There is so much uncertainty when it comes to infertility. This doesn’t just imply the uncertainty of will this treatment work? Will we have kids? Will I have the chance to carry a baby?
But the real uncertainty of infertility is really trying to navigate your way through infertility when you really haven’t a clue about anything involved in the process. Let me say this. When you have no idea how your body works, things are far more complex than if you had that basic knowledge to grow on.
Throughout our infertility journey, there’s been so much that I have learned. The process, as challenging as it has been, has made me grow my knowledge of my body, and helped me grow in ways that I didn’t know I needed.
Every journey, every obstacle you go through in life challenges you to grow and to learn new life lessons.
So here are a few things that Robbie and I learned that would be super beneficial to any one going through infertility.
Be Your Own Advocate:
Don’t take everything the clinic says for granted. Because here is a fact – your Doctor doesn’t know everything (thanks to Robbie for that line).
I am not saying question everything but you know your body better than they do. They know the science, you know you.
Had I not called with IVF to tell them I would already have ovulated before my first ultrasound, I would have ovulated. Resulting in a loss of my time and a loss of my money.
Freeze All of Your Embryos, Regardless of Quality:
From what I’ve seen. There are a few different grading systems for embryo quality, based on what your specific fertility clinic uses. The grading system was one thing that I just couldn’t understand for the life of me. So my advice to all undergoing IVF – freeze ALL of your embryos you have left, regardless of quality.
Especially if you already are paying for storage fees for one, it doesn’t cost extra to freeze additional embryos. The freezing costs are a one time fee, not an additional cost per extra embryo frozen.
It’s far easier to do your research, see if others have success with that embryo quality, when you have more than a day to process the information.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s easier to freeze all and discard any poor quality embryos later then it is to bring one back that’s already been discarded. That virtually isn’t possible.
Nothing is worse than finding out that embryo could have led to a successful pregnancy.
Easier to keep alive because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Find the Right Clinic for You:
I was at a bit of a disadvantage because I really didn’t have any options near me to choose from. In fact the clinic we did use was still almost 2 hours away. But for people in Toronto or larger cities, you might have multiple options. Or a second option that might be a bit further from you, but that clinic might have better reviews and a higher success rate.
In my opinion, I would rather drive the little extra distance for better resources. You’re already spending so much time and money, why not make sure your money is well spent for quality care?
If you did one IVF round at a clinic and had nothing but headaches and complications. Look for a different clinic. Or if you did one medicine protocol that obviously didn’t work and they want to try that exact same protocol again without modifications to make it better? Find a new clinic.
Clinics, Reproductive Endocrinolgists, medicinal protocols are not one size fits all. So find what fits best for you.
IF, we ever had the opportunity to do IVF again (I mean full medicinal protocol, egg retrieval etc.), I know that I probably wouldn’t use our clinic again. Sounds stupid right since I am pregnant so obviously it worked, right?
But, the disorganization, lack of communication, discrepancies in fees/ finances, and the fact that over my three IUI’s, and one round of IVF, I only saw/ talked to my RE four times. The clinic was go good at communication when it came to collecting fees but lacked much more when it came to communication for us.
We were over charged a handful of times, never told we had left over samples from Robbie that resulted in us spending an extra $750 for nothing, never told about Robbie’s infertility diagosis, blood work missed, and so many other problems.
Ask a Million Questions:
The most common thing I asked during all my ultrasounds and appointments was “and what does that mean?” or “what is that supposed to be?”
Here’s the thing.
Long before we had infertility problems, I had watched a few vloggers that had infertility problems. From there I grew a basic understanding of all the science that went behind the complication of egg meets sperm. So I had some knowledge of how many follicles you had, or on average should have, how to administer injections etc.
Anytime you are told something (for example: your endometrium today was 6.1mm). Well than I would ask “well what does that means? Is that where it should be at?”
You’ll learn so much quicker when you ask questions about EVERYTHING. Don’t know what something means, ask. There is no such thing as a stupid question. The more you know the better you are able to help yourself.
Do Your Own Research:
Sometimes, you have to do your own research. My clinic didn’t suggest anything in terms of things to change. Other than to make sure I was still on prenatal vitamins. So building on the last point about, when you ask questions and have a better understanding of what was going on in my body, I could start doing my research that would help benefit my body.
From there you can start looking at what will benefit your body.
Another more beneficial thing for me was watching infertility vloggers or forums of others using other medicinal protocols for the similar diagnosis?
I saw that someone who had a similar diagnosis had did this medicine protocol or took this and that worked. Is that something I would be able to do if it would also benefit me?
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket:
I’ve mentioned this in a whole blog post before but there are other ways to get pregnant or improve infertility. There is more to fertility than just fertility treatments.
For me, it was a clean diet, a traditional Chinese Medicine Acupunture (not to be confused with acupuncture from your traditional MD who isn’t qualified or trained to use acupuncture on a whole body aspect – it’s not the same) and living the most toxin free I can. A series of vitamins and minerals to boost my bodies overall performance (also look for plant based vitamins – your body can absorb it easier and in larger quantities than synthetic forms).
But there are so many options to pursue. Naturopath and ayurveda are other viable, very useful options. The options are endless when you actually start pursuing non-traditional options, as in fertility treatments.
The biggest thing I thought at first was that our only option was fertility treatments. And although fertility treatments is what “technically” got us pregnant, I know that acupuncture definitely aided my body in being a ground of good soil to help sustain a viable pregnancy.
A Good Support Group Means Everything:
Don’t underestimate a good support group. You don’t necessarily have to end up being as open as I was and decide to document it all publicly, but have your group of close knit friends or family that are understanding. Keep them up to date.
Another important thing that really helped me was having a good group of friends that also were going through infertility. It was just so nice to talk to people that already had some knowledge of the infertility world. It was just nice to vent some days and not have to explain why I was venting and why what was happening, was not normal.
But in all honestly, all the supportive friends and family mean nothing if you can’t be open with your partner. Robbie was the first and foremost person naturally that his words and support meant everything.
You Have to Do What Feels Best for You:
Social media became a really toxic place for a while because I saw so many people with babies and children, and it made my heartache knowing I wasn’t there yet. So do what’s best for you. For me, that meant still having those people on my friends list but simply “unfollowing” their facebook page so that we were still friends and I could creep their page on my own terms. Rather than being overwhelmed when I would log on and be reminded of what others have and I don’t.
For some I know, it meant not attending baby showers. If it’s going to make you cry for a week straight after going to a baby shower because it makes you so sad that you might not have that, then don’t go.
Instead buy a gift, give it to your friend on your own term and explain that you want to go but it’s just too much for you.
Listen to your body, your mind, and do what feels best for you.
Keep All Your Receipts:
Keep all your receipts – medication costs, clinic fees, how many times you’ve traveled to the clinic for appointments, estimated gas costs, parking tolls, was your appointment far enough that you needed to spend money for food along the way?
Keep everything. Because when the time comes to do your taxes in the spring, you can claim it all to get some money back. It’s not near the amount of what you spent but anything helps.
Don’t Put Your Life on Hold:
I don’t know how many times I said I wouldn’t do something because my thought process was “what if I get pregnant.” I can’t plan to go white water rafting in a few months or I can’t go anywhere tropical because what if I’m pregnant and catch Zika? And if I’m not, then I can’t try for 6 months.
Although I really wouldn’t go to a tropical location any time soon because of that, but that doesn’t mean you have to always say no to everything.
Stop putting your life on hold in case you were pregnant. Don’t put your life on hold. Do things. Sign up for things. Go places, if that’s what you want. And if you get pregnant, then you can always cancel things that would be a risk for you and your baby.
Otherwise, stop putting everything on hold and enjoy your life.
Stop Asking People “When Are You Going to Have Kids?”:
Until we started having problems and we hadn’t started sharing our struggles, I learned in full effect how sad it was when people asked “when are you going to have kids?” So many times I would just brush it off, give reasons of why we weren’t trying yet (although we already had attempted an IUI), or just respond with “hopefully one day soon” and keep it at that.
But everything I was asked that, I would become so sad and go home to cry that night.
So I stopped asking people when they are going to have kids. Instead, if you want, ask “do you want kids?”
When implies time, well when are you finally going to have kids. When places shame, although you don’t realize it, it makes you feel like you can’t do that and you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to have kids. When implies well its been long enough, it’s time now. We don’t have control over the when so it provides so much stress and uncertainty.
Do you want kids? doesn’t place a time constriction or the pressure of someone wanting to have kids NOW. It’s just a future thought, a day dream for down the line. It takes a lot of the pressure or the burden off of someone.
Those are just a little brainstorm list from Robbie and I on our lessons that we learned over the last two years and change.
Just remember in this life, whatever you go through, there is always a lesson to learn.
Don’t put your life on hold and always find strength in others.