by Anonymous Contributor
If you are starting out on the assisted reproductive journey, I want to tell you what I didn’t know when I started: gather the troops. Be ready to say the words “I need.”
Also, this reproductive journey may not be as smooth and quick as you may hope and expect. Try to make it a productive journey, even when it doesn’t feel productive. Take time for yourself. Take time to grieve when that comes up. Even when it’s feeling more like waiting and not so reproductive, try to make your journey productive in that you find every way possible to meet your needs. This is a good step toward parenthood.
I am now more than 9 months into the journey of seeking scientific help with reproduction. The irony of the amount of time I’ve put myself in a waiting game with doctors, cycles, and next steps is not lost on me. If sex equaled a baby in my world, I’d have that baby now.
Instead, I went through grief that sex and babies are separate homework assignments for me, and sometimes the doctor tells me when.
I don’t want to lay out all the grief processes I went through now because it would scare you (and me) to look at.
Instead, I want to tell you about sources of support I have found and utilized.
The first few months, I wanted to talk to my friends about what I was going through. I offered friends extensive support about what they were going through in their lives, hoping to find a listening ear in return.
I’m sorry to say support was difficult to come by.
So I got a therapist who had been through IVF, in fact one who had successfully had a baby from her first round of IVF. She got me through important grief as I began my process, and then, that relationship didn’t work out.
Luckily, I had in my back pocket another therapist I’d met through an equine-assisted therapy workshop, designed for couples experiencing infertility. This therapist was freshly out of school, had her babies the old-fashioned way, but was 9 days younger than me, committed to my well-being and my intrinsic goodness, and has treated me with deeper heart than more than 98% of my friends, family, or previous therapists.
This is to say, even people without infertility experience themselves can be useful to you on your journey if they have the vision and heart to commit to your well-being.
Speaking of commitment to well-being coming from unexpected places, in my case, my parents are both deceased. Though my siblings have known me for 41 years, it’s not them who check in on me. It’s my husband’s sister. It’s my husband’s family who we ate all of our holiday meals with because they were the ones who were with us for the ups and downs of our reproductive journey of 2019.
In our case, after IVF and IUI failed, we became open to the idea of donor egg conception. I had never known anyone who had used a donor egg, and my new therapist found me an additional therapist who herself used a donor egg. We went to her for couple’s counseling after encountering relational conflict surrounding our selection of a donor.
Along our path of trying to conceive, we also used the services of a friend of mine who is a Transformational Coach and Connection Specialist. He helped us strengthen our marriage and connection after we felt like we were leaving the battlefield of our first IVF cycle.
And then there have been the support groups. I started one for myself on Facebook, which I update multiple times a week for people who are interested in my journey. Then I finally found the group Conceive Nebraska, and my husband and I attended a Couple’s Support Group, and I also attended a Women’s Support Group.
Online resources are becoming more abundant as well. Inspire released an app in December for a sort of online platform dealing with infertility.
Then there are the Facebook groups for those going through IVF by age group as well as for egg donor recipients, which are international groups. Instagram also has a plethora of groups for those who are TTC, or trying to conceive.
There are books. There are podcasts. I’ve listened to hypnosis tracks for IVF on iTunes to get me relaxed and ready for both retrieval and transfer.
In my journey, I went through 4 jobs in 9 months, trying to find the right balance for all that I was juggling emotionally, physically, and with my scheduling. I also took two months off working to get in touch with myself after the failed cycle of IVF.
Everything I’ve done has been beneficial and has ultimately strengthened and/or relieved me as I walked or crawled this journey. It’s not so much a journey that can be run. It’s too slow-paced to run; I have a feeling that trying to run it, one would collapse quickly.
What I’ve learned most on this journey is to go easy on yourself. There’s so much that comes up. If I could go back and change anything, I would have eaten healthier the whole time and joined a gym sooner. But I did those things when I could, when I found the motivation. For me, what motivates me now is that I have two frozen blastocysts waiting to be transferred (one at a time) when my body is ready.
My chances of having a baby with the blastocycsts we’ve got now are statistically 75%. Please cross your fingers that 2020 is our year.
My last piece of advice: cherish the people who can offer you support with what you’re going through. Put them on speed dial. For people who seem not to see beyond their own world, edit your friends’ list or save the semi-supportive for a rainy day. There will be all kinds of days on this path. May you find all sources of solace for yourself and your relationship as you go through the trials of medically assisted reproduction. When all else fails, meditate. Find a class and go with your partner. Find your calm in any way you can and get ready to deal with all kinds of internal weather because this doesn’t happen in one night. We are the parents, even without our babies, who chose to keep trying. When we’re finally reading “The Little Engine that Could” to a child someday, we’ll know that we got to that moment because we lived the tenacity that could.
Finally, if you’re considering an egg donor, though I am publishing this anonymously, I can be reached through Conceive Nebraska and would be happy to talk to you about this option.