10 Things I Learned On Our IVF Journey by Sunita Of Lucky Things Blog



Sunita blogs at Lucky Things, celebrating life and style as she explores with their little people.

Lucky Things about enjoying things that make us feel grateful; everything from family days out to friendships and street art. She lives in North London with her husband James and their three-year-old and one-year-old daughters.

Over to Sunita-

You never know what life will throw at you. During my thirties, I started to think about what life would be like with our very own children. Things didn’t happen as quickly as we’d expected so we ended up doing IVF. Overall, we went through a five-year journey made up of waiting, fertility tests, reassurances, operations, more tests, and the heartache infertility brings. Although we were lucky that IVF worked for us twice and now we have two wonderful little girls, we learned a lot about life and ourselves during this journey.

I’m no way an expert on IVF as every couple or individual faces different challenges; no two journeys can be the same. There is still a huge stigma attached to doing IVF. That’s why I write about our story and how we felt in the hope of helping others who might be going through it, who have loved ones on that journey or who are just curious about IVF. So looking back, here are the ten things I learned along our IVF journey…

10 things I learned along our IVF journey…


1. It’s OK to tell people what you’re going through…

Remember there are friends and family who will want to play a positive role in what you might be going through. People who care about you won’t judge your situation. I had a gynae operation in 2010 where they ended up doing more work than planned. After this operation, IVF was the only way for me to get pregnant. I felt ashamed and embarrassed I couldn’t have babies the ‘normal way’, that there was something wrong with my body. So I was super-secretive about our first IVF journey.


2. IVF is way more common that you realise…

The first time I heard about IVF was when a colleague at work was going through it. I didn’t know much about it at the time. Little did I know I would be going through IVF one day. It’s only when I started telling more people that our first daughter was an IVF baby, people responded with so many IVF stories of their own or others’ experiences. It was only then I realised how IVF is a common way for people to start and grow their families.


3. Don’t just rely on your partner for emotional support…

When you’re thinking about IVF or about to embark on that journey, think about who else in your life can support you through this. Choose your close ones who you know will be there to hear your hopes and anxieties. I know when I eventually confided in my friends they were really empathetic. They were there throughout the ups and downs of our IVF treatment. It’s up to you how much you share with people about your IVF journey. They don’t need to know the details to support you.


4. Accept the feelings you need to go through…


When you find out that you can’t have children in the same way as a lot of women, you can face a strange mix of feelings. Even the most positive people can feel envy, jealousy, frustration, self-doubt, anxiety or just everyday heartache. You’re allowed to feel this way. You suddenly want something everyone else seems to have. After my first operation, my dearest uncle explained to me that it was similar to going through bereavement. I disagreed. It wasn’t a hysterectomy and deep down I knew I could do IVF. I didn’t realise at the time but he was right about my ‘loss’. Something had suddenly been taken away from me: the chance to have a baby naturally.


5. Seek professional sources of support…


IVF can be exhausting physically and emotionally. Clinics may offer counselling sessions. If you need more regular support, talking to a trained counsellor can help especially when your heart and mind could be juggling lots of questions and anxieties. Although I became pregnant through IVF I still didn’t believe all would be OK and I was actually going to have a baby. A few weeks before my due date I saw a hypnotherapist. She gave me some great tactics for managing anxiety during labour. I know others who have also benefited from acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness or sessions with a nutritionist to support them through IVF.


6. Be extra kind to yourself…


Infertility is nobody’s fault and in many cases, we don’t know what causes it. Your infertility does not make you any less of a woman. Nothing can replace that feeling of wanting children but make sure there are other positive things in your life as you embark on the IVF journey. Take time out to look after yourself and do the things you love. Spoil yourself with me-treats whatever they might be. For me, I’ll happily admit retail therapy was something I relied on. After each month of not getting pregnant naturally and then after each round of IVF tests, I would treat myself to something nice. More importantly, I made time to see the friends who made me laugh and smile. James and I also planned nice days out so we had lots of adventures to look forward to.


7. Work out how you can balance your IVF treatment and work commitments…


Wanting to live a life where you balance a career and family is normal these days. Wanting to start IVF treatment and balance your job can feel like a different story. If you can, tell your boss or a trusted colleague that you’re embarking on this journey. They may be more understanding about your highs and lows during treatment. I was able to tell my two bosses about my decision to pursue IVF. Yes, it was weird as in a way I was declaring, ‘I want to try and get pregnant so if it works, that means I’ll be on maternity leave in about 11 months time!’

It also helps when attending lots of the appointments. I’m pretty career-minded and the last thing I wanted them to think was that I was interviewing elsewhere. Luckily, my bosses were supportive and so it was a huge weight off my shoulders that I didn’t have to hide what was going on.


8. Be open about the IVF routes that could work for you…

IVF has been around for nearly 40 years. Fertility scientists have developed all kinds of ways for pregnancy dreams to come true. So, be open to the options available especially if you need to do more than one round of IVF. My hormone levels weren’t right for the normal IVF route where there was a higher chance of it working by taking lots of medication to boost your egg supplies. That route would have been harmful to my body. Luckily, CRGH were known as an innovative clinic and my consultant Lisa Webber suggested we try the ‘natural IVF route’. My hormone levels were monitored through daily scans and we knew they could only retrieve one egg. They were honest about there being a 10% chance of the natural IVF route working for us. James and I knew it could take several tries before becoming pregnant.


9. People may not always say the right things…

Although you’re the one having to deal with infertility head on, some people found it hard to deal with this kind of situation. People won’t realise there are certain things not to say to someone who is going through IVF.

Remember they may have good intentions but may not be able to offer the right words of support (especially if they have children of their own).


10. Be proud of yourself…

When you embark on your IVF journey remember how bold you are. It takes real strength and determination to go through IVF. No one can guarantee what will happen at the end of your journey. So give yourself some credit for what you are going through along the way. It always brought me happy tears whenever my close ones said how brave I’d been. I never saw myself as being brave, we were just getting on with treatment, as it was the only way we could chase our dream.

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