by Di Shepherd (Owner, iBelieve Fitness)
I always thought that I had time to have a baby. I was waiting for some kind of sign to tell me that I was ready. So instead of starting a family at a young age, I spent my 20s and early 30s working my way up the corporate ladder. Then all of a sudden I found myself wanting a baby and it just didn’t happen. I was always told to be an independent woman – after all, others before me had fought for women’s lib – establish my career first and that children would come later, but I had no idea that leaving it so long would be detrimental to my chances of having even just 1 bubba.
I found myself seeking help from my GP, who recommended me to an IVF specialist, then to be told matter of factly that I should have come to them sooner, my time was running out and the odds were against me. I was shocked at my dwindling chances and willing to turn back time, changing IVF clinics 3 times and wishing I had found the right partner sooner, wishing I hadn’t thrown myself into my career, but none of that would change my situation.
IVF can be such a draining experience. The time, the money and then what no one can really prepare you for… the emotional toll it takes on you! Sitting in waiting rooms, reading magazines, and staring at other hopeful ‘mummies to be’ can be a really sad experience after many rounds of trying.
It seemed every time I turned on the radio there was another IVF commercial, claiming to be the best clinic or the best doctor with the best odds. It seemed everyone else around me was falling pregnant or I was seeing babies in prams everywhere I went, feeling locked out from the playground when I walked my ‘fur babies’ and feeling like I never fit in.
Some get lucky first time around, but for others, a couple of months turns into more than a year and the injection of hormones and emotional stress after each failed round can be just heartbreaking.
So how did I cope?
Please know that you don’t need to be alone on an IVF journey. Once a pretty much taboo subject, you will now find that IVF is so much more commonplace. Talking to others really helped me. Once I opened up, I found others sharing their own past IVF journeys – successful ones, giving me hope that one day my time would come. Talking to others who had already been through IVF gave me solace that others had been there before and knew what I was going through. They picked me up when I was feeling down and helped me cope.
If you have a friend going through IVF, it’s always nice when friends take the time to learn how it works and what they can do to support you as a friend. Sometimes they don’t know how to ask, so just opening up and telling them can be beneficial for you both so they know what you are going through and what they can do to help you when you are feeling down. If you are a very private person, then there are counselling services provided by the IVF clinics too. Be open with your partner, make sure you have their support and lean on each other for support – especially following potential failed rounds.
Although I did hate people telling me to ‘relax it will happen’ I found that taking the time to ‘learn’ how to relax and surrounding myself with good friends and family was absolutely pivotal. Relaxing is not something that comes easily to me so I turned to Yoga and Acupuncture and learned how to understand the importance of breath and meditation. Good healthy nutrition, exercise and time to have a good laugh was also my outlet to feeling normal and create strength both physically and mentally.
Although there is no option to ever turn back time, my advice for anyone finding it difficult to fall pregnant (even with a second child and/or if your bank balance will allow it) is to seek help sooner rather than later. New full Medicare IVF programs are now accessible so there are plenty of options to suit lots of different situations.
Sharing my IVF experience like this isn’t something I’ve done before but I figured if sharing some small insight into my journey could help another mumma relate or help other mummas who have never been through IVF understand what we go through and how to provide some support, then I would feel really good about doing so.
I was blessed with a beautiful boy on 19 July 2016 and I am forever thankful for him. To all those still trying for their little miracle, my sincerest best wishes to you – stay strong and reach out for support and help along the way and I hope that your journey will be successful real soon xo