When you hear the word “infertility” what do you think? I know when I first heard it, and it was referring to me, it was like a punch in the gut. Good news is, it does get easier to take. But after more than 4 years of going thru multiple processes, including IUI and multiple rounds of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), I’ve learned a thing or two.
Coping with infertility is emotionally exhausting. There is so much you need to think about and plan for. And so many hopes and dreams resting on your ability to conceive and deliver a child. And on top of that, you’re injecting large amounts of hormones into your body making the ups and downs higher and lower.
So if you are just starting the process, in the thick of things or are thinking of heading down that road, I truly hope some of my nuggets of hard-learned wisdom are helpful.
11 Lessons Infertility Has Taught Me
- It’s Not Your Fault – When I was diagnosed with ‘infertility,’ I immediately started thinking “what if I had done this?” or “what if I had done that?” Let’s get real for a moment, when you’re a woman, you just naturally think it’s more your fault than your husband’s. You tell yourself “I can’t get pregnant.” Or “it’s my body that’s letting us down.” Forget it. There’s no one to blame. It just is, what it is, and you need to put on your big girl pants and deal with it. Face it head on. If I can have my first baby at age 45, you can do this too!
- Find a Doctor You Trust – The infertility journey is not a short one. It took my husband and I over four years to conceive. And if we hadn’t had our amazing doctor, I don’t know that we would’ve lasted as long as we did. We switched doctors early on and I’m so glad God put her in our path. Find a doctor who you trust. Who treats you with care and respect. Who is in your corner and is as invested in getting you pregnant as you are. They are out there. It is possible. Don’t settle.
- It’s a Journey, Not a Race – Did you read the last one? It truly did take us over four years to conceive. If you’re one of the lucky ones and it happens on the first try, it still may be a long road. There are MONTHS of testing. Ultrasounds. Blood work. And then more bloodwork. Analysis on your husband’s contribution (if you know what I mean). and then if you go down the IVF road, there’s the stimulation protocol to stimulate your ovaries and egg production. Then, most likely they will create an embryo, freeze it. You’ll take a month off and then go into the transfer protocol, which takes 2-3 more weeks. It’s arduous. Be prepared and don’t let the waiting game psyche you out. It feels torturous when you’re going thru it but you WILL look back and think it went by in the blink of an eye.
- You’re Not Alone – Find a friend (or friends) to confide in. Preferably someone who’s been through it. You think you don’t know anyone? You’re wrong. I connected with so many other woman at work that were going thru the same thing it wasn’t even funny. I know of at least 6 other woman who have gone thru the process in the last 5 years and I shared with all of them. They were my lifeline. And one friend in particular, was a huge support and we ended up having our daughters within 10 days of one another!
- It’s Hard To Get Pregnant – So much so, that I don’t know know how anyone gets pregnant the good old-fashioned way. Don’t get discouraged. There are different options your doctor can try. It may take multiple rounds (and more than a little financial investment) but hang in there. I know that my husband and I felt God’s call on our lives to be parents. And, through prayer, perseverance and God’s merciful grace, we realized that call.
- Infertility Paperwork Is Exhausting – Sometimes it feels like you’re signing more paperwork than you did when you bought your house. Make sure you read and understand everything. Yes, you will have to think about things like what to do with any embryos created if you or your spouse pass away or divorce. It’s cringe-worthy at best. And be honest with each other about your thoughts. Also, ask your doctor for a copy of the paperwork before you have to sign it. That way you can review it with your husband without the nurse or doctor standing over you.
- Ask Questions and Know Your Options – Even with a fabulous doctor, you’re going to have to make a lot of decisions. Prepare yourself and find out as much information as you can. Talk to your doctor – a lot! No question is stupid. Seriously. Arm yourself with the facts. While your doctor can guide you, you will ultimately have the power to say “yes” or “no.”
- Don’t Second Guess Yourself – Once you’ve made a decision, don’t doubt yourself after the fact. The decision you made at the time was the right one, with the information you had. Don’t dwell on it or you will drive yourself crazy. The first time we tried IVF, my doctor recommended the highest amount of stimulation drugs possible. I was 41 and my hormone levels were not getting any better. So we did it. Turns out, it was too much for my eggs to take and when they harvested the eggs, they had both died. But in partnership with our doctor, we made the call right then and we didn’t second guess it.
- Communicate With Your Husband – Infertility can be difficult on your marriage, but it doesn’t have to be. Stay open and honest with each other. And really listen to one another. If you need a break, take a break. If you want to try something different, talk about it. The process, while difficult, actually strengthened my marriage because we were in the journey together and we were each other’s biggest supporters. There were so many times when I gave up hope, but when I would talk to my husband, he would reassure me that it would happen. And that we just can’t give up. He was right!
- The Work Is Worth It – Holding that baby in your arms wipes away the years of struggle and heartache and tears and makes everything worth while. I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey, looking back. I remember telling my husband in the week after our daughter was born that I knew now why all of those other times didn’t work. Because I felt in my heart that the beautiful little girl in my arms was the exact child God planned for us all along.
- Babies Are Miraculous – Going through the process of making a child, you learn more than your fair share about the perfect miracle that babies are. How they are stitched together perfectly, everything in divine order. You realize, that even with all of the science that we possess, at the end of the day, God is the only true creator of life. He takes the seemingly random cells in a blastocyst (embryo) and builds a perfect life. It has been an awe-inspiring and faith-growing process.
If you’re struggling with infertility and going down this road right now, I pray that God blesses you on your journey.