I never thought that I would have to do IVF when I’d embark upon trying to start a family. I thought my husband-to-be and I would have a romantic evening or two, or even three, and then I’d be pregnant. I thought I’d be one of those magical unicorns who gets pregnant within six months of trying.
I thought IVF was something reserved for older women. I thought IVF was something that happened when there was a tragic diagnosis. Something that people did in the most desperate, awful, nightmare circumstances.
I thought wrong.
IVF was our road to parenthood, and “unexplained infertility” was our diagnosis, meaning there was nothing they could pinpoint as to why it was taking so long to conceive our little bundle of joy.
And so, we started seeing a fertility specialist and eventually got to the point where doctors suggested that IVF was the best course of action.
Any path down the road to parenthood is full of unexpected hurdles, and this is especially so when you’re using an A.R.T (assisted reproductive technology). And while ultimately, I wouldn’t change a thing, there are plenty of lessons I know now that I wish people had once shouted from the rooftops.
Here are six of them:
1. It is costly.
Many health insurance plans do not cover IVF, and so it’s imperative to make finances a part of your decision-making process. Yes, it takes the romance out of it, but it also helps minimize additional stress when you can lay your finances out before you and be sure that you know what your bank accounts can handle or how much you have to save.
2. It is not for the faint of heart.
I don’t say this to be negative, nor do I say this to deter you from this path. But it’s hard—and that’s an understatement. It will test your faith, resolve, and ability to keep going in the face of heartache in ways you never knew possible. It will make you realize how strong you actually are and embrace the need to rest when you need it.
3. Throughout it all, you will need an outlet that has absolutely nothing to do with making babies.
Perhaps that means you’ll read more fiction, or find a newfound love of cooking, or learn how to bake. Maybe you’ll finally make travel a priority, or play the piano, or bike ride more than you ever have in your entire life. Whatever it is, your newfound hobby will be a lifeline to keep you from letting the strength of the waves pull you underneath the water.
4. It’s okay to change your doctor.
Sometimes you’ll find a doctor’s office that is everything you’ve ever needed on the first appointment. And then there will be times when the office is too far, or the appointments are too infrequent, or nobody is listening to your concerns, and you feel as if you are yelling into a void. Then there will be other times when you like the practice good enough, but you don’t feel at ease. Whatever your reason, realize that it’s okay to find a practice, physician, and protocol that works for you and your spouse or partner.
5. You don’t have to be in your thirties to see a reproductive endocrinologist.
You don’t even have to be trying to do IVF to see a specialist. You can make an appointment with an office in reproductive endocrinology way before you even start trying to have children. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making sure you understand what’s going on with your own body.
6. IVF is not something that only older women do.
It’s not for women of a specific race or ethnicity, either. Infertility doesn’t care what you look like, or where you come from, or what your story is—and so, if you feel as if you might be having a problem, speak up.
IVF is not for the faint of heart, but that doesn’t mean it’s all shadows, either—and it’s imperative not only to catch the light beams as you walk forward but keep both eyes open, too.