I started my infertility journey over 25 years ago. Things back then were a lot different then they are now. The one thing that has not changed is the devastation and emotions that come with this diagnosis. In Utah Infertility Resource Center’s Facebook support group, the question was asked, “What's one piece of advice you wish you'd known at the beginning of your journey?” The answers to this question were great and there were five pieces of advice that were mentioned multiple times. I wish I had known these things when I was going through my journey, but I am so glad that those who are fighting through this challenge have so many options available to them.
It is important that if you have been trying to conceive without success for at least 1 year or 6 months if you are over the age of 35 that you don’t wait to make an appointment and visit with a specialist. Many infertility warriors have reported regret for waiting longer or staying with their regular doctor hoping things would happen. There is no shame in seeing a reproductive endocrinologist as soon as possible. It is empowering to get answers so you can make a plan and get started. Many have reported not wanting to hurt their OB/GYN’s feelings for leaving to go to a different office. You need to remember you are not responsible for how others will react to your decisions and you need to do what is best for you and your family. So please if you have been trying for a while don’t wait find a reproductive endocrinologist.
Dealing with infertility and the testing, treatments and questions is a lot to process. You have joined a community that not everyone understands. It is important to find support from others and groups that understand what you are going through and where you won’t feel judged or shamed when you share your very real and very raw feelings. The advice to join a support group whether in person on online is one of the best. Having a safe place to share and help others is a great way to help process all the feelings and emotions you are and will deal with.
Advocate for Yourself
It is important to be your own advocate. This can sometimes be hard for us women, but we need to realize no one else will be our best advocate. We know what is going on, how we feel, and what we want. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, share your story and insist that those around you respect your decisions and journey. Everyone’s feelings are justified, and we shouldn’t feel like our stories and heartache are less then someone else. We can’t worry about sounding bossy or rude when we want to try something new or different. Be open with your partner, family and medical providers and stick to your guns. Don’t back down or feel bad for demanding what you want.
Sometimes when we have to find solutions to hard problems, we have to get creative to find the answers. Infertility is hard and can be both mentally and financially taxing. The cost of treatments and/or adoption is not cheap. Sometimes you need to get creative to help make it happen. When my husband and I were starting out there was no way we could afford the cost of IVF. We were just finishing college, didn’t own a house and had no savings. We had to get creative. We ended up being enrolled in a drug study and applying for a grant. We were accepted to both and ended up not paying for our first round of IVF. There are ways to help pay for all or some of the treatments and fees associated with building your family. Some ideas are grants, fundraisers, crowd funding, yard sales, low interest loans, or radio contests. Every year at the annual Infertility Conference hosted by UIRC there are giveaways including free cycles and discounts for services. Don’t get lost in the cost there are ways to make it happen.
It’s Not All Bad
At the beginning of your journey, it will look and feel like everything about infertility is awful. I and others can promise you it will get better and one day you can look back on your journey and find the silver linings and the blessings that come from this journey. You will make lifelong friends, learn more about your body then you would have ever imagined, learn coping techniques that you will use in parenting and beyond, appreciate the power of procreation, love your family deeper, learn how to problem solve, become a better communicator, become an advocate, and so many other wonderful things. Finding the positives in the journey of so many things going wrong and being so uncertain can feel overwhelming and impossible, but I know that the positives are there.
This is not a club people dream about joining, but if you are here now know there is support and help. Utah Infertility Resource Center offers support groups, counseling, educational consultations, monthly educational meetings, and an annual conference all with the mission to help families get through this journey and realize their dreams. If you are struggling, please reach out. We are here to help and want you to find success and peace.