What I wish I’d known...
When we started fertility treatment, I thought I would be pregnant within a couple of months. I never expected it to take six years, multiple IVF transfers, miscarriages, and finally gestational surrogacy.
Thanks to IVF and gestational surrogacy, we have a beautiful two year old son. But reflecting back, there’s many things I wish I had known before starting fertility treatment.
For anyone who’s embarking on IVF, here’s what I wish I had known:
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I assumed that IVF would guarantee a baby, and the first transfer would work. But sadly, for many people, it takes multiple transfers. I think if you go into IVF with those expectations in mind, it will make it a bit easier if it doesn’t work right away.
It’s a waiting game. There’s lots of waiting when you’re in the throes of fertility treatment, whether it’s waiting for an appointment, waiting to get started, or the Two Week Wait. The waiting can be incredibly hard. I found it useful to distract myself and do things that made me happy while I waited. Often that meant going for a long walk, catching up with friends, having a massage or binging a reality tv series!
Self-care is crucial! There’s no sugar coating it, infertility is freaking hard. It’s an emotional roller coaster. It can be emotionally, physically, and mentally draining so be kind to yourself and put yourself first, whether that means saying no to certain things (i.e., baby showers!) or doing something just for you.
The medication side effects can also be awful. Everyone is different so you may not have any side effects, or you may experience a truck load. If you fall in the later, self-care is so important.
Be your own advocate. It took me a while to advocate for myself but once I did, it was invaluable. Come to your appointments prepared with questions, do your research, talk to others going through treatment and get a second or even third opinion if you feel you need it.
Some people will get it, others won’t. I was surprised how many people – who weren’t medical specialists – had an opinion. You’ll probably get all kinds of advice from “you just need to relax” or “it will happen when you stop trying”. While it’s made traction in recent years, I think we still have a way to go until infertility is understood and accepted as a reproductive disease. It affects 1 in 6 couples worldwide - “Just relax” is not a medical cure.
Speak to someone about what you’re going through, especially someone who is going through the same thing. It can make all the difference and help you feel less alone. The online TTC community is also so supportive so lean on them when you need to.
Infertility can be brutal, raw, and often lonely. It’s frequently misunderstood. But for anyone struggling with infertility, you are not alone. There’s many of us out there. Find those people. Talk to them. Lean on them. Surround yourself with love and support. Don’t suffer in silence.