Thanks to the brave women who openly talk about their experience with infertility, the days of ‘IVF’ being a four letter word are disappearing. For many though, using fertility treatments remains one of the most intense and at times secretive things we can do in our quest to become a parent. It opens up a vulnerability the world can see and exposes a part of ourselves that we never wanted to. Every woman is different but here are seven new things you didn’t know about some of the people using fertility treatments.
1. We can be the masters of deception.
This skill becomes honed around the seventh month of trying to conceive and what feels like the thirty-fifth time you are asked when you are going to have kids. ‘Oh you know, we want to do more traveling so will just wait for a bit’ can seem a bit awkward at first but before you know it it’s rolling off the tongue. If you don’t want the world to know you are doing IVF (whether it be for the first or seventh time), white lies are essential for covering all sorts of tracks, work meetings and baby showers. You know that time I said I couldn’t go to your 30th dinner party as I couldn’t get out of my shift at work? I wasn’t even working. I was having my egg collection the next day and the thought of being around a group of people talking about how great their children are was just too much.
2. We aren't naive. We know the statistics.
And you don’t need to feel sorry for us. We know that we are spending a lot of money on something that only has a 20 percent chance of being successful (if we are lucky). It is not because we are desperate, uninformed or have been deceived by the fertility industry that we choose to do this. It is because it is either do IVF and at least be in with a chance of having that take home baby or to give up on the only thing that we ever want. We choose hope.
3. We know A LOT about reproduction.
Worried about your own fertile health? Just ask a woman going through fertility treatments. Sure, it is likely to be a bit biased and you may walk away wondering why you didn’t freeze your eggs when you were 21, but generally there is so much we can tell you. Pregnancy rates, signs of ovulation and implantation, a crash course in reproductive immunology, naturopathic nutrition, the best supplements to improve egg quality and tips to improve sperm health, we know it all. And that is just the start of it.
4. We sometimes feel silly for eating gluten free/ taking 13 vitamins/ doing acupuncture…
We know not everything we do is evidence based. But a lot of it is. When this isn’t your first, second or even third time out at the fertility rodeo, within reason, anything can seem like a good idea. Oh and as far as gluten-free eating and various vitamins go, for some women there is definitely some evidence to it.
5. We have excellent radars.
We can detect pity, pregnancy announcements and fellow ‘infertiles’ like you would not believe. And even though we might get it wrong sometimes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Nothing worse than a ‘surprise’ pregnancy announcement at the end of a failed IVF cycle.
6. We love to talk about the details of our latest IVF cycle.
But only to people who have been through it as well. There is nothing more reassuring than finding a fertility friend who knows enough to be able to over analyze your estrogen count for the sixth month in a row and nothing more isolating than your best friend looking skeptically at you followed by a million questions that seem to be coming from a place of intrigue rather than genuine care. We know you mean well and just because we don’t talk to you about our IVF journey it doesn’t mean we don’t love you, it just means that we can do without feeling like a desperate scientific experiment.
7. We are SO much stronger than you think.
Going through fertility treatments makes you face possibilities that you thought you may never need to face, feel lower than you have ever felt and wrestle with uncertainty every day. But we don’t let these things dictate our lives. We get up every day and continue to give it our best shot (quite literally) and then look back and know that we survived and thrived. Yes, there is something missing from our lives. A big something. But we still hold onto the things that we can have such as fabulous careers, wonderful marriages and amazing friendships. Plus until our number comes in and we get our baby, we can still go traveling. In between cycles, of course.