You’ve chosen your fertility clinic, got a grasp on the type of cycle you’re doing and you’ve got an action plan for administering those needles.
There is just a few more things you need to know…
1. It all takes so much longer than what you anticipate.
I don’t mean to start all negative here, but it really does and you are either going to develop your patience skills to equal that of Mr Miyagi in the Karate Kid, or go a little cray-cray. I’m sure it will be the first of those two options, but if it’s the second, take a breath and remember you’ve got this. And if you haven’t got this, seek counseling or see a doctor that knows you well. You definitely won’t be the first.
But back to the waiting. Whether its waiting to get into a specialist for an initial appointment, waiting for day 1, waiting to get the money together to buy your medications, waiting to get bloods done in the morning, waiting for the afternoon results to come in, waiting for your what-went-wrong appointment (otherwise knows as the WTF appointment) after an unsuccessful cycle or even waiting during the dreaded two week wait for that pregnancy result there is waiting behind every twist and turn.
And while I hope you are one of the lucky ones that get pregnant and get that take home baby on the first go, unfortunately, statistics indicate that most women will need to have more than one cycle.
Hoping for the best but preparing for the worst has never been more appropriate than when starting out the IVF journey.
2. You need to be kind to yourself.
And protect yourself. There may be days when you just can’t go to another baby shower. When the thought of going to your best friends babies first birthday is just that step too far. That’s ok. A good friend will understand and one that doesn’t perhaps wasn’t really a good friend to begin with.
Sometimes you know when you need to have a break and hold onto those emotional reserves for when you really need it.
3. Most of it – out of your control.
There are very few things that you can control in this whole crazy process. People who do everything absolutely ‘right’ may fail a cycle and those that do everything ‘wrong’ have success first go. Kind of put that in the ‘ignore bucket’ like hearing about unwanted teenage pregnancies… it really doesn’t help to try and find the fairness in the situation and it doesn’t make sense.
Similarly, ‘bad’ blood tests one day may quickly turn into ‘good’ news the next day at the ultrasound. It really is a rollercoaster and you can be thinking you are ‘kicking fertility goals’ one goals one day and ready to throw in the towel the next.
The quicker you learn that so much of it is out of your control, the easier it is.
4. Get fertility fit.
Not forgetting that you really can’t control a lot of what happens during an IVF cycle, there are just a few things you can control. This includes what you eat, drink and to an extent other toxins that your body comes into contact with.
I know now, before your first cycle your thinking all you really need is a few drugs to get you ovulating or a bit of ICSI to get the sperm to meet the egg and bam! The magic is all going to happen. And hopefully it will! But if it doesn’t, chances are in a cycle or two you are going to look for alternative ways to try and improve the success of your cycle and you’ll quickly read that there are some real changes YOU can make to try and improve the egg quality, lining and implantation rates BUT ideally you’ll be starting these changes three months before your cycle for them to have full impact.
I know many women have read the well-known book about increasing egg quality . This is a great book chock full of research and ideas. But for some women, this can also be a bit intense. An alternative read is ‘Eat Think Grow’ it also has research but in a lighter format as well as practical strategies (including 4 week eating plan and mindfulness strategies) on how to implement it and get going .
5. Be your best advocate.
I’ve said it before, but no one really cares as much as you if you get this take home baby or not. Except maybe your partner that is. Doctor’s are people too and you are paying them a lot of money to help you bring this little baby into existence. If you have a question about a medication, or aren’t sure why you are doing the same protocol for the 5th cycle in a row, ask! This is happening to your body, so make sure you understand (more or less!) why you are injecting those drugs!
Similarly, if you have done several cycles and don’t feel you are getting anywhere, or that your concerns aren’t being heard or if it is just your gut instinct, it can’t hurt to get a second opinion. Well, it might hurt the back pocket, but nowhere as near as much as extra IVF cycles does. Sometimes just putting a fresh set of eyes on your situation can come up with a new (and more successful!) plan.
6. Quality over quantity.
Like every day of the week. Try not to get down when your fertility friend has 18 eggs harvested come collection day and you are feeling like a dried up hen with your two. Although, your friends eggs might be all the highest quality, chances are they may not be. Personally, I’d take a low number of eggs with a higher quality than a large number of maybe immature and lower quality eggs any day of the week.
7. Think about what you will do with any left over embryos – if you should be so lucky.
Ok, so not really a ‘must know’ but definitely something to think about…You don’t need to set the decision in stone and situations and feelings on the issue can change in a heartbeat (literally!). But being mindful of what you might want to happen with ‘left over’ embryos now might make it a little easier in the future if you are one of the lucky ones who manage to complete their family with embryos to spare.
Good luck as you go about your first IVF cycle. Hopefully doing everything you can now to prepare your body for it and setting your mindset to roll with the punches (and the victories!) will make the rollercoaster just that little bit smoother