You’re a grown-up now and it’s time for you to manage your own healthcare. You’ve tried to get pregnant for over a year and haven’t had a successful pregnancy. The doctors have started to throw around words like “infertility” and talk to you about your “options.” It’s easy to feel like a victim and forget to stand up for yourself when are you are hurting and upset. But it is absolutely critical that you take charge of your situation and manage your baby journey like a BOSS. Here are seven tips to help you take control of your baby journey.
- Make your own decisions. Always, always, always, make your own decisions for your health care and your baby journey. Get input from wise women and men- your partner, reproductive endocrinologist (RE/fertility doctor), your acupuncturist, your naturopath, your hypnotherapist, your fertility coach, your mom, your mother-in-law (or not, hah), a brilliant fertility blogger :-), or other helper on your journey. But never, ever, ever let them have the final say. They provide you with information and options- not final decisions. And remember: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. All the RE has is western medicine and assistive reproductive technology like IUI, IVF, or donor eggs. They take 15 minutes to look at your chart, another 15 to talk with you and they order some tests. Then they decide which track you fit into- try a little Clomid first, straight to IUI or IVF, or do not pass Go and straight to donor eggs. Those are the treatments available in their toolbox and they can’t think beyond it. Your acupuncturist will spend slightly more time with you, and do other tests. They will have other treatment ideas, including needling, chinese herbs, special diets for your chinese medicine diagnosis, and lifestyle changes. Get input from everyone, and then make the decision YOURSELF (with input from your partner of course). You are the only one who spends 24 hours a day with your body and knows your heart’s true desires and fears.
- Never, ever, ever, call yourself “infertile.” Sure, technically if you’ve been trying for one year and haven’t had a successful pregnancy western medicine diagnoses you with “infertility.” And, there is a totally valid political movement to validate “infertility” as an illness that should be covered by insurance just like any other sickness and to raise general awareness. I get that, and it’s cool. Here’s the problem- the word “infertile” suggests you can’t have a baby. And, unless you are missing your uterus, you probably can. And even if, in the unlikely event that never in your entire life are you able to conceive or carry a child to term, you can be fertile in other ways- creating great things and raising babies grown outside your womb. Unless you are missing your uterus, eastern medicine thinks you can be fertile and make a baby. I think you already are fabulously fertile, and I don’t even know you. YOU need to think you are fertile too. Have you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? Don’t say something outloud or in your head that you don’t want to be true. You are fabulously and amazingly fertile. Say it outloud every day while looking at yourself in the mirror. I’m not joking- you are not your diagnosis. Don’t own your “infertility” – own your “FERTILITY!”
- Don’t rush into making major decisions. Unless you are nearing 45 years old, don’t rush into a major decision like pursuing IVF or donor eggs (especially if you are out of pocket for the payment). Sure your RE might say scary things like, “you’re running out of time” and “you don’t want to miss that one golden egg.” You know who else uses scare tactics like that? Used car salesmen (no offense to used car salesmen). Here’s the deal- IVF and donor egg IVF are super expensive (if you don’t have it covered), and the drugs are super hard on your body. Plus, the more false hormones you add to your system to less likely your body is to balance on its own. When the doctor gives you options, say “thank you very much, we’ll go home and discuss these.” Never make a decision in the office. Take your time to think about it, and make a plan with your partner. And always remember that the egg cycle is 90 days- that means if you take three months to cleanse toxins, nourish yourself with a fertility diet, and do a mind-body program, you will have top-notch eggs three months from now. Why would you risk doing IVF next month without taking those steps first?
- Have a plan and stick to it. When you first get your western medicine diagnosis, seek out multiple opinions from a wide array of alternative sources and then make a plan with your partner. Maybe the doctor has recommended trying clomid or IUI first, but you’ve read that your best chances are with IVF with ICSI and you don’t want to waste your time and money on something that doesn’t have as good a chance of working. Maybe the doctor has said your only option is donor eggs, but you decide to try six months of acupuncture, cleansing toxins from your life, sticking to a strict fertility diet, and mind-body work instead of jumping in and finding a donor. Stick to your decisions, but be flexible and willing to adjust your plan when you gain new and relevant information. Ask yourself these questions and develop a logical plan from there:
- What is your primary goal that you absolutely must achieve? To be parents? To be parents of your biological child? To have a successful pregnancy that you carry yourself? What other goals might be wonderful, but you could be flexible on?
- What are you willing to do to get pregnant? Are you willing to do IUI or IVF? Are you willing to use donor eggs or sperm? Would you be open to a donated embryo? Where will you find the money for the procedures and the medicines?
- Are you open to a gestational surrogate? Are you open to adoption?
- How many rounds of IVF are you willing to try? Pick a number and stick to it. We agreed to never try more than 3 rounds of IVF, because most couples get pregnant within 3 tries.
- How much can you afford? What costs are the most important? Seeing a naturopath, acupuncturist, and hypnotherapist might seem expensive, but they are significantly cheaper than IVF. They can also greatly increase your chances of success with IVF- are you willing to try them first?
- Never stop googling! Research, research, and then do more research. When doctors (or naturopaths, or acupuncturists, or your mother-in-law) tell you that you’ll “make yourself crazy by reading too much” they are discounting your intelligence and your ability to manage your emotions. Ignore them. NO ONE knows your body like you do, and no doctor has the time to read ALL the relevant new and alternative research related to your condition. Don’t get overwhelmed by your research- get organized! You aren’t a weak-willed, delicate little flower who melts down when she reads about all the life changes she can make to beat infertility, you are a strong lion of a woman who can research, read, and make a plan to change her life and be a fantastic mommy-to-be.
- Don’t be a victim. Sure, when you first get your diagnosis, or when you hit your “infertility rock-bottom” you are going to feel stressed, lost, and afraid. I get it. I had been trying for less than two years when my bleak diagnosis came in. I was well on my way to a nervous breakdown when my husband pulled me out and we took a break. There is a time to wallow in self-pity, but that time is short. So snuggle up with the kitty, watch the Gilmore Girls, and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Then, put on your big girl panties, throw away the ice cream, and say, “I am fabulously fertile and I can do anything!” Don’t stay stuck. Chart your own course. Change your life. Keep moving forward. No one can stop you from being a mommy- except you!
- Make the change today. Never throw your hands up in the air and say, “Oh well! There’s nothing I can do! I’ll just trust my doctors.” You are not helpless. You can change your life today and vastly increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Completely commit to eradicating toxins from your life as much as possible, to nourishing yourself with a whole foods organic fertility diet, and developing a fertility mind-body practice. Do ALL THE THINGS. Don’t cheat. You can do this. You are amazing. Don’t let fear and panic rule you- get organized, change your life, and forge your path to your baby.
Do you have any other tips you’d like to share for how you’ve kicked butt managing your infertility? Leave a comment letting us know!