When you are in fertility treatment, it can be overwhelming to cope with infertility. It is even harder when certain life events present themselves, like Mother’s Day, your friend’s pregnancy announcement, or yet another baby shower invitation. Sometimes it takes a team to get you through it all.
Julie R. from Pasadena, has this to say about ways to look at the inevitable events when you are in treatment that can challenge the best coping skills:
When you were in treatment, how did you deal with Mother’s Day?
“I came from a family where my mom was never a big fan of Mother’s Day. She always told us that it is a day that was for the benefit of the florists and the card companies. She always said that she didn’t need someone else to decide it was a special day for her. So my siblings and I would celebrate her on our birthday, meaning on our birthdays we would send her flowers. So she actually got celebrated four times in a year instead of just one, which I think is a pretty good deal!
That’s probably why I never really thought about Mother’s Day as an especially difficult day. I would not say that there weren’t moments that were difficult. But I think it would mostly be when a relative or friend would tell me that they were pregnant. That was pretty tough. Mother’s day wasn’t…but I’m sure there are people that take it very seriously but I didn’t.
I am sure now that will be different now that I’m a mother. Someday, my baby’s going to bring home some homemade stuff for Mother’s Day. But it wasn’t important to me until now.”
You said that it was difficult when your friends or family told you they were pregnant. How did you cope with that?
“Probably not very well. I mostly would try to ignore the situation. I would basically do everything you were supposed to do like sending a gift or a card but I was not trying to connect with them or discuss it. I reacted pretty badly to it overall. My silence was probably taken as quite rude by some friends and family that were not aware of what I was going through. But nobody knew. We never shared it with anyone, not even our parents.
Really? Why not?
It was difficult. When you’re married and your parents are always saying, “So…when am I going to be a grandmother? When am I going to be a grandfather?” What are you going to tell them? It doesn’t sound like the right moment to bring up this kind of topic. It was difficult to talk about, and at least for my part, it was easier not to talk about it at all.”
Was there ever a time in that period when you were ready to quit?
“I guess I kind of quit for about six years after my first miscarriage since we weren’t really trying to get pregnant. As soon as we met Dr. Nelson though, I didn’t feel like quitting.
“I think that was because he wasn’t promising us things that we could not achieve. He was always talking about chances. It’s not like he was deciding things for us. He was laying out options and he had a very human side about these options. He would sometimes tell us, ‘Yes, you could do that. But if it was me and my wife I probably wouldn’t do it for this and this reason.’
“It was nice to have a combination of statistics to know how much our chances would improve if we were doing one thing or another but he was also not just looking at the statistics. He was keeping track of our feelings and the human cost in the situation. This kind of reality check was what made us trust him and his treatment path.”
What do you wish that you had known then that you know now?
“I would say to people that it is important to keep a sense of humor about it. We did and it helped. Especially when I had to do some shots in my bottom. I could not reach it myself so my husband would have to give them to me. He was always joking and saying things very inappropriate and funny. It was very important to keep a sense of humor about it and try to keep it funny.
“Also, I was very lucky because I met Dr. Nelson and he was the first doctor I had seen. He was so right for us and our situation and our family. You need to feel that you can trust the doctor not only with the medical decisions, but also that he or she is looking at the whole situation.
“You are not just a diagnosis. You are a person and your mood or how you take the medication, all of this can make you feel down. I was lucky to find a doctor and team that will look at all of that. As an example, his nurses would be sure that if I had to take a new medication that I didn’t have too many side effects. Things like this show you that it’s more than you and your doctor. It takes a team to get you there.
“I feel like this was why we were successful and why I have such a good impression of the process. At no point did we feel discouraged or feel like we could not continue. And again, I had three different IVFs in a year. Some people might think that’s a lot--and it was. But it was because we had a team following us each step of the way that made it pretty easy in the end.”
Managing your emotions through fertility treatment is hard enough, but when you are faced with life events that are reminders of your struggle, it can be even tougher to cope with infertility. It sometimes is comforting to know that you are not alone and that others have been exactly where you are now that have gone on to realize their own dreams of family. With the support of your team, however, you can cope with whatever your treatment or life throws you and possibly soon, have an infertility success story of your own to share as well.