By Erin and Kripá Pizzorno
10 Things You Should Know When Facing Infertility We are submitting this post today, on our 24th week of gestation. We realize that our experiences we’ve had are our own, and not that of anyone else. The one consensus through this is that it’s not an easy journey, but we believe it truly can be made better by sharing with others and by letting yourself seek the support you need.
1. You are not alone.
Kripá: Going through infertility is a difficult experience for anyone, and joining a support group was crucial for us during our journey to becoming parents. I remember when I first found out we would not be able to conceive naturally, I was devastated. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I went through the gamut of emotions: Anger, Denial, Hopelessness. Finding out you will need fertility intervention to have a baby is a life-changing event, but take comfort in knowing you don’t have to go through it alone. Erin: As a doula I was asked at every interview, “do you have children?” Every time I would have to reply “No.” But when I finally got some answers I was able to change my reply and share why I didn’t. As the universe would have it, I began getting clients that were Fertility success stories and their experiences gave me so much hope. I decided very early on in the journey that I would be transparent about our experiences because it is seen as such a taboo these days, and many struggle alone. I wanted to be able to have support during our downtimes and share joy in our ups. Yes, at first I felt “broken” inside, but eventually, by talking about it and listening to other’s stories I was able to move forward and put together a plan with my husband to become pregnant.
2. Above all else, stay hopeful.
Kripá: The road to a successful pregnancy can have many obstacles along the way. The hardest thing in this process is hearing a negative result, when what you want more than anything in the world is a positive. You must find a way to lean on your partner, pick yourself up, and try again. It can’t happen for you if you don’t keep trying. Erin: Hope is key, a lot of times if we do not hold on to hope in this journey we have nothing. Also realize what your end goal is. In our group it was always said, “Is your goal a pregnancy? Is your goal to be parents?” There are a handful of options and you have to decide what works for you and your family. What is your plan A and B, and sometimes C…and sometimes an Advanced Fertility Center can help.
3. Your fertility doctor will become your best friend.
Kripá: Find an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) who not only has the credentials and track record you are looking for, but someone who you feel comfortable with and feel some kind of a connection to. You will be working with this person for possibly a long time, so take your time to pick the right one. Erin: I believe this to be true in all areas when it comes to choosing your care provider. You need to always feel comfortable, connected and confident with those that you are theoretically handing your body over to. For those going through fertility also know it does not end when you do get pregnant. You need to find a Midwife or OB that respects your goals for birth, and a Pediatrician that will work with you on your views for breastfeeding, vaccinations and other health concerns.
4. Don’t be afraid to change clinics.
Kripá: Your fertility clinic is there to serve your needs, and you are paying a lot of money for their services. If it’s not working out, it’s okay to move on to a different clinic. Erin: Again, the same is to be said for any care provider. You are hiring them. It is not the easiest choice to make when you do decide to change, but if you do not feel greatly supported in their care then it would be safe to consider moving elsewhere. You will learn more about what you want from your provider over time. In our RESOLVE group it was often discussed how some really want a doctor who has a scientific approach, however, for myself I wanted the compassion, but of course they had the science background as well. I also like to ask a lot of questions and have things explained to me.
5. If money is an issue, don’t give up hope.
Kripá: Infertility treatment is expensive, especially for IVF. Don’t assume that treatment is out of reach for you if you don’t have enough money. Some clinics have special rates for those in financial need who qualify, which can include payment plans. Erin: At the very beginning of our journey we attended the Fertility Planit Conference in LA. During one of the panel discussions I raised my hand and asked, “Are there any options for low income families?” The panel of doctors all quietly looked at each other for a moment and then what seemed like a long pause, later said “No!” At the end of the panel a doctor came up to us who was in the audience and said, “I have an option for you, please come talk to me, I would be happy to help you.” She eventually became our fertility doctor. At that moment I felt like fertility treatment was not so far out of reach. I left inspired. We looked up every grant and fund available, but we didn’t qualify for any of them. A couple were because we didn’t have insurance and that was a requirement to be considered. I knew I had to think outside of the box, and that was when we discussed and made the decision to open it up by seeking support from family and friends, and to do a fundraiser. Additionally the RE had a great plan for us with payments, and gave us the info we needed to apply for discounts on medication too. She was a huge help.
6. Consider “Asking strangers to pay for your baby.”
Kripá: There is nothing wrong with reaching out to others for help. Most people, especially your family and friends, want you to have a family of your own, and they will do what they can to help make that dream a reality. Erin: Who would have guessed where our decision to fundraise would take us. Had we known about our fertility issues before our wedding, we would have registered for a baby instead of a honeymoon. As we knew we could not do it alone, we started a youcaring.com fundraiser, which is similar to Kickstarter. We shared our story, and our family and friends were so incredibly loving, supportive and helpful. Before we knew it, others found interest in our efforts. A couple blogs shared about us and then we got a call from Good Morning America, and that same day they came and interviewed us for two hours in our living room. Although we were not so pleased with the way they sensationalized our story with the headline, “Should Strangers Pay for your Baby?” When it aired, we were still thankful that we were able to bring awareness, and give others hope and insight on ways to achieve their own dreams. Although we did have amazing people who we didn’t know step up and donate to us too, and send us so many well wishes, having “strangers pay” for our baby was never our personal goal. (Side note, there are a lot of people that will not agree with your decision and they will freely share it, so be prepared to see hurtful comments from random strangers and protect yourself and know they don’t matter. We stopped reading the comments that same morning when our story was shared on ABC, Yahoo, Good Morning America and many more…)
8. Coping with the medications involved.
Kripá: There are many medications that are administered to a woman at various stages of IVF treatment, and some of them can be very challenging. Everyone will have different meds they need to take, but the one constant seems to be regular injections. Seeing my wife go through that every night was really difficult, but she remained strong and decided to do all of the injections herself. We would remind ourselves that each shot brought us a little closer to our goal of starting a family. Erin: Like many people, I hate needles and honestly who would enjoy this. Having a routine, a nightly ritual my husband and I would go through, was a big help with getting through it. I would turn on my essential oil diffuser and draw a card from a deck with inspirations while my husband played my favorite comforting music, and got the ice ready. When we did the abdominal shots, he would squeeze in the right place while I did the injection. Working as a team together made managing my fear and anxiety of the needles easier. The other side effect many note is a change in your hormonal emotions and feelings. My husband and I both agree that I didn’t seem to have those effects, thankfully.
9. Infertility and misinformation.
Kripá: “When are you guy’s having kids? You’re probably just under too much stress to get pregnant, just relax and it will happen.” People who have not been through it may not understand what it’s like, and just how hard it can be. In our culture, becoming pregnant and having children can be taken for granted. The idea that “once the time is right, a couple just decides” they will get pregnant and then it happens, is all too prevalent. Try not to let people’s comments get to you, but don’t be afraid to correct them about their skewed perception of what Infertility is. Erin: I was so that person. I always thought that when I was ready I would just get pregnant. It seemed to happen to everyone around me. I was a doula with a degree in Child Development, my life revolved around birth and babies, surely I would have no trouble… There are a lot of assumptions and expectations out there. Time to straighten them out. Infertility is not a rare issue, it needs a lot more awareness and support.
10. Stay informed and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Kripá: Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand the process of In-vitro Fertilization at first, it took me a long time to get a handle on it. The procedure is quite complex, and has many variations as well. Your Reproductive Endocrinologist should be able explain it in a way that makes sense to you, from Ovarian Stimulation, Egg Retrieval, Fertilization, and Implantation. Erin: We learned a lot about some great questions to ask from our support group. We tried to go to all of our appointments together for an extra brain to remember things to ask and ears to listen. On the days Kripá could not go, I was so lucky to have friends join me on different occasions so they could help by taking notes and reminding me of things I had wanted to know. Never be afraid to ask questions, you are essentially paying a lot of money, there can be a lot of heartache and you deserve to be informed. You have to be an advocate for yourself!
11. One day at a time.
Kripá: Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Allow yourself to enjoy it, and take it day by day. The journey begins anew once you get that positive result, and you will face a new set of challenges that continues through pregnancy. Stay positive, and try to appreciate each moment. Erin: In the case that you do not get pregnant, and your plans change and you create new goals, still take it one day at a time. Don’t forget who your support people are, and call on them when you are in need. If you do get the positive pregnancy, if that was what you were going for, your worries just change, they don’t always go away. Appreciate every single moment the best that you can because it really goes by quickly. Hold on to hope. We want to wish you well, wherever you are on the road. We welcome you to join us for the rest of our journey at facebook.com/makingbabypizzorno