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Going through IVF is easily the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And I’m writing this on a day when Alice and I survived Toddler Poomageddon, so it’s got some pretty stiff competition today!
I feel very lucky that IVF was successful for us (eventually) and that we hit the baby jackpot with boy/girl twins, so we never have to put ourselves through it again, but I haven’t forgotten how overwhelming and awful the whole process was. I don’t think I ever will.
Looking back, there are things I wish I knew before we started. It would have taken some of the fear factor out of the whole thing. So, I hope that by telling you some of those things, it might help someone who’s in that awful waiting phase before treatment. Speaking of waiting…
The waiting is the worst part
I had no idea that we’d have to do so much waiting. We waited to be referred, waited for tests, waited for results, waited for appointments, waited for the right point of my cycle and that was all before we got to the actual IVF part, where there is yet more waiting – waiting for follicles to grow, for uterine lining to thicken (that bit was a nightmare for me), for egg collection, for embryo transfer…. and then comes the worst wait of all – waiting for test day. Get used to waiting and feeling out of control. It’s a lot less stressful if you just roll with it.
Write all plans in pencil
When you have your appointment (our clinic called it a Chat & Plan) to sort out the dates of your cycle, use pencil to write the dates down. There’s a fairly decent chance those dates will change. I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to be too disappointed. They have to make sure everything is done at exactly the right time and it all depends on your cycle and everything lining up when it should. Sometimes, it just doesn’t. Try to remember that they’re not delaying things to upset you on purpose.
The injections really aren’t that bad
I remember being really anxious about the idea of injecting myself. I’ve never been a fan of needles and the idea of injecting myself every day for weeks was terrifying. I wish I’d known that the needles are actually really tiny and the anticipation is much worse than the actual injection. Just go for it. Do it quick and get it over with. Remember that it’s all for the greater good – focus on the big picture.
Everyone wants it to work for you
I remember being really nervous about meeting our Consultant and nervous about every appointment after that. But I really needn’t have been. Everyone in that clinic – from the receptionists, to the nurses, to the embryologists and Consultants – they all want it to work for you. They’re all working together to give you the best possible chance of becoming a parent and they’re doing everything they can to make that happen. That’s a lot of support and good wishes. If you’re worried about anything and nervous about asking the question, ask it anyway. Let them help you.
You’re not alone
It feels like you are, I know. It feels like, even when you’re surrounded by people, you’re completely alone and no one really understands. And, to a certain extent, you’re right. They don’t. No one can truly understand everything that you’re going through. But there are some amazing forums out there, full of people who are going through a similar journey and reaching out to them can really help. I loved the Fertility Friends forums and I know several of my friends who have been through infertility treatment have found them really useful, too. It can help to talk things out and internet forums can be as anonymous (or not) as you want them to be. I found it really therapeutic to be able to say whatever I wanted, without worrying about upsetting my friends or family.
Lastly, if you’re on your own infertility journey and need someone to vent to or to talk to about the whole process, my email is always open! I’d love to hear from you.