Common Wisdom

I must have been looking for couple’s infertility treatment in the wrong places, as my logic for deciphering common wisdom recommendations led me to believe that the best spot for us to get pregnant should have been a SPA.

Tranquil music, peaceful surroundings and massage, all calling for relaxation, unwinding and letting it go… Nice propositions for someone overburden with the anxieties of many infertility treatments and tired from all the emotional drainage it commanded. Yes, SPA for sure equals relaxation. Since relax is indeed the top ranked advice I have been given over the years; it should make sense, right? Common wisdom should prevail, correct? Not quite…

Just relax. Really? Is that easy? Why have I not tried that before… How many times, during the course of this journey, have I not heard words of wisdom such as “you two are too stressed, you need to relax.” Or, better yet: “my friend tried to have a baby for a long time. But it was only when she relaxed that she got pregnant. You should tell your wife that!”. Seriously, if relaxing was the “secret ingredient” for pregnancy, Yoga practitioners would be the single most important group responsible for overpopulating the world. (And my wife and I like Yoga, so not the case…)

Of course that I understand those comments came, most of the times, from a very good place. A place of good intentions. A place of sincere cluelessness of what we really have been going through. A place of sympathy for our suffering. A place of love. But that understanding alone did not made me feel any better about it… Relax. Seriously. When my wife was going through many emotionally draining treatments and I was dealing with my own insecurities; when I was trying to protect her while bracing myself for the storm of feelings that would come should the result be negative; when I was frustrated for not being in control, the last thing I could think of was bamboo wallpaper, eucalypt oil scent and sun salutation. Relax was simply not an option.

So, if not true or accurate, why is that I have heard it so many times, from so many people, that I should relax? The answer is easy: Common wisdom. Just like common sense, common wisdom is everything but “common”. It is simply a support, a crutch one can lean on when feeling the need to provide insight or counsel to unknown situations. It is a conversation starter. It is a conversation stopper. It is kind. It is empty. It is everything but advice. It is something I am too to be blamed for, as I have recited many of such tales myself. Who hasn’t? Therefore, right or wrong, common wisdom was telling everyone that the secret to infertility was relaxation. And I was being advised accordingly… But, if I logically knew that common wisdom was to be taken lightly, why was that this particular piece of advice was bothering me so much?

Because those words went directly where it hurts the most: my soul.

It is no news that the one thing that has been a constant throughout our infertility journey is my high level of stress and anxiety. And these feelings were deep, coming from my inability to gain control over our situation, no matter what I did. They came from my soul. Since I believe relaxation begins with loosing-up on the things that are immediately bothering you and ends with your complete emotional surrender, being told to relax often made feel challenged. How could I rest when I had no control over what was emotionally stressing me out? How could I calm down when I could not visualize the source of my pain? How could I simply turn off my emotional switch? Well, I couldn’t. And that realization made me cringe. That realization made me suffer. That realization made my soul heavier.

So here goes my logic regarding the relax advice: If common wisdom was right, relaxation for pregnancy would work, fertility clinics would be SPAs, I would be a Yogi Master and we would be parents by now.

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