real life

5 things to know when you start your IVF journey.

For all the women who’ve been told they can’t conceive naturally.

I felt water welling up in the corner of my eyes and found myself reaching for tissues from the tissue box on the desk. I couldn’t help it and my tears started running down my cheeks.

By the time my doctor was finished explaining the photos from my operation and the moderate endometriosis and abnormalities of my fallopian tubes (my makeup was already wrecked by this time), she said that I am an IVF candidate.

I grabbed my husband’s left hand and squeezed it tightly. He held my hand tighter. It never occurred to me that we would be in this situation. The IVF stories I read in newspapers, magazines and blogs were happening to us. I looked at my doctor and said, “Do we have to decide now?” She suggested that I see her in 3 months. I agreed.

As I left my doctor’s rooms, the emotions started to float – I was sad, overwhelmed, disappointed, confused, angry and a lot more inside that I couldn’t explain at that time. Am I a failure? Is it my fault? Should I have started a family earlier instead of pursuing my career? Am I being punished? Can my husband and I survive this? Do I want to do it? How much do I want a child?

"Am I a failure? Is it my fault?"

My first reaction was not to tell anyone; people don’t need to know what I’m going through. I can handle it myself, but the more I held my emotions inside (whatever they were at that time), the more I cried because I felt helpless and alone. By the end of the night, I was exhausted from crying.

When I woke up the following day, I knew (and appreciated) that I’m not the only one who may be going through this emotional roller coaster of learning that conceiving naturally may be difficult (or is out of the window). And I hope these five tips will give you a good starting point in helping you decide whether to take the IVF plunge or not.

1. Acknowledge your feelings.

I hid my feelings and they consumed me every day until I gave myself permission to say “I am sad today and that’s OK”. If you feel like crying, do it. If you feel like writing a raging journal, do it. Acknowledge those feelings because you are allowed to do so. Don’t keep them inside.

2. Talk to your partner.

The day after the doctor’s meeting, I talked to my partner why I was hesitant to do IVF. I also told him that if we ever decide to proceed with IVF, I would need the longest string of patience from him; an “I love you” in the morning and evening and a hot cup of skinny decaf mocha every morning of my weekends as my mini “treat”. Spell out your fears to your partner. What are you afraid of? Do you have any expectations you want to tell your partner before undergoing IVF? Discuss with your partner if there are other options both of you wish to explore.

"It never occurred to me that we would be in this situation. The IVF stories I read in newspapers, magazines and blogs were happening to us."

3. Reach out to your trusted family members and friends.

I didn’t know how to share the news to my family and friends because I didn’t want them to judge or pity me. But as soon as I told them, I felt liberated because I knew that I have them with me if I proceed with the IVF journey. It may be difficult to tell them at first, but it will feel good to share what you’re going through.  Support from your loved ones is very important. Don’t feel that you’re alone.

4. Find and talk to people.   

I know it’s easy to look online and read up on people’s IVF stories, but it may also be helpful if you could talk to people personally about their IVF experiences. A friend of a friend can be a great start. Ask your close friends if they know any friends who have been or are going through IVF and ask if you could contact them. You may be able to ask them about any IVF issues that are bothering you. Having someone answer your (almost endless) questions personally may help you reach an informed decision.

5. Don’t beat yourself up.

It’s OK if, at the end of the day, you still find yourself with more questions. Take a little bit of time to read and research, talk to people about their IVF experiences and answer your own questions. That time is precious because it will help you come to a decision that both of you and your partner are comfortable with.

If you went through IVF, what advice do you wish you had?

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