“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
As a teacher, I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve stared at a stack of essays that I needed to grade and thought, “Tomorrow. I’ll tackle those tomorrow.” Fast forward a few weeks, and I still haven’t started. New Year’s Resolutions? “Tomorrow. I’ll begin that new diet or workout regimen tomorrow.” When faced with starting a new task, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. Spring cleaning, going to the gym, and errands are all things that we find ourselves pushing back. This is especially true when that task is life changing. The idea of taking on something big that requires a lot of effort can be daunting. But, something amazing happens when you take that first step; you take another… and another. Before you know it, you are making progress, and the end result seems more attainable.
Having a baby should not be one of those things that seem daunting. It should be, dare I say, an enjoyable process that most people look forward to starting. But for those of us that battle with infertility, it is daunting and overwhelming. It is frustrating and unfair. The initial tendency is to just do whatever you can in the shortest possible time to make that happen. But marathons are not quick and easy. So, if you find yourself at the starting line of that marathon that is trying to conceive with infertility, we wanted to help you with that first step. Think of us as your infertility personal trainers. Hopefully, before you know it, you are making progress, and holding a baby in your arms seems more attainable.
Reach out: Most people that have struggled with infertility have heard of IVF. It’s amazing how many couples out there have gone through it or know someone who has. For some reason, a lot of people find it taboo to talk about. Reaching out for help is one of the best things you can do. Talk to people that have gone through IVF before you start. Which doctor did they use? How many cycles? How long did they try to conceive before turning to IVF? What medications did they use? In our experience, IVF’ers tend to look out for one another. RESOLVE National Fertility Association has a ton of resources that helped us. On their website, you can enter your zip code to find a support group to meet others who are struggling. It feels good to know that you’re not alone in this fight.
Demand tests: When we know very little about something, we tend to rely on the experts. The problem is that experts are people, and thus, capable of making mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, without doctors we would not have our son, but doctors are not perfect. It took us two rounds of IVF and a very emotional miscarriage before we could get our doctors to run some tests. You shouldn’t have to go through multiple miscarriages before a doctor decides to determine the cause. Ideally, you are running these simple blood tests before undergoing any fertility treatments to save yourself some heartache.
MTHFR is a genetic mutation that prevents you from metabolizing folate (folic acid). Folic acid is absolutely essential in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It can cause problems with everything from egg development to neural tube defects in fetuses. It can be diagnosed though a simple blood test and supported through certain folic acid supplements that your doctor prescribes.
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels are also essential to monitor in the pregnancy process. Hyper or hypothyroidism is a leading cause of infertility and miscarriages that can also be adjusted using hormone supplements.
Factor V Leiden is another type of genetic mutation that interferes with a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy. It is a disorder that increases a woman’s risk of forming blood clots which can cut off the very lifelines to a developing fetus.
Ask for Copies: Again, I’m not trying to bag on doctors here, but they have a lot of patients. We have learned through this process that you need to be your own advocate. We had to ask for the tests we mentioned above after a lot of heartache. So, ask for copies of everything… tests and records specifically. Compare your results, and do your research. Accidents can happen, and things can get overlooked.
Make no mistake, this is a marathon. You will sweat, and you will get tired. But if you just put one foot in front of the other, take literally one step at a time, you’ll find the process not quite so overwhelming. Once you take those first steps, they will lead to more. Here’s to hoping that the finish line finds you with a baby in your arms.
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