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The Big Picture

The Big Picture

Many parents will tell you they sacrificed so much for their children. Many women going through IVF will tell you they have already sacrificed greatly for the hope of having children. Sometimes I feel those of us who struggle with infertility issues are already mothers-in-the-making. We know what it takes to give up our time with our partners to put in extra hours at work, working weekends when we could be spending time with them. The time away from visiting with our parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Time away from social gatherings where we connect with friends. Often we develop a one-track mind and it becomes all about making the possibility of a child a reality. What will it take? What will we give up? It all comes down to time and money.

 

But one thing I’ve learned through this process is that I don’t view this the same way most people do who do not struggle with infertility. Yes, the sacrifices are great, but what I’ve already gained is so much greater. Loss and struggle are some of the best teachers in life. I’ve developed a fierce commitment to my goal and I’ve grown in many ways. When I was feeling lost and confused I learned the value of intense research for solutions. When I was feeling disconnected from everyone and couldn’t bear to talk about my pregnancy losses, I learned to opened up and realized many of my friends, family, and a massive online community went through the exact same things I had. Being able to not only relate to others but put all of our research together, weigh the options, and together help each other out with the end goal in mind of “how can I best help this woman fulfill her dream of having a baby?” Sometimes it’s as simple as suggesting a certain test be looked into their doctor hasn’t tried yet, or a financial option they hadn’t even considered. Rallying together as a group and helping each other achieve our dream of motherhood has brought me such a feeling of connectedness that I never in my life experienced.

 

I’ve learned to speak candidly with my husband about how I feel, and to truly listen to what he is feeling too. Learning to compromise together, whereas when left to my own devices I would have steamrolled ahead with my own big plans. Being able to stop and consider his needs when planning for our future has been incredibly important. I told him how I made the decision to take on some temporary debt in order to have a shot at having a child. That temporary debt could have gone towards paying off the condo and moving into a bigger house. We’ve always talked about paying off the condo early and getting a nicer house, so it was a big deal to postpone this for a bit. I knew this would be a huge sacrifice but I also knew that if we wanted the opportunity to have our own child I needed to do IVF now. My timeline for fertility is significantly less than the average woman, but I have many years to plan for moving into a house. Shifting timelines for everything was a sacrifice, but that’s all it comes down to, simply shifting timelines. We compromised and agreed that we would focus on knocking out my medical debt these next few months before our FET (frozen embryo transfer). Being able to get past our emotions, talk about it, and come up with the best solution together has helped us both become more mature as a couple.

 

I’ve also learned to endure incredibly devastating losses. My first pregnancy loss was the worst for me emotionally. I was in bed for two weeks and was incredibly depressed. But after a total of four losses I’ve learned to be more resilient. I now have many people I can turn to for support and have developed a concrete treatment plan. I now have answers as to why some of the losses happened and a hopeful solution too. Now it’s just a matter of doing the treatment plan of IVF with PGS, the one step I have left for our first round is traveling back down for our FET.

 

I’ve come a long way over these past 2.5 years of infertility. I’ve learned one of the best ways of dealing with my situation is to focus both on what I need to do today as part of my treatment plan, while also looking at the big picture. The big picture for me includes doing a visualization. In that visualization I pull away from the current moment and look at my life and these struggles far  into the future. Being able to see myself in the future, and ask myself did I do everything I can and are there no regrets? There is a sense of comfort I get from looking at the big picture. Where does that comfort come from? I know that I am doing everything I possibly can in order to make my dreams come true. And who wouldn’t be proud of that?

 

Thank you for reading.

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3 Practical Tips for Adapting to Changing Fertility Plans

3 Practical Tips for Adapting to Changing Fertility Plans

Quick Update: We just received the good news from our suppression check that my cyst has finally reduced in size, and I am good to go for IVF! Our IVF cycle was delayed by 2 weeks due to that issue but it has now been resolved. That recent experience inspired me to write this article today.

 

I am an advocate for not only prayer (happy thoughts, good vibes, or what have you) but also a huge advocate for taking action. This action can include advocating for ourselves at appointments, deciding when to do a certain treatment, or defending our stance to other people about how your treatment plan is your personal choice. But what if your treatment plan is constantly changing because your body is not doing what you thought it should be?

 

You may have never seen a positive on a pregnancy test before. Or a positive pregnancy test may fill you with dread because all the other positive pregnancy tests you’ve had ended in miscarriage. Or you may have a child already but are experiencing Secondary Infertility and the dream of more children seems to be getting harder and harder to achieve.  No matter what your fertility situation is, one of the most important factors for success is the ability to adapt to changing situations.

 

Wouldn’t you like to be able to bounce back from setbacks more quickly? Although the odds seem insurmountable, there is almost always still hope for each of us. Being able to adapt to the constantly changing treatment plan can help to reduce the negative emotions that can drag you down.

 

3 Practical Tips for Adapting to Changing Fertility Plans

 

  1. Get More Flexibility at Work

 

The more flexible your job situation the better, especially if your treatment is as aggressive as IVF. I had no idea how many appointments were actually involved. In my case I am in the doctor’s office at least once a week, then it will be daily the week of IVF. If your appointments begin to conflict with your work schedule, try talking to your supervisor about the options you have. You can still advocate for yourself while keeping your medical issue private. You could say, “I need to go to more appointments for a medical issue and I was wondering if option A, B, C, or D are available to me, or if you had any suggestions on how we can work this out?”

 

Quick Tips:

  • Try to schedule appointments during your lunch hour.
  • Save up leave time for appointments, medical issues or personal time off.
  • Change the time or day you work to a more flexible schedule if possible.
  • Consider looking for a different job if your current job cannot accommodate your appointments. Ask yourself what’s more important, starting a family or keeping a job that restricts your family planning? Trust me there are more flexible jobs out there.

 

2) Make a Back-up Treatment Plan

 

Try not to ruminate on all the what-if scenarios that could happen. One funny example I have of this is I was certain I had a balanced translocation when I really didn’t. My surgeon had mentioned that sometimes people have deletions or a balanced translocation with their DNA they pass on to their embryos, which could lead to a miscarriage. I heard this right before the weekend and I was also waiting to hear back from my geneticist. So what did I do?

 

I spent practically the entire weekend researching about balanced translocation. I watched so many videos, and did so much reading, I tried to decipher scholarly articles riddled with medical jargon. I fell down the research rabbit hole in an epic way. But that following Monday I heard back from my geneticist and she said I didn’t even have a balanced translocation. The time I wasted researching was unreal. Hey, maybe now I can also write a scholarly article on the subject and make use of all this information packed into my brain. The moral of the story is to focus on your current treatment plan but ask your doctor what the next immediate step would be if your current plan does not work. This helps you to not get too far ahead of yourself like I did with the above story.

 

Quick Tips:

  • Write down your current treatment plan including your diagnosis, medication, actions your doctor is taking, and actions you need to take.
  • Research your current treatment step to gain more knowledge.
  • Ask your doctor what Plan B is if your Plan A does not work after the expected amount of time.
  • Consider a second opinion if you feel you are not getting adequate treatment.

 

3) Consider Adjusting your Vacation Plans

 

There have been several vacations we were hoping to enjoy but could not do for one reason or another due to our treatment plan. For me it’s a no brainer, starting a family is my highest priority. My vacation can wait a year or two, not a big deal. It’s good to be hopeful and plan around the possibility of getting pregnant. Please also remember to look up on the CDC website if Zika has been found in the area you want to travel to. I chose to postpone our natural conception several months because we visited an area with Zika. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Follow your doctor’s orders.

 

Quick Tips:

  • Double check for Zika locations before traveling and follow your doctor’s advice about postponing conception.
  • Calculate if you’ll have enough savings for both treatment and a vacation.
  • Consider a “staycation” or doing something closer to home instead of longer distance travel to save money.
  • Think about whether you can physically go on vacation, given your diagnosis and treatment plan. Do you have a medical issue not related to fertility that could become aggravated by traveling, which in turn could postpone your fertility plans?

Commit yourself to finding solutions as opposed to dwelling on the problem. These are just a handful of practical ways to adapt to changing fertility plans. What would you recommend to others who are struggling to adapt? Please comment below. I’d love to hear back from you. As always, thank you for reading.

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