Over the past few years, stigmas regarding infertility have been quickly disappearing and patients are speaking out more everyday in support of each other. In preparation of National Infertility Awareness Week we reached out to successful patients for their “Words of Wisdom” to share with our current patients. As the advice started rolling in we were thrilled with the number of ideas and words of support we would have to share with you. We hope that you find hope and support in these ‘Six Tips to Help You Survive Fertility Treatment’ provided by a former Shady Grove Fertility patient who now has two of children.
1. Expect people to say insensitive things.
At some point, someone will tell you you’ll get pregnant when you stop worrying about it so much, or that you should just adopt, or that maybe you should stop trying so hard. Don’t let these kinds of comments get the best of you! The general public is subject to tons of misinformation about infertility, and usually they have no idea what they are talking about. Try to remember that they mean well—in spite of how hurtful their comments might feel to you. As hard as it is, try to be generous with your forgiveness. Plus, if you are prepared to expect these kinds of comments, you might even be able to have a sense of humor about them. We are all only human, and after all, how many times in your life have you said something well-intentioned, trying to be supportive, only to end up putting your foot in your mouth? Eventually, at some point, you might feel ready to talk more openly with these people and educate them about your journey—and about infertility in general. Until then, try to let these comments roll off your back and move on.
2. Have faith in the process but expect setbacks.
Sometimes treatments work on the first try, but usually there are setbacks. Try not to pin all your hopes onto one attempt. Instead, have faith that you are engaged in a process that gives you the best chance of having a baby. In other words, you are doing all you can. When you have a setback, it can feel devastating, but try not to look at it as a failure. There may be many steps in your journey to parenthood, but try to have faith in the journey you have chosen.
3. Resist the temptation to over-analyze every detail of your treatment cycle.
Fertility treatment can make you more than a little crazy! Before you know it, you start reading into every little detail like magical tea leaves. (e.g., I only got x# eggs—that must be a sign that they are poor quality! Oh no, I’m getting a yeast infection—surely that will decrease my chances of implantation at my transfer tomorrow! And so on…) To allay your fears—however irrational they might be—ask your doctor and nurse as many questions as you need to. They are very smart! Listen to what they tell you about your cycle, and believe them when they tell you what you do and don’t need to worry about. Then you can focus your energy on relaxing and thinking positive thoughts.
4. Keep living your life.
So much of infertility treatment is out of our control and unpredictable. There will be long periods of tedious waiting, followed by periods when you are consumed with monitoring visits, medication schedules, and worry. Don’t let all the uncertainty paralyze you from making plans and living your life. For example, if you want to plan a trip to the Bahamas next winter, do it! When the time comes, if that vacation ends up conflicting with your cycle dates, or—even better—if you are pregnant and cannot travel, you can cancel the vacation. Infertility treatments might take years, and in the meantime you need to continue being a whole person with interests and hobbies and a life. You’ll be much happier if you work your treatments around your life, not the other way around.
5. Talk about your journey to the right people.
Think of someone who will be open to hearing about the highs and lows your journey and validate your feelings. Someone who will say things like, “Wow, that sounds so difficult, you must be so frustrated,” or “That’s so exciting!” or “I can tell you are really struggling with this.” What you usually won’t need is advice—unless you are specifically asking for it—so avoid talking about it with people who love to solve your problems for you. Also, before you start telling people about your journey, think about how you will feel later on when those people ask you questions to “check in” with you about how your treatments are going. A true friend will appreciate hearing something like this up front: “I really appreciate your support, but please understand that I am not always going to be in the mood to talk about this. If I need to talk, I will bring it up. You don’t need to ask me about it.” Shady Grove support groups can be an excellent place to talk out your feelings and get a reality check, e.g., “I totally felt the same way, and no, you are not crazy for feeling that way!” I found that when I got the validation I needed in the context of a support group, I felt less of a need for validation from my friends/family, which in turn removed some of the strain from those relationships and allowed me to just be my normal self with those people.
6. Learn to strike a balance between positive thinking and letting go.
This is so basic but so elusive. No amount of positive thinking will ensure that a cycle is successful, but for the sake of your mental health, you owe it to yourself to try to stay positive. It helps if you can find a way to be realistic and optimistic simultaneously. On the one hand, you can accept that you cannot control the outcome of your treatment, and know that you will be OK no matter what happens (try repeating this to yourself several times a day). On the other hand, feel positive about the fact that you are doing everything you can to achieve your goal. Remember that it is a blessing just to have the chance to try another cycle—lots of couples never have that chance.
For more words of wisdom, visit Shady Grove Fertility’s blog at https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/blog/ for a graphic representation of the advice from our “SG Graduates.” For more support during Infertility Awareness Week and beyond, visit our Psychological Support Staff’s calendar of events and groups at https://www.shadygrovefertility.com/calendar
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians, please speak with one of our friendly New Patient Liaisons by calling 888-761-1967.