Stress, fertility, and happiness

A friend asked me the other day if I thought that having less stress in my life contributed to me getting pregnant.  Now before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, know that the last thing she meant was to be rude, and she certainly is not ignorant about infertility.  I've shared my journey quite openly with her from the start, and she knows that the whole "relaxation = pregnancy" thing gets on my nerves like nobody's business.  But, given my particular situation I have to admit it's something I've thought about myself, and something that I still don't have a straight answer for.

For one, I never had a real strong diagnosis for my infertility.  If you're someone who has blocked fallopian tubes, problems ovulating, poor sperm count/quality, or any of the host of other physical issues that can cause infertility, it's a fair assertion that your emotional state has no bearing on your fertility.  But for me, even though I absolutely hated it (er, still do) when people would come anywhere near suggesting that "relaxing" might help, I always wondered if there might be a shred of truth to it.  I mean, severe and chronic stress can cause physical symptoms, and I saw that firsthand in my own health on more than one occasion.

So, before my lap, Hubs and I both passed all our fertility tests with flying colors.  Which of course did nothing but frustrate me more.  And although my lap came back showing I had stage II endo, I still sort of considered myself "unexplained" because having a handful of spots here and there (and no real damage) on my guts just didn't seem severe enough to keep me from conceiving for so long.  Yes, we did conceive about 7 months later (which I still believe acupuncture helped facilitate), but it wasn't until another two years after that that we achieved a successful pregnancy (knock on wood; 11 weeks to go!).  They say if you don't conceive within two years of removing the endo that the lap probably didn't help, and I was definitely past the 2 year mark.  Though I will also say that doctors can be and often are wrong about these things!  Hell, one told me I had a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting pregnant naturally and I showed him a thing or two.

On the other hand, we started TTC at the exact same time I started my job at the 7th Circle of Hell, and I felt noticeably more anxious on a daily basis starting from week one.  Perhaps also notably, I was on antidepressants for a few years before starting TTC (and that job), and I stopped taking them when we started trying.  Fast forward three years and I was totally burned out, a good 15 pounds lighter,  spending several mornings a week crying and having dry heaves as I got ready for work, and of course seriously considering taking a leave of absence.

Still, my last day in Hell was over a year since my miscarriage, and we'd stopped TTC many months prior.  I was definitely not contemplating the possibilities of pregnancy, and even less so was I thinking about it 6 months later when I decided to go back on antidepressants.  All I cared about was that I still wasn't feeling like myself and I was tired of being sad and anxious all the time.  I started Wellbutrin and a couple months later I was noticeably happier... after a few more months I found myself quite unexpectedly expecting.

I'm still torn between thinking that the existence of this little wiggly life in me was a total fluke and that my improved mental state might have had a hand in it.  If nothing else it was certainly serendipitous to have regained some sense of contentment just before getting pregnant.  Pregnancy is challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally, and any little bit of preparedness helps.  I can't say for sure how or why it happened when it did (or at all!), but I do have a feeling that all of the good things that have happened for me over the past couple of years are a kind of tangled up circle of causes and effects of each other and my own efforts to stay positive and open to new possibilities.  It might be possible that a healthy mind and an open, positive outlook have an effect on fertility, but I've found that more importantly those things definitely have an effect on happiness.


Justina Marie said...

We have been trying for a little over two years now with no success. We are about to start the process with doctors to see if there is a medical explanation. It gave me hope reading this! I cant thank you enough for that. Congratulations! My blog is http://justinawho.blogspot.com/ if you would like to check it out!

Jen said...

Love this post. I do believe things happen the way they are supposed to, although that is so hard to believe or understand when dealing with IF.

I'm so happy for you!! Enjoy these remaining weeks. xoxo Jen