5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Fertility Treatments
Like many of you, my journey to motherhood was not at all what I expected it to be. Navigating the world of infertility was confusing, isolating, and I constantly wished there was somewhere I could turn to for stories, resources, and support along the way.
Looking back now, I realize that when I walked into the initial consultation with my fertility doctor I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know that committing to fertility treatments would be like having a second job on top of my full-time career. I had no clue about the physical and emotional toll that countless failed IUIs—and then ultimately, IVF—would take on me. No one had warned me about any of it.
That’s why when I finally made it to the “other side” of infertility, I decided that no one else would ever have to be in the dark like I was again. Hindsight is 20/20, so here’s what I wish I knew when I started fertility treatments:
1. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
At my initial consultation with my Reproductive Endocrinologist, she said, "you're 28 years young, healthy, and in shape. You’re going to be just fine.” She confirmed that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and gave me a brochure explaining it, but assured me that I would be pregnant before I knew it. I know now that she had no way of knowing that for sure, but it was incredibly frustrating at the time because she led me to believe that my case was going to be a quick fix, and it wasn’t. I wish I had known from the beginning that being treated for infertility is a process of trial-and-error that takes time and requires patience.
2. Everyone's journey is different.
When it comes to infertility everyone’s body is different, so try not to compare your journey to anyone else’s. What worked for someone else might not work for you and vice versa. There are also additional factors to consider such as age and diagnosis, so no two cases are the same. Not even your doctor can tell you exactly what will or will not work for you during any given cycle. Unfortunately, infertility is not a one-size-fits-all process. The silver lining here is that although it can sometimes feel like one step forward and two steps back, every cycle gives your doctors more information about what will or will not work for you. All of it is working towards the end goal of getting you pregnant, even if it doesn't always feel that way, I promise.
3. Some things are simply out of your control.
For me, going through infertility was probably the best life lesson in relinquishing control. I mean, your body isn't doing what nature intended it to do--how's that for something being completely out of your control? I laugh sometimes when I think about the time right after I stopped taking birth control when I was convinced for the two weeks after that I was pregnant. Looking back now I realize how naive that was, but when you try for so many years not to get pregnant you tend to assume that getting pregnant will be a fairly quick and easy process. Obviously, that wasn't the case for me, and it killed me that I couldn't plan my family the way I wanted to, but over time I realized that some of us just don’t have that luxury, and that's okay.
4. Going through fertility treatments is pretty much like having a second job.
The biggest wake-up call for me when I first started fertility treatments was just how much of a time commitment it was. Several times a week before work I would drive 30-minutes to my doctor's office for blood work and ultrasounds. Add evening acupuncture sessions and lunch-time therapy appointments to the mix, and my life became a serious balancing act. I wish I would have known ahead of time how much of a time suck it would be so that I could have mentally prepared myself.
5. The experience can be incredibly isolating.
Even though my husband is amazing and supportive, he couldn't fully understand what I was going through because it wasn't his body that was being poked, prodded, and pumped with hormones. He tried to come with me to as many doctor's appointments as possible, but with his job being less flexible than mine I bared most of the burden. Even my mom, who is my best friend, couldn't identify with what I was going through because she never had trouble getting pregnant. Although she listened to me and cried with me for a solid year, it was tough to explain something to her that she hadn't been through herself. My friends and family were there for me through it all in the best way they knew how, but the reality is that no one truly knows what infertility is like until they go through it, and that can make the experience incredibly isolating.
Well, there you have it. For those of you who are just starting the process, I hope some of these takeaways will help give you more of an idea of what to expect on your fertility journey.
And for those of you who have already learned a lot of these lessons the hard way, I hope this will make you say, "No way! Me too!” because no one can get through a fertility journey alone, and no one should have to.
For more of what I wish I had known before starting fertility treatments, read “5 More Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting Fertility Treatments.”
Kristyn Hodgdon is the Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer at Rescripted.