Blogging about fertility treatments has created a community for me. I’ve heard from so many women who are struggling to conceive, and navigating the complicated process of infertility treatments. There are a lot of choices and a lot of opinions about IVF. There was a lot of advice I ignored, and a lot of things I did a little bit differently from other IVFers I’ve spoken to. Ultimately, it’s best to do what you feel good about after talking to your doctor and doing lots of your own research.
What I did:
I mentioned this quite a few times throughout our treatments, but it was absolutely necessary to take time between treatments to unwind, take short trips, and think about literally anything but trying to get pregnant. We took a break between IUI and pursuing IVF to give us a little time, but we also had a couple of months we had to actually let my body rest. I needed it, and fully believe I would have lost my mind without those breaks.
Don’t be afraid to change doctors. It was the best decision we made throughout the entire process, because being treated by someone you can’t fully trust (or never even see!) creates miscommunication and a lot of unnecessary stress.
Let myself feel my feelings
I wasn’t always positive. Sometimes it seemed impossible to see the silver lining. This makes a lot of other people uncomfortable, but it was necessary (and much more healthy, in the long run) for me to acknowledge how I felt. Which was completely negative.
Once we switched doctors, we felt much more comfortable asking a lot of questions. I’d often ask my doctors and nurses to repeat instructions or explain what they were doing again, because really, this is a lot of new information.
Went with the flow
Sometimes, it was best to just do what I was told was best. I’m ultimately not an expert on fertility treatments, so once I trusted my doctor, I (mostly) did what was suggested.
Found a support group
Thanks to Alison, I joined a Facebook group that was relatively small, and incredibly supportive. Some clinics offer a support group in-office, and there are a lot of online groups to find your place in. Finding people who you can connect with and share experiences is necessary. It doesn’t matter how much you share with your partner, best friend, or family; you need to talk to someone who is experiencing the same thing.
A lot of people like to tell you to step away from Google, but the truth is, without doing my own research and reading about other people’s experiences, I would have been completely lost. There is far too much information, a lot of different side effects, and it’s difficult to understand the process itself.
This is something else a lot of people advise against, and it may not be for you! For me, though, testing early prepared me for the phone call with the negative test result. Just make sure you don’t test early if you’ve taken a “trigger shot”, unless you’re sure all of the HCG from that is out of your system. That can result in false positives. I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte five days after our transfer.
Intrauterine HCG trial
This is a little random compared to everything else, but worth mentioning. My doctor gave me the option to participate in a trial. I don’t fully understand how it can work, other than preparing my uterus for an incoming embryo, but you can read more about it here.
Slept. A lot.
I’ve said many times, I don’t know how women go through IVF with a full time job (unless it’s flexible). Not only do the appointments consume a lot of your time, but the medications (especially Lupron) caused a lot of exhaustion. I took it easy and rested as much as I could.
What I Didn’t Do:
We had no reason to test our embryos, and it is very expensive and can possibly damage perfectly good embryos. So, we did not know our baby was a girl until several weeks after that positive pregnancy test.
It seems to be really popular to transfer two embryos to increase chances of success, but the increase wasn’t enough for us to risk multiples. Lots of kids are great, but for health reasons, I didn’t want to be the next Gardner Quad Squad. ;)
A laparoscopy was suggested to determine if adhesions from my appendectomy or endometriosis were causing our infertility. Having done my own research, I didn’t feel like this was worth it in the long run, as a laparoscopy cannot guarantee a future pregnancy, and it often has to be repeated in the future. We knew IVF would bypass potential problems in my fallopian tubes, so that is the route we chose.
I don’t know what the deal is, but a lot of people suggest eating pineapple core following an embryo transfer to encourage implantation. Both times, I ate McDonald’s fries. The second time, I got pregnant. This is one of those things that can’t hurt, but I’m not completely sold on it.
I 100% believe acupuncture can decrease stress, which may increase chances of success. I’m not so sure acupuncture alone can increase chances of success. Some people swear by it. This is another thing that can’t hurt, but I didn’t try.
I didn’t attempt to lose weight, try a PCOS diet, or avoid caffeine, sugar, or alcohol (with the exception of when I was on stims and post-transfer). Some people, especially those with PCOS, have found a lot of success in changing their diet. Again, it can’t hurt.
Assume I was pregnant
This is more of a coping mechanism kind of thing. Some women find comfort in being very positive, creating pregnancy announcements early, decorating the nursery, and such. For me, that would have made everything harder. In fact, during IVF treatments, I moved my office and beauty room into what we knew would eventually be the nursery. Filling that room with something else in the meantime was my way of coping.
If you’ve done IVF or infertility treatments, I’d love to know what you tried, or what you’re planning on trying!