There are a lot of resources out there for the technical aspects of IVF, but not so much for the practical or emotional parts. After an attempt at fertility treatment, with another starting soon, I thought it might be helpful to pass on what I’ve learned in my first cycle of IVF:
1. You Will Learn on the Job
You’ll know a lot more about IVF when you’re done with the process. You can read every book ever written on the subject, but the only thing that will really acquaint you with the procedure is going through it. It may not be what you want to hear, but you need to be prepared for the first time to be a “dress rehearsal.” For example: We had no idea I had poor egg health until our first round failed, which led to using an egg donor.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Second Opinion
Every doctor is going to sound like they know everything about IVF. Listen carefully, ask every question that comes to mind, and if your gut tells you they’re pushing you away from a treatment or tactic you want to use, get a second opinion. There is always time for a second opinion.
3. The P Word
You’re here because you have been trying to have a baby, but can’t do it on your own. You’ve been waiting, you just want some damn kids, and the last thing you want to do is take your time. Unfortunately, being patient is essential during IVF. So, instead of counting how many cycles until you will be pregnant, try using language like “before the end of the year” or “before my next birthday.”
4. Money, Money, and More Money
This is what they’ll be taking from you. If you’re not a millionaire (holler!), it will take some time to wrap your head around spending upwards of $25,000 before you even approach the cost the raising the children. Two things may make this easier for you. First, look into IVF insurance. If your doctor thinks this may take more than one try, buying IVF insurance is most definitely worth it. Second, once the money is spent, get over it. The money is gone, and there is no getting it back. Just keep your eyes on the prize.
5. Steel Yourself for Some Disappointment
Preparing yourself for disappointment is an essential part of surviving IVF. I’m not saying to be negative; visualization is a very helpful tactic during IVF, but here is the deal: Until you go through IVF at least once, your doctor won’t know everything about your reproductive issues. Nurses and doctors radiate positivity and sunshine, but that’s not always how things go—be wary. It’s not uncommon at all to have to do it twice or more.
6. Pay Attention to Your Relationship With Your Partner
It may not feel like it immediately, but this will affect your relationship with your partner—from initial infertility, to when you figure out who has the faulty equipment, all the way through fertility treatments, maybe even after you’re holding your baby in your arms. This will change the way you see each other, without a doubt. It can bring a lot of couples closer together, especially if their communication is strong. Sometimes, though, it can be damned difficult or even drive couples apart completely. Listen to everything your partner is saying and how they’re saying it. But even more importantly, take care of yourself and your state of mind.
7. Anger Is Part of It
It will ebb and flow. Some days you’ll accept your lot in life with grace and aplomb, and other days you’ll hear that a celebrity is pregnant and cry in the bathroom at work. Let yourself feel the anger, because it is justified, but don’t let it linger too long. It will just make you more unhappy. Think about all the other women with fertility issues like yours, and focus on the sense of camaraderie. It is much more uplifting than being mad at all the fertile women in the world.
I guess the gist is that this is weird, stressful, unfair, but totally doable. Just pay attention to what’s happening around you, and do all you can to reduce your stress in every possible way. Thousands of people do it every year, and you can too.