17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I Had to Go to Bosnia to Get Pregnant

Well not exactly, but I’m convinced that if I hadn’t spent a year and a half outside of the US, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant.

Upon returning to the US from Eastern Europe, I have been blown away at how fast-paced life is here. I knew it was fast when I lived here before, but I was used to it, handled it well, perhaps even thrived in it. But now that I’ve lived differently—in a world where buying a few vegetables at the market on the way home from work is the extent of our “errands” for the week—I’ve decided I don’t like the break-neck speed at which we Americans conduct our business and our daily lives.

And I have my body’s reaction to the two different lifestyles as evidence of the detrimental effects of this frenzied pace we keep here in the US.

Without going into too much detail, Dh and I tried to get pregnant for a while before actually succeeding. I have always had a very irregular period (went six months during my mission without it—heaven!), and when we felt the time was right to “start a family,” I went through a whole bunch of tests to figure out why my periods were so irregular. Everything looked normal in my blood work, etc. But my periods were still coming at extremely random intervals (between several weeks and several months).

And then we moved to Bosnia, where life slowed down—considerably. I taught a few classes during the afternoons and evenings at Sarajevo University, attended the occasional embassy function, joined the international women’s club, took up yoga, and fulfilled all church responsibilities within a few hours a week (since Church met in our living room for an hour only and consisted of dh, me, and between 2–5 other members). I spent most evenings reading, scrapbooking, playing violin, watching TV with dh, or just relaxing.

At first, this slow pace drove me crazy. I was used going, going, going all the time. In NY, I taught high school full-time (preparing for 5 different classes and 160+ students a day), held extremely time-consuming callings at church, completed my Master’s degree, and attended EVERY church function held. I had become so accustomed to this fast-paced life, that when we got to Bosnia, I felt like I was wasting my time, being lazy, squandering my talents—perhaps even “sinning” a little by not being “anxiously engaged.”

But wouldn’t you know it, my periods regulated themselves. After just a month of this slower life, my period started coming with in a 28–32-day range, every month. I could actually chart them and tell where I was in my cycle, they become so regular. It was obvious that my body was relaxing, even healing, and responding extremely well to this new stress-free life. It still took almost a year to get pregnant, but I am absolutely convinced that it wouldn’t have happened without medical intervention, if I had kept up the crazy life-style I was living in NY.

Now that I’m back in this overly-demanding world, I don’t like it. I can feel my body tensing up, becoming stressed. I can tell that I’m not as healthy and strong because I’m pushing myself more than I should. And yet, everything and everyone around me demands it: work, church, family, society—this blog! =)

So here’ the eternal question: how do we keep up with the worthwhile commitments we make (to work, church, family, etc.), but still maintain our health and sanity?

I have, for the first time in my life, found myself saying “no” to people’s invitations and needs. It’s something I NEVER would have done in my pre-living-outside-the-US life, but I’m finding that it’s absolutely necessary, because I value the well-being of my body—especially now that it has a baby inside it—too much. And I feel so much better when I’m not stressed out all the time!


  • Yay! Some validation for my "lazy" life.

    You are SOOOO on the mark on this. I don't think it's wrong for Americans to rush around like they're dying, but I find the pace exhausting myself.

    I say do what you are doing. Say no to those things that aren't imperative and that may distract you from your priorities. If you can delegate, delegate. Don't feel the pressure (and stand up to it if needs be!) to be and do everything. That is the plight of the woman these days --especially mothers --that they do and say and be everything.

    I will be cancelling all my piano lessons for the summer (I have 15 students). I am also not allowing any school or dance for my kids. We are going to have an adventure together everyday during the summer months and not feel the pressure to be somewhere EVERY MINUTE. I'm really looking forward to it!
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 3/15/2006 07:09:00 AM  

  • Excellent post!

    After spending some time in Europe for work, I too recall being stunned when I first returned. Everything was SO fast and loud and hurried and important. It was jarring, even walking through the airport was different.

    I suppose these are part of the things that make American what she is- but the noise and the hurry and the hustle was hard to tollerate after becomming used to a much more leisurely pace.

    I love (and still miss) walking to the market to get just what I need, choosing fresh food from the outdoor market and my corner baker and butcher. Oh, and actually sitting down to eat a meal and knowing it will take a few hours. Ahh, pure enjoyment! Sure, we can do all these things here, but it's the tempo, the cadence and the hurry that is so different- and make it so difficult to hang onto the peace that is natural in an older society.
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 3/15/2006 07:47:00 AM  

  • I'm sending Sarah and Nick to Paris as we speak.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 3/15/2006 09:20:00 AM  

  • I come from a very laid back state. We take pride in our "stop and smell the roses" attitudes. When I moved 'Outside' it was a huge culture shock for me. People had their kids scheduled from sun up to sundown. Always running and rushing around.
    I'd love to try living somewhere else if we can ever afford it. Just like home, but with better food!!
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 3/15/2006 04:54:00 PM  

  • Recently I developed an eye twitch. I read that the cause of a twitch is stress and fatigue. I asked myself...when I have I NOT been stressed or fatigued? Why do I have to have an annoying eye twitch on top of it. I managed it by BREATHING. I went on vacation and it went away. I came home, and it came back...but only for a little bit. I would not validate it anymore so it went away again. But I think it originated from stress and "the pace."

    New York has also taught me to treat certain people in certain situations in certain ways. I find myself going to the midwestern suburb where I grew up, and yelling at a lot of people. I quickly realize how out of place it is, and that I am only acting that way b/c it is how I have been "taught" by my fellow NYers to get what I need. It's survival. I'LL TAKE A TURKEY SANDWICH ON WHEAT BREAD WITH NO MAYO...NOW!. Whoa lady, this is the midwestern burbs, you don't need to yell!

    Fortunately none of this has affected my fertility...only the REARING of the kids once they're out. Yikes.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/15/2006 05:20:00 PM  

  • Great post Sunny!

    I am a stressball by nature - I'm really not affected by where I live as I will continue to be a stressball even in paradise. But I'm OK with that - it's just how I'm wired.

    But I did notice that moving from NYC to the suburbs of San Francisco has made me a slightly healthier person. Its a tad bit slower here, most of my friends are fairly calm and "laid back" and its been good for me. I actually sit down and read a magazine now, watch a TV show (that isn't Dora or Little Einsteins)occasionally, read in bed, sit on my deck and talk on the phone - it's been really good for me.

    It took us 3 years to get pregnant and I'm certain that the combination of me being a stressball AND living in a fast paced city made it that much more difficult to conceive.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 3/15/2006 05:25:00 PM  

  • Sunny, having served with you and been your friend in your NYC days, I'm really glad to hear that you've found a slower pace of life. You always had so much going on, and juggled it all so well, but I didn't know if that was a pace that any human being could maintain for very long! You handled it very well, but a change like this is probably for the best.

    To answer the question you posed, I think that what you've started to do (say "No") is exactly how we keep up our worthwhile commitments. Saying no to the unnecessary things is how we keep ourselves focused on the necessary. The hard part most of the time is figuring out which is which, and for some of us, the actual use of the word No is not easy.

    And Kage, I'm with you 100% on the personality shift that is brought about by living in the city. For me the big change I've had to make is how I drive now that I'm back in VT. For example, when I go to parallel park, people behind me actually stop and wait while I complete my manuever, rather than leaning on their horn and swerving around me at their first opportunity. I'm attempting to remember that when I'm the one having to do the waiting. :-)
    posted by Blogger marian at 3/15/2006 07:26:00 PM  

  • Sunny,

    I'm amazed by your ability to adapt to a completely new culture so quickly....when I was studying abroad in Chile, I was way too stressed about learning the language, adjusting to differences in culture and food, getting through my classes, to thoroughly enjoy the slower pace of life and I regret that now.

    The other thing that hit me about your post was how "programmed" we are as members of the church that more is better....the more good works we do, the more righteous we are...I guess this is true in a sense...but think about all the people who have lost their testimonies from "burnout." I find that when I am overly busy...even if I am doing really worthwhile things like my church calling, etc. I don't really feel the Spirit...and then, what's the point, really, if you're just in this constant mad dash to some unknown finish line?
    posted by Blogger Jen at 3/16/2006 07:17:00 AM  

  • I am so intruiged by your post Sunny. I guess it is only logical that our bodies do take a lot of abuse due to stress, but i have never known someone that has been able to see it so clearly.
    After reading of the relaxing things you have been doing while youve been gone I find myself feeling relief. mostly because i do a lot of those things here but feel an immense amount of guilt because I know NO ONE else does that stuff here. I feel like I am wasting my time, or letting myself down because Im not pushing myself to do more, and do better. But now thanks to you, I feel like i am treating my body well and trying to enjoy things in life. I unfortunately have given up a few things that I wish i didnt but only becuase i really cant function well doing everything, so I have to pick and choose.

    Im glad your doing well and there is a baby sunny on the way.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 3/17/2006 03:19:00 PM  

  • I love your post Sunny. It is so amazing how we don't realize how stressed we are until we are forced to slow down. And what an effect it has on our bodies. Yours was more obvious but I think the fast paced lifestyle effects us all without realizing it. And now you are going to have a baby and you know how to slow down. Hurray.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 3/25/2006 03:17:00 PM  

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