In celebration of and to help build momentum for the April 7th bookstore launch of Ever Upward, I will be posting a guest post each week. These guest posts are written by my dear friends and biggest supporters of my work. I am so excited to introduce you all to their stories, their voices and their work in the coming weeks. This week we have my hysterical soul sister Kaeleigh from Unpregnant Chicken. Kaeleigh and I first became close over my love/hate relationship with Twitter. She has been such a huge support of Ever Upward, without her tweets, her cheers, her ideas and her love I would have lost my mind months ago. I am so excited for future work with her both as a friend and as a fellow infertility advocate. Together we will change the conversations and the support the infertility community sees. I am so thankful for this incredible piece on the book, thank you my friend, thank you!
I recently finished reading Justine’s book Ever Upward and it was amazing. I found many useful tools in the pages to help me on my journey with infertility and here’s the thing…. My journey is far from over. Unlike Justine, I am not at the end of my long road yet. We have been TTC for 2 years 9 months and are beginning our first IVF cycle this month. Even though I am not at a time in my life where I am ready to embrace a childfree lifestyle I found this book amazingly helpful. Here are some ways that I think Ever Upward can help you, even while still in treatment. First, Some reasons to read the book:
Why you can enjoy “Ever Upward” while still walking your TTC path:
- It gave me perspective: As someone in treatment I can struggle to wrap my head around people who are at different stages in their journey or who are making different decisions from me. Justine is very eloquent and I found myself identifying with her so much, even when her decisions were things I have never been through or considered.
- I felt less alone: This journey can be hard. I am on Twitter, Facebook and my Unpregnant Chicken blog and even still I can feel really alone. This book was great for those moments when no one else was available (3 am cry fest, anyone?). It’s great to have a pocket friend who gets it for those times you really need to feel that SOMEONE out there does.
- The benefits of a professional: Justine is not just a fellow Infertility Warrior, she is also a psychologist with 15 years of experience. So you know that the vast majority of advice in her book is something that your own therapist might suggest. It made me feel better about listening to some of her suggestions.
- It is, plain and simple, a fun read: There’s so much more to this book than simply infertility stuff, or treatment stuff, or moving past loss stuff—it’s in there—but it is also about a LIFE. You’ll feel like you have a new friend at the end of the read. A friend who has done more interesting things than you and who let you live vicariously through her for a while.
Now, all that said, there are a few points from this book that I think are essential for someone going through treatment to take to heart. Namely: Self-Care. Self-care is hugely important for all human beings. If you are a human being you should be making sure that you honor, love and care for yourself all the time. But when we face challenges in our lives it can be very difficult to remember that. Especially when those challenges make you feel inadequate or mad at yourself. I think that so often with infertility we wind up really being angry at ourselves and shunning our self-care out of spite. Fine, I can’t get pregnant? I won’t work out or eat right then… you probably know the drill. There is a great chapter, chapter 4, where Justine talks about choosing change and moving on with her life after reaching the end of her treatments. A lot of this choosing life centers on self-care routines. I want to challenge the idea that you need to reach “the end” to apply these things. These things are good for everyone everywhere, but ESPECIALLY during a treatment cycle. I want to choose happiness, I want to choose life… even now, in the depths of my uncertainly. So, secondly, some of the best and most applicable tips to apply while still in treatment.
Ever Upward tips to apply during treatment cycles:
-Diet And Exercise: Justine really delves into this in the book but I’ll keep it simple, stupid…There is nothing like having a healthy body to help you have a healthy mind. When your body is functioning at peak capacity it is more likely to easily roll with the challenges of a cycle. I won’t say it will get you pregnant, but it will give you a good shot and keep you more level as you go through it. *As always, remember to check with your dr. about the recommended range of weight for you and your bodies needs during treatment before starting any new diet and fitness routines.*
-Nighttime Routine: At night time we are so wound up from the challenges of our day to day life that it can feel like pulling teeth to sit ourselves down without electronics and allow ourselves to truly unwind. But it is worth it. When your mind isn’t sufficiently relaxed you are unable to get the good night’s rest that your body and brain require. The more sleep deprived you are, whether you feel it or not, the more stress your body is under in general. Also Melatonin is connected to your other girly hormones and during a cycle it is imperative that you don’t mess with them. On my IVF form they list getting a strict 8 hours a night as mandatory. So unplug your devices, read a good book, meditate, have some herbal tea. Allow your body the rest it deserves.
-Journal/Write: When TTC there are a lot of powerful emotions floating around. For all involved. It can be very helpful to write these emotions down in order to help you gain perspective and work through the complicated web to understanding. You don’t have to share it with anyone, you don’t have to do it every day, but it is helpful to write when you are unhappy. Writing when upset clears your mental air. On the other hand you should also write when you are feeling great. Writing when happy allows you to fully focus on the positives in your life and be grateful. Both types of writing help you to be more emotionally balanced. When dealing with the crazy shit in a cycle one can ALWAYS use some extra balance.
-Utilize Music: Music is incredibly powerful. It can transport you to different times and places and allows you to really feel your emotions. It can also be incredibly cathartic to let it move your body. Ever put on a happy tune when you are having a bad day and start dancing around the room like a maniac? I do. And at the end there is always a HUGE smile on my face. Music therapy is big business, because it is effective. Use music in your own life to help you cope as you ride the treatment rollercoaster. Invite JOY back into your home.
-Get Help From A Trained Professional: Last but certainly not least. See. A. Shrink. No you are not crazy. But you are human. Humans need help from time to time to deal with the shit that crops up in our lives. Infertility stirs up an awful lot of shit. Especially during active treatment. There is no shame in this. Psychologists are pretty awesome people. Just look at Justine! All joking aside, I really do implement this in my real life and it has been a life saver these past few years.
This is obviously just the tip of the iceberg of what this book can offer. Ever Upward really can reach you right where you are, right now, and help empower you and invigorate your life. Justine is at a different stage in her journey than I am, but her story, this book, touched me all the same.
In closing, I want to pull out what I imagine to be the central thread of the Ever Upward message – Allow yourself to be present and joyful in your life, even when it is painfully hard. Be really engaged with the world around you. By doing this you reaffirm to yourself every day that you are worth it. You are worth living. Choose life. Embrace all that it has to offer. Embrace your Ever Upward Journey, no matter what stage of the journey you find yourself on.