I feel the need to send some support out there to all the women struggling with infertility. To those women who have ever felt that they were drowning in infertility treatments, like their life was one never ending IVF cycle. Those who think about getting pregnant all the time, stare at home pregnancy tests squinting to see lines, and consume so many supplements they can’t even fit into one of those weekly pill containers. I want you to know, you are not alone. You are not crazy. And you are not broken.
I was recently telling someone about what it’s like going through infertility treatments. In my defense he caught me on a rough day, but nevertheless I ended up sounding like a crazy person. When you spend years battling infertility, having multiple surgeries, treatments galore, and are in the middle of your 6th round of IVF, you look back and realize you’ve done a lot of crazy shit in the name of procreation. It becomes all consuming.
On that particular day, I confessed that while I would prefer a coffee, I was sitting there drinking tea that tasted like dirt because it was high in antioxidants, which is good for my eggs, and the other herbs in it are uterine tonics. Since it was my day off, I was planning on going for a long walk on my favorite trail to help improve blood flow to my uterus. Then I planned on taking a bubble bath, which I find soothing, but it also helps increase circulation which is good for my ovaries and uterus. Later that weekend, I’d be going to my friend’s house for her birthday and celebrating with one glass of wine. While I’d love to have more, I won’t because, you know, egg quality. But having just that one is okay, according to my RE, because it dilates blood vessels thus increasing blood flow to my uterus. The man I was talking with looked at me like I was an alien.
I’ll confess, this man is my therapist. I decided to go see someone after my last IVF cycle ended in 2 PGS abnormal embryos and no transfer. I was devastated, my husband was devastated, and I felt like I was exhausting my coping skills. I wanted someone to talk to that wasn’t my husband or one of my fertile friends. Someone I could say all of the dark things to who wouldn’t judge me. So yes, I’m a psychologist seeing a psychologist, and that feels a bit weird to me. I know it is the healthy choice and many therapist need therapy from time to time, but I’m like one of those doctors who avoids going to the doctor. I knew I needed to go though, after I started snapping at my loved ones. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. Infertility is HARD and we need support.
So there I was, sitting with a man who is really being kind and supportive, but I can tell he thinks I’m being excessively obsessive. And I completely am. But that is also completely normal when you are going through infertility. It happens to most of us, maybe even all of us who are at this long enough. It’s normal to want to do every little thing you can to try to improve your chances when the stakes are this high. When you are putting your body, heart, finances, and soul through so much. If medicine advanced to the point where our RE’s could tell us that “x, y, and z” will give you that positive pregnancy test, so don’t bother doing all the other silly things you read about – well, we’d all jump on board and do those things and get our babies. But that’s not the way it works. Even when we have every piece lined up, we still end up with failed transfers and negative tests. Science simply cannot control human reproduction – it’s too complex, too fragile, and possibly too magical.
So as long as our doctors can’t guarantee that treatments will work, as long as multiple women do the same thing but have different results, as long as things remain “unexplained,” we will always do our best to shift the odds in our favor. Whether that be this supplement or that, yoga, meditation, affirmations, tapping, castor oil packs, one more diagnostic test, exploratory surgery, the keto diet, the paleo diet, cutting out sugar, coffee, and alcohol, juicing, prayer, intentions, pleading and bargaining, or standing on your right foot for five hours every full moon (okay I’m making up that last one) – we will try it.
And we will not be alone. We are not crazy. We are not broken.