IVF. One of the most difficult things a couple can go through. Take it from someone who used to be disabled - IVF was even harder than that. The thing with fertility treatment is that it drains you of everything you have; physically, emotionally and financially.
Before we knew we had infertility problems and friends would tell me they had IVF, I had no idea how absolutely life-changing it must have been for them. I just assumed that they had IVF, they now have a baby, hunky dory. Because of my own prior ignorance about IVF, I can understand why people who have never been through it may have certain questions about it, and I can empathise with those thoughts, but I'm here to help you filter which of those thoughts should never be said out loud.
Below is a list of tips that will prevent you from getting your eyes gouged out by a highly emotional and hormonal woman.
1. You might have to go through this but at least you'll get a baby at the end of it. Umm... I'm not sure if you know this, but having fertility treatment does not guarantee you a baby, and that's one of the exact reasons it is so hard emotionally. If we all knew that we would get a baby at the end, regardless of the hell we had to go through to get that baby, it wouldn't be as hard; the emotional turmoil would have been taken out of the equation and we'd just have the physical and financial aspects. But it's not guaranteed. Not by a long-shot.
2. A cycle is only a couple of weeks, that's totally bearable. Okay folks, let me take you through a cycle. Close your eyes and imagine it's you... you start by doing one hormone injection into your belly every night for a week and you visit the clinic every few days. With each scan you hope to see more and more eggs growing. If not, the dosage increases which makes you feel even more sick. At each appointment you have a blood test. By the second week you do two injections a night and if you react to these hormones anything like I did, you have to start going into the clinic every day. Your ovaries should be the size of almonds but they are now the size of oranges and even sitting and walking are painful. Also, you're really fat by this point. Then you have to start doing three injections a night. Day of egg retrieval arrives and you have a general anaesthetic while the doctor sticks a needle through your vagina to retrieve the eggs. When you wake up you get the news of how many eggs they got, and how many were 'mature'. Only mature eggs are viable. The lab fertilises these eggs with the sperm and you wait twenty-four hours to get the call to see how many fertilised. Twenty-four hours after that you get another call to tell you how many survived. If any survived by day five you have one or two of them implanted. Then you have to wait two weeks to find out if you're pregnant, during which time you are taking even more hormones. Then you take a pregnancy test. Those (what amount to) four weeks are heart-breakingly unbearable. If it doesn't work you have to do it all again.
3. You're so lucky you ONLY needed two rounds. ONLY?? Never use the word 'only'. It's a bit like saying to a woman in labour 'you're only 3cm dilated'. '3cm! Are you kidding me! That's awesome, you're on your way!' is what should be said...
4. My brother's wife's mum's cleaner's aunt's builder's wife had IVF and they have three healthy children. As much as we want positivity, we also just want understanding. Everyone has a story and at this point, we don't really want to hear about everyone else's stories, we just need support through our own journey.
5. Have you tried naturally this time? Because I know someone who had IVF for their first child then second time round they fell pregnant naturally. We all have different reasons for needing fertility treatment. Some people really cannot get pregnant naturally. And trust me on this, anyone who has been through it once would have done everything in their power to not have to do it again.
6. Oh my god I could never inject myself every day! No, dear, neither could I. Until there was no choice. The human spirit flourishes in the face of adversity and we tolerate much more than we ever believed we could.
7. Worst comes to worst you could always adopt. It is the most wonderful thing to adopt a child and give them a home they may never have had and yes, we may get there, but right now the last thing we need is people who have no clue making assumptions that we won't have a baby of our own. If we are trying IVF in the first place, the likelihood is that, right or wrong, having a baby who is biologically ours was our first choice. Adoption would have crossed our minds and we'll get there when the time is right. This comment usually always comes from people with two + kids.
People going through fertility treatment don't want sympathy; what we want is validation of our feelings, validation of the flurry of emotions that are stirred up in us as we embark upon one of the most difficult things we'll ever endure. We need to know that you get how hard it is, even if you haven't been through it yourself, and that you will be here to support us every step of the way, with talks, food and a shoulder to cry on.
We all hope we will get a baby at the end of it, but in the meantime, we need understanding.
You can follow Lauren Vaknine on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laurenvaknine
Lauren blogs at Organic Spoon which you can find here
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Her autobiography, 'My Enemy, My Friend', can be found here