Tag Archives: ali domar

Join The Movement With Infertility Man Talk: Relax The Mind, Tame The Beast

NIAW2013 This post recounts our first experience at the Harvard Mind Body retreat we went to hoping to learn some tools for the growing stress level we were encountering with each failed infertility cycle. 

When I wrote this segment, I hadn’t had a dream in several months, and was finding that the relaxation methods that we had learned from our first therapist weren’t working anymore.

  Fortunately, Ali Domar’s program brought out the big guns we needed (and still need) to manage stress.   Some of the data that I read indicated that infertility cycle outcomes improve within a year of implementing some of these techniques.  A year after the retreat, we conceived the embryo that was frozen, thawed and eventually made the ten month journey into our lives. 

There is power in this relaxation stuff!

The retreat was also the catalyst for us to start up the Tucson Resolve couples support group!

After a day of breath-focused relaxation, I am still trying to become accustomed to the unsettling experience of lying on the floor with other couples. The intimate setting requires I breathe in assorted foot and armpit odors as well as what we had for breakfast while inhaling and exhaling deeply, beginning the visualization relaxation exercises.

We are supposed to picture ourselves entering a cave where we must confront our infertility in its animal form.  Several people seem confused, but the instructions are simple: just go into the cave and see what happens.  I figure I’ll doze off for a few while everyone else enters the wild kingdom.

The room goes silent, I find myself walking into a cave.  There is a hideous, ravenous looking lion like creature pacing in the back of the cave, with reddish glowing eyes.  I’m drawn to the creature.  There’s something familiar about its face, something that quells my fear about approaching it, though it makes a guttural growling sound akin to the raptors in Jurassic Park.  As I get closer, the mutated features soften.  The fangs retract.  The claws disappear.  The clumpy fur begins dropping off.  The creature continues its transformation, until I realize I’m standing there looking at a mirror image of myself.  We walk out of the cave silently smiling.

“Three, two, one. Now you’re wide awake, ready to go about your day.”

I open my eyes, and I can barely contain my excitement.  I’ve just had my first dream in nearly eight months.  When the therapist asks us to share, I throw up my arm like the nerdy kid with all the right answers in the trigonometry class.

As I recount the details to the therapist, she seems amazed.

“What do you think it means?”

The words are on my tongue before she finishes asking the question.

“I’ve made infertility into a monster.  It is a nasty creature attacking Lisa and I, trying to sabotage our efforts to conceive. The creature in that dream is me—a combination of all my hate and anger toward the false promises made by doctor after doctor, all my grieving for the babies and embryos we’ve lost, and all my resentment at the cosmos and God that we have to go through this to have a child.”

Later on we begin talking to another couple that it turns out live in Phoenix, and are seeing the same IVF clinic we are thinking about trying out.   As we are chatting, they begin talking about the Resolve support group they attend.  I’m familiar with the infertility support organization as it has provided Lisa with a lot of direction for her ongoing research.

“We’d love it if you and Denny would come to a meeting.  We rarely see men talk as much as Denny and it seems like the men in the group really open up when he starts talking.”

A couple’s infertility support group!  Lisa jumps on the idea, and I have to wonder what happened to the guy who vowed he’d never tell anyone about his low sperm count.  I love the idea of doing some sort of support group with Lisa.  She is amazing in her depth of knowledge of every facet of infertility and many of the other women in the group mistakenly assume she is a reproductive endocrinologist.  We agree to look into getting a group going in Tucson, and I am excited to be teaming up with Lisa to do something to build a support system for other couples struggling with their infertility.

The next couple of nights my dreams are vivid Technicolor movies, complete with complex plots, good conquering evil, and the occasional slow motion beating of a flutter eyed reproductive endocrinologist.

The dreamer has returned.