Awhile back, a friend asked me what I wish I had known when I first received my infertility diagnosis. While there are hundreds of things I’ve learned over the past seven years, these are some that have proven to be very helpful to me in my journey. So, I’m sharing them with you today.
1. Resolving your infertility will likely take longer than you expect. Hopefully you’ll get lucky and it won’t, but you should be prepared for a long process. It’s going to take some time to move through testing, treatment, and finally reach resolution, whether it’s through treatment, adoption or ultimately choosing to live childfree. For this reason, I often tell those who have recently been diagnosed to take some time to adjust to their diagnosis, find out what their options are, and move forward with the most aggressive option available to them as soon as they are ready.
2. It’s okay to take breaks. Sometimes breaks are forced, due to medical or financial reasons, and sometimes they are a choice. Either way, try to make the most of your “time off”. Infertility is all consuming, even when you’re not going in for daily ultrasounds and stuck with a curfew in order to inject yourself with meds at the right time. Take this opportunity to connect with the people and activities that you enjoyed before you started dealing with Infertility. Explore new hobbies, whatever they might be. Or, just sleep if you have no energy for hobbies after the marathon of medical appointments you’ve just endured!
3. Make friends with others experiencing infertility. No one else is going to understand the mix of joy, agony and guilt you feel when a family member announces a pregnancy like they are. No one else can give you some Lupron when your doctor’s office doesn’t have any on hand and your order from the pharmacy is delayed by a snowstorm (thanks, Jessica!) and no one else can easily decode the sentence, “I’m 6DP5DT. I triggered on April 10th. When do you think it’s safe to POAS?”
4. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to little things that make you happy. It’s important to set boundaries for self-care. Say no to attending baby showers, leave the family Christmas party before Santa shows up to pass out gifts to the kids, or visit friends after their toddler is in bed for the night. Above all, always have an escape route and reward yourself for doing things that are hard. I always take a trip to Sephora or Ulta after a trip to Babies R Us, for example :).
5. Share your story. Whether it’s with one family member you can trust, a group of others struggling with Infertility around a table at a support group meeting, or publicly through social media. Infertility can be very isolating. Sharing your story will benefit you and others by creating a community of support and awareness and reminding you that you are not alone in your struggle.
Interested in sharing your story through the ART of Infertility project? We are always interested in talking to those who would like to be interviewed or contribute to the project through art or writing.