As a self-proclaimed workout fanatic, one of the biggest struggles for me during my TTC journey was whether or not to continue working out during infertility treatments, and how hard.
Fitness has always been a big part of my life and a major stress reliever for me. It has gotten me through several low points in my life when I was suffering from anxiety, and to me there is nothing a good sweat session can’t fix. So when I started infertility treatments, I naturally turned to working out even harder to blow off steam after a long and stressful day.
Not only that, my PCOS made me feel like my body wasn’t working the way it should, so at that time physical fitness became a way to prove to myself that my body was still capable of being strong and doing amazing things. It was also my one way of maintaining control in a situation that I didn’t, let’s face it, have any control over.
A year ago, I was waking up at 5:30 am every morning to get a workout in before work, but once I really got into the thick of infertility treatments and being monitored more frequently just making it to my doctor’s appointments and then to work on time often felt like an accomplishment. I was still trying to make time for my workouts, but it became increasingly more difficult.
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Not only that, every time one of my cycles failed and I got a negative pregnancy test, I would blame myself for pushing myself and my body too hard. My internal dialogue became, “I shouldn’t have gone to that kickboxing class during my two-week wait,” and other words of self-loathing that didn’t help my mental state at all. I constantly went back and forth between, “Working out makes me feel better,” and “Maybe my cycle would have worked if…” It was an awful and constant back and forth.
Fast forward to a few months later and starting IVF, and then it was my doctor who told me I had to slow down. By that point, I was so frustrated that I knew I had to listen to her, but it was still hard for me to digest. Even though by this point I was working out a lot less often, cutting it out almost entirely seemed nearly impossible.
So what did I do? Well, we impulsively got a puppy, and I started walking him several times a day for exercise. I also started going to yoga classes, and it did wonders for my mental health. Yoga also, surprisingly, made me feel incredibly strong again and made me realize that you don’t always have to break a sweat in order to challenge yourself both physically and mentally. I was back to feeling good about myself and my body, and then...surprise!...I got pregnant, and there went that.
Being pregnant with twins is a lot harder on your body than being pregnant with a singleton, so besides doing prenatal yoga a few times in my second trimester I haven’t really done any physical activity besides walking, and now that I'm on strict bed rest my activity level is pretty much limited to putting my feet up on the couch.
Sometimes it’s hard when I see my friends who are pregnant with singletons maintaining their normal workout routines throughout pregnancy, but then I think about how lucky I am to have been able to do IVF and get pregnant with these two miracles despite all of the odds being against me, and I stop my negative thoughts in their tracks.
The truth is, it has taken a really long time of slowing down SLOWLY in order to finally give up control, and I have a newfound appreciation for what my body is capable of besides working out (like getting through IVF and carrying two babies!).
So my suggestion is to focus on what your body CAN do rather than what it can’t right now. Remember, “the strongest women become the strongest mothers before their children are even conceived.”