“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is a nice sentiment, but we all know that it’s not true. Words can be very painful at times, and even the simple diagnosis of “infertility” brands us in ways that we can’t describe. And because we’ve all been on the receiving end of words that we didn’t want to hear, we become afraid of speaking up for what we need, or want, because we may hurt someone else, or we fear retaliation. Here are 5 steps to help you self-advocate and speak up for what you want.
Sounds simple, right? It isn’t always though. Do you want to do another round of IUI, or do you bite the bullet and do IVF? We can’t answer that for you, and your doctor can’t either. (You might be thinking your doctor can, but you still have to consent and most of the time you have to pay). Here at Orchid Experience we’re big fans of yoga, meditation, and journaling to help get clear on what you need/want, but we know not everyone does this regularly. So if you do have a strong mind-body practice, use it. If you don’t, find something that you love to do that allows you to stay present (keeps you out of thinking mode). Maybe it’s painting, hiking, playing a musical instrument, exercising, or something else. Do whatever it is for an hour (or more, or less, but long enough to clear your mind) then sit down with a pen and paper and start writing. You don’t have to write down everything you’re thinking, or over analyze the situation, you can even doodle. Just write. Set a timer for 5 minutes and don’t stop until the timer goes off. If you have more to write after the timer goes off, keep writing. When you’re done, you might know your answer. If you don’t, re-read what you wrote. If the answer still isn’t clear, give it another day and try again.
Once you have what you want – research. Since we’re infertility focused, research all the different tests and procedures. Grab a friend or acquaintance that has journeyed down this road before and ask them about their experience. Know what the paths look like, and know what your procedure (or lack thereof) entails. Knowledge creates a sense of security and safety. It’s easier to ask for what you want when you are more secure in your desires.
Sometimes the consequences are intense. Asking for an extensive amount of leave from work to do fertility treatments in a foreign country might result in a “no or quit.” This is an extreme situation with an extreme potential consequence. For most things, the consequences are not that bad. If you want to fire your doctor, you don’t even have to tell them. If you want to tell your doctor that you want to do another round of IUI even though they suggested IVF, the worst they could say is “no” and honestly you’re paying them and they’re probably willing to take your money. Make a list of pros and cons for what you want, and move from there.
Write it down. Read it a few times. Then read it aloud. Revise as needed, then read it to a friend and ask them how it sounds. If needed revise and revise again until it’s just right.
If you know you might chicken out, or if you are easily persuaded, bring a friend or family member to help you stand up for what you need and want.
You can do this! Discover what you want, become knowledgeable, know the pros and cons, know how you’re going to say it, and bring a cheerleader with you.
Download our Self-Advocacy eBook for more great tips and questions to consider as you move through your infertility journey.