How Exercise Improved My Life

Infertility is never a short fight. I spent years on that roller coaster: hoping each month that I was pregnant, then being devastated all over again when my period arrived. Then, once we finally sought out help, there were tests, appointments with doctors who couldn’t offer up any answers or guarantees, and the constant weight on my shoulders. I just wanted to be a mom, and that was the one thing my own body wouldn’t allow me to be.

My husband should have felt each loss as intensely as I did. Every month that we failed to conceive, shouldn’t he have shared my grief? Even though failed IVF cycles–little miscarriages, the loss of tiny babies who should have been ours–he handled it much better than I did. I blamed it on the fact that I was the one whose body was invaded by medication every month. I was the one who had to deal with the part. He only had to stand by.
Over time, however, I realized two things: first, it was a good thing that he wasn’t as emotionally impacted as I was. One of us had to be strong. He was my rock, a shoulder to cry on every time I started to be overwhelmed by the demands IVF and infertility made on my heart and my body.
Second, I realized that he was burning off that stress by challenging his body. While I was sitting around on the couch, trying to “take it easy” to give myself the best possible chance of conceiving in any given month, my husband was out running. He got the chance to sweat out his frustrations. When he came back to me, he was peaceful and ready to handle my emotions instead of engaging in a fight that neither of us wanted. His exercise routine might well have saved our marriage during these long, difficult days.

When you’re struggling with infertility, there are reminders everywhere. Every twinge in your body is a question: “Could I be pregnant? Is this it?” Everywhere you go, there are reminders of women who are mothers and the fact that you aren’t. From cute little baby pictures to that mom rocking her baby in a carrier at the grocery store, it seems as though the world is determined to remind you of what you can’t have.
As I dove into an exercise routine, I was hoping it would be a chance for me to burn some of my frustration, just like my husband was. I took a kickboxing class in the hopes that the aggressive exercise routine would help settle my heart and mind. I didn’t realize that it would let me forget.
For one hour–just one hour–my mind stopped dwelling on the fact that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I forgot the aches, the pains, and the little hearts that stopped beating for no good reason that medical science could offer. I dug in, pushed myself hard, and focused on my body: not on potential pregnancy symptoms, but on what I was doing right then.

Looking Forward
I don’t know what the next IVF cycle will bring. I know it will be another emotional roller coaster: high hopes, worry, possibly another round of crushing disappointment. I want to be a mom. I also know that the only way I’m going to be able to deal with this effectively is by staying active. I plan to keep kickboxing, following my doctor’s recommendations and guidelines of course, but staying busy and pushing my body. Exercise has changed my life. It’s made it easier to deal with the roller coaster and stay on this journey, and I plan to keep using it.