The dirty secret of infertility.

The dirty secret of infertility is the massive effect it has on our whole well-being and the shame. If there’s one thing I know for sure is that being diagnosed with and struggling with infertility can bring up a whole slew of unwanted negative emotions. One of the toughest to deal with is SHAME. When we try to conceive, and bear our own biological children and have difficulty, we may start to think thoughts such as “I’m no good. My body is busted or what will my parents and friends think if I get IVF? What if I’m barren?” It can be debilitating or freeing, depending on your perspective.

Debilitating because we can sink deep into the hole of despair that there is something wrong.

Freeing, because we can see it as an opportunity and be grateful we have the medicine to do IVF and fertility treatments. This science is about 30 years old, which is younger than me. The first ever IVF was doing in the late 70’s, Isn’t it amazing how far we have come that we can actually safely freeze embryos?!

We need to get on camera and TV and talk not about just egg quality, we need to talk about shame, mental health, depression, anxiety and all of these things that are and can be true with infertility. I don’t understand why this not happening. I hear the main doctor of Anova speaking on the breakfast program what we need to do to increase our chances of getting pregnant, and love for her speak about the impact fertility has on mental health and see fertility treatments as a gift!

I am not ashamed of not being able to conceive on my own. For whatever reason, there is a block and I’m working on myself through personal development, grounding myself, reminding myself who I am to be able to bring forth a life that will be completely reliant on me.

To have a positive conception, we need to actually be able to receive. I don’t know what the magical formula is but by dismissing mental health with fertility treatments is dismissing the rest of the person. I imagine a chicken walking around without a head.

From my support group, I know from the stories of 11 other women that none of the clinics that they attend check-in with the women and ask them to participate in any mind-body or counseling. This, in my opinion, is so key would alleviate so much pain from the process. I also know that it takes time to warm up to a donor egg, donor sperm, and surrogacy. It took me two years to warm up to IVF and there is not shame in that. Everything in its due process.

We need the tools that no one has taught us to cope with constant grieving and uncertainty. We need to learn how to re-balance and put fertility into one box of our life and not make it our entire life. I understand how it can get to be a runaway train but we are the conductors of the train and can choose our speed or even choose to stop. Look at the roses and flowers growing by the side of the tracks, aren’t they just beautiful?

Stop being ashamed of your “lacking” and see it as an opportunity to learn about you. See it as an opportunity to grow. Look at it from a point of view of empowering and just how much more you will love that baby or your life without the baby because you took that time to step into a big challenge, a challenge you didn’t ask for but now it’s here. Either way it’s courageous.

You will know, that whatever you are faced with in life can be no greater than this, the act of creating life. What matters is how we choose to look and think about this journey.

Harry Potter metaphor: Sirius Black tells Harry

“You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things have happened to. We’ve all got both good light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” We ALL experience shame in our lives, thus it behooves all of us to learn to manage it well. Instead of thinking of ourselves as bad or defective people, think of yourself as a hero of your own life, on your own hero’s journey, remembering that vulnerability and love are the truest marks of courage.

“Shame is a social concept – it happens between people – it also heals best between people. A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm. Self-compassion is key because when we’re able to be gentle with ourselves in the midst of shame, we’re more likely to reach out, connect and experience empathy.”
Brene Brown Daring Greatly.

I will continue to advocate for patients and be the fertility doula. I will continue to be vulnerable and face everything full on – for all those who are not ready to come out of the closet.

The only thing that is certain is uncertainty with infertility.

Embrace what is certain, you are a beautiful person with the tremendous capacity to love. Take a moment and love yourself.

Step into the process and be fully part of it. Talk about it. Tell everyone. You’ll be so surprised that every 6th person you talk to will have the same story as you. Not only are you healing yourself but the person who you are speaking to.

I want people to know that there is NO shame is seeking mental health support. It has saved me. There is no shame in having fertility challenges.

If I had not spoken out and used my voice then I would have not been able to make a change for other patients.

I’m grateful for the pain because we need the darkness to get to the light. But we also need the tool to know how to get past the darkness & any shame.

I am your fertility doula. I will speak for you till you are ready.

You are loved.

 

 

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Diagnosis infertility. Job description, advocate.

I made a difference at my fertility clinic. 

At the beginning of March, I met with the Patient experience officer and Dr. B after the failure of a fertility cycle. It was a two-hour emergency meeting. It happened because I was falling apart. We met because I felt like a number. I felt I wasn’t listened to and no one was hearing my concerns. I didn’t know who to turn to because if I asked the nurse the nurse couldn’t make any decisions and there were too many people involved in my care. I wanted one or two dedicated nurses who knew everything on file. I needed to tell them their support group sucked. The waiting room was one anxious space and nothing goes well at the clinic if you are not following one of the prescribed fertility boxes of procedures.

I needed to find MY voice in this entire runaway train and I needed to be heard.

I had no idea that my verbal dump changed many things at the clinic. Two months after this meeting and after my two-month break from not being at the clinic, I’ve become aware of results of this meeting.


Early morning, I’m sitting in the waiting room of the clinic. The chairs are plastic and white the walls are Tiffany blue. The door next to the reception desk opens and closes every few minutes with a sight bang. I wait my turn to see the doc. to figure out what drugs I need for the embryo transfer. I see Vee, The patient experience, walking into the waiting room and out. She waves and smiles as she sees me and stops, saying, “I really want to talk to you!”. I say, “we can talk now, I’m just waiting for one instruction but it’s not urgent”. She motions me in, we open the door, I hear the slight bang as it closes and I followed her down the hall into the boardroom of Anova. Cool, the board room. I’ve never been here, just the dark ultrasound rooms and the doc’s room. Vee seems so excited to talk to me. I wonder why…..

We sit down across from each other and talk about how I’m doing after the two-month break and the fact that I seem to be glowing. I am relaxed. I feel more chilled and definitely more grounded. I’ve put fertility into a box. Just one of the boxes that are me and it no longer rules my world. When I reflect and think about myself and who I was January until May, I don’t recognize myself. I’m so glad I took a break.

At one point, Vee stops and looks me in the eye and says, thank you. I’m confused what for…..? She looks me right in the eye, puts her hands together and says, “Thank you for speaking up, very few actually do. We don’t know how we can be better if someone doesn’t tell us, we can just think what we can do but are not on the other side. We have taken all your comments, complaints and observations and have changed our entire counseling department. We are still not perfect but want to let you know you have made an impact on for other patients”. 

Needless to say, I’m shocked because I think back how much I was hurting during that time and how long the 2.5 hr meeting was with Dr. B and the Vee. I remember I wanted to write about it but was so drained from the conversation I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it.

I tell Vee that I’m so glad this is going on and I hope that I can continue to be a voice for many patients.

What I want the clinic to recognize is that part of functional care and holistic care is to incorporate; counseling, mindfulness, hypnosis and other modalities so we can support the whole person not just the uterus, the egg or sperm.

Find your voice. We want to hear you.

You are not your diagnosis.

Don’t be afraid to let the clinic know what is not working for your treatment, you just never know, you may the catalyst for massive change.

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