I have been lucky enough to find a extremely wonderful network of TTC women through Facebook, Instagram and just within my community.
It's amazing the bond that is formed when you realize someone else knows how you are feeling.
While each story is vastly different, we TTC/IVF ladies support and celebrate each other and always welcome in any who are struggling.
It's been wonderful seeing so many women find success in their own TTC/IVF journey.
It is heartbreaking (for all of us) when another experiences defeat of a cycle.
And I am constantly surprised at the various types of women I am friending or following.
They are of all ages, ethnicity, geographic locations, backgrounds.
Some know their diagnosis, some are unexplained (like me).
This post is inspired by those women.
It is also a post for these women.
I am a bit more seasoned than most of these ladies - in age and infertility.
I feel I have gained a lot of knowledge during my trials and I feel compelled to share the lessons I have learned.
I am sure I have a lot more to learn.
- You cannot rush the process. This was a hard one for me to grasp at first. When it comes to IVF especially, you are prisoner to your cycle. Your period decides the start of the process. So when looking ahead to IVF, look at the calendar. Plan accordingly. If you have to wait another month - so be it. I once freaked out at a nurse because I "had" to have a baby in 2012. Well, I still had to wait the allotted time, and well, we lost the baby anyways. So I here I am trying for 2013.
- Your partner has to be a part of the process. There were many appointments (especially in the beginning) that I was "full steam ahead". There was not much thought into how or what my husband was thinking or feeling. It caused a lot of unnecessary arguments. Just because he wasn't "physically" going through it, doesn't mean what they want shouldn't matter. Sit down and discuss the process with your partner. Set the calendar, make appointments together as much as you can. Include them on decision making. Your marriage will thank you.
- Just because they aren't doing the work, doesn't mean it isn't just as hard on them. This one and #2 go hand in hand. With every miscarriage, failed IUI and our last IVF, my husband was just as effected emotionally as I was. The difference? He had to hold it together so I could fall apart. He had to be positive so I wouldn't be negative. But I know every loss hurt him just as much as it hurt me. I know that seeing my pain was harder on him because he couldn't take it away. So cut them some slack. They are juggling just as much.
- If you can take a vacation - do it. Even if it means postponing a cycle. Every women prepping for IVF wants to start ASAP. We have a "ticking clock" inside of us that makes waiting another month seem unbearable. If you are canceling vacations to start IVF - think again. Take the vacation. You may not have time or energy (or funds) for another one. IVF could not work and then you will have wished you would have taken the vacation. If it's going to work - it will work a month later. So go enjoy yourselves while you can.
- Tell your friends and family. A lot of people I have met keep the process a secret. I understand that it is hard to explain or justify the costs to people who aren't in the know. But you need as much love and support as you can get - whether it works or not. People just want to know how to care for you. Give them the opportunity to serve you. Everyone wins in the end.
- It is what it is. This is a hard concept to accept, much less understand. But it's true. Unless you are snorting coke or skydiving - IVF will work, if it's meant to be. As good as the technology is - there is still "a bit of magic or faith" that has to take place. If it's in the Lord's plan for you - it will happen. So don't freak out if you aren't on bed rest as long as you think you should be. As long as you do what the doctor has asked - that's all you can do. Pineapple, raspberry leaf tea, standing on your head - they won't really make THE difference. So stop stressing. Relax. Laugh. And remember that IVF has about a 30% success rate (at the most). You might not get it on the first try.
- Take a break and step away. Again, a hard thing to do when you body is telling you you want a baby and you feel so far behind. But sometimes you need a break. After our last miscarriage (IVF, lost at 14 weeks) we took 6 months off. We could have jumped right back in, but we both needed a break. It also worked to our advantage with our insurance, so it was a WIN-WIN. Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually - it was also the best thing we did for ourselves, our marriage and our pocketbooks.
- You are never out of the woods. Sadly, this is mostly how I feel. Most women sigh with relief after the first trimester. For me, I have no guarantee. With 2 losses early in the second trimester, I wonder if I will ever truly relax. IVF is not a perfect science. There are many things that still can happen. Placenta Previa, shortened cervix, placental abruption, premature birth (mostly with twins), gestational diabetes...we may have overcome a huge hurdle in getting pregnant, there are still so many other hurdles in just being pregnant.
- Take every cycle as it is - they are never the same. Just because you have gotten pregnant before, does not mean it will happen again on another transfer. Just because you miscarried, doesn't mean you will. Just because you have to do IVF to get pregnant, doesn't mean that is the only way you will get pregnant. Stranger things have happened. Many friends who had to do IVF, then experience natural pregnancies. Many who easily got pregnant with IVF, have failed transfers later. Many who miscarried, have had normal pregnancies (trying to really have faith in this one). The Lord has a plan for each and every one of us..we just have to go with the flow and believe that He knows what is best for us.
- NEVER GIVE UP. The most important lesson. If this is what you truly want, then you will make it happen. Just be patient, learn all you can, be your own advocate and trust in yourself. It may not work out the way you want it to - sometimes that happens. But I believe as you go through the process, doors shut and windows open. You just have to keep moving forward. I am not sure how I feel about surrogacy or adoption, but I know that as I progress through IVF, I might feel differently at the end. I am not ruling anything out. I am not giving up.