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FertilityFor YouReal-Stories

What I wish I’d known before fertility treatment

By February 23, 2022No Comments
fertility treatment

Lately, I find myself reflecting on my fertility journey. Looking back and looking forward, starting out, we were so excited and hopeful. Sure, believing that getting pregnant would happen quickly – and if it didn’t just happen, we would get pregnant within a few months. After all, wasn’t that what we were brought up to believe and what I learned in school?

How I wish I had known that this was far from reality and that, statistically, becoming pregnant takes longer for most people and that this — as opposed to the fairy tale pregnancy we think is inevitable — is normal. Fast forward to starting fertility treatment, and, again, I was hopeful – I thought I would have the treatment and, boom, walk away with a baby. 

After trying “naturally” for so long, I never expected it to take multiple cycles to finally become pregnant. On reflection, there are many things I wish I had known before starting fertility treatment. 

For any of you embarking on fertility treatment, here is what I wish I had known, because if I had known even half the things I know today, we would have been so much more prepared for what was coming. 

 

Trust your gut

Choosing a fertility doctor or clinic is not an easy task. In fact, it can be a minefield! From nurses to the reception staff and billing, everyone in this environment should make you feel respected, excited anTrust your gutd hopeful. 

 When choosing your doctor, make sure you ask if she or he will be the person carrying out the procedures. While the doctor is a very important aspect of fertility medicine, even the greatest doctor in the world is only as good as her or his staff. Patients must rely on the office staff to schedule appointments, coordinate treatments, facilitate testing, and monitor progress. They are a team, and you, the client, should feel like you have a team behind you. 

It’s important to have the what’s what on many things. For example, who is the embryologist? What equipment do they have? What’s communication like in the clinic? Will the doctor be available to answer your questions? Do you get the run-around when you call the office? Do staff answer your emails promptly? Do they remember who you are? If you call someone, do they call you back? 

There is so much to think about – and that’s in addition to the not insignificant matter of becoming pregnant. But for me, trusting my gut instinct (eventually) was the best decision we ever made: knowing our doctor and team had our back from the get-go and that we had finally been treated like a person first and a patient second helped us make the final decision. 

Out charity partner Fertility Network UK’s useful resource is a handy starting point when choosing a clinic: https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/learn-about-fertility/treatment/choosing-a-clinic/

 

Fertility treatment is a waiting game

Fertility, trying to conceive, and treatment are all waiting games. Initially, you were waiting for the right “person,” then the right “time,” waiting until you were ready, waiting to seefertility treatment each month if it happened. There is a LOT of waiting when you’re going through fertility treatment. Waiting for an appointment, waiting to get started, waiting to move on lists, waiting on the two-week wait. 

So much waiting always left me in limbo, and I felt powerless. But I believe that you don’t have to feel powerless; you can take control and arm yourself with information. 

While you are waiting, read up about fertility treatment, educate yourself, ask questions, plan, and take control.

 

Your fertility treatment cycle can be cancelled at any stage

I remember sitting in stirrups and looking at the nurse with the wand in hand and seeing a distressed look come across her face. Suddenly, I hear, “Oh, we might have to cancel thisfertility treatment cycle; it looks like you’re not responding the way we want.” 

What does that even mean? Not once during the whole journey did, I think my treatment could be cancelled. But the reality is that not every patient who starts a cycle completes it. Your cycle can be cancelled part-way through, cancelled before egg retrieval or after for reasons such as (deep breath) poor response to fertility drugs that stimulate your ovaries, being at risk of a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), having no eggs collected, failure of eggs to fertilise, abnormal fertilisation or abnormal embryo development. But knowing in advance that things may not go as planned can help ease the disappointment if something is cancelled. 

 

Taking a cycle off from fertility treatment is not a bad thing

After our successful cycle, it took us five years to go back to the clinic. I wasn’t mentally, emotionally or physically ready. Unfortunately, we hadfertility treatment another failed cycle (actually, we had a miscarriage at 7 weeks, and it was a horrendous journey, but that’s another story for another day). 

After this failed cycle, I was adamant about keeping going. Like a bull running through a china shop, all I wanted to do was rush into the next cycle – which was the opposite of our previous experience. I rushed into that cycle and, needless to say, failure struck again. 

Taking a break between cycles gives you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself, both physically and emotionally. Fertility treatment can be an emotional journey, and giving your mind and body a break and getting back to some of your normal routines can be a positive experience – one that might provide you with a different (and better) frame of mind when starting treatment again.

 

Every sense of modesty will go out the window

I remember the night before my ultrasound appointment, making sure I had waxed to perfection.fertility treatment Attending my first ultrasound appointment, I carefully folded my underwear, placing it out of sight, and crossed my legs so tight until the nurse coughed and said politely and respectfully, “I need to examine you.” 

It was my sister, a midwife, who reminded me that nobody cares about your private parts or if your legs are waxed, and that once you have seen one, you have seen them all! This made me laugh, and to be honest, at that time, I needed laughter in my life. It also helped me understand that the nurses and doctors are people who care about you, and they respect your privacy. They will do everything possible to make you feel as comfortable as possible during examinations and procedures. 

 

The medication isn’t as scary as you think

When I first picked up a double bag of medication from our pharmacy, I was so overwhelmed. What was I doing? There were so many drugs and needles! How would I remember whatfertility treatment and when to take the different medications? Would I forget? Could I inject myself? What if I forgot to take one?

This is all perfectly normal and you will have a million and one questions and concerns swirling through your brain. What helped me was that I made a drug timetable and listed each drug with the time of day to take it and a box that I had to tick, so I knew I didn’t forget it or second-guess myself. 

Your clinic can help by showing you how to inject your needles or by getting your partner involved. I know my husband felt a part of the process as he helped me with injections.

 

Advocate for yourself at your fertility appointments

Appointments at fertility clinics can be overwhelming. These appointments are fraught with emotions—infertility and pregnancy loss can befertility treatment incredibly painful both physically and emotionally—and sometimes these emotions and the uncertainty of what we’re going through can make it difficult to advocate for ourselves in these stressful conversations.

The doctors may be experts, but we can advocate for ourselves when we speak with them. We can stand up for our needs, ask questions, and (politely) demand options and second opinions. 

At my first appointments with our fertility clinic, I didn’t do this. I didn’t advocate for myself. I sat in the chair like one of those nodding dogs you see in the back of cars. 

So, how can you advocate for yourself? It’s all about preparing properly. Write down your questions ahead of time and bring your notebook and pen to your appointment. 

During the appointment, write down what the doctor said and repeat it if you don’t understand. If you need more details, ask them to email you. 

Ask for what you need, you are the client, and you are the most important person in that room. Remember, you are the reason the appointment is happening. 

The knowledge that you have the right to ask for what you need and having notes and pre-written questions in your infertility notebook can help you feel confident in advocating for yourself.

 

Have hope after failed treatment

It’s the outcome you don’t ever want to think about: Failure.fertility treatment 

You have worked hard, paid a lot of money, missed days of work and endured great emotional and physical trauma. We’re all hoping for the same thing: a baby. 

On our first failure, I felt cheated, scammed and slighted, I was confused and overwhelmed. Even embarrassed. 

Remember that those feelings are temporary. I picked myself back up (after spending time sobbing), I started a new plan and I looked at my diet, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle. 

I implemented the changes that I needed and were right for me, and I went again. I never gave up hope, and today I have the most beautiful, intelligent and kind daughter who inspires me in everything I do at Nua Fertility.

 

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

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Amy Martin

Marketing Director

Amy is a high achieving individual with a number of marketing awards under her belt, including Young Digital Business Person of the Year 2019. She is a big believer in digital marketing and an expert in executing personalised targeted campaigns. Amy strives to learn from data and campaigns that show return on investment.

Robert Gordon

Managing Director, Gordons Chemists

 

Robert Gordon, director at Gordons Chemist's. Gordons Chemists is a chain of more than 60 pharmacies, located in NI and Scotland. Gordons Chemists is Northern Ireland's largest independent pharmacy chain.

Dr. Debbie Collins

MBBchBAO MRCGP

 

Dr. Debbie Collins MBBchBAO MRCGP, a practicing GP and partner in Belfast. She has a passion for patient education and advocacy. Her special interests are Women's Health and Fertility

Sarah Trimble

Nutritional Therapist

 

Sarah Trimble - a nutritional therapist with a passion for good food instead of fad diets. Sarah has a particular Interest in using the power of nutrition to support hormonal imbalances and reproductive health.

Barbara Scott

Director, Seren Natural Fertility
Chair, Association of Reproductive Reflexologists

 

Barbara Scott is Chair of The Association of Reproductive Reflexologists, founder of Seren Natural Fertility and author of Reflexology for Fertility. In 2017, she was awarded ‘Complementary Therapist of the Year’ by the Federation of Holistic Therapists and has been nominated for several awards within the field of complementary therapy. In 2019 she was awarded the Innovation in Reflexology Award by the Association of Reflexologists.

Barbara speaks and lectures globally on her integrative approach to supporting couples having difficulties conceiving. She has spoken at many of the Fertility Shows and Fertility Fest. Alongside her own busy clinics, she also trains practitioners in providing this integrative, approach to fertility and reproductive healthcare and well-being. The ARR (Association of Reproductive Reflexologists) has trained practitioners globally, from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe, and most areas of the UK.

Her expertise and passion is in advocating a patient-centred and integrative approach to supporting both men and women on their journey to parenthood.

Cindy Charles

Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife

 

Cindy Charles- Fertility coach and Founder of Fertilelife. Cindy is a committed advocate of social and personal development. Her own life experiences inspired her fertility support services. Cindy has worked with the Fertility Network UK, and has had the privilege to work as a resident Fertility Coach for the London Women's Clinic on Harley Street. Cindy believes in the importance of nurturing our own fertility.

Dr. Lyuda Shkrobot

MD, MSc Gynecologist, Fertility specialist at unq.life fertility clinic

 

Dr Lyuda has a special interest in reproductive immunology. Dr Shkrobot assisted in establishing the first European Donor Egg programme at Sims, coordinating and liaising with Intersono Clinic in Ukraine Advisors. She is passionate about patient-centred, results-driven care.

Lisa Corcoran

Business Development Executive

 

Lisa has 15 years of commercial business experience. She has proven her capabilities in Investment Property Sales and, Management & Business Development for Technology companies that have provided her with an understanding of different customer needs across several sectors. Lisa appreciates the value of customer education and relationship building in long-lasting partnerships.

Aoibheann Murphy

Chief Financial Officer

 

Having trained with PWC, Aoibheann qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1997. She subsequently spent eight years working in industry, gaining invaluable experience in many areas In 2005 Aoibheann became MD of Pangur Consulting, providing professional expertise to a broad client base. She is looking forward to the new challenge of Nua Fertility.
 

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

Right craic!
 

Do you prefer podcasts or books? And of the one that you prefer, what is a show or title that you recommend?

I love sport…any sport…and the outdoors. Living in the Barrow valley I get to enjoy swimming and kayaking in the Barrow and exploring the Blackstairs mountains. Since I hung up my soccer boots (the body just couldn’t take it anymore!), I’ve been cycling with my lovely friends in Mount Leinster Wheelers and was chuffed to have completed the Ironman 70.3 triathlon event in Dublin in 2019!
I’m an avid reader…books beat podcasts hands down!...although recently I’ve dabbled with audio books through the library app Borrow Box. “A Little Life” left its mark on me. A harrowing story, definitely not for the faint hearted.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on women on their journey to parenthood, what would it be?

Don’t be consumed by the roles in your life – parent, partner, employee etc. Parenthood, be it getting there or going through it, will have its tough times. Cherishing yourself as an individual and making time for yourself can help you through those times….it’s good to be a bit selfish!!

Mark Mullins

Director of Sales

 

What was your journey to parenthood like?

To be honest it was very difficult. At the beginning we thought that when we decided that we wanted to start a family Deborah would fall pregnant shortly afterwards like many of her friends. As time went by, we started to suspect something was wrong. After initial tests we found out that I had a low sperm count which meant that we would have to go down the assisted pregnancy route. This took me several months to get my head around as I blamed myself for this. All I wanted was my wife to be able to go through the pregnancy journey. We couldn’t wait to become parents. There were many long and painful nights where I thought this would never happen for us. After several failed attempts we decided to look at further ways of improving our chances. This led us to look at fertility supplements, our diet, exercise. I will never forget when that morning during our Two Week Wait when Deborah woke me up at 5 a.m. to show me those two lines, we had both been yearning for! We are blessed to now have our beautiful daughter.
 

On challenging days, what kept you going? Where did you find inspiration?

My wife was my inspiration. She kept me going through those challenging months and years. She was there to help me deal with everything. The guilt I felt when I saw her having to go through everything.
 

What is your ideal was to relax and unwind?

My latest passion is cooking on my BBQ. I find it so peaceful and I just switch off. It just gives me a bit of alone time which everyone needs.
 

If there was just one thing you could impart on men as they begin trying to become parents, what would it be?

I would highly recommend communicating with friends and family. A problem shared is a problem halved. Failing that there are some really good private Facebook groups for men suffering from infertility. I found this great support through the good and especially the bad times.

Deborah Brock

Founder & CEO of Nua Fertility

 

Deborah has a personal passion for fertility health, supporting people and communities. With over 15 years experience of working in the Non profit and Education sector, I have had the honour of working together with people and communities focusing on their strengths, capacities and assets. With extensive senior management, project management and creative programme development experience.

How did your experience with fertility inspire you to help start Nua Fertility?

My own personal fertility journey opened my eyes to the world of fertility health. Trying for a baby is one of the most exciting yet vulnerable times in your life. It took myself and my husband over three years and the helping hand of science to become a mum.  I have always worked with people and communities and felt my vision for Nua Fertility could genuinely support others who have fertility challenges.

Share a little about yourself—the things we wouldn’t learn from simply reading your professional bio.

I'm am curious person and love all things research. My ideal evening would be reading and exploring scientific journals! I like to think I am a little bit creative and I LOVE paint by numbers! Its probably the only time I slow down, I become immersed in the painting and think of nothing else.

What do you want to tell someone trying to conceive or already pregnant?

Educate yourself! Knowledge is power. The more you inform yourself about your fertility health the more you are empowering yourself with knowledge. Own your journey and take control over your own fertility health.

What’s something you wish someone told you while trying to conceive?

Open up and talk with friends and family. I was surrounded by amazing friends and family but I never opened up. When your struggling to conceive, a non-judgemental ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on is so powerful.