In my experience, one of the hardest parts of IVF treatment is actually making the decision to pursue it.
When I was in my early twenties, before I started trying to conceive, I remember a conversation I had with a group of friends about having children. The talk turned to IVF treatment, and whether or not we would consider it if we couldn't conceive naturally. Never one to sit on the fence, I stated to my friends, with resolve, that I wouldn't contemplate IVF under any circumstances.
My ill-judged statement was based on information gleaned from media articles, many of which focus on the negative aspects of treatment rather than the positives, and TV shows, which tend to depict the most extreme and outlandish stories.
Just a few years after that conversation, newly married and bursting with the desire to be a mother, my husband and I found ourselves struggling to conceive. Initially I was positive - confident that we would get there eventually on account of our age. However, after almost two years of charting cycles, exhausting every old wives' tale that proclaimed to aid fertility, and undergoing countless blood tests and internal scans, as well as taking various fertility drugs, IVF started to look like a very real possibility.
At first we could hardly bear to utter those three little letters; we could not accept that they were applicable to us. We were young. We were healthy. We had time. We repeated this mantra to ourselves every time the term crept into conversation, and it seemed to be creeping in more and more regularly. Looking back, our fear mainly stemmed from the fact that we were completely uneducated about what IVF entailed. We only really knew the horror stories: multiple births; women dying from overstimulated ovaries; unethical clinic practices. I remembered the comment I had made to my friends about accepting my fate and getting on with life, yet I couldn't seem to find a way to do that. Life without children just didn't seem like something I could ever accept, and yet IVF still felt too extreme to be the next step.
Strangely, we felt guilty about even considering it. Being so young we wondered if we were just being impatient, and we feared that friends and family would view our pursual of fertility treatment negatively. People of our generation were increasingly coming under attack for their sense of entitlement and wanting everything 'now'. For our parents' generation IVF was not an option. Those who experienced infertility were forced to accept it, and instead focus on all the positive things in their lives. We were constantly reminded how lucky we were to have each other, a beautiful home, and secure, well-paid jobs. Given the harsh economic times, it seemed as though all of those things should have been enough for us and we felt almost selfish wanting more when many around us had a lot less. The friends and family members in whom we confided never mentioned IVF as an option, and instead we were encouraged to wait. And wait. And wait.
After two years of waiting, we were at our wits end. We felt as though our lives were on hold. We wished we could see the future, or that someone could tell us for sure that IVF would work for us. We were completely bogged down with the pressure of trying to make what seemed like such a huge life-altering decision, and wondered how we would know when it was time stop hoping for a natural miracle and try IVF treatment. Was it supposed to be like falling in love - one day we would just wake up and 'know' the time was right?
I now believe that, regardless of age or whether you are part of a couple or single, making the mental leap towards accepting the need for IVF treatment is one of the major initial roadblocks. Since I had already made the 'decision', years previously, that IVF was not for me, I struggled to accept that I was wrong and that it was something that I needed to consider, and was in fact prepared to undertake.
As someone trying to get pregnant naturally, I always wondered if the next month would be my month; if the latest diet or herbal remedy would be the magic ingredient I'd been missing. In an attempt to put off making a decision about IVF I kept giving myself new milestones, telling myself I'd be pregnant by my birthday, then Christmas. When these milestones passed, and I still wasn't pregnant, I would find new ones in order to keep the IVF conversation at bay.
Those who are single may wonder if the next date will be the one where they meet their life partner, the person who will want to become a parent with them. If you are part of a couple experiencing secondary infertility you may feel that you are not entitled to pursue IVF as you already have a child. Whatever your situation, there's always a reason to keep putting off fertility treatment if you look for one.
Just as you will hear people say there is never a 'right time' to try for a baby, I now believe the same is true for IVF treatment. There is never a 'right time' so regardless of your situation don't keep putting it off.