Moving forward…

3 Jun

After a 50 day cycle, AF is finally here in full swing. But where I thought I’d be shouting hooray! and doing a little jig because it’s finally time to jump on the IVF funwagon, really I’m just feeling a lot of other confusing things.

Like hopeless. I don’t know why this will work when everything else has failed. I don’t know why we will get to be the lucky ones when so many others just like us have played this game and lost. I know IVF can be successful for some people and yet, I no longer hold any preconceived notions that we will be one of those people.

So then I start feeling helpless. And confused. And very, very scared. Scared that this will fail. Scared of what the drugs might do to me. I’ve read some horror stories about long-term effects of Lupron but yet I’m moving forward with it. It feels like there is no other way.

I also feel like I’m not taking this seriously enough. Like I need to be exercising and eating lots of fruits and vegetables and going to acupuncture and meditating and doing yoga and going to support groups and going to therapy and taking better care of my body and my mind to ensure that this will be a success. I wish there was a way to make getting ready for this process my full time job.

So I’ve started Googling “ways to prepare for IVF” and here’s what I’ve come up with. This is a list of things I know I want to do/not do and a few things I’m on the fence about. I would truly and sincerely welcome ANY suggestions from veteran IVFers out there. Let’s start with the physical, because in some ways that’s so much easier.

Physical

-Cutting caffeine and alcohol. This won’t be hard for me. While I do need a good boost of caffeine some mornings, I’ve also gone long stretches without it as well. For me this will mean no coffee, no chocolate, and very little caffeinated tea. I also rarely to never drink alcohol so I’m lucky that won’t be difficult either.

-Drinking lots of herbal tea (and water). I’ve really been getting into Yogi herbal teas. I love their blends and I love the little messages on paper tabs of each tea bag. Right now I’m drinking a cup of Women’s Energy with another bag of Red Raspberry Leaf thrown in to help ease my cramps. I’m also loving the Peach Detox blend. There’s something so cozy and comforting about having a warm mug of tea in hand. And the water, well, I just think it will help me in all areas to make sure my system is being flushed out daily. I really have to force myself to do this though.

-Healthy eating. I never want to go overboard, ever, where my diet is concerned because I have perfectionist tendencies which have led me to disorder my eating in the past. But generally here I want to focus on eating whole grains, lean meats and dairy, fruits, and vegetables, and cutting refined sugar and carbohydrates when possible. And in general eating lighter when possible.

-Weekly moderate exercise. Exercise is something I’ve struggled with so much these past two years and the motivation to work out has usually been tough for me to access. Now that this cycle is here, I’m trying to get away from the “lose a few pounds” mentality, and instead focus on keeping my blood moving and giving my body a chance to sweat out any impurities a couple times a week. Sticking to a regular gym routine can sometimes cause me stress but at the same time, I need to push myself to do what I know is healthy for me as my body prepares for this treatment.

-Prenatals with DHA. Every day. Obvious, but I must admit I sometimes slack in this department.

-Weekly yoga class. The most I could work in would probably be about one class per week on the weekends but I think any amount will help, both physically and emotionally.

-On the fence about: acupuncture. I’ve done acupuncture in the past for two straight months and while I thought it felt nice (most of the time) and could see how it helped ease minor aches and pains, I struggled to see the greater impact it had on my fertility. Of course thought, acupuncture with an IVF cycle is different and I’ve read that it has been shown to improve chances to some degree. Still, the thought of making still more time in my schedule for appointments feels daunting. So, is it worth it?

-On the fence about: refloxology. Have any of you ever tried it? I must admit I am terribly curious to try but feel it would be going overboard to do this PLUS acupuncture, and acu feels more legit to do with IVF for some reason.

-On the fence about: Buying an at-home yoga CD. Does anyone know if there are any specifically designed for the IVF cycle? I need to research this.

Emotional

-Daily meditation. My father regularly practices Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day. He had me officially trained as a teenager but I almost never do it. I just have trouble keeping up with for some reason. So for my birthday present, I asked him to look into the Circle + Bloom program for IVF. I definitely believe in the mind – body connection and want to do everything I can to strengthen mine.

-Gathering in my support network. I’ve told a few select friends, family members and coworkers that IVF was coming up for us but now that it’s HERE, I think it’s time to let them know that and clue them in on what we will be going through. None of my friends and family have any firsthand experience with this so I doubt they will know how to treat us during this time. To be honest, I don’t know exactly how I wish to be treated either, but I guess I’d like them to just generally be aware, not gloss over it, ask us how we’re doing and then we’ll share however much we feel like sharing. For my coworkers (this means telling my bosses too), I just want them to be aware that I’m going through a big physical and emotional ordeal. I may have appointments that will intersect with working hours (though usually I’m able to get my monitoring done before work at least) and will certainly need time off for my retrieval and perhaps a day or two after my transfer as well.

-Read success stories. I truly want to cultivate hope as much as possible going into this cycle and I know one way to quell the skeptic in me is to show it real life examples of people just like us whom this has worked for. If anyone in particular has stories of younger couples who have dealt with infertility and repeat losses that found resolution through IVF, please please PLEASE tell me them! Any good websites or threads about this as well that you know of would be helpful too.

-Ask questions. Sometimes I feel rather intimidated by my RE, his impressive background, and the clinic in general. This leaves me feeling shy about asking questions, especially ones that may call into question their experience or decision making. I had to do this last week when my blood results came back inconclusive and the nurse told me I was either just about to ovulate or just about to get my period. I know that in order to keep my anxiety in check, I’ll need to get a little bolder about emailing my RE when I have a question about something.

-Be extra loving and supportive toward DH. We have been snapping at each other and fighting a lot lately. I can’t help but think it’s in part due to the IVF. But I want our relationship to be in a strong, loving place come retrieval and transfer, so I am going to go out of my way every day to show him how much I love and care for him. When our relationship is good, I always feel that much more centered.

-Identify stresses and coping mechanisms. I got that tip from SART’s info page on preparing for IVF emotionally. I know I get stressed out when my routine changes a lot, but I also know that that will be unavoidable, especially given everything I’ve listed above. I’m hoping to find a nice balance between actively doing everything I can to ensure success while staying mindful and dialing back when it becomes too much.

-Steer back to the positive. Like I said, a part of me (a very vocal part) is skeptical that this will work. While I know that trying to shut down this part entirely won’t help because it thinks it is playing a very vital protective role for me (and in some ways, I know it is), what I’m going to try to do when those thoughts come up is hear them, appreciate them, and then steer back to the positive.  Steer back to “this can work.” And when I can’t get to positive, at least get to present. “Just here, just now, just this.”

-On the fence about: seeing a therapist. I’m a big believer in therapy and before my wedding I was seeing a great therapist near where we used to live who really helped me a lot. I’ve been seriously thinking that it might be helpful for me to talk to a professional who specializes in infertility about everything I’m going through emotionally with IVF. But, the process of finding a good therapist that I connect with and getting accustomed to having those appointments in my schedule every week once again feels daunting. I need to think about this some more and decide if it’s something I really want to do or not. Has anyone ever seen an infertility therapist? If so, how do you know for sure that they are true IF specialists? A lot of therapists list infertility as a specialty along with many other things. This makes me doubt that they have either been there themselves or are truly equipped to help with this very specific psychological dilemma.

-On the fence about: going to a support group. RESOLVE has a group that meets once per month led by Keiko Zoll of The Infertility Voice. The next meeting in on June 14th and I’m strongly considering attending. But for some reason I’ve held back in the past because I’m scared of the support group setting and I can’t quite identify why. But I’m thinking I’ll still give it a shot. Has anyone ever been to a RESOLVE support group?

What am I forgetting? Any thoughts/tips/questions/comments/concerns/compliments/high fives/air kisses most welcome. We start Lupron on June 21st. Holy sh*te!

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7 Responses to “Moving forward…”

  1. Cristy June 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Wow, that’s a list. I think doing all of this is good as long as it doesn’t stress you out. If you find that sticking to this schedule is helping you process everything, go for it. But if it’s become a stress in and of itself, then cut yourself a break. For me, I found completely eliminating caffeine to be very stressful. I love dark chocolate too much. But I’m able to cut back to very low levels (a square of dark chocolate a day and green tea), so that’s my trade off. Also, I’m listening more to my body. If I’m tired, I sleep. If I feel sluggish, I go for a walk.

    Regarding the acupuncture, yoga, relaxology: I think you should do what you feel comfortable with. Some women swear by one or all of these. I love yoga, but found it very stressful to be preparing for IVF while surrounded by pregnant women. Acupuncture has been wonderful for me, but I know others haven’t really found it beneficial.

    Finally, on the emotional or mind/body front: do what you’re comfortable with. You know I found the Circle + Bloom IVF program to be greatly beneficial and therapy has also been wonderful. And I would LOVE to be at a support group run by Keiko. Still, starting any of these things can be stressful and may take some time to get use to.

    In short, there’s no need to be Super Shelley. Do what works for you. One of the benefits of IVF is that I’ve become more aware of my body and I’ve learned when to slow down. The cycle itself can be stressful, so don’t pile on more things that will cause you to be stressed out. Just be good to yourself.

    Hang in there, my friend. I know all of this is scary and I also know your mind-set. But IVF can and does work. Look at all the recent success stories in our community. Love, hugs and light.

  2. Kate @ Infertile First Mom June 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    I did the same thing you are doing before we started our IVF cycle. Here were a few suggestions that I found helpful
    1. Find ways to help relax yourself. Whatever that may be… Do it, and often. Spoil yourself with bubble baths, massages, yoga/reflexology/acupuncture, comfort foods now and then, and lazy evenings in bed with a book or a chick flick.
    2. Precook and freeze a few meals for post retrieval (I didn’t get that far, but I did freeze a few meals and they were good to have anyway when I wasn’t feeling well).
    3. Stock up on loose fitting bottoms or comfy sundresses. The sore abdomen and temporarily bloated waistline will thank you.
    4. I made a list of ways my hubby Could be supportive (sometimes men need us to spell out our needs, right?:) Esp in emotional situations like IVF. It was nice. And I had him make one for me too. We actually used the ideas on the lists and were super loving and supportive to each other during that time.
    5. If you have questions for your doctor, don’t be shy. This process is to demanding to brush concerns under the rug. Hopefully there won’t be a next time, so ask those questions! I regret not advocating for more monitoring during our stumming

    • Kate @ Infertile First Mom June 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      Ugh. Stupid iPhone.
      I meant during our stimming. 🙂

      If I think if any others, I’ll let you know. I think your list looks good. Like Cristy said, stick with a schedule that feels good to you and doesn’t add stress. Try to relax as much as possible, but don’t beat yourself up for having pessimistic moments.

      I’ll be checking in with you and thinking of you often during this exciting, but scary part if your journey!
      Hugs!!!

  3. Leslie June 4, 2012 at 1:31 am #

    I really, really, really like my infertility support group. (I’m not sure if it’s a RESOLVE group, but it’s led by a fertility counselor who mentions RESOLVE a lot, so maybe?) The one I go to is for women and their partners, and I really like hearing the perspective of men too. I always feels tons better afterward, even though I usually shed a tear or two during the hour. There’s a surprising amount of laughter- somehow the absurdity of IF isn’t so intimidating to us there. And I’m going to try out a new peer-led group (for only women) in another week.

    As far as the group therapy model is concerned, I have felt fine in it. The leader emphasizes confidentiality and an open environment.

  4. Amy Skins June 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    I think you’ve got a great list there! But as Cristy said, make sure you aren’t holding yourself to a crazy-high standard. Some days you might get to the exercise but not have time to meditate. Other days you might opt for the fries instead of the salad at lunch, but you treat DH to an extra lovingkindess. Take credit for the things you get to!

    I am here and cheering and supporting and blowing all sorts of air kisses.

  5. Joanna June 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Wow, I think you are already on the right track just by thinking of those things and making a list! I think it’s perfectly natural to feel all of the things you are feeling right now! I am so excited that you are starting this journey and I have fingers crossed that it will be successful for you! Don’t forget that you have a community of women here who can relate and answer questions and offer up all kinds of advice! Lots of love and support! xxxx

  6. DandelionBreeze June 5, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    What an amazing list… love everything on it – every little bit counts but I’ve had to make sure that I don’t get too tough with myself if I can’t still to everyone of my goals everyday. Love meditation too… such a wonderful de-stress and mind-clearer 🙂 Thinking of you and FXd every step of the way xoxo

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