It's been so long since I thought about my fertility treatment journey, but recently I had a thought about what I wish I had known beforehand. As you can imagine hindsight is 20/20 so there are five things I wish I knew when we were having trouble starting a family.
- It's going to be an emotional roller coaster. I, for some reason, thought I was sane. But as I was tracking my ovulation cycles and which days we should have sex, I was consistently hopeful and then disappointed each month that my period would come on, or the treatment cycle was unsuccessful. I starting thinking I was crazy for the emotional gymnastics I was doing. After a while, I got tired of crying every month, I shut down my emotions. It was so much and I didn't even think about needing therapy or counselling sessions. I definitely recommend it. Even if you're not yet at the place of starting fertility treatment, schedule in regular therapy appointments during this time. Your family and friends, while trying to be supportive, may not totally understand every emotion you're feeling and you might be hesitant to tell them if you're angry, jealous or scared. And your partner may have their emotions as well, so don't think they can handle both of your feelings. A counsellor or therapist is a must. As you consider fertility clinics, ask if they offer counselling, most do. If not and cost is a concern, search online for text messaging or virtual counselling sessions.
- It may take at least 3 fertility treatments to get pregnant. Getting pregnant clinically isn't an exact science. Putting an egg and sperm together doesn't mean there will be a conception. There are loads of factors that the medical teams have to consider: your age, quality of your egg/sperm, which hormones and how much will produce the eggs, if your body's cycles are regular and more. The team could need a few attempts to get the optimal circumstances for you. So, think about the financial aspects of fertility treatment. In the UK, some boroughs may cover the cost of a fertility treatment. The council I lived in only covered the cost for one treatment. Private clinics may offer packages for several treatments so it's a good idea to think about how you may need to cover the costs for additional treatments if your initial treatment isn't successful.
- How do you feel about needing a donor? Due to many factors, you may need to use a donor or surrogate. It's hard to even imagine that our bodies may not be able to do things as they are supposed to. Would you consider using someone else's egg or sperm, or even someone else carrying your baby? Discuss it with your partner/spouse and see if they feel the same. A limiting cultural belief about how it should happen may stop you from having your baby. I don't want that for you so think about if those options are out of the question beforehand.
- Why do you want this baby? Now this might seem like a very strange question and probaby one you never even questioned but infertility is a great experience for self-discovery. After years of trying to conceive and even now, not yet having my baby, I had to wonder why I wanted this baby so badly and I discovered some enlightening things. I wanted to demonstrate that I was loved, that I was loved unconditionally. This baby needed to compensate for my imperfect upbringing. I thought this baby would be the person who would always want to do what I wanted to do: similar habits, likes, and more. Someone who would go where I wanted to go and enjoy the same things I did, unlike my husband and some friends. I realised I had put a whole lot of responsibility on this baby which hadn't even been conceived yet. Take responsibility for your own happiness, desires and self-worth. Don't put your burdens on this baby. Be able to demonstrate to the world that you are accepted, loved and valued, regardless of this baby.
Get your "Mindset Discovery" worksheet here.
- Fertility treatments can take a toll on your relationship. It can take a huge toll on both you and your partner/spouse and if there are cracks, this can make them bigger, especially if your partner/spouse is part of the reason you're struggling to conceive. Try to recognise when all you two talk about is when you're having sex, or when other couples are easily conceiving. If trying to conceive is the only thing on both of your minds, it can drain both of you very quickly. The struggles can cause bitterness, resentment and fighting which can break down the relationship. These emotions can be blockers for the blessing you desire. Find ways to enjoy each other and make your relationship stronger. You have to keep yourself at peace and continue to enjoy and love on your partner and isn't that what you want for your family?
I hope you found this helpful. If so, please leave a comment and let me know if there's anything else you wish you knew or would like me to write about. It really is important to go into this with some type of insider's knowledge. If you'd like to be notified when I post another article, please sign up for our mailing list.