Several people I care for are struggling right now. Because I’m an emotional person, I feel their pain as if it were my own. Even the stories and the grief of people I don’t know can bring me to tears. Sometimes I lose sight of how beautiful life is when I see so much hurt around me.
Awhile back, I wrote this post about the importance of a good partner. Now, after talking with a few friends about their horrendous experiences with doctors, I want to talk a little bit about the importance of a good provider.
This kind of goes for any doctor, but particularly with a women’s health care provider or fertility specialist, it’s imperative to search for someone with a good bedside manner. And by “good bedside manner, ” I mean that she talks directly to you instead of your husband, is honest with you if she makes a mistake, and doesn’t say “uh oh” when you’re in the stirrups getting an exam (all true examples from my friends).
We forgive a lot of little quirks in our care providers because we depend on them so much. We overlook an insensitive comment or long wait for an appointment because we’ve chosen them to manager what is sometimes a very emotional process for us. We place our trust in them and then put ourselves in what we hope are their competent hands. Don’t kid yourself – it’s a relationship as important as any other. You have to like and respect and trust the person with whom you’re partnering.
When it comes to fertility, many people focus on just getting into the clinic with the best results. They are willing to put their comfort and mental health aside for the privilege of working with the doctor who has the highest success rate in the state. Trust me, I get it. But making that compromise may not be best in the long run. I cannot stress enough how important it is to feel that you – and your body – are respected throughout this process. I’ve written before about how, after months and months of failure, I began to see myself as “broken.” Going to a doctor whose attitude was “this is a totally fixable problem and you are going to be fine” gave me renewed hope. I was treated with respect, optimism and encouragement from the very start.
When I came in with a long list of questions, my doctor was patient and answered every one. When I called with questions about my medications or billing, the staff promptly returned my calls and talked me through it. Even when I was on the table during a difficult part of the IVF process and cried out “I don’t think I can do it,” the nurse I’d come to know and trust held my hand and said, “yes, you can.”
I’m lucky to be able to write about how it should be. I’ve heard too many stories about how it absolutely shouldn’t be. If you find yourself admitting that you may be in this situation, I encourage you to get out now. Your self-esteem, your relationship, and your future pregnancy will be the better for it.
Two years ago, I signed up for this conference:
Parenting Through Adoption
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.