Why We Need to Normalize IVF: 1 in 3 Women Are Going Through Fertility Treatments
A Fertility Journey: Excitement
You’re excited, you’ve decided now is the time to start a family. You wait until ovulation and you start trying. It never crosses your mind that you might have issues. Fertility issues. My mother and sister had no issues, so why would I? You keep trying but nothing happens. Month after month you see your period and you continue to hope for the best. You’re a healthy 40 year old woman, so you keep thinking, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ You experience shame, and self-doubt, you ask, ‘why is my body not performing the way it should?’. You talk to your husband and he keeps assuring you everything is ok.
You decide you need to go see the doctor and ask for a referral to the fertility clinic to make sure everything is ok. You go to the fertility clinic, get all the tests done and find out you have unexplained fertility and everything is normal. You leave shell shocked – unexplained fertility – what does that even mean!? Nothing is wrong with you but you simply can’t get pregnant every month (naturally).
You start your fertility journey with the clinic. You’re excited, you have high hopes, you’re optimistic for the future. You want to make friends, but all the other woman’s eyes and heads are down. You feel weird going to ask the other women for a chat. You know you need support and hope they do too, but don’t know if you should go over, so you don’t.
Then one day you do go over and here’s the experience in first person;
I finally get the courage to ask one woman to be my friend on this journey and she accepts. I feel so lucky to have support. clinic visits start with cycle monitoring (blood work and transvaginal ultrasound), so you inject yourself daily with hormones, come back for your egg retrieval, and wait for the call. The call that holds the number of good embryos you’ve produced after pre-genetic screening (PGS). The call is everything. I hoped and prayed hard that the eggs would make it to transfer. After my first round of IVF, none of the eggs made it. After my second round again nothing.
I feel lonely, depressed and hopeless.
Why is this not working?
What am I doing wrong?
I want to give up, my body has been through so much. How can I bear another round of IVF on my body, and my finances when there is no guarantee. I become a gambler, an addict, I want more because maybe this time it will work. Hope is a powerful drug.
I start to look back and examine why it hasn’t worked after 2 rounds of IVF. I think back to everything I’ve heard. Biologically, I am too old, my egg reserve is down, I might need a donor egg.
To no fault of the fertility clinics, they are trained to be doctors, they are trained to be scientific, they are trained to tell you what they see logically. Logically, I am not having a baby.
I take a step back and examine my fertility journey. I realize I need to change my lifestyle, my stress level, and my mindset. After 2 rounds of IVF, I pause to detox my body and mind. Not once during my 6 month IVF journey, have I given myself time to reflect.
I was only thinking about the end goal.
I realized I needed to change.. One of those changes was to make my life as stress-free as possible during this journey and to keep my positivity levels high.
This is where Mary Wong comes into my life. When I meet Mary Wong, the first thing she gives me is her book; Pathways to Pregnancy. I liked the fact that she had her own fertility journey, which she writes about in her book. It made her relatable and trustworthy. We chat and the thing I will never forget she tells me is, “To make space for the baby in your life.”
What does she mean? I thought I already made space. I came to realize that I never did.
I read her book in 2 days and a light bulb turned on.
Everything is possible, I am not my diagnosis.
I can and will be able to get pregnant despite the statistics.
I start to have a mindset shift and realize something; the fertility/infertility journey conversation needs to be normalized, every woman needs support on this journey and every journey needs to be as positive as possible.
33% of American adults report that they or someone they know has used some type of fertility treatment in order to try to have a baby, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, meaning 1 in 3 women are going through IVF or IUI treatment. That is a huge number!
As I reflect on the past year, I want to share my experience with 33% of the women on this journey and have an open and honest discussion around our experiences in a safe space. I want to create a positive fertility journey for every woman and continue to keep sharing.
Come join Mary Wong and I with special guest Dr. Ari Baratz as we discuss Pathways to Pregnancy and our fertility journeys on April 1st from 6:30pm- 9pm. Click here for the event details. Remember you are not your diagnosis!
Zuzana Drakul is the Cofounder of BooknBrunch, a reader, a foodie, and an all-around connector. When she’s not reading, eating or traveling, you can find Zuzana practicing restorative pilates; in the back of rickshaw in Thailand or studying the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Favourite book: Stranger by Albert Camus
Favourite brunch spot: The Federal