I remember the good ol’ days. The days before we knew I had endometriosis. The days before we knew that IVF was probably our only real option if we wanted kids. Ignorance really was bliss.
Back then, I remember going to one of my fertility yoga classes and a woman who was going through IVF said, “Trying to conceive naturally is like getting your undergraduate degree in biology. Trying to conceive through IVF is like getting a PhD in biology; there’s so much more to learn, it’s longer, it’s more complicated, it’s more expensive and it’s a bigger commitment on just about every level.”
That girl was NOT lying. I learned so much about my own anatomy after starting IVF. So much about hormones. So much about my strength and what I am able to endure. Just overall so much about myself and about B, too.
Before we started IVF, I did a lot of Googling. And Pinteresting. And Tumblring (Tumbling?). I combed through countless blogs and web pages for advice and tips and hacks. ANYTHING I could get my hands on to better align my expectations with this whole IVF process, I read. And honestly? It made my anxiety worse. Here are the 5 things I really wish I had known before starting down the road of IVF.
- It completely upends your life. During IVF, our life revolved around what we could and couldn’t do. Could and couldn’t drink. Could and couldn’t afford. Every dollar, every brain cell, every ounce of physical and emotional energy went into IVF. I was a neglectful friend. A selfish wife. A bit of a basketcase. That’s why it’s so important to remember that IVF is only temporary. It’s not who you are. It’s something you’re going through. And it’s it’s only for a moment in time.
- The injections aren’t as bad as you think. I never had a phobia of needles but I sure as shit never liked them (WHO HAS!?) I remember seeing the massive amount of meds Brad brought home from the pharmacy and thinking “HOW am I going to do this?” You know what? You do it. You take comfort in the fact that giving yourself injections is actually the ONLY thing you can really do to help your lil eggies grow. You ice your injection area for 10 minutes before your injection and 10 minutes after…you take a deep breath and you get it done. But as far as the pain? Wasn’t as bad as I thought…although my stomach DID end up looking like some messed up dart board or weird constellation…
- Quantity is not the same as quality. At the beginning our IVF journey, I just assumed more is better than less. More eggs. More embryos. Higher chance of success. Right? Not necessarily…quantity does not always equate to quality (sometimes it does, sure, but not all times). I wish I could tell myself not to be so competitive over egg numbers and embryo numbers with other fertility warriors I know. It’s not a contest and there isn’t only one winner. Being a naturally competitive person, I found this part very hard…asking friends I know how many eggs they got like I was asking what grade they got on the history midterm. So lame…so unnecessary…just trust that your body is doing the best it can. And if you don’t believe that, talk to your doctor. Which leads me to…
- Never ever Google. Ever. Especially after 8pm. Ask your doctor or nurse if you have questions. I have such mixed feelings about using the Internet during vulnerable, emotional, confusing times. On the one hand, it’s helped me connect to a lot of kickass women and given me lots of support and advice. On the other hand, it’s also been a huge source of anxiety. “NEVER eat gluten if you’re really serious about getting pregnant.” “ALWAYS do this other annoying thing.” It’s just filled with advice from people who don’t really know what they’re talking about. I wish I had laid off the Googling….I wish I had written down all my questions (as neurotic or silly or stupid as they might have seemed) and asked my doctor. This would have saved me a lot of stress…a lot of tears…a lot of late nights huddled around the warm glow of my computer screen.
- There’s really nothing you can do. It sucks, but it’s also weirdly freeing. As a natural-born control freak, I struggle with this aspect of infertility the most….the feeling like I have no control over my future. Like I’m just a passenger wearing my seatbelt and crossing my freakin’ fingers that I get where I want to go. But once I accepted this, life got a lot easier. Once I realized that there really wasn’t anything I could do beyond not drink alcohol or caffeine…there was something freeing. I knew that this was not on me. It was way, way out of my control.
What do you guys wish you had learned before starting your IVF journey?