Since we have some time in between our next egg transfer, I decided to do a post sharing some advice that has been helpful for me over the past two years and I have also created a IVF/Infertility support group, India , For all those who have been through or are going through IVF/ Infertility, to share stories, experiences, thoughts, suggestions etc. as well as supporting one another… our own “special family”….. 🙂 Do join in!
The following are my thoughts on how you can thrive in the midst of IVF and all the adversity that comes along with it.
Recognize that this process is a marathon, not a sprint: You might get pregnant with your first cycle, and I hope you do! I know many women that got pregnant on their first round of IVF and have beautiful, healthy babies to show for it. Many times, treatments before IVF land up being successful. My friend got pregnant on her third IUI. Even so, there is a lot of waiting involved in the process. Waiting to get an appointment, waiting on results for a diagnosis, waiting before you begin IVF so that the timing is just right, waiting for more results, waiting in between cycles…it goes on and on. Waiting can sometimes be the most stressful and frustrating part. Initially, I too didn’t fully comprehend how long this process could potentially take. When you go through something like infertility and nothing is in your control, it’s a hard reality check. It was a tough pill to swallow when I realized I couldn’t just try really hard and boom! – I’d get pregnant! Patience has always been my virtue, but it was hard to accept that this is not my timing, it’s HIS.
I read stories all the time about women who finally have success and say if they would have gotten pregnant with one of the embryos that failed, they would not have the sweet baby in their arms that they couldn’t imagine life without. I have surrendered to the idea that my life is nowhere near what I thought it would be. Instead, it’s much more beautifully and intricately designed than I could have ever imagined. Because there will be nothing sweeter once I get to the finish line of this marathon. And I really can’t wait to get there.
Live outside of fertility: Let me tell you, you CAN live outside of fertility. It is definitely more challenging, but it is so worth it. Take advantage of this time with your spouse because it is so precious and pretty soon (in the grand scheme of things) it won’t just be the two of you. Once my husband, Harman, and I decided to live outside of fertility, we felt free. That’s not to say we don’t sometimes succumb to old habits of feeling stuck, but we try our best to overcome it. We go out to dinners and drink all the wine. We go on drives and explore our city from a different perspective, soaking up all the beauty it has to offer and finding hidden nooks we didn’t even know existed. We took a break from fertility and took an awesome vacation (I swam topless!). Take a break. Schedule a wine night with friends. It will all turn out okay and you can take back some of the control that infertility has stolen from you. Don’t let fear dictate how you live. Continue to do the things you love. Look for the beauty around you. Open your eyes and be grateful for all of your blessings even when they are hard to see. You are going through a hard season. A season of uphill battles and struggle. But it doesn’t have to be wasted. Allow yourself to dance in the rain. I am living my best life while going through my worst season. I invite you to do the same.
Find your tribe: The struggle of infertility can feel very isolating, especially if you have no one to relate to. One thing I read over and over again while doing research before I started IVF was to surround myself with support. Surround myself with people in my life that I know will lift me up when I’m down even if they don’t completely understand my situation. When I found out IVF was the route we were going to take, I immediately told the women in my life, who I knew could rely on for support. And they have. I am so thankful for all strong women who have given me words of affirmation during the most trying times. When we finally opened up about our infertility struggles publicly, the amount of support we received was overwhelming in the best possible way. I had women continuously reach out to me and vulnerably share their stories. 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. 1 in 8. People just don’t talk about it and let me tell you, that is a very lonely place to be. For me, it was therapeutic to share stories and connect with you guys. I have made some real friendships that I only know because of infertility. Women who have reached out and offered to help me through this journey with open ears when I really needed to process what I was going through. I am so thankful for people lifting me up in prayer on the days when I can’t pray. I have created these networks of support and without them, my hard days would be much harder. Bottom line is, it isn’t necessary to suffer in silence. Lean into the people you can count on and if someone is offering you their support, take it. (As I did with Fitness2Flash community)
Make your relationship with your spouse your number one priority: Going through this struggle is not easy on a marriage. If you’re not intentional about keeping your relationship a priority, infertility can really make things messy. I honestly feel like one of the lucky ones because Harman has been my rock throughout this process. I am not saying that it has all been pretty. We have definitely had highs and lows, but we are much stronger because of it. I do know that one of the most important things is to be aligned with your spouse as you navigate this journey. Before you begin fertility treatments, really talk about how this process will impact you both. Have the hard conversations. What happens if it doesn’t work? Know that the fertility drugs will seriously affect your mood and there is a high likelihood of breakdowns and emotionally charged conversations. Ask for a pass from your husband before these things happen. Ask for unconditional support. Love your spouse hard and make time for each other.
Find your strength and let it shine: Don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from pursuing what you most desire. If I’m being honest, I had no clue how hard IVF would be. I was so caught up in the small stuff…I was worried about the shots, I was sad that I couldn’t have this magical, surprise pregnancy announcement for our families, I was annoyed that I had to pay all this money to get pregnant with doctors intervention when all my friends were getting pregnant so easily. Thinking about the things I worried about before we started IVF, now makes me roll my eyes. Compared to everything, it is all pretty insignificant. And I don’t want to downplay how any other woman has experienced IVF. This is just my experience. Having taken well over 100 shots, they are now a piece of cake. I have gotten to a point where I can give them to myself and feel empowered. As for a cute pregnancy announcement, I would give anything just to see two lines on a stick. I pray every day that I will get pregnant, no matter how I get there. All this to say, I really didn’t understand how IVF could be so challenging. It’s not just shots and procedures. It runs deeper than that. It’s the waiting and waiting and waiting. It’s feeling completely out of control. It’s this never ending loop of hope and disappointment. There is so much to it and you will undergo physical and emotional stresses that you aren’t necessarily prepared for. And even though you are not prepared, you will grow more on this journey than you ever imagined. Find your strength. I found strength inside myself that I didn’t even know existed. It has made me realize I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. You will too.
You are allowed to have a bad day: Just pick yourself right back up. I have more of them than I would like to admit. I also have felt shame around the days where I needed to just feel sad. I have learned that giving myself a day to grieve and really feel all the pain is therapeutic. Our lives are so busy. We work, we have to be emotionally available for our spouse, we try to stay connected to other hobbies or interests. I run Fitness2Flash community and it was hard some days to lead a group energetically. We suppress all these feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness on a day to day basis so that we can keep going, because life doesn’t stop when you’re in the midst of struggle. Have a bad day. Or a bad morning or a bad hour. But as soon as you are ready, pick yourself back up. Do something just for you to get back in the right head space. Workout, go for a walk, get a mani/pedi, go snuggle with your pets. Do whatever it is that will bring you out of the darkness and into joy.
Be patient with those who don’t understand what you’re going through: This can be a hard one. So many friends and family members and STRANGERS feel the need to give advice about what I should be doing during my infertility journey. Things like…just stop thinking about it and it will happen, just relax, have you thought about adoption, have you tried antibiotics, go on vacation, it will happen when you least expect it, are you sure your doctor knows what she’s doing, have sex on the stairs upside down (just kidding, no one actually said that one to me, but you get the point! )…the list goes on and on. Infertility is such a complex thing and everyone’s situation is different. Because of that, it’s hard to educate someone on the specifics of my case unless they REALLY want to know. So, instead these comments are oftentimes met with a smile, thank you and nod, when really I’m doing my best to not explode or cry or roll my eyes depending on what is said. Over time I have learned that the advice, comments and suggestions typically come from a place of love. They come from a place of seeing my struggle and wanting to help. With this in mind, it is much easier for me to let these things go and give the people who say them a pass.
Do join IVF/Infertility support group, India , group, if you are a #Infertilitywarrior