TOP 10 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO SOMEONE GOING THROUGH IVF (PART 2)

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • My IVF comrade
  • The general public who means well but says all the wrong things

We IVF sisters unfortunately encounter common comments over and over. After a while your ability to see the good in people starts to dwindle because you hear the same asinine comments on repeat. I can say with certainty that if you know someone going through IVF you need to follow a couple steps:

  1. Listen.
  2. Think “Will this response make ______ know I listened?” If the answer is no. DO NOT SAY IT.
  3. Only speak if you have something that is empathetic.

AVOID (in no particular order):

10.“I am friends with another couple who is going through IVF for XXX years and they were so happy for us when we got pregnant. You should be too.”

9. “If you try to adopt, I bet you’ll get pregnant.”

8.“When you start puking when your pregnant, you think why did I do this?”

7. “When your kids are running around your house, you think why did I do this?”

6. “Sleep as much as you can now because you wont be able to when you don’t have a kid.”

5. “I wish I could travel now, but thats over since we have kids.”

4. “It will happen when its supposed to happen.”

3. The obligatory “Just relax. It will happen.”

2. The obligatory “Just stay positive.”

1. Talking about your period or your pregnancy in terms of hormones like we have NO IDEA what hormones do or feel like.

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I LOVE the friends and family guide from Resolve, I recommend emailing it to all of your friends and family as a guide to help them talk to you. It will help depersonalize it and let them know that there are some universal feelings that go into infertility.

-ANNIE

It’s not your fault.

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Women going through IVF
  • Supportive friends of folks going through infertility treatments

 

In February 2014 I was a proactive planner, I went to my gyno and let her know we wanted to make a baby. We decided that I would go off the pill in May. I recall the visit so clearly. She said, “I love that you are responsible and are planning. I wish more people did that.” HA!

In June 2014 I didn’t get my period. In July 2014, I didn’t get my period. I went back to my gyno because this was unusual. Before birth control I ALWAYS got my period. I hopped on my bike, road to the office and entered her room. I sat down and let her know what was going on. She pointed towards my helmet and said, “Is this a new thing?” “What riding a bike? No. I have done spin 3 or more times a week for the past two years,” I replied. She scratched her head and explained I might just be exercising too much. In my gut I knew this wasn’t right. My workout routine hadn’t drastically changed in the months leading up to the summer. I knew that me riding a bike a mile wasn’t what was keeping my period. But it was hard not to doubt myself.

Fast forward to September 2014, I still didn’t have my period. I was put in touch with a fertility doctor through a family friend. I hopped on a call with the doctor and she asked me a few preliminary questions. First up, how much do you weigh? At the time I weighed 117 and I am 5’6. There was a long pause, “That’s probably it, you don’t weigh enough. You should gain 5 pounds.” Mind you, she hadn’t seen me, she was purely going on numbers. Also, at the start of summer when I didn’t have my period, I did weigh 5 more pounds. I know my body very well and I know that when I don’t have estrogen in me (which feels AWESOME) I loose weight much quicker and am able to maintain my weight. My weight was a result of my situation, it was not the CAUSE. I got off the phone feeling like it was my fault.

Throughout this process again and again I have been made to feel that my infertility is my fault. Just a few snippets of the “wisdom” thrown my way:

  • “You just need to relax.”
  • “Well if you were just doing XYZ.”
  • “If you just thought about it less.”
  • “When you stop thinking about it, it will happen.”
  • “If you just ate meat, you would get your period.”

There is always an underlying tone of blame. While all of these statements are made with a hint of innocence, the result is shame.

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Women are made to feel that they SHOULD have control over their fertility. That if we just tweaked this, or did that, this would all go away. If we put women’s health in historical context we can say definitively that women’s bodies are still quite a mystery. This comes from years of not prioritizing women because women were not in positions of power within the medical field. Centuries of biases and misinformation feed into the reasons why women put pressure on themselves.

Turning the voice off in your head that says, “I am doing everything I can and this is not my fault,” becomes increasingly difficult as the meds start being pumped into your body.

I can’t speak for everyone but I know from my experience with friends going through IVF, we are all beating ourselves up… we don’t need another voice telling us what else we could  or should do. My therapist and husband are voices of reason and I am so grateful to them.

I would like to offer some “counter” mantras/bits of wisdom for all of those who struggle keeping the voices at bay. I hope you take them, savor them, hug them, and USE them:

  • From my therapist: ” I have never met ANYONE who wants something so bad and has worked tirelessly for it that wasn’t anxious. That is part of the territory. It has no effect on your ability to become pregnant.”
  • There are thousands upon thousands of vegetarians who have kids. Meat wasn’t what helped them get there. UPDATE: Approximately 31-40% of India is vegetarian. Last I heard they were doing pretty okay with population. In fact word on the street is, they have a lot of people.
  • Emaciated people all over the world have kids, its not your weight.
  • Does everyone who has kids not have any stress? No, its ridiculous to think everyone who got pregnant was cool as a cucumber.
  • From my therapist: “People can handle adversity, but suspended adversity is a whole other beast. It is normal and expected to be angry and anxious.”
  • I am healthy.

It is not our fault. We were dealt a really shitty hand. We did not do anything to cause this.

-Annie

 

Finding a Therapist

WHO THIS POST IS FOR:

  • Couples going through IVF
  • Women going through IVF

I love therapy. I believe everyone needs it because we all have our own shit. The world would be a better place if we were all a little more self reflective and proactive. But I digress!

I have been in therapy for years and along the way have changed therapists depending on what I needed. When I first started IVF I was with a hippy dippy mediative sort of therapist. While this methodology worked for some parts of my life (like family dynamics) it was not serving me well for IVF. After a suggestion from my doctor I switched therapists and it was the best decision I could have made.

I learned there are therapists who specifically focus on IVF. This means they are well versed in the lingo, know how to empathize with you and can help you navigate the process. You don’t spend your hour explaining procedural information, rather you can dive into the emotional wreck you have become.

I know switching can be daunting. It takes forever to build rapport with your therapist and when you have been with someone for a really long time they know the ins and outs of your family. To me IVF is a whole new beast and having someone who really gets it is essential and worth laying the groundwork.

WHY GET A THERAPIST:
  • They can help you sort through your feelings. Having a third party who isn’t on drugs but understands the effects of the drugs on your mental state can be super helpful.
  • IVF is tough on every and any couple. Ive never met a couple who was like “Yes IVF was the sexiest time in our marriage. It was pure joy!” Having someone to help you navigate those dynamics so you can show love to one another will set you up for long term success.
  • Sometimes you need to be put in your place. When I would get crazy about weight or why things weren’t working, my therapist was my voice of reason. She appealed to me with logic and an empathetic tone.
  • ADDED BONUS: If you can find a therapist who has had infertility issues it is even better because she will truly understand your pain. We have many a laughs during my sessions because of this unfortunate commonality.
TIPS FOR LOOKING FOR A THERAPIST:
  • Search for terms like IVF, medical speciality, medical trauma.
  • Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
  • Call your insurance company to see if they have someone in network that specializes in medical trauma or IVF.
  • Call several different therapists for a phone consult to learn about their philosophy. You are the patient and the one with the $$$, you can ask them how they work with their patients, what drives their work, etc.
  • If you dont like the therapist after the first appointment, switch! You need to be comfortable with being you in front of them.
CASH IS TIGHT! I CANT AFFORD THERAPY!
INSURANCE

In Illinois you get the best coverage for IVF with an HMO. HMOs suck for just about everything else including therapy. Through the IVF process I actually learned that 50% of my therapy costs could be reimbursed for out of network therapy. Shockingly this is not advertised. I recommend calling your insurance provider to find out all options before giving up on therapy.

HEALTH CLINIC

In Chicago there is an amazing organization here called the Chicago Women’s Health Center. When I was going through a crisis years ago and was strapped for cash they let me come in for therapy for only $15 a session! They have a sliding scale based on income. If you are fronting your IVF costs I would imagine most amazing non profits for women would consider your costs. Google women’s health clinics in your area and call to see what recommendations they may have.

-Annie

IVF Clinic - "All I want is a womb somewhere"
IVF Clinic – “All I want is a womb somewhere”