RESOURCE: Communicating and sharing the mental load
Updated: Nov 16
A very heavy load Going through infertility often involves carrying a very heavy mental load, which can be incredibly taxing. As soon as the emotional weight has lifted from getting our monthly period, we are back to tracking fertile signs every time we use the bathroom, checking LH strips, taking morning and evening medication, rearranging our schedules around intimacy and then rearranging our schedules again around bloodwork, medications, injections and scans and then spending hours preparing for and following up after medical appointments, followed by filling new prescriptions, adjusting meal plans for new diets, and scheduling more testing dependent on your cycle which we can’t dictate ahead of time. Crucial conversations are often left up to us to initiate ie. sharing information regarding charting and fertile windows, whether to stop or start new treatment steps, discerning adoption, etc. It is important to keep honest and open communication with your spouse and other loved ones to let them know when we feel overstretched and how they can support us.
Setting up your communication plan
Sharing the mental load
When setting up a communication plan to share the mental load with your loved one, you’ll want to sketch out all the items that make up your current mental load. Consider what tasks you are currently undertaking in the following areas.
Discernment and research
Initiating important conversations
You can share the items category by category by using our handy checklist, or compile your mental load in more of a calendar format that shows which items you are responsible for on which days. When sharing the list with your loved one, we encourage you to share the challenges associated with each item.
“Scheduling my post-peak bloodwork is really challenging because I have to check for fertile signs every time I’m in the bathroom and if I miss any signs or misread them, I might schedule the bloodwork for the wrong day and it will be inaccurate. I also have no way of knowing ahead of time when P+3 will be, so I can’t plan my schedule for next week until the last minute and may have to rearrange multiple items.”
Once you’ve shared your mental load with your loved one, the next step is deciding what to do with that information. One option for this step is to ask your spouse to take a look at your list and identify which items he would like to offer to assist with. Another option could be selecting several items yourself and requesting a specific manner in which you need support. Some supports may be asking your loved one to take over a particular item, while others may look like asking your spouse to take on some regular household items so you have more capacity for the TTC tasks that only you can do.
“Would you be able to set out my medication in the morning for me please?”
“I have a lot on my plate right now. Please could you cook dinner two nights this week and take care of the menu planning? That will help me have more capacity for scheduling my bloodwork and dealing with my scans this week.”
“I have a lot of injections and medications to take this week. I know you can’t do those for me, but thanking me every day for my efforts would really mean a lot.”
Ask about your spouse’s mental load
After sharing your mental load with your spouse and coming up with a plan to help support you, make sure to ask your spouse to share what the items are that make up his current mental load and find out how you can best support him as well.
Click here to download your own printable “Communication and sharing the mental load” worksheets, which include both example pages and blank templates for you to fill out with your own plan.
For more printable resources, please visit https://www.thefruitfulhollow.com/resources