Q&A I ask a team of IVF warriors what would they have done differently? And their answers are incredible.

in vitro

Here is the full interview from a wonderful team of IVF warriors and it’s so interesting to see clear patterns of advice, like being open about the process, to go and find the right support and to be your own advocate – don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Candace, Blogger ‘Our Misconception
1) Quotes or words you have found inspirational on this journey (yours or others?):
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

2) One piece of advice would you give someone going through infertility?
Be your own advocate, challenge your doctors and ask questions. Lastly, when one door closes in your face, simply walk over to the next one and kick it open.

3) If you could start all over again – what’s the one thing you would have done differently?
I would have seen an RE sooner. OBGYNs are great at overall women’s health. But they do not specialize in reproductive endocrinology. Would you go to your primary health doctor for a tooth ache, no you get refered to or go to a dentist. We spent unnecessary time, money and wasted treatment on IUIs and medicated cycles when all the while we should have been be referred to a specialist.

4) Anything you would do more OR less of?
Here is my list: 1. I would have opened up about my infertility from the beginning. 2. Reached out and connected to online and local support groups like RESOLVE sooner. 3. Mostly, I wish we would have been more open to other family building options. If someone would have told me after my first IVF failure that I would be a mother through the gift of surrogacy, I would have told them they were bat-shit crazy. Come to find out, we were the bat-shit crazy ones for not putting it on the table sooner. Hind sight.

5) Any diet / supplements/ natural methods you found helped?
No. BUT it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t. I had an angry uterus. I did everything. Crazy diets, vitamins galore, no heels, meditation, pineapple, Pom juice and so many acupuncture needles coming out of all orifices that I looked like Hellraiser. The gist is, if someone told me that drinking ketchup upside, whist humming the tune of “I’m a little teapot” would get me pregnant, I would do it.

 

Claire, London, Recruitment Consultant, YTTC: 4.5yrs (5 iui, 1 fresh cycle IVF, 1 treatment for Ashermans Syndrome, 1 frozen cycle IVF, 1 fresh cycle IVF. Successful after fresh cycle no. 2 – blessed with twins and couldn’t be more forever grateful. Every day I count myself extremely lucky.

1) Quotes or words you have found inspirational on this journey (yours or others?)
“You are stronger than you think” “IVF warrior”

2) One piece of advice would you give someone going through infertility?
“Reach out to close friends and family and build a support network who can be there for you. Not only when you are down but to encourage you when you are starting a cycle”. Don’t hide away from those closest to you. Take a sabbatical from work if you can or a few weeks off during cycle especially before retrieval and after transfer. Take a holiday for a week whilst doing down reg, get some sunshine and healthy food.

3) If you could start all over again – what’s the one thing you would have done differently?
Taken time off work and not felt guilty when I couldn’t be there. Others can wait. This is YOUR time. This is the most important thing you’ll ever do. Ever.

4) Anything you would do more OR less of?
More questions and never feel bad asking, that’s why the professionals are there.. Never doubt what you feel. Doctors don’t know everything. Sometimes your body tells you stuff you should listen to.
Less worrying but that’s impossible but I should have still gone out more and not been such a recluse.

5) Any natural treatments eg diet/ meditation/ yoga etc you found helped?
Acupuncture helped hugely, pilates and healthy foods not excluding anything but everything in moderation. Nightly meditation CDs to help me sleep. No alcohol or caffeine EVER.

 

Jen Jones Donatelli, fertility blogger for REDBOOK and blogger at ‘Trails With Two. TTC: 2.5 years (two IUI and three IVF cycles). Current: happy and grateful mom to 6-month-old boy/girl twins.

1) Quotes or words you have found inspirational on this journey (yours or others?)
One mantra that really helped me was: “Let go and let God.” Infertility can make you feel so powerless—even when you’re doing everything “right,” you still ultimately have no control over the outcome. Learning how to surrender to that was very difficult, so repeating that mantra helped remind me to have faith and not drive myself too crazy trying to micro-manage every little thing.

2) One piece of advice would you give someone going through infertility?
Be your own advocate! The more armed with knowledge you are, the better. For instance, I didn’t find out I had diminished ovarian reserve until after 15 months of trying because no doctor offered me an AMH test until that point and I didn’t know to ask for it. Some fertility clinics offer cookie-cutter protocols or outdated approaches—there will be times where you’ll need to question your doctor, request certain tests, etc. and you’ll often be better off for it. Because I’m a journalist, I exhaustively researched everything, but if that’s not your style, you can also join private infertility-related Facebook groups to connect with other women going through the same thing. It’s a great place to ask questions, hear about others’ experiences, and get real-time feedback.

3) If you could start all over again – what’s the one thing you would have done differently?
First of all, I would have started trying to get pregnant as soon as I got married! My husband and I waited a year to try to conceive, so we lost valuable time. (I also would have gotten an AMH test right off the bat, had I known about it!) Another thing is that I wouldn’t waste time dealing with a gynecologist; I would have gone straight to a fertility doctor after six months of TTC and not succeeding. I would also have been more open-minded about the type of fertility doctor I wanted to see. For a long time, I was convinced I wanted a female doctor, but because of that, I went to two clinics that ultimately weren’t the right fit before I found success with a male-female doctor team.

4) Anything you would do more OR less of?
I would be more real with my family and friends about what I was going through. I often put on a happy face and didn’t share how depressed or physically/emotionally tapped out I was with people—it left me feeling very alone and isolated.

5) Any natural treatments eg diet/ meditation/ yoga etc you found helped?
Over the course of my infertility journey, I heavily relied on acupuncture and meditation. Because exercise was often out of the question for long stretches of time, I had to find new ways to relieve stress and try to stay in a positive headspace. Being on the acupuncture table not only helped get my body systems and hormones in balance, but also forced me to make time to reflect and rest. I loved doing the Circle and Bloom guided meditations and often did them during my acupuncture sessions; I also bought a package of classes at LA’s Unplug Meditation. Although I only went once, I also enjoyed Wendy Obstler’s fertility yoga class. It’s so important to practice self-care when going through infertility!

 

Pamela. Silicon Valley, Blogger and Author of ‘Silent Sorority‘ & ‘Finally Heard‘. Once TTC for a decade (clomid; multiple IUIs, 2 ICSI IVF, 1 FET …mid-way to 3rd ICSI IVF before ending medical intervention. Current: Living a full, happy life as a family of two.

1) Quotes or words you have found inspirational on this journey (yours or others?)
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

2) One piece of advice would you give someone going through infertility?
I have more than one piece of advice …but I’ll try to be concise. First, be gentle with yourself and be extra patient with those who don’t understand the complexities that infertility introduces into your world. This particular life experience goes beyond well beyond personal challenges to social ones. It’s one thing to work through the physical, emotional and financial tolls and heal in isolation, it is another to be among those who lack context at each successive stage of the infertility journey and, later on, the successive stages of life. That’s where resilience and adaptability become your allies. Second, do not view ending treatment and intervention as ‘giving up.’ Instead, see the decision to move in a new direction as an affirmative one. You are courageously creating a new life for yourself and those who love you. In finding strength through grieving and healing, you are investing in your well-being and embracing a different sort of life than the one you once envisioned. The reinvention will bring its own joyful surprises.

3) If you could start all over again – what’s the one thing you would have done differently?
Given the dearth of accessible health information and fellow warrior infertility community when I was in my TTC days, I was limited in what I could learn about the diagnosis, treatment and emotional/social impacts. Knowing what I know now, I would have asked more questions early and not been seduced by the media headlines trumpeting IVF success. I would have truly pressed the doctors on what they knew about the procedure failure rates, and — most importantly — the emotional attachment I would develop with the embryos we created. I would have tried to find a counselor well versed in ‘disenfranchised grief’ so that I might have started the grieving process sooner. In doing so later in my life it took longer to acknowledge and make peace with the losses we experienced in our alpha pregnancies. Finally I would been more vocal about the suffering and pain caused by infertility and failed treatments. I would not have labored under the stigma that accompanies childlessness in our ‘baby-bump’ obsessed culture. Nor would I let the judgment or opinions of others warp or marginalize my sense of value.

4) Anything you would do more OR less of?
I would have stepped away from the fertility treatment roller coaster much sooner. I would also have given myself permission to move on and embrace the life I have versus chasing a dream.

5) Any natural treatments eg diet/ meditation/ yoga etc you found helped?
Yoga has helped me to work through and release the emotional anguish that I buried long ago.
Fran Meadows, 42, Connecticut.  Blogger and Author of The Truth Behind The Secret “Infertility”. Journey: Clomid, 3 IUI, 3 IVF, 1 FET, Preg Loss (stillbirth 25 wks), IVF success Mom of 7yr old. 

1) Quotes or words you have found inspirational (yours or others?)
Hope, Inspiration, Strength….Build Your Tomorrow

2) One piece of advice would you give someone going through infertility?
Infertility is a difficult journey and there will be challenges, express your emotions and leave the line of communication open with your partner. Men and women deal with difficult situations differently. Support each other. Take the journey as your own, relate but don’t compare; one day at a time.

3) If you could start all over again – what’s the one thing you would have done differently?
Being silent about infertility was a difficult mask to hide behind. I would have changed my silence with openness.

4) Anything you would do more OR less of?
I wish that I would have worried less about what people would think if I was open about my journey when I was going through treatment.

5) Any diet / supplements/ natural methods you found helped?
I found the power of therapy helped me stay strong through the infertility journey and helped me heal through the loss of my child. Therapy is something that I highly recommend for anyone going through infertility. It helped me stay balanced.

 

Maya Grobel Moskin, (35), Los Angeles Blogger ‘Don’t count your eggs ’
TTC (4+ years timing cycles with Clomid (ugh), 2 IUIs, IVF, IVF with donor eggs, embryo donation. I have a baby girl through anonymous embryo donation.

1) Quotes or words you have found inspirational on this journey (yours or others?)
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
CRISIS AS OPPORTUNITY
DON’T F*CKING TELL ME TO RELAX 🙂
I WILL FIND MY FAMILY

2) One piece of advice would you give someone going through infertility?
That if you are open to the different ways a baby can come to you, then you WILL be a parent. The process won’t go on forever even though it often feels never-ending.

I would also encourage people to get second opinions. To advocated for themselves. To get as much information as possible. And to take a break when you need to. To find ways to connect to your body and to your partner. To be kind to yourself.

3) If you could start all over again – what’s the one thing you would have done differently?
I might have gone to see a specialist sooner. Even though I was 30 and in good health and my OBGYN assured me there was nothing wrong, I sometimes regret waiting so long before seeing a reproductive endocrinologist.

4) Anything you would do more OR less of?
More yoga, less feeling sorry for myself. More reminding myself that I would have a family, less worrying about how (though I don’t think that would have been possible).

5) Any diet / supplements/ natural methods you found helped?
Acupuncture was helpful. Yoga and meditation were helpful. I took all kinds of herbs sea supplements, like CQ10 and DHEA. I tried to follow an alkaline diet at one point and cut out anything delicious. But I’m not sure what was helpful. I believe acupuncture helped to increase my follicle count during IVF.

 

Justine Brooks Froelker, Saint Louis, therapist and author of ‘Ever Upward‘ Failed infertility treatments, defined my own happy ending.

1. Reach out for help, tell your story and honor your truth.
2. Work with a therapist who specializes in infertility.
3. Nothing, we did the best we could with what we had and knew back then.
4. Paying back the loan for our final round was brutal, especially because IVF did not work for us but we knew we had to try again.
5. Yoga, meditation, THERAPY and Plexus (wish I knew that back then)

 

Blogger ‘Infertile Girl’ 28 years old, Alberta, Canada
TTC: 2 1/2 years (three rounds clomid, one round IVF). Current: Successful FET resulting in our daughter born Aug. 2015, four remaining day 5 embryos.

1) My biggest piece of advice is take the path of least regret. There are so many choices and decision to make throughout the journey of infertility; what type of treatment to pursue (if any at all), how many rounds, what to do if something doesn’t work, ect. If you choose the road that you will regret least it will ease your mind in the future. Whether it is something small like deciding to have the occasional glass of wine while TTC, or deciding whether IVF is something you want to pursue, ask yourself; if I do/don’t do [insert choice] will I regret it in the future? You don’t want to look back on something and think “I wish I would have done/not done that…”.

2) If I could do one thing differently, I would have tried to find more support for myself. Going through infertility and infertility treatments was a very difficult and lonely time for me. I am a very private person so I did not share my struggle with nearly anyone, including family and friends. That part I wouldn’t have changed (for me) but I wish I would have found an infertility support group, sought therapy more regularly, and built a better support network for myself, I needed it.

3) As difficult as it is (ok near impossible) try and keep stress to a minimum. Worrying about the outcome won’t change it, though I know that is easier said than done. Don’t do things that will stress you out. If you have to say no to something because it is going to be too hard for you, don’t feel bad. You have to take care of you. Find more distractions (so long as they’re not going to cause you more stress)! Instead of sitting at home obsessing, I wish I would have tried to keep busy to pass the time.

4) It’s a different journey for everyone, and one of the hardest things (if not the hardest) you’ll ever go through; but you’re not alone.

 

Lisa Newton, Central California. Blogger ‘Amateur Nester’ 
TTC: 3 years (4 medicated IUIs, 3 rounds of IVF). Currently pregnant after IVF #3.

I’d say the most important thing is to keep your marriage/relationship the most important thing during infertility. Infertility has the potential to rip your relationship apart if you’re not intentional about keeping it a priority. Don’t let parenthood become more important than your marriage. Get counseling if necessary.

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