We were convinced we would have an easy time getting pregnant, we were young, and we were healthy. After a year of trying my husband suggested that if we weren’t pregnant at the end of that month that we go get checked out. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to know that there was something wrong, or maybe. I didn’t want to know the road was going to be hard. It didn’t take long to find out there was a number of issues on my husband’s side, but I still had to undergo a battery of tests. Everything appeared to be well with me, but they still said our only chance to get pregnant would be with ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection – a form of IVF).
My husband underwent surgery and by the time we could potentially do our first round we were in the process of moving to another country. We were young so felt no urgency to rush through treatment. More than a year after moving we started our first round of IVF. We were excited, nervous, and scared. There was a large amount of money on the line for a 33% chance of success. The round was full of “what comes next?” “Should I be doing this thing or that thing?” “What about this thing that I read about?” “Is this okay.” Everything looked great going into our egg retrieval, but on the day of collection I had significantly fewer eggs than anticipated based on follicles counted via ultrasound. When it was time for the embryo/blastocyst transfer there were only two OK quality blastocysts to transfer. The embryologist and doctors didn’t seem optimistic, which made me more anxious. In the end, it didn’t stick and when I brought up my concerns about how the cycle went the doctors didn’t seem to take my concerns seriously.
Round 1 Takeaways:
You can be prepared but you might still have a lot of “hindsight” after it’s all said and done.
Ask questions, ask them twice if needed.
Write down all instructions you receive.
Listen to your gut.
Speak up and advocate for yourself. Unfortunately, no one else will.
Fast forward two years and another country later when we decided to pursue another round. Instead of going to the clinic suggested by our general practitioner we decided to research our options and make our most educated decision. This time the process was faster. I saw my doctor for every appointment. She ran all of her own ultrasounds and asked more questions than the last clinic. She suggested a few different tests and procedures as well as a different type of IVF treatment. I felt like I was being heard by my doctor and that she understood my concerns. The first round at this clinic seemed to have a similar outcome to our first. I didn’t think to mention how the first round went (other than that I felt I was a poor responder to the long protocol), but when I mentioned it during the last scan before the egg retrieval my doctor expressed concern that it may go similarly. She assured me she would do everything in her power to give us a successful round but also made sure we knew the chances were not great. And she was right.
Round 2 Takeaways:
If you switch clinics, give your doctor as much information as you can about how your previous treatment(s) went.
The doctor suggested waiting three months and taking a few antioxidant supplements during that time. The next round went even faster than the first two. I tried distracting myself with other things in the near future (like a three-week vacation), and not worrying how a pregnancy may or may not affect those things. The third round went just the way the doctor expected. She seemed extremely hopeful that the round would be a success, and she was right again.
Round 3 Takeaways:
Try to distract yourself with positive things.
Try not to worry about the outcome.
Everyone’s experience through infertility is different. There’s hesitation to get diagnosed, there’s anxiety around the diagnosis, and oftentimes there’s fear about the outcome of, well, everything. My story is way too long to tell in full, but I hope I was able to share my two biggest emotional experiences during the process: anxiety and fear. I didn’t even touch on how both of those things were so strong before making the first injections, but the one thing that helped me through all of this was my yoga practice (and all the pieces that come with it).
For me, mindful movement, staying present, journaling, and deep breathing were extremely impactful on maintaining my physical health and sanity. Deep breathing helped me before and during every procedure and injection. Mindful movement helped me stay present and healthy. Journaling helped me get through my thoughts: the good, the bad, and the ugly (and yes there were some ugly thoughts). And using mindfulness practices to help me stay in the present moment made life a little more bearable during those tough times.
You can find tutorials on how to do this on the internet, and we offer it in our program The Paths. When we exhale, our diaphragms stimulate our vagus nerve telling our heart to slow down. When our heart rate slows down it signals to our brain that we are safe and we can rest, digest, and create offspring.
It sounds so simple sometimes but mindfulness practices are about keeping you in the present, not allowing yourself to get distracted by thoughts, other sights or sounds. The best way to do anything mindfully is to tap into each sense (one at a time or all together). Notice how it feels, sounds, smells, and maybe even tastes. Sight is usually obvious and that’s where it can get tricky. Instead of seeing how you usually do, really try to notice the colors, the visual textures, the movements. You can find out more here on other ways to practice mindfulness.
We’ve written extensively about writing here at the Orchid Experience. We talk about it so much because it’s an easy and free way to get clear on how you feel and what you want.
This is what brought Orchid Experience together. It was our love for yoga and how it helped us through some of our darkest days. We may have had different experiences on our infertility paths but it’s the one thing that helped us through. To find out more on our infertility centered yoga practices go here.
Infertility is a rollercoaster and everyone’s experience is different. Try these practices to see how they can make a difference in your life.