You probably get told lots of times to 'stay positive' that it will happen, but we all know it's not as easy or as simple as that.
Positivity doesn't have to be about putting a smile on your face and telling yourself that you'll definitely get pregnant.
It's about having hope that everything will be alright, hope that you will be happy, whatever your future holds.
It's about having an action plan to help you take control and prioritise your emotional health.
It's about making time for self-care, for being kind to yourself and realising what an amazing person you are.
Keeping positive about life in general will make each day that bit brighter and this journey that little bit easier.
We struggled to conceive for 5 really tough years, before having our son through ICSI, after a heart-breaking failed first cycle.
Struggling to conceive and going through IVF were so tough for me emotionally, and I get daily messages from people in my support groups who are finding it hard and just don't know how to cope on a daily basis.
After my own experience and seeing how hard it is for people, I wanted to create something that would support them through TTC and effectively hold their hand through IVF.
I wanted to create something that gave people space to journal about how they were feeling on a daily basis, but that also gave them tools to help them feel better, to make changes to their lives that they were struggling with and help them focus on the areas of their life that make them happy.
So…. I created the IVF Positivity Planner in the hope of making each day that bit easier for patients, to help them cope on a day to day basis and have hope that they can live a happy life, whatever the outcome.
I wanted to use my coaching knowledge to help you set goals on different areas in your life, to help you take control and feel supported on your IVF journey, and my personal experience and that of the thousands of patients I support in my support groups to give advice and plans for coping with the parts of TTC and IVF that they find most difficult, and the areas of their lives that are impacted the most.
The planner launched at the end of October and I've been overwhelmed by the response.
The messages of thanks I've been getting have made me feel really emotional, that people are now getting the help and support I desperately wished I'd had whilst going through treatment.
The feedback from patients and clinics at the Fertility Show was amazing, and I'm excited to be able to support more patients through the sale of it.
“I received my positivity planner today and wanted to send a little message to say thank you.
Thank you for creating something truly amazing and awesome. We started our first IVF cycle on Friday and I was definitely in need of something like this; somewhere to write down all my crazy thoughts and make note of my appointments and medication instructions, something that tells me normal and not going mad and that I’m strong and resilient and it’s ok to not be ok.
Thank you Sarah, I love your planner and I’m sure that many other ladies on this TTC journey will to. Xx”
Take back Control
Infertility is a daily struggle. Sometimes that struggle, and the impact on other areas of your life (your relationship, performance at work, friendships, stress levels and general health) can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how you will ever get out of it.
It can make you feel out of control of your life and your future, and then when you go through IVF it can feel like the process is out of your control, with all the timings, hospital visits and medications.
But is doesn’t have to be like that.
You do have a choice about how you feel. You can take back control and feel emotionally stronger by making a positive decision to change how you feel, and take action to make these changes happen.
I know all too well that this can seem difficult to do when you are in the depths of struggling to conceive, and that is where IVF Positivity Planner can guide and support you through doing that.
There are lots of things that you can control, so that you feel that you still have some say in the process.
It is good to take control of what you can - you can then know in your own mind that you have done everything in your power to make it happen.
Using the IVF Positivity Planner you can think about all the areas of your life that you can take control of (with some ideas to help you) and there is a monthly goal setting section specifically on taking control, relationships and self-care, so that you can set specific actions to help you feel stronger and back in control.
12 weeks of daily journaling space
Journaling has been found to improve your emotional and physical health, by reducing stress, boosting your mood and improving memory function.
Many people going through IVF don’t tell anyone that they are going through it, and even fewer talk to people about how they really feel (even to their partners). Writing down your feelings is a great way of releasing those emotions in a safe way, whilst also giving you some calm time for yourself.
The IVF Positivity Planner has 12 weeks of daily journaling space, for you to record important information, how you are feeling and some questions to keep you focused on taking care of yourself.
It has been designed to give you gentle prompts to think about how you have been kind to yourself each day, the things that have made you smile and how you can talk to yourself in a kinder way.
I’d love for you to focus on the positives from each day, so you end the day feeling happier with your life, whilst also giving you space to vent when you need to.
Every page is undated so you can start it whenever, and if you don’t feel up to filling it in one day that’s fine, you can just carry on the next page when you do feel up to it.
This is your support book, so you don’t have to show any one what you have written, and you can be completely honest about how you feel without fear of being judged.
Writing daily will help you will see any changes in how you are feeling – you can celebrate the positives, and if you notice you are feeling more negative you can take action to talk to someone or get some help.
It will also give you chance to read back how you are feeling and may help give you more understanding about any help you need or any changes you need to make.
I hope that the planner will be nice to read back on at a later date – your infertility journey is part of your history and shows your incredible strength in what you are going through.
Supporting you through treatment
People often find starting IVF really overwhelming, especially if you don’t know anyone that has been through it.
I wanted to create a plan to support you through it, to help you record all the important information you need to remember, to give you a daily plan for keeping yourself occupied through the TWW and coping tips for going through IVF.
I was so emotional through all my appointments that I couldn’t remember the questions I’d planned to ask, or the information I was told by the staff, so I wanted the planner to have space where you can make notes before and during your appointments, so that if you are feeling emotional and overwhelmed you have it there as a reminder.
Unfortunately, IVF doesn’t guarantee a positive test, and I didn’t want the planner to be negative, but I did want to give you some coping tools for if it sadly doesn’t work this time. After my failed cycle was my lowest point, and unfortunately there isn’t enough support at this point in people’s journey, so I wanted to make sure the planner supported you through that too, just in case.
There’s no getting away from the fact that TTC and having IVF can be stressful, overwhelming and emotionally draining. We often have to give up the things that we enjoy and help us relax (exercise, alcohol, coffee) and avoid the people and activities that we used to enjoy but are now too hard emotionally (nights out, family gatherings, seeing friends).
It can be a lonely time when we avoid our social circles to avoid questions about starting a family, interrogations on why we’re not drinking and constant baby talk.
This can often mean that the time we spend on self-care decreases and we increase the amount of time spent working, feeling upset and looking for pregnancy announcements on social media.
It’s so important to make sure you are making time for the things that make you smile whilst TTC and going through IVF, and yes, you may need to find new things that make you smile and look for new ways to relax, but it’s really important that you make time for them for your emotional wellbeing.
The IVF Positivity Planner gives you a monthly planner to make sure you plan in something that makes you smile each day, and gives you activities, ideas and support in reducing stress, focussing on self-care and finding your support network.
Yes, going through IVF can be tough emotionally and physically, but the planner is there with you every step of the way, to support, guide and encourage you. You may feel like you are the only one in the world feeling like you do, but I promise you you’re not.
You are not alone, and you don’t have to cope through it alone.
The IVF Positivity Planner gives you…
I know all too well that it can seem difficult to make changes when you are feeling overwhelmed, that’s why this planner is here to guide you through it, to keep you going when you are wobbling and to help you take back some of that all important control and focus on you.
The IVF Positivity Planner is designed to help you feel calmer, more informed and more in control of what is happening to your body, meaning you are in a better state for coping through TTC and treatment.
This article covers lots of feedback I have heard from patients, in the hope that it will help doctors and nurses understand how patients really feel, and also help everyone that is going through IVF know they are not alone.