Infertility sucks. There is really no other way to put it. It strains your marriage and works doubt deep into the crevices of your heart.
My husband and I were lucky enough to avoid years of treatment trial and error but unfortunate in that invitro fertilization (IVF) was our only option. So we decided to take the plunge and attempt IVF. It is a draining, emotional process, but I’ve learned so much along the way. Looking back on my first round, there are several things I wish I had understood before beginning the process.
Here are the top 10 things I wish I knew before starting IVF:
- The shots aren’t as bad as you think. But after the first time you inject yourself, you’ll become a pro. Needles are a bit scary, but with each shot I become more and more surprised at the lack of pain I felt.
- You will feel a little like a druggie. Seriously, I never anticipated that I’d be sneaking out needles in the back row of a movie theater but when it’s time for shots, you gotta do what you gotta do.
- It’s easier to tell people. I know we run the risk of needing to tell them that we lost a baby or that something went wrong but seriously, the support we’ve received is unbelievable. Especially since we live far away from family, our church family was absolutely essential. Friends ran to appointments with me, gave me extra grace because they knew the hormones were rough, and sent so many encouraging texts that they were praying for me and the new little lives we were striving to create.
- You are stronger than you think you are. I never thought I could do this. Much less on my own (my husband was deployed during our cycle). But God is good and equipped me with the strength I needed day by day. Needs I didn’t even knew were needs were met easily.
- It’s okay to seek out support. There are a TON of couples going through this too. Between Facebook groups, your friends, and local infertility support groups, you will find people in your situation. And having those friends who understand all the medical lingo and are going through the same highs and lows as you helps keep the process in perspective. The online community I found, particularly of people going through IVF in the same state, was wonderful.
- You’ll look pregnant. But it’s a cruel joke because you’re not. Seriously, did not see this one coming, but my ovaries swelled up like baseballs. Actually, I’m pretty sure they were bigger than baseballs. Within 8 days of shots, I looked pregnant. If I got any bigger, I seriously would have needed maternity pants. Yoga pants and flowy maxi dresses were a lifesaver.
- Trust your doctor. They are wise and it is their goal and job to get you pregnant. It’s easy to get sucked into the internet trap and to read advice given to others. As scientific as this process is though, it still takes a lot of gut instinct and prayer. Your doctor has your best interest at heart and you need to trust the professional who knows your exact situation, not something your friends’s cousins’s sister’s doctor told her when she went through IVF.
- Expect people to say silly or hurtful things and know that they need grace. People don’t understand IVF and really, it’s not their fault. It’s an unnatural process. If you’ve chosen to tell them about your journey, chances are that you know they love you. Give them grace, remember that you’re hormonal, and trust they have your best interest at heart.
- It’s a lot of hurry up and wait. Wait to start birth control. Wait for injections. Wait for follicles to grow. Wait for embryo reports. Find something to keep you at ease. Remember to relax and trust the process you’re going through.
- Embryos fill your heart more than you ever anticipated. The moment I found out we were parents of three little embabies, my heart burst with joy. I know there is a strong chance they won’t make it even long enough to be transferred back into my womb but they were here. Little pieces of my husband and I created life. That life matters. For every minute it is here, I want to rejoice in it.
Bonus: God’s grace is sufficient for this process. He is in control and is watching over the little embabies, your marriage, and your heart. No matter the outcome, He is still good and still faithful. You will not be abandoned.
We are still in the waiting. We don’t know if we will ever hold our little embabies in our arms but no matter what, we will never regret this process. They were here and they matter. This journey has strengthened and equipped me in ways I didn’t anticipate. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to make new life and covet your prayers in the days ahead.