Updated: Apr 24
Hi! I'm Becky, and I had a six-year-long, frustrating fertility journey to my first child. There was endometriosis, a blocked fallopian tube, unexplained infertility, bad doctors, failed treatments--so many of the things that all of us dealing with infertility go through. (You can read my full story here.) But through it all, I learned several things that I'm going to share in the hopes that maybe one of them will help you.
Comparing your fertility story to those of your friends and family is never helpful.
I feel like one of the worst parts of infertility for me was watching all my friends get pregnant and have babies, one after another. And then getting to watch them all do it a second time as I just sat twiddling my thumbs in fertility clinic waiting rooms.
Somewhere along the line I started reminding myself (often!) that, “My story is my story, not her story.”
If all the books in the library were the same, the library would be a pretty boring place. Same with people. If we all had the same story, this planet wouldn’t be so interesting. And believe me, I know how much it stinks to be the one with the “interesting story,” but it doesn’t make you less than, or defective, or anything else negative. You’re just you!
Don’t take on other people’s problems as your own.
A lot of us have close family or friends with serious problems of their own. I sure did. And I lumped that other person’s problem in with my infertility—in my mind they were both one big, completely interrelated problem.
Except that they weren’t. One was my issue, and the other belonged to the other person.
I held on to this correlation for nearly the entirety of my fertility journey, but I clearly remember the moment I realized that I was wrong. You know how you sometimes hear people talk about feeling their energy shift? Man, did I feel it.
And that didn’t mean that I stopped caring about the other person and that person’s problem. It simply meant that I acknowledged that we were different people (that again!) with different problems, and I stopped internalizing everything that I heard from or about the other person.
It can be much easier said than done, and this is where it’s often beneficial to get some professional help. In my case, I had this realization while working with a hypnosis practitioner and was able to take care of it easily. Sometimes it takes more work and more boundaries to make the separation. Find a therapist, fertility coach, religious leader, hypnosis practitioner, energy healer, or any other practitioner that resonates with you and you’ll be moving in the right direction.
A good fertility doctor is important.
By “good” I’m not necessarily referring to their educational background, their board scores, or whether they’re one of the top-rated docs in your area. Instead, I mean that it’s important to find a doctor who makes you feel comfortable, answers your questions, and meshes well with your personality.
You want to feel like you’re on the same team as your doctor, not constantly at odds and questioning the things they say or the treatments they suggest.
I had one doctor tell me “I don’t want to see you again until you’re pregnant.” Another handed me a stack of magazines about parenting and menopause as a “welcome packet.” And a third, who I was seeing for a non-fertility issue but who knew my history told me that, “maybe getting pregnant will help with this condition.”
I mean, really.
You deserve better on your fertility journey, so take the time to find better! There are awesome, compassionate fertility doctors out there, and unless you live in a very small community with limited choices, it will be well worth your time to look around.
You don’t have to believe everything your doctor tells you.
No one knows you better than you.
Let’s assume that you’ve found the most amazing and perfect fertility doctor on the planet. He or she will still never know you like you know you. Pair that with the fact that fertility medicine isn’t an exact science: there’s so much about fertility that’s still not well understood; no two women or men respond to the same treatment in exactly the same way; the mental component of fertility is very frequently overlooked.
After I had my fallopian tube removed, my doctor (who I loved, respected, and trusted), told me that it would probably be very difficult for me to get pregnant without help. I bought into it fully in my mind (because he’s the doctor, so clearly he must know) and my body followed suit.
But every once in a while, my little inner voice would speak up and tell me that was wrong. Fortunately, I eventually listened. I ultimately conceived all three of my children naturally.
Your doctor hasn’t checked something that you suspect needs checking? Press him or her on it.
You don’t understand something the doctor has said, how it applies to you, or why it might help you? Ask more questions until you get an answer that satisfies you.
The doctor told you something that doesn’t seem right to you? You have options. When it’s a simple statement, as it was in my case, you can just choose to file it away in the category of “unhelpful things I’m going to ignore.” For more serious issues like disagreement over treatment, you have every right to push back and advocate for yourself. If you still don’t feel heard, it might be time for a new doctor.
You’re the boss of you and your fertility journey. Always.
It’s ok to walk away. It’s also ok to come back.
Infertility is hard and it’s so very ok to want a vacation from it. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone. As an added bonus, a little time away can often shed new light on the situation.
The same with coming back to it. Even if you told everyone two years ago that you were done forever and at peace without having children. You’re entitled to change your mind if you want.
And last but definitely not least...