I know it doesn’t feel like this… but IVF won’t last foreverMar 06, 2023
I know it doesn’t feel like this… but IVF won’t last forever
Words by Angela Shaba
When I first got diagnosed with my infertility diagnosis, diminished ovarian reserve, aka DOR, I felt like time just stood still. I mean, I guess that’s how it feels whenever you get medical news, right? I went through surgeries, bad GI-related illnesses, flare-ups, and of course, those pesky ankle injuries. None of those things were fun, took a long time to recover, and may have altered some parts of my life. I can’t wear my beloved heels anymore! But at the end of the day, I can wear an ankle brace and still walk outside without feeling like a complete freak or full of emotional shame.
Infertility was different. Nothing about the diagnosis was good. Nothing about the diagnosis indicated an easy road. And nothing about the diagnosis made me feel good about myself. The diagnosis made everything turn dark, and the light that was supposed to surround one of the most amazing female-given abilities was taken. What was replaced was fear, anxiety, shame, and uncertainty. Shame around your body not being able to do what it’s supposed to and that you see others doing so easily. Fear around not knowing if you will ever be a mom and what that means to you. Anxiety around the whole possible process ahead of you. And uncertainty for your future. A future that could be with or without kids or with kids in a different way than you ever imagined and wanted.
IVF isn't a guarantee
See, infertility doesn’t mean, okay, no problem, now I just go through IVF. And yes, most people think that is what it means. If you are doing IVF, most people think you’ll be fine because they think IVF equals a baby. I think most people think IVF is the cure for infertility. To these people, I would say that you could come to my home month after month and see the devastation and pain of consistent and constant IVF loss because IVF is not a cure for infertility. There is no cure. You can’t just make someone not have a fertility issue. And IVF doesn’t mean you get a baby. For some, IVF is the only way, which will be long, challenging, exhausting, financially depleting, and isolating, and not a guarantee. Sometimes you will walk that road for a long time, years even. And sometimes you may have to say goodbye to that road even when you didn’t get to what you were walking towards.
Infertility is never easy. IVF is never an easy decision. And sometimes, people with zero experience and understanding of it don’t know much about it except what they have seen on a tv show. If you don’t know, it’s because you don’t know. Probably the only true way to understand what someone with infertility is going through is to have experienced infertility yourself. But let’s be honest. You don’t have to experience something someone else has experienced to have compassion and empathy for them, do you? You can support someone who is struggling, right? You can be non-judgmental and kind and maybe ask some questions so you can learn about what they are going through and how they are feeling.
Fiercely Fertile supports you
That’s why I continue to talk about my story and coach other women. I do this because I want to help support you and help you feel better about this process. To let you know that you are not alone. That you are not crazy for feeling the way you are feeling and that someone understands what you are going through. The more we can support others struggling with fertility, the more we can reduce the stigma and shame around it.
IVF is consuming
Going through IVF and fertility treatments consumes your whole life. You are stuck in this IVF time warp and bubble. You can’t plan your future. You are angry at the past because you can’t change it, and you sure can’t plan for the future because you have no idea what the future will hold. You are stuck. You move from one physical activity to the other – doctor’s appointment to blood draws to coming off medication to going on medication. You are consumed daily by taking your vitamins and supplements, eating fertility-friendly meals, going to acupuncture, and meditating, all while managing your workload, family, and friend relationships. Your marriage is different during this time, and for some, it can impact communication and connection because you can’t be an average couple doing ordinary things with each other. You are placed on restriction after restriction while trying to stay hopeful for an outcome you so desperately want but are afraid you won’t get. You are constantly making important decisions about when to sign IVF consent forms, how much money we are spending on this treatment, do we cancel the cycle or keep going. Your friendships suffer because some of your friends don’t understand, don’t care to understand, or will never understand. Relationships with friends and family may change because you may isolate yourself from them because you aren’t struggling or sharing you are going through fertility treatments, or they may isolate from you because they just don’t know what to say to you.
The other side
Going through IVF and struggling with your fertility is never easy. It’s a long, painful road. But what I have learned about the whole thing is that it does not last forever. IVF will end one day. It will. IVF will end one day whether you get your miracle, cross that finish line, or choose a different path. IVF will end. You will stop going to those doctor appointments each day and stop being consumed by shame, fear, and uncertainty. You will slowly see the light again and feel the warmth of the sun. You will laugh again, and you will feel again. You will let go of the pain and trauma that consumed you for so long. And after all that, you will look back and say to yourself… dang, I was one badass! Because you can’t go through IVF and infertility without coming out stronger in every way.
Need more support with your fertility journey? My online course, Optimizing your Fertility and IVF Cycle can help. You'll learn specific mental skills I use with top athletes to support your fertility mindset, help reduce your stress, and help you feel more in control during your journey. Head over to my website to register today! You can also check out my coaching packages for more individualized help. And follow on Instagram for more helpful tips!
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