Five Things You Should Know Before IVF
(From Someone Who Has Been There)
By: Cindy Maudsley
Growing up you probably-day dreamed about starting a family. Maybe you cradled your baby dolls, wrapped them in blankets and pretended to play the role of mom. You imagined how many children you would have, including how many would be boys and how many would be girls. And if you were like me you wrote down lists of names you would choose for each one.
And then you grew up, fell in love and found the person you wanted to start a family with. Together you planned what you wanted your family to look like and when you wanted to start creating it.
Having faith and righteous desires to bring children into a loving family is a good thing! It is something you should be proud of and excited for. But if you are part of the 1 in 8 statistics of those who suffer infertility it can be heartbreaking, and emotionally, physically and spiritual draining.
Infertility is different for everyone. Some people may experience infertility after being completely fertile and having already easily become pregnant. Others experience infertility from the start, explained and unexplained. Some might be able to have children through fertility medications or procedures, surrogacy, or adoption.
Whatever your story is surrounding infertility, it is important. It is valid. It is yours. And you should be proud of yourself no matter what the road leads you on. Like many trials in our lives, no one can fully understand the heartache of not having control over their fertility, unless they’ve walked the path themselves.
You might find yourself going down the road of In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) and here are four things I want you to know before you do.
- Find a Circle of Support
Yes, you will have your spouse and you absolutely need to rely on one another, but reach out to someone other than your husband, too. Find a best friend, or two or three people that you trust and know will be there for you. Maybe you are more private?Or don’t want anyone else to know you are going through IVF—I promise you that you will be grateful you reached out to at least one other person other than your family. You know which of your friends are invested in your happiness and your life. Whether it is a best friend, a co-worker or an online support forum- reach out to those you feel comfortable with and share with them what you are about to go through. Trust me- you will need someone, or multiple someones, to be there for you during all the ups and downs of IVF treatment.
- Fertility Hormones Are Not Fun
You will be pumped full of hormones! If you feel bloated, gassy, emotional, extra tired, angry, or sad remember it’s more than likely linked to the different pills, shots, and vitamins you will be taking. And there will be a lot. Depending on your cycle and plan given to you by your doctor, you might be taking several pills a day, along with multiple shots day and night as well. You won’t feel like yourself, but that is what is supposed to happen. IVF medications are no joke and it is a huge deal. Don’t beat yourself up over weight gain or loss, or changes in mood. You are in the middle of a huge process and your body is amazing for doing this. Find things that help alleviate the stress you might feel because of the changes in your hormones, whether it means taking a short cat nap in the middle of the day, or treating yourself to a pedicure. If there is ever a time to pamper yourself it is now.
- Stay Organized
There is no sugar coating this next part. There is a lot that you will need to remember. And you will need to keep on top of things. Remember all those pills and shots? That is not all you will have to do. There are innumerable doctor appointments, ultrasounds, blood draws and lining checks. You might have to go in to your clinic several days in a row at times during the process to make sure you’re ready for your egg retrieval and transfer. Be sure to plan ahead and schedule sitters for your other children, or arrange the time off of work.
Your doctor will provide you with a color-coded calendar with all of your appointments and medication schedule. Please make yourself familiar with it. Look over it, and really understand what you need to do each day. Check it before you go to bed so you know what to plan for the next day. Don’t let your partner off easy either- make sure he knows what is happening each day. He should be on top of what medications you will be needing and when you need to start and stop certain pills or shots. Remember that even though it is your body, you are in this together.
- Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
The IVF process is tough. You will have many ups and downs. Going through all that you do and not having a guarantee of a baby is a very emotional thing. You could experience all kinds of feelings. From immense feelings of gratitude and excitement to feelings of anger and sadness. You might begin to feel bitter that you are going through so much—physically, financially and emotionally- to have a baby when others seemingly snap their fingers and become pregnant. Remember that your feelings are valid, but don’t let those thoughts consume you either. Again, this is your journey, one that is perfect just for you.
This is when you need to feel proud of yourself. Pat yourself on the back and feel honored that you are willing to go through so much to bring a baby into your family. It is a noble and good thing. Feel honored that you get to experience the miracles attached to fertility treatments. Regardless of whether or not it results in a baby- the process is amazing and you are literally a part of something extraordinary. When you are in a fertility clinic with doctors and scientists who have been blessed with knowledge and skill given to them by God, you are surrounded by a special spirit.
- Forgive Others
There will always be well-meaning people who just don’t understand. And that’s okay. Sometimes people will say something that offends you or hurts your feelings. In most cases- it is unintentional and not meant to hurt you. Sometimes it can be used as a teaching moment to help educate others on “infertility etiquette” by explaining why something that was said was hurtful. Part of going through infertility is to help others gain compassion and understanding. But be patient, and forgiving and less quick to judge others’ actions and comments. It will save you so much stress and anger. Not everyone understands how intense IVF can be. There could be insensitive remarks or advice given but just as you should be easy on yourself, try to give that same grace to others. You will find yourself more at peace and in a happier state of mind if you do.
In the end, everyone will have their own IVF story to tell. You will all go through different emotions and experiences. Take the advice and listen to the stories and educate yourself enough so that you have an idea of what is to come- but be open to letting your journey take you down the road it is meant to.
Everyone’s wish and desire is that after going through weeks of IVF treatments that it will all be well worth it by getting that positive pregnancy test in the end. And what a joy that will be!
But if you don’t, and you go through all of the treatments and you are left without a baby, know that you are a warrior; you are amazing and you are strong. You are no less than the woman who comes away pregnant.
In the wise words of everyone’s favorite Fairy Godmother “Even miracles take a little time”. Some miracles result in a baby- no matter how they come to you. But sometimes that miracle is something you find from within. It is seeing how strong, and brave you can be. It is everything you learn about yourself along the way.
Some of us will get the fairy tale dream of having all the children our hearts desire, and some of us won’t. Don’t let it ruin you, let it empower you. We don’t always get to choose how many children, if any, we get to have. But we do get to decide how our trials affect us. Choose to let them refine you, instead of define you.