself? It’s a new skill, and I’m learning slowly. The best thing I’ve discovered so far is to see myself as my son sees me, and as I imagine my mother saw me as well. More than a body or a skill set or an imperfect personality. More than the sum of my parts. A unique being full of love to give and receive. There is comfort in knowing that even though I’m not perfect, I’m just right in somebody’s eyes.

I encourage you to do the same, and to remind me if I forget. I also challenge you – gently – to examine how you get motivated to improve. How can we help each other? Positive ideas are always welcome.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Accepting infertility

My baby is a year old now. And it’s got me reminiscing about how this all started.

After several unsuccessful months of trying, I started investigating alternative therapies that might help me in my quest. I heard about “fertility yoga” and started a search for a studio near me that provided this type of class. I quickly came upon Pulling Down the Moon, which I have mentioned in previous posts. However, after perusing their website, I discounted it. “That’s for people with infertility,” I told myself. “That’s not me – I’m just having trouble getting pregnant.” (Ha .)

Fast forward a year, a miscarriage, and many more unsuccessful months of trying. I walked into PDTM for a “Dealing with Disappointment” seminar with much uncertainty. But the warmth and the understanding with which I was met made all my anxiety melt away. I found a place where I could vocalize my hurts and frustrations, and others who were going through the same. I don’t know if it was that night or shortly thereafter that I came to accept the word “infertility” as a description of my reality. Once I did, everything changed.

I have to imagine that this is true for lots of things in life. Fighting against something you don’t want to be, rather than embracing the truth, is draining. Somewhere, deep in your subconscious, you know that you’re fooling yourself. It’s only when you come to a place of honesty and acceptance that you can begin the work of changing your situation. That’s why, as strange as it may sound, accepting infertility was empowering for me, not weakening.

At that point, I was able to throw myself into testing and treatment. I did lots of research and was open to trying any and all ideas of how to conquer this problem – diet, acupuncture, yoga, herbs, meditation, massage, and medical intervention. I reached out to other women going through the same thing – both to give and receive support. All of a sudden, I was not alone. I had a team of people helping me and believing in me.  It was relieving and strengthening. Ultimately, I wore my infertility on my sleeve like a badge of honor. As if to say, “this is what I’m willing to do to be a mother.”

I was recently having a conversation with another woman who went through treatment for infertility to conceive her son. She said, “you just get to the point where you’ll do anything to have a baby. And if that means accepting reality and going to the fertility clinic, you’ll do it.” I agree. I’ve met several people who, like me, were scared to take that next step. Scared of what that might mean for them and their future. Afraid that accepting the diagnosis meant that having babies would always be different and difficult for them. But having been in both places – one of denial, and one of taking charge – I can wholeheartedly recommend the latter. Accepting infertility is what brought me my son.