In America this week is National Infertility Awareness Week... I wholeheartedly believe that this is such an important thing. Infertility is becoming more into the public consciousness because of celebrities speaking out and the debates on funding and ethics becoming more frequent. However, there is still much work to be done in order to get the reality out there, because I really do not think people understand what it entails and how difficult it can be. To do my bit I am going to put some of the puzzle pieces together for those that may not know much about IVF, in the hope you learn a bit more.
IVF generally involves an awful lot of waiting. Many people wait for funding or to save up enough money for private treatment, which obviously can take years. Many then have to wait to get on the list for treatment (some specialists have massive waiting lists). Then you have to wait for your tests to be completed so treatment can be planned. Getting to the point of your doctor actually saying you are ready to go ahead with your first cycle is a massive achievement in itself.
Once your cycle is planned and you either take your bag of medication home or it gets delivered to your home it can feel absolutely overwhelming. There is so much anticipation and excitement. You will probably spend hours organising your medication, finding a special place for it, labelling it, writing a calendar or a spreadsheet and you will take great pride in doing so because these magic things you are holding have the potential to help you conceive the only thing you have ever wanted. You start with so much positivity and feel like there is no other choice... although at the same time, you also know you cannot be complacent, you cannot simply just believe this will be it. You have heard so many terrible stories about people spending thousands, doing cycle after cycle after cycle and taking themselves to breaking point with no success and you can only hope that this will not happen to you.
The overwhelming emotions that begin on day one continue throughout the cycle and I will talk about that more in following days. Enjoy how special it feels to finally begin treatment though, it is a massive milestone and it could change your life.
My biggest tip for the early stages of treatment is to find people going through the same thing, ideally at the same time. Cycle buddies or sock buddies (I'll explain about that too!) are frequently used terms in the IVF world and can be a wonderful thing to get you through. Many people have made lifetime friendships by being each others support at this time. I have found some fabulous groups on Facebook or if you search Instagram for hashtags such as #IVF, #infertility, #ttc, will lead you to a very special community. I cannot stress enough how helpful this is and hope you find one that suits you.