A Best Friends Guide to IVF

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Fertile friends of infertile gals/couples

I am not a leper but you wouldn’t know this based on people’s reactions. I get it, I am not the typical “idea” of an IVF patient (but who really is?). I don’t have friends going through IVF because I am one of the first in my group to try and have a baby. Despite the world around me that doesn’t know what to “do” with me, I have learned an awful lot about friendships throughout this process.

I have gained a crystal clear picture of who my friends are and why they are great friends. I had a deep fear that my sad, grumpy self would drive them away. That my inability to make plans would make them move on. However, my friends helped me realize that if they can’t handle my highs and lows, then they aren’t true friends.

I do understand that being in a friendship with someone going through IVF is hard if you don’t relate. Our brains are occupied about 90% of the time with IVF which can be annoying Im sure.

Here is what I know: We all go through shit. Friends don’t make your shit about them. They listen, they care, and they are honest. Laugh together and embrace the challenges together.

WAYS TO SHOW YOU CARE:

Be there for her

She is going to need someone to call and cry with, pick up the phone and take a dog walk.

I will never forget when I learned some horrible news and I called one of my best friends on the phone. She drove over immediately. We walked and I vented. I did not realize that throughout this walk I was cursing like a sailor. Children were within ear shot and I had no idea. After I was calm my dear friend said, “Ill never forget when we walked through the streets, you were cursing at the top of your lungs and children were fearful.” Fond memories ūüôā

Check in on her

Ask your friend how she is and do not shy away from asking her how she feels emotionally (not just physically). Ask her how she wants to be approached about transfers, etc. She may not want someone asking constantly (even if it is coming from a good place) if she knows the results or how she is feeling.

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Laugh with her

Her brain is constantly thinking about IVF so a little laugh is a great distraction.

This past weekend one of my best friends took on the duty of giving me my shots while we were away at a conference. While in the Verizon Center ¬†Saturday night, I needed my meds. Have no fear Steph was willing to give them to me anywhere, anytime. There I stood, skirt pulled down- shirt pulled up, in the middle of the bathroom when Steph administered a shot. Upon pulling the syringe out she hollered, “Don’t worry, its just HEROINE!” Folks sneered, we laughed. It was great.

Be flexible

She wants to go on a weekend trip with you or out to dinner, be flexible. Its tough being friends with smart ambitious people because they tend to be planners. While you still have the ability to plan, she doesn’t. Try to keep a few dates open and be okay with moving things around.

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Weekend getaway last May. My friends were super considerate of potential surgery dates.

 

POSTS TO COME:

How to tell her you are pregnant

 

-Annie

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5 Ways to Support Your Partner During IVF

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF
  • Supportive partners

Going through infertility is a lonely experience no matter how great of a community you have. Across the board, the women I meet who are experiencing infertility all note the alienation they feel. In part I think the loneliness comes from the constant reminder of your circumstance because of the physical symptoms you endure. Going to the doctor on an almost daily basis also makes it nearly impossible to forget. You are semi present in conversations because there is always this constant nagging, a whisper that says, “Hey remember, there isn’t something right in your body.”

Its hard to say “I feel lonely” when you have an amazing supportive partner. Unfortunately you are the one experiencing the day-to-day and thus it makes it difficult to connect with your partner about the constant nagging that pervades your thoughts.¬†Because my husband can’t feel¬†what I am feeling¬†we have had a lot of in-depth discussions about how he can be actively involved in the process. ¬†He can’t get ultrasounds for me (wouldn’t that be nice!), he can’t have surgery for me, he can’t take shots for me, BUT he can walk alongside me and help out in little ways. Below are some ways for partners to help support you and take one more thing off of your docket.

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  1. MEDS!
  • Your partner¬†can easily become your pharmacist. Have him or her keep tabs of what you have so you have one less thing to worry about. We use a tracker that comes in handy! We worked together to create it. While it wasn’t the most romantic evening activity it felt good to do it together.
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2. Handle the CIZZASH!
  • If you are coordinating insurance or payment plans, tell your sweetie pie/boo/pumpkin/cutey-patooty to take the reigns and make the calls. Who wants to deal with waiting on the phone?
3. Administer your shots!
  • Who wants to stab themselves?! Let him prep the meds and kindly give you the shots. Sharing this experience helps carve time to laugh and be silly.

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4. Weigh her after a retrieval.

You must be thinking, what the heck? If you over stimulate you have to weigh yourself everyday following a retrieval to ensure that fluid is not leaking into your body. One indicator is rapid weight gain. The fact of the matter is, after a retrieval (no matter who you are) you are going to be bloated and up a few pounds. BUT if you are over stimming you will experience this x10. Its not fun to get on a scale and see an extra 2-3 pounds (each day) for the days following surgery. Avoid the frustration and have him weigh you and record the info. If the doctor needs to be notified because of the number, ask for the info otherwise, who needs to know!

5. Be a good snuggle partner.

Meds slow me down. During the days leading up to a procedure all I want to do is curl into a ball on a couch like a big furry cat. More specifically, the thought of resting my head on my husband brings me great comfort. After surgery, continue the snuggling while binge watching tv shows. Make her protein smoothies (recommended by the doctor to keep you from bloating further) and be cute sloths together.

Although your¬†partner will never fully understand all you are going through because they aren’t being pumped with hormones (which takes a toll on you physically and emotionally) they can provide you support and strength when you need it most. They can listen, encourage, and cry alongside you.¬†

To my beautiful and kind husband, thank you for always being there.

-Annie

 

The Pineapple Won’t Get You Pregnant.

WHO THIS IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF (specifically transfers)
  • Partners who want to help their partner remember, they don’t have control in the sweetest kindest way.

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When you begin infertility treatments any sort of “planning” flies out the window. You become beholden to what your body feels like doing from day-to-day. Perhaps one day it doesn’t react to meds and the next, BOOM! Its all a crap shoot and because its all so uncertain you end up in the doctor’s office almost every day (prior to a retrieval). Traveling is out of the window because you have to worry about missing an appointment, something going wrong, giving yourself shots, feeling like shit, etc.

For go-getters like me, this was a very difficult pill to swallow. I LOVE planning. It gives me a road map to my goals, it provides me peace amongst the chaos. Because I had to kick this to the curb my first “round” (2 retrievals and 4 transfers) I focused on what I did think I could control, my body… specifically the food I ate. I read blog after blog about what to eat after a transfer. I learned Brazilian nuts and pineapples were the bees knees and the key to your infertility hopes and dreams. I ate the core of the pineapple and had 3 nuts a day each day during the 2WW.

The truth: it’s all bullshit.

I, like so many of you, wanted to hold onto something, anything…. but the truth of the matter is that piece of pineapple isn’t going to do the trick. The pineapple could help (who really knows) but its not going to be the ultimate decider. I realized then and now this wasnt going to be the case but when you are grasping for anything, you hope every little move you make adds up so that you see the outcomes you want. Ultimately there are so many different factors that go into a successful transfer and there isn’t much you can do (don’t get me started on the people who tell you to just “relax.”)

I bestow onto you the mantras you can use anytime to remind yourself that while you don’t have control you are doing the RIGHT thing.

MANTRAS TO HELP YA COPE WITH CONTROL
  • People who eat blue Doritos have kids.
  • People who do crack get pregnant (makes ya think twice about doubting your lack of kale consumption for the day).
  • People smoke cigarettes while pregnant (right? In this day and age?)
  • People who are malnourished give birth (keeps shit in perspective).
  • If it will ease your mind, DO IT**

*I am not saying don’t eat the pineapple. I am saying, don’t think even for a second that your choices are what caused a failed transfer. My lovely therapist reminded me, “if eating _____ will ease your mind do it, but don’t put all of your eggs in that basket” (paraphrase).

At the end of the day remember, you are one proactive bad ass who is doing EVERYTHING right. You can eat or leave the pineapple, either way you are doing the best you can and that’s all that really matters.

-Annie

TOP 10 things NOT to say to someone going through IVF

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:
  • Friends and family of Infertile couples
  • Infertile couples who totally get this post
  • TOP 10 Things not to Say to Infertile Women (or Men):

10. “Me not getting _______________ (insert dog, clothes, anything really)¬†is like me not being able to have a baby!”

9. “You have to just let your body do its thing.”

8. “When your baby is crying in the middle of the night you will think, why did I want this?”

7. “Are you eating well? Maybe it’s that!”

6. “Get used to feeling this terrible, thats what having kids is like.”

5. “You gained weight? Well get used to that!” — NOTE: VERY DIFFERENT¬†BECAUSE YOU HAVE A CHILD, PRETTY WORTH THE EXTRA LBS.

4. “It’s just not the right time. It will happen when its the right time.”

3. “I really think people’s thoughts control their bodies.”

2. “I dont know what’s wrong, I mean someone could sneeze on me and I would get pregnant.”

1. “Just be positive.”

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A fantastic article (Not Everything Happens for a Reason: The Magic Words to Say When Everything is Going Wrong) about empathy  hits on many of the reasons why these are the WRONG things to say. You  can read it HERE. Be a good friend and read the the article.

While the “be positive” advice is coming from a good place, it is still hurtful. The underlying issues with these are: they are privileged, they suggest it’s your fault, they are just¬†plain¬†insensitive. DON’T DO IT.

As the article says, “Instead, the most powerful thing you can do¬†is¬†acknowledge. To¬†literally say the words:¬†I¬†acknowledge your pain. I‚Äôm here with you.¬†Note that¬†I said with you, not for you. For implies that you‚Äôre going to¬†do¬†something. That‚Äôs not for you to¬†enact. But to¬†stand with your loved one, to¬†suffer with them, to¬†do¬†everything¬†but something is¬†incredibly powerful.”

-Annie

Dear Ovaries,

It’s me, Annie.

This blog is a long time coming. Here’s what ya need to know:

I am infertile… or so we think…

So why a blog you may ask? Throughout my infertility process I have been shocked by the number of women who experience infertility but do not talk about it publicly or to their own social circles. It’s a lonely and scary experience, lacking a community makes it harder. 6.7 MILLION (11% of women) experience infertility and yet its a point of shame. Its time to speak up sisters! It is not shocking¬†that once again, something revolved around women’s bodies and health is a point of discomfort. Women are taught that their worth is within their ability to mother while simultaneously taught to be ashamed of their bodies. And let’s be honest, the dead stare people give you when you tell them what you are doing doesn’t motivate you to want to share.¬†Being a woman is a tough space to navigate when you are feeling 100%, its even harder¬†when you are on insane amounts of hormones. And so I have created this space to laugh, cry, and figure out how to navigate the messy world of infertility alongside you.

To be clear, this blog is to not to chart my day-to-day (I can sum that up with cry-doctor appointment- laugh-cry-surgey-doctor appoint-repeat). It is a space to support one another. While this blog is not about personal woes, ¬†I do think it’s pertinent to share what led¬†me to this point. And thus I bring you the tale of two sad ovaries.

TIMELINE:

  • December 2013- Cue voice in my head that said… its time, lets make babies! Tell husband, he says “DUH!” Decision made, case closed. (I was 27 at the time)
  • May 2014- Off BC
  • June 2014- No period
  • July 2014- No period
  • August 2014- No period… okay this is getting weird right? Turned 28
  • September 2014- No period… okay time to do something ¬†(I always got my period before BC)
  • Late September 2014- Family¬†friend works for a fertility doctor and suggests they check me out. I learn my uterus and ovaries have gone on vacation. No diagnosis, suspect PCOS, nothing confirmed.
  • October 2014- Prepped for IUI, body doesn’t respond to meds. On the last day of the cycle I begin to ovulate and they ¬†go through with IUI.
  • November 2014- Negative test- not pregnant
  • December 2014- Prepped for IUI using stimulant shots since I didnt respond to the chlomide equivalent. BOOM! I really react to these meds, round is cancelled, not safe for me to have an IUI.- Devastated.
  • December 2014- Fast tracked to IVF, high risk for over-stimulation (too many follicles, ovaries can rupture). Big decisions to make.

MINDSET OCTOBER- DECEMBER: This can’t really be happening? This will be over soon!

  • January 2015- Start IVF meds (shots, etc.)
  • Early February 2015- Egg Retrieval #1- FAIL. Had over 20 follicles and the Dr. didn’t get one egg out. TRAUMATIZING.
  • Mid February 2015- Switch doctors, feel a sense hope.- Diagnosed with “Unexplained Infertility” <—BOO!
  • Late February 2015- HSN reveals scar tissue, have a hysteroscopy to remove.
  • March 2015- Egg Retrieval #2- UTTER SUCCESS!! 48 Follicles, 24 eggs retrieved, 6 beautiful Day 6 Embryos.– Starting to feel hope again.
  • April 2015- Transfer #1- FAIL- 1 embryo
  • May 2015- Transfer # 2- FAIL- 1 embryo
  • June 2015- Transfer #3- FAIL – 1 embryo
  • July 2015- Transfer #4- FAIL- 2 embryos- By this point I am a drugged out zombie who is a shell of a human. I have gained 25 lbs in about 5 months (despite eating 1250 calories of nutrient dense food (this was my normal before IVF) a day and working out 5 days a week), feel beyond terrible, and am devastated. I had defied the stats.

MINDSET JANUARY-JULY: WHY ME? WHY ME?! NO END IN SITE.

  • July 2015- Official start to our break, devised a new plan
  • August 2015- December¬†2015– Break with a plan to start in November. October rolled around and I wasn’t ready to start up again. I was feeling like myself and was not mentally ready for the meds. ¬†While this break was terrifying to me initially, it was the best thing we could have done. I gained so much clarity and was able to create a timeline. ALSO NO PERIOD. Turned 29.
  • December 2015- Start prepping for retrieval

MINDSET DECEMBER: It is what it is! End is in sight. We will have a baby either through this next cycle or adoption.

  • January 2016- Retrieval #3– COMING SOON

Next steps are¬†contingent upon our embryos. ¬†Because I do not have a ¬†diagnosis, I am young, and I am told over and over “everything looks perfect” we need to genetically test our embryos.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT:

  • Guides to doctors visits
  • Explanations of procedures
  • Stories of IVF- the good, the bad, the ugly
  • Listographies (think Buzzfeed)
  • Fashion Posts
  • Health and Wellness Posts
  • Media reviews
  • Resources

and MORE!

-Annie

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