No matter how much research you do prior to fertility treatments, there is bound to be some times where you look back and think “I wish I knew that before!” This is a list of things that stuck out as unexpected to me. This is soley based on MY EXPERIENCE and will not accurately reflect all experiences.
1. It takes a long time.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would take an entire year to have 3 IUI’s and IVF with 2 transfers. I assumed at most it would take 6 months!!! HA was I so wrong… there is soooo much waiting. Even my treatment plan was pushing it for a year, I got in as many cycles as my clinic would allow.
2. It’s not that bad.
Prior to starting with an RE I really pictured it to be grueling. Many blogs had me thinking this would be the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. I thought the injections were going to be so horrible, but really that’s one of the easiest parts IMO. I expected to be basically living at the clinic and having so many appointments it would be hard to work… I really only had to miss about 8 days total for the whole year, and 5 were on a planned vacation to it wasn’t too bad at all.
Don’t get me wrong, waiting is hard, month after month is draining. Infertility treatments are not easy, but they weren’t harder than a lot of things I’ve been through. Granted I’ve had a pretty hard life already so I am always up for a challenge. I don’t want to down play others experiences, it can be the hardest thing many people go through, but they still get through it!!
3. Injections don’t make everyone crazy.
I never had any side effects from any medication at all, letrozole did basically nothing. Follistim and ganarelix were fine. My estrogen was HIGH during stims, I had a freeze all cycle because they expected OHSS. I FELT FINE!!! VERY GOOD actually. Progesterone IM fine too. Don’t let fear of the meds hold you back if your’e thinking of doing treatments. This is only my opinion and experience. If you’re already emotionally unstable, the medications probably will make you feel worse. I think it’s more from the actual stress of infertility.
4. IUI is pretty useless.
Of course not in all cases, it’s something your doctor can give you more of an odds for with your personal diagnosis. I have “unexplained” infertility. So there was no apparent reason why we weren’t getting pregnant, so obviously IUI was encouraged first, plus was likely required for my insurance coverage. It just sucked having to wait the whole 3 cycles when my odds were so low. If we had only been trying for 1 year maybe it would have felt different but we already had been trying for over 2 years so it really dragged. There is many factors to consider when choosing IVF or IUI, if your of advanced age and have been trying for multiple years, finances also play a big role, tubal problems, male factor. It might make more senses to just skip to the big guns.
5. Your not going to get pregnant the first IUI cycle.
Ok so maybe common sense did tell me this, but I am such an optimistic person I really believed I was going to get pregnant from my first IUI. Reality is a bitch.
6. Be “Cautiously Optimistic” during the 2ww.
This is best for my mental health. I had names picked out and everything by like day 3 of the 2ww on my first IUI. It makes it really hard when you get the BFN when you convince yourself it worked. I’m all for being hopeful, but I find its better to be “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to the 2ww than being convinced that it did or did not work. I’ve read the school of thought you need to “will yourself” pregnant, & “if you don’t believe it” it wont happen. I find this VERY UNHELPFUL and it’s very painful to get the BFN if you really truely convinced yourself your pregnant. When I was “cautiously optimistic” I felt bad news was easier to take. AND I still got pregnant twice being “cautiously optimistic” so you obviously dont have to will yourself pregnant.
6. USE ICSI IF YOU HAVE UNEXPLAINED INFERTILITY!!!!!
I thought I knew everything when I went to my IVF consult. I told my Dr. I didn’t want ICSI. I was convinced ICSI was only appropriate for severe male factor infertility. I was convinced that ICSI increases fertilization rates but DOES NOT increase LIVE BIRTH RATES. I didn’t want an over inflated number of embryos.
THANK GOD my Dr. was willing to compromise and took the time to educate me. In about 10% of “unexplained” couples, no fertilization will occur. I had already known this but “It would never happen to me” line of thinking came into play. So she explained how we could do HALF IVF, HALF ICSI!
Long story short we had 0% fertilization with traditional IVF. Out of 22 retrieved follicles, we ended up with 4 blastocysts thanks to ICSI. If I declined ICSI we probably would have had no embryos to transfer and the whole cycle would have been a waste.
7. Getting pregnant isn’t the end goal.
Again, common sense says that miscarriage is very common, especially when using infertility treatments. Did I ever think it would happen to me? Of course not. Actually maybe I don’t want anyone to tell me this before fertility treatments, its down right sad and unnecessarily depressing. Yes miscarriage is a possibility but let’s only focus on that if the time comes.
8. If you have a miscarriage it takes a while to get back to treatments.
This kind of goes hand in hand with the first, but again I was also shocked I couldn’t just transfer another embryo ASAP. I guess there are many benefits to waiting the extra time but I really wasn’t counting on having a miscarriage in the first place so I was really thrown for a loop. It took at least a month for my HCG to go back down to “not pregnant” after the miscarriage, then I had to wait another month until the first day of AF.
9. It’s OK to say No and to do nothing.
It took me a while to learn not to choose to over extend myself. Some times there is no choice and you have to deal with much more stress than you can handle. Some times the stress is self-imposed. Stop adding unnecessary stress to yourself. If you don’t want to go some where or do some thing give yourself permission to say no, and do nothing from time to time.
10. Make self-care a priority.
This is paramount. If you don’t take care of yourself you will burn out quickly. Do things that make you feel good and improve your health. I didn’t realize until after my miscarriage and some therapy how much I am in control of my mental health. I would allow my mind to race constantly, I think 10000000 thoughts per day and it was exhausting, and unhelpful. Using meditation, mindfulness & yoga, I’ve really reigned in my anxiety habits. I can recognize and stop these behaviors a lot easier now. Other people may use prayer or other spiritual practices. ESPECIALLY when you feel like you don’t have time, is when you should make self care a priority.