There is so much I wish I knew before entering the world of infertility. How nice it would have been to have someone sit me down to walk me through all the struggles, let downs, heartbreak, wrong turns, and detours that can happen along this journey. But, as we know, life doesn't work that way.

Most of us land here because we've already been through the turmoil and heartache of infertility. I have been on this journey for 40 long, treacherous months. I wish I could tell you I handled each month with grace, but that is far from the truth.

Throughout the first half of our journey, I held in my emotions, and I was overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, fear, and denial. I lost myself, and I hit rock bottom.

Thankfully, we have the power to rise from darkness. At the start of 2019, I shifted my energy to focus on healing my own heart. I worked with a variety of techniques to give me the confidence to push through my struggles. Below is a list of some of the methods I use to overcome the spiritual, physical, and emotional difficulties of infertility.

Find Joy + Raise Your Vibration

Have you ever noticed how wonderful you feel when you’re laughing, smiling, and engaging in the activities you love? That feeling is a superpower! That alluring energy releases negativity and tension: it is magical and magnetic! So where do you find your joy? Go there and embrace it.

Celebrate Self-Care

We cannot pour into others if we don't first pour into ourselves. So, whether you feel burnt out, overwhelmed, or completely content, begin a self-care ritual. This may include activities like meditation, journaling, reading, positive affirmations, Target shopping sprees, or time spent with friends and family. Do what makes your heart sing, and do it often. 

Looking for more ideas? Write yourself a love letter, create a vision board, buy yourself flowers, take a walk in nature, binge watch your favorite tv show, treat yourself to a spa day, or bake a delicious treat. 

Nourish Yourself

There is a saying that reads, "you've got to nourish to flourish." Just like a healthy self-care practice, the more healthful choices you make, the better your body, mind, and spirit will become. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and water play an important role in fertility, health, and healing. So, focus on consuming a variety of nourishing foods that come from all the colors of the rainbow.

Each color group has different vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to support you and your body. Studies show that eating a well-balanced diet filled with the colors of the rainbow can reduce risks of certain cancers and aid to the overall health of the brain, egg and sperm quality, cervical mucus, hormone balance, and more.

So, get in the kitchen and have some fun! Connect with your food and find joy in nourishing yourself from the inside out. Some of my favorite go-to meals include smoothies, cold-pressed juices, chia pudding, stir-fries, soups, stuffed peppers, and buddha bowls. 

But, food isn't the only important aspect of nourishment. Did you know your skin is the biggest organ in your body, and it absorbs what you put on it? So, treat your skin with love!

Stay clear of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as synthetic fragrances and other harsh chemicals that interfere with hormone activity. These chemicals are found in beauty products, dryer sheets, makeup, lotions, laundry detergents, cleaning sprays, candles, air fresheners, deodorants, perfume, soap, etc. Whenever possible, make healthy swaps and choose different products made with safer ingredients like essential oils and other nature-derived ingredients. 

When looking to make changes to your lifestyle, keep in mind bio-individuality, or your unique needs. Many programs claim to offer wide-spread benefits, but everybody is unique, including you! The best health plan is the one that is tailored specifically to your individual needs. 

Channel Your Inner Warrior, Not Worrier

Try to let go of your worries and instead focus on the warrior that you are. You've walked through fire and yet you're still here. You are strong, brave, and 100% capable of anything that comes your way.

So, release some of your worries to the universe. Too much cortisol can negatively influence functions in the body including digestion, nutrient absorption, and hormone balance, which can impact the reproductive system. 

But, self-care practices like meditation, yoga, and acupuncture can reduce the negative impacts of worry and stress. So, take a deep breath and focus on your warrior status. You have the courage and strength to overcome any obstacle. 

Flip It

It's easy to focus on all the things that haven't gone right on this journey. But when we spend more time focusing on what may feel wrong in life, we take away from the many things that are going right. It may feel impossible to see the light in what is heavy, but I encourage you to try. Honor all of your feelings. When the time feels right, try to look at difficult situations through a lens of love. When we flip our focus to try and find even the smallest good in something, it can stimulate a sense of calm and appreciation in both the big and little things. 

Focus on Connection

There is power in connectivity. Between new friends, close friends, internet friends, work friends, family, and everyone in between, there is love, support, education, and encouragement to be found. I encourage you to embrace the connections you have and seek new ones as well. There are thousands of support groups through Facebook, Instagram, Resolve, religious institutions, fertility clinics, and beyond. Find what feels good to you and move in that direction.

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Go With Your Gut

That gut feeling is powerful. We all have it, and it works in mysterious ways. I think of mine as a spirit guide, leading me to make decisions, and it has never steered me wrong. Whatever you believe yours to be, listen for its whispers. It provides invaluable insight and direction for your life. When something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Do what feels best to you when it feels right to you. If a particular doctor doesn't jive well with your gut feeling, it might be time to find a new doctor. 

Be Your Own Best Advocate

From blood work to medications, to supplements, procedures, and protocols, there is much to learn about the process of becoming a parent during infertility. Keeping up with your treatment plan and medical history will make things more efficient. It may also make you feel more in control during the process. I recommend making a folder or a notebook with all of your calendars, medical files, and protocols to keep things organized. 

There may be times during your journey when things don't go as planned. Doctors and nurses make mistakes and may not remember every detail of your case. Advocate for yourself and speak up when something doesn't feel right. Always do what is best for you and your family. You are your own best advocate. 

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are not selfish, they are selfless. By setting boundaries you are protecting your energy and honoring your values. It is okay and healthy to say no to things or to limit who you share information with, etc. This journey is long and hard, so give yourself some grace and set the boundaries that feel right to you. 

Give Yourself Some Grace

Infertility has taught me to slow down, take a deep breath, and loosen up a bit. There is no such thing as perfection in life or infertility. Having an extra treat or forgetting to take a prenatal vitamin once in a while will not set you back on your journey to parenthood. Infertility is hard, so always remember how incredible you're moving through difficult situations. Pat yourself on the back, and give yourself some grace.

I’ve learned a lot since my early days of trying to conceive, and I continue to learn new lessons as our infertility journey continues. Although I still experience pain and heartbreak, these techniques help me to refocus my energy towards love, healing, positivity, and hope. These days are hard, but when we grow through what we go through, we emerge as beautiful and strong warriors. 

Tara Engelberg is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and soon-to-be board-certified holistic nutritionist. Tara has a passion for supporting mamas in waiting and mamas-to-be. As an infertility warrior herself, Tara has a love for helping other warriors throughout the ups and downs of infertility. She focuses on optimizing fertility through holistic nutrition and integrative wellness to support a vibrant pre-pregnancy and pregnancy for mom + baby. Tara earned her master’s degree in her hometown of Chicago, IL. She is currently attending the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver to become a Nutrition Therapist Master. 

Tara and her husband, Glenn, have been trying to conceive since 2016 and will begin their first medicated IUI cycle in March 2020. Tara was diagnosed with unexplained infertility and stage 1 Endometriosis in November 2019. She shares her journey on Instagram at @nutritionbytara and loves connecting with other warriors in the community. When Tara isn’t dishing up new creations in the kitchen, you can find her outside hiking and spending time with her husband and fur babies, Maddie + Tay.