If you’re the 1 in 6 Australian couples who are confronted with infertility, there’s a good chance you will experience the physical and emotional stress it brings whether you’re months or years into treatment.
There are highs and lows; hope and despair, implications on your mind, body, relationship and finances. There’s sacrifice and heartache and for a considerable amount of time it’s overwhelming.
As I wait to commence a medicated frozen embryo transfer (FET), a number of coping mechanisms have come to mind that I’d like to share. IVF is not only a numbers game; it’s a huge psychological journey. Here are my tips for getting through it:
Connect with others – whether it be talking to a close friend or trusted family member, joining a support group, starting a blog or personal journal, talking to someone or writing is an excellent way to ensure you don’t bottle up your emotions. There are some great online support groups where there’s no such thing as a silly question. No one will understand what you’re going through more than these amazing women.
Spend time with your significant other – go on regular date nights. See a movie, go out for dinner, go for a long drive to wherever the road takes you, be spontaneous and get out and have some fun. Do what you can to take your mind off IVF. Your mind will thank you!
Spend money on something other than treatment – pamper yourself. No one deserves it more than you do!! Go on a holiday or cheap weekend getaway. A change of environment does wonders. We love going away on holidays. It’s like a ‘reset’ button and we always come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever is thrown our way next. Instead of always buying presents for anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas, we much prefer to get away and have some extra spending money up our sleeve.
Exercise – get outdoors, enjoy the fresh air and go for a walk. Do the kind of exercise you enjoy doing. For me it’s running and boxing. Nothing beats smashing out your anger and frustration or clearing your mind and the many thoughts constantly going on. Exercise has long been known to boost happy chemicals and release endorphins, making it a fantastic stress relief. Of course there will be days when you just don’t feel like exercising (and that’s totally fine) and days when you will actually be advised against it.
Take a break – I know this may seem counterproductive but it’s nice to take a break from the daily race against the clock. We took a break over Christmas. It great not to constantly be on the run planning my day around what time I need to be home for injections.
Control your mind – most of my stress comes from my own mind. If you’re anything like me, your mind rarely takes a break from general day to day things let alone through the process of IVF. How will I respond to meds this month? How many eggs will I produce? Will they fertilise? Will this be it? The journey is not only physically but emotionally draining. Channel your inner thoughts and try to be positive. Have hope and faith. I know for a lot of people this can be easier said than done.
Be kind to yourself – take some time out for yourself. Get a massage, catch up with friends, read a book, cook, write. Do whatever you need to do to get through each day as it comes and ensure you take the time to REST.
Be prepared to gain some kg’s – especially if you suffer from PCOS. It’s hard enough to maintain a healthy weight with PCOS and with all the hormones being pumped into your body it’s just another nasty side effect we need to deal with.
Be grateful – Know that there’s someone else who is always worse off than you are. Be grateful that you’re alive and have access to incredible doctors, healthcare and the latest technologies.
Baby dust to all xx