I like to sweat my stress off exercising; drifting away by doing something aerobic, something dynamic. I like activities that require my concentration and my dedication while not being too demanding from a coordination stand point. Therefore, my workout choices normally revolve around the time of the year and the time I have available at the moment, or a combination of both. I can go for a swim or a bike run when it’s warm, but I will likely find myself at the gym or at our basement’s treadmill when the thermometer begins to show single-digit temperatures.
At the gym, with so many options for activities available, I have to choose wisely the type of aerobic exercise that would best suit my abilities. Being aware of the limitations imposed by my somewhat “diminished fine motor skills” (let’s say I was never the first or the second or the third to be drafted at soccer…) allows me to choose wisely among the myriad of classes and equipment available. Therefore, I know that there is no chance for me to do one of those classes with a “routine” in it. Body Combat? Forget it. Zumba? Heck, no! I am Latin, but I can’t do that… So my options for aerobics without hurting me or any fellow “athletes” got shrunken to two “single class” ones: the treadmill and the elliptical.
One equipment, however, always kept me intrigued: the step machine. Honestly, I looked at that weird, clunky thing and though: what a waste of time and energy that should be. And when I saw people doing it and literally melting on it, I thought that those were folks in a lousy shape and with an even bigger lack of fine motor skills than me… That was only until I decided to try it just for the sake of it. Oh boy! As it may not be news to many who take the step machine seriously, it was actually extremely hard and physically demanding! I think I lasted 15 min tops and almost needed a med evac afterwards… I have jumped on the equipment without asking for assistance, so I was clueless about the way it worked, it’s suggested set-up for someone my age and weight and the expected result after a one-time trial. It was definitely an unpleasant experience… After recovering, however, I decided to give it another try. And no, I did not ask for directions again. Come on, I am a Dude after all… The second time was as challenging as the first, but I had intuitively learned to pace myself so I would not require the paramedics and an oxygen pump afterwards. I survived. And, out of respect for the equipment, decided that my other fitness options were more than enough to fulfill my objectives.
But why am I talking about the step machine and what does it has to do with couple’s infertility? Well, I find that both have a common denominator for success: pace!
Yes, pace. As I reflected back on my experience with the equipment and I compared it to my wife’s and mine journey through infertility, I found that the ability to understand my own limitations to move from one step to the other was equally important in both occasions. Just like on the equipment, IVF treatments are taken one step at the time. Seems simple, but it is not. A couple has to first find the clinic, then trust the Doctor, then do all exams, then do the treatment to retrieve the eggs, then collect the sperm, then hope both egg and sperm are good, then do the fertilization, then hope the embryos are good, then prepare for the transfer, then do the transfer, then wait for those dreaded two weeks to pass for the first blood result, then get the second blood result, then get the first ultrasound, then pass the first trimester, then find an OB, then pass the second trimester, then the third, then worry about delivery and then finally see the baby be born. Puff… I get exhausted just by thinking about it. And that’s assuming all will always go well in each and every step, hardly a reality when dealing with couple’s infertile.
Then I imagined doing all of that at the wrong pace. I imagined myself trying to speed-up to get to end faster. I imagined myself climbing two steps at the time, trying to gain a head-start over the IVF process. I imagined myself rushing through the many exam results to get an early finding. Then I imagined myself not being able to catch a breath, with my muscles cramping and my heart racing… Yes, just like my first time at the step machine, I believe I would achieve nothing by increasing the pace I went through our many IVF treatments. In fact, I was risking getting tired faster. I was risking experiencing fatigue sooner. I was risking being discouraged to proceed and, just like after my second attempt on the step machine, quitting it altogether. But I have learned that, like in many other activities, pacing myself while climbing such a sharp slope as the IVF process was fundamental to allow me to believe that I can endure until the end.
So I have not given-up on the infertility treatments. Instead, I have been working hard to ask directions and get informed, replacing my intuition for facts while building the strength required to climb the steep IVF stairwell to the top. And I believe that when I do get there, I will still have plenty of lungs to scream out and celebrate the success of the journey!