♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
A Personal Experience Post
Let your guard down. Form a connection with your readers by sharing a deeply personal experience.
Welcome back to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop! If you’re new to the series, the authors included are grateful for your reads and appreciate, even more so, when you share our writings with your friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Be prepared to become a regular reader.
When this prompt came up, I at first balked. In this connected age, where social media is the norm, over sharing is also the norm. The truth is, we let too much fly in public. That is the business of whoever is doing so, but I believe that it is unwise to get too personal with the public. There are countless examples of celebrities, and regular people alike, sharing too much and paying for it. Get personal online, and the online world will get real personal with you.
Therefore, I err on the side of caution.
Still, there is room to talk about issues and topics that probably need talking about. I go with my gut. One of the topics you may have seen me talk about on here is my journey with IVF. Yes. I am getting on in years. I’m a whopping 41 years old this year. Finding myself also single and childless at this point, I am seeking to fix one of those two things and it’s not the first (boy, did that not go well). You can read my deeply personal posts about the IVF journey on the following links:
- The Heroes Of IVF
- Resilience In The Face Of Failure
- Independence Day – Open Book Blog Hop #55
- My Miscarriage and My Dog
- So you want to learn German – So können Sie Deutsch lernen wollen #12
I encourage you to read about this journey, especially if you are thinking of undertaking the procedure yourself, or have a loved one/friend who is undertaking it. There are so many things going on, and emotions at their height can be the worst part of the whole thing. Expressions of empathy might not always fall on welcoming ears. Then again, they might. It’s happened to me on several occasions that something meant as a hug was taken as pulling the rug from under my already fragile state.
Recently, a discussion came up on social media between me and friends, and I decided that to help them best help me, and their other friends, I should try to articulate what it is like to be on the receiving end of comments that might mean well, but don’t set well. So, I created the Seven Things Not to Say to Your IVF Friends list…
1. The Pooch Observation
First, let’s talk about my number one pet peeve. Were you ever stopped and asked how far along you are in your pregnancy, and you’re not pregnant? You just happen to have a little belly that week, month, year? Imagine that question being asked of someone who cannot have children but wants them. Imagine if you were having difficulty finding your perfect partner, and you had to put off having children because you believe that the partner should come first, not after. The emotional pain is unbelievable. I can assure you. It’s happened to me more times than I can count on my hands and toes. First of all, it’s a reminder that you might not be as fit as you could be, and if you struggle with weight, that’s a strike to your anxiety. Getting in shape isn’t as easy as snapping one’s fingers, as there are many factors that affect it. You can also only have a slight bump, and everyone is all over you, despite it being quite normal.
It also sends anxiety flying with questions like: is this why I am unable to find someone? In a world where we value fitness and overly slim beauty (thigh gap should not be a thing), it does cross one’s mind as a reason. More so, it becomes a concern when you are on dating sites and so many men request that you not contact them unless you have a perfect body. No, they’re not perfect, and it is laughable, but the repeated requirement and lack of options becomes harmful to self-esteem. It’s either starve and work yourself to death for a passable man, or accept sloth from the Goonies (yeah, I know he was a very kind man—get real!). They want to be loved solely for who they are, but you need to be an object that fits their description of who (what) will love them. Your humanity is of no concern. And thus, you lose hope piece by piece.
Now, since you know they are trying, should you or shouldn’t you mention the pooch? Nah. Don’t. If it’s not going so well, they don’t need to be told the battery of injections is making them puffy and not because the bun is in the oven. Trust that they will let you know well in advance of the birth. They are going to be bursting to tell.
2. The hook up. The Matchmaker. The Fixer.
If you have a friend who has moved on from dating and is seeking to have children on their own. Don’t judge them, or mention that they’ve not found the right man yet and should keep trying. The dating world is brutal. If you have a partner, be thankful. Don’t try to hook them up during this time. They’ve spent a lot of time thinking it through, and throwing a wrench into the mix isn’t helping them come to terms with this decision. Getting them to go on dates with someone you think is great doesn’t mean the person is right for them, and it’s more likely to just be a time waster. In IVF, time is of the essence, so let them do their thing, and when they’re ready to go back on the dating scene you can introduce them all you want. I know you want your friend happily settled, but don’t make them settle. If you know what I mean.
3. Your Excellent News.
Please understand that your most excellent baby news might not be received with the righteous holler you were expecting. Your friend or family member may, in fact, tear up or seem indifferent. You’ve achieved what they’ve been denied so far. I’m sure your friend or family member is truly happy for you, but it’s making them think of their heartache. People react differently when they are hurting. There is no animosity, they just can’t disguise their personal disappointment.
No, don’t bring up how you’re sorry for them, or thinking of them while you bask in your joy. Of course you can share your happy news with them, but avoid going overboard here. Imagine if your joy turns to mourning? How would it feel to have that one friend who over does it, over do their latest accolade in the face of your sadness? Also, patting them warmly and saying your time will come just makes it harder on the person who is still waiting. Time, again, is of the essence. The longer it takes, the less likely it is to happen. Numbers actually begin to decrease after a certain point, like a bell curve. Keep in mind, not all women succeed in conceiving no matter how much treatment they get.
4. Inquiring Minds want to know.
I’m not sure how anyone can ask sensitive questions that are pressing on their minds of anyone when emotions are high, and times are tough. I’d advise that, unless you are close, you’re going to have to use google not your friend/family member to answer those questions. You’d be surprised how much information is available out there. I use google to ask questions all the time. There are forums for those going through IVF. The intimate portrait cannot be beaten to get a real view into the process from the patient perspective. For more technical information, use Google Scholar to research IVF Medical Procedures. There is no shame in reading up on these things when you are curious about how they work. Think about how impressed your friends/family members might be when your knowledge of the process is on par with theirs, or you can clear something up. It will help immensely, because taking the time to learn shows that you care. Again, use tact. Any information might not be received well in the moment for any number of reasons.
5. Do not offer your eggs.
Unless a woman approaches you for egg donation, don’t ever say you wish you could give your eggs to her. This hurts worse than getting smacked with a board full of nails, and the wound will leave a scar. It hangs out around your head until the issue is moot (as in the baby is here). Well, it mostly does. They might seem withdrawn from you on some level after such conversations, perhaps permanently. Why? I was only trying to express the lengths I would go to help them. Absolutely understood, but imagine saying: I am so sorry you are dying of cancer. I’d give you my healthy body if I could, but because I can’t, I will go on living and enjoying life – to a cancer patient. Hell no, you wouldn’t say that to them. Telling a woman you’d give her your eggs, reminds her that it might be her eggs that are preventing her from conceiving, that she is falling short on that level, and you aren’t. It’s a back handed compliment. Sure, that wasn’t the intention, but it feels that way to the woman trying to conceive. We’re happy your ovaries are doing their job, but we want ours to do their job. As for me, additionally, there is no way I would go through all of this to conceive another person’s child. You have no idea the time, money, and stress involved, unless you’ve gone through this. Adoptions is way easier on the body. For single women, they already are using donor sperm. Donor eggs is a step further from the dream of having their own child. The key here is, having your own child. When conceiving becomes impossible, adoption becomes the next route, although this can be very difficult for single women due to regulations and cost. If your friend or family member needs eggs, they will ask.
6. Don’t check in a lot.
Like not asking a lot of questions about the procedures, don’t check in frequently. Many of my friends, who have gone through pregnancy and/or IVF wait for me to tell them what is going on. Why do you think that is? I’m not afraid to talk about it. Some of them were. The best action is to chew your nails off in anticipation. Just think, you’ll know, in some way, just what they’re going through every cycle they are forced to undertake until they’re parents. The repetition is maddening and depressing.
7. Not feeling well.
Most of the time, the medications give me headaches, turn my stomach and give me horrendous heartburn. For instance, during the latter half of the follicle growing period of IVF, I have to do injections twice a day. Imagine giving yourself shots. Unless you have diabetes, you’re probably not used to this. It takes a little skill to do it well. I bruised my stomach good the first time, from right to left. I looked like I had been beaten. I felt beaten. My ovaries are swollen with follicles (no guarantee of egg or egg quality) and I’m facing minor surgery to get at them (a lovely needle through the vaginal wall to the ovaries to suck them out). You should see the chair you sit in. The amount of medical equipment is intimidating. The whole thing makes you start reciting your last will and testament.
If you have had pregnancies in the past, you can offer advice for how you safely dealt with these early pregnancy like symptoms. I had a wonderful coworker at my last job (I recently took a promotion at work where I no longer see her), who enjoyed talking about these things, and helped me deal with the symptoms. If you want to help, empathizing here will go a long way to relieving their stress and other symptoms. I sure wish someone could stop the nausea in my stomach from the increase of hormones. Any suggestions? (See, I asked, now you can offer your wonderful base of knowledge.)
Did you know you can’t take ibuprofen? Only Tylenol is safe. Tylenol doesn’t deal with headaches or menstruation well at all. I miss ibuprofen very much. They also ask you not to partake in caffeine, so I miss coffee. IVF is different from regular conception even on the level of nutrition. You’re dealing with women who are having difficulty conceiving for various reasons, and making sure they’re doing everything to better there chances is a must. So, certain foods and over the counter medications are off the table until it’s all over. Good lord, I do miss coffee. (Skip flax seed products, too.)
Above all, know that your friend/family member know that you mean well, but they are struggling. Some women go through the process just fine within a few months, while others will go for years. The onslaught of hormones make it one wild ride. Use caution. If you are in doubt about saying something, think about how you might react in such a situation to hearing those words. Choosing to say, can I get you anything, instead, might open the gates for conversation. Patience and empathy are the greatest assets you can have at this time.
Did you know that 50% of eggs in even fertile 20 year-olds can be abnormal? Frozen donor sperm can lower the chances of pregnancy immensely, or lead to abnormal embryos. A woman in her 40s may conceive without a problem, despite the statistics saying they become increasingly infertile during that decade, as if a switch is hit. Stress is linked to decreased fertility, but other studies are saying this isn’t the case. Ibuprofen prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries, but don’t rely on it for birth control. Women have only a 20% chance of conceiving from an IVF cycle. Most couples will conceive 6 months to a year after ceasing birth control pills (some will conceive immediately). Getting pregnant is like having a go at the lottery with quick pick numbers—and you can only play once a month if you’re using a fertility center. Couples have the advantage with fresh sperm and eggs, and repeated sexual intercourse to introduce fresh sperm to the egg(s) during ovulation.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Choosing IVF is an intensely personal process and I have chosen to document my journey at the encouragement of some of my dearest friends who see the value of it for other women who have chosen the same route. Condemning me or anyone based on your personal beliefs is an unwelcome thing to do, and will no doubt be a strike against you come the gates. Love and support is scarce in our world. Be love. Give support.
Let’s hop on over to see what the other authors are sharing about themselves this week…