Infertility is a bitch. Like the biggest, baddest, bitch out there. Infertility and I are coming up on our two year anniversary this July and let me tell you – we have a difficult relationship. Remember when we all did relationship statuses on Facebook? Well, mine with infertility would most definitely be “It’s complicated.” My struggle with infertility has been the most complicated relationship of my life.
Two years, 2 full IVF cycles, 2 different clinics, 3 embryo transfers, 3 pregnancies, 3 pregnancy losses.
That’s 3 times my biggest dream came true and 3 times it was all taken away right before my eyes.
You see, when I started our journey, I was confident, excited, READY to start. I thought IVF would be a guarantee. We would have sweet baby in our arms in no time. What I have come to learn is that there are no GUARANTEES in life. Things change. Unexpected shit happens. And most notably, hardship is inevitable.
But what I ALSO know is that humans are strong, we are resilient, and just like Glennon Doyle says… “We CAN do hard things.” And I am pretty damn proud of myself for mastering the *doing* of hard things. My survival skills at this point are unmatched. My absolute worst nightmare has happened not once, not twice, but three times now… each of them getting more and more heart wrenching and traumatic. My struggle with infertility has shown me that even if we hope, things don’t always turn out the way we want.
What used to be the unthinkable is now very much my reality. The stories I responded to with “I’m so sorry I can’t even imagine” have now become *my story*. And yet here I am, still breathing and still surviving. There is NOTHING in life that I have not survived thus far. And the same goes for you. Through whatever darkness you are walking through right now. Even if I am continuing to struggle with infertility, I am alive.
I’ve also learned that growth never happens when life is sunshine and rainbows.
Growth always happens when it’s hard and when it hurts. And I don’t know ANYONE who has understood the meaning of what they are going through while they are in the trenches of it. Just like they say time heals all wounds… well, it takes time to understand the meaning and purpose of hardship and come to a place of acceptance. And if you never get there, that’s okay too. Just make sure you’re giving yourself the time and space to process ALL the emotions, but especially the hard ones.
“One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcame what you are going through now and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide”
This quote has always been significant in my life. I am a helper by nature. I’ve always been a little girl with a big heart and a lot of love to give. When other people hurt, I hurt. Clinging onto this quote allows me to do something good with my hurt. If I can transform my hurt into someone else’s help, then I can know in my heart that it wasn’t all for nothing.
There are a lot of lessons I have learned along the way.
With that being said, I want to do what I can to help. So while I am still currently in the struggle with infertility, I also have a lot to offer! Allow me to offer you my survival guide for anyone walking through a journey or struggle with infertility.
Whether you are just starting out researching, you’re currently going through fertility treatments, or you’re a seasoned veteran like myself, I hope you will find these helpful. And know that I am ALWAYS here for you. This is the club you never wanted to be part of but now you’re here (welcome, we have snacks!) so let’s make the best of it ~together~
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Trust Your Intuition
Our intuition is there for a reason. It serves as a guide, but we have to be attuned to it in order for us to benefit from it. Take time to sit and be still. Practice mindfulness. Allow your intuition to guide you. If at any point you feel like something is off, that means it probably is. Lean into it.
Resist the Rush
Don’t cut corners for the urgency and desperation to have a child. I cut corners and I rushed the process and I made decisions with the mindset of “let’s do whatever will get us a child the quickest” and here we are, 2 years later in the EXACT same position that we were when we first started out. Back at ground zero with no embryos left having to start ALL over. For the third time. It’s SO hard to resist the rush but doing things the right way versus the rushed way is always better. AND if you need to take a break from it all for yourself, for your marriage, for your life – DO. IT. The struggle with infertility will be waiting for you when you return, so might as well find some peace and quiet time when you can.
Do your research. Learn all there is to know about IVF, the medications, your doctor, your protocol. ALL. OF. IT. Because without this first step, there is absolutely no way you can master the second step with confidence. A great place to start is visiting Fertility IQ because being educated is CRUCIAL in your infertility journey. The more you know, the less your struggle with infertility will feel hopeless.
Advocate For Yourself
YOU HAVE TO DO IT. No one will advocate for you if you don’t. There were SO many times that I just blindly trusted my first IVF doctor, when I shouldn’t have. In my mind, he was the professional and I was the patient. He doesn’t tell me how to do my job so I sure as heck wasn’t going to tell him how to do his. Show up and advocate for yourself and stand up for what you want/need. You’ll thank me later for it.
I feel like we all have 3 basic needs in life: to be seen, to be heard, and to be understood. Infertility SUCKS. You’re going to need people to rally behind you and hold you up when you can’t hold yourself up. My only requirement in this category is that you are intentional with picking who is going to be in your corner through this. It’s hard to receive empathy from people who are so far removed from what you are walking through. Be particular about who you share with. When you share your story with someone else, you are giving a piece of yourself to that person. If you can’t guarantee with 100% certainty that it’s a safe space and that you will be met with compassion, empathy, and care, proceed with caution. Just know that you do not have to struggle with infertility alone.
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Surrender to the Process
BLAH – surrendering. Quite literally the hardest thing to do. When I met my new doctor he said “you don’t like Ubers, do you?” and I surprisingly responded, “how did you know that?” He said that he could tell I was someone who liked being in control and he understood why after everything we had been through up until that point. After agreeing with him, he said, “you have to know, this whole process is an Uber ride, and neither of us are the driver”… and he was right. You can control certain aspects of this process up to a certain point, but you need to hear me when I say – the rest is not in your control. Or your doctors. Yes, the struggle with infertility centers around control, so be prepared to try and let go.
The quote – “You’re afraid to surrender because you don’t want to lose control but you never had control in the first place, all you had was anxiety” – hits home on so many levels. Sometimes anxiety gives us a false perception of control. Remember that.
Ok this one is VERY IMPORTANT. You are going to be triggered. You are going to be jealous. Expect it, anticipate it, and prepare for it. Because when it happens (and it will happen) you’re going to need to set boundaries to protect yourself. Pregnancy announcements on your feed, friends getting pregnant before you, baby showers… it’s all hard and it all sucks. Each embryo transfer I had, I got pregnant at the same time as a friend, and now two of those friends have their babies Earthside and the other is still very much pregnant. It’s normal to be jealous. You can be happy for them and also be sad for you. Feelings aren’t mutually exclusive. Do what you need to in order to protect your heart. If they are real friends, they will understand that your struggle with infertility does not negate your happiness for their joy.
Whew. Grief. Whether you are grieving the idea that it would happen naturally, grieving over embryos not making it to blast, grieving over no genetically normal embryos, or a failed transfer, or a pregnancy loss…your grief is valid. Feel it and let it take you where you need to go. Because I promise you, if you don’t feel these feelings now, they will wait for you to be ready and then resurface. And remember that grief is not linear so give yourself grace through the bumpy ride of it all.
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Cling Onto Hope
I’ve always thought that the second I don’t have hope anymore, is the second we walk away from IVF all together. Cling onto that hope for dear life! Where there is hope, there is light. I really do believe that the desires of our heart have meaning. Cling to that hope and trust that one day those desires will be fulfilled. Your journey might not look like how you thought it would but what matters is, it’s yours and that counts for something.
From my mama heart to yours, you got this. Keep your head up. Keep fighting. When you get knocked down, rise up and keep fucking going. I know the struggle with infertility is intense and feels insane, but I know you can keep going. And remember, I’m here for you. You can do this.
And if you need support along the way, remember that Blush Life Coaching offers affordable coaching to get you through tough periods of your life. Join today to connect with your own personal life coach!