There are many more people than we think, who need to undergo assisted reproduction treatments. Fertility affects more and more couples every year (more than 15% in Europe) and there is an increasing number of lesbian couples or single women who turn to assisted reproduction to start a family.
We can almost hear you object: But where are all these people undergoing fertility treatments then? If there are so many women in my situation, why do I feel so lonely and isolated? The fact is that, despite the progress of both medicine and society, assisted reproduction is still a taboo and people don’t talk about it.
That’s why we have collected the testimonies of a few “veterans” of assisted reproduction to create this mini guide, with practical advice for each step of the process. Who could guide you better in this process than someone who has experienced – and overcome – a similar one?
PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR ASSISTED REPRODUCTION, STEP BY STEP
In a process of assisted reproduction, each step comes with its dose of strong emotions: bad news one day, good news the following day; joy and hope at times, followed by disappointment and despair. During each step, we need to fight to keep going forward, to keep believing in our dream.
During this fight, there is nothing more valuable than the advice of mothers who have overcome this same process, the experience of these tireless fighters who made their dream come true.
In most cases, those who decide to undergo fertility treatments have been trying to have a baby for some time – months, or even years. However, their “infertility” is a new reality that comes as a shock to most of them, in a moment when they are already emotionally and physically weakened by months or years trying to conceive naturally, by many losses and disappointments.
In other cases, for example single women and lesbian couples, starting a fertility process is the result of a long and difficult reflection.
Whatever the reason for the treatment, and whether it is Artificial Insemination or In Vitro Fertilization, a process of assisted reproduction is a long and often painful one, during which our patience and optimism are challenged at every moment. A process during which we go through never-ending emotional ups and down, because of the hormonal treatments, but above all because of fear, stress, uncertainty, lack of control etc.
When facing this battle, we need to be as relaxed as possible. We also need all our strength, courage, confidence and will – that’s why it’s important to be very well prepared.
I remember the moment I found out that we couldn’t naturally conceive a baby. I couldn’t believe it. I was desperate and, above all, extremely angry. I wanted to start the fertility treatments straight away, but the negative emotions were so overwhelming that every step of the process felt terrible. I had regular anxiety attacks and felt jealous of all my friends announcing their pregnancy – and those feelings made me feel extremely guilty. The first IVF process failed, and I drowned.
OBJECTIVES DURING THIS PHASE:
1/ ACCEPT THE SITUATION, HOWEVER HARD IT MAY BE
“It’s important to mourn over our previous expectations, and over the image of ourselves as fertile persons. Only by accepting our limits can we accept the alternatives that come to us” – Rossana Marenzi, psychologist specialised in “infertility”
2/ GETTING PREPARED TO THE PROCESS, PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY
Don’t start the treatments until you feel absolutely ready.
We know you want to hurry things up – we all did! We know you need to start the treatments as soon as possible, to put yourself back into action and to regain a certain sensation of control – in short, to be able to hope again.
But it’s important to face this fight with strength and confidence. A couple of months won’t change much and a good preparation will change the way you feel during the whole process – and maybe even have an influence in the end results.
DON’T DENY YOUR EMOTIONS
Identify them, recognize them, observe them.
Stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, jealousy, anger, rejection, injustice, powerlessness, depression, shame… They are ALL normal and human emotions, and we all experienced them: there is absolutely no shame in having them. It’s important to accept them to be able to deal with them.
TRUST THE EXPERIENCED
Share with people who are experiencing (or have experienced) the same situation as you. They will understand you better than anyone else, and help you put things in perspective, assimilate and accept these emotions.
In She Oak we can put you in contact with people like you.
if you have the possibility to do so, open yourself to friends or family, or even to a third person that you don’t know so well but whom you trust – it can be a colleague, the mother of a friend, a friend’s friend, etc.
Letting out your pain and your doubts will help you live with them.
If you’re in a relationship, share your feelings with your companion: it is of utmost importance that you go through this process together, as a couple, helping and supporting each other – and this requires a very good communication.
ASK PROFESSIONALS FOR HELP
If you feel the need of an exterior support, a coach or a psychologist can help you before, during and after the process.
In She Oak we can put you in touch with the best professionals.
PREPARE YOURSELF PHYSICALLY
It is important to prepare yourself psychologically to gather strength and serenity. But not only that: your body also needs preparation to receive the treatments and maybe, in a second step, to welcome a new life.
There is no universal recipe, it all depends on your personality and needs. Here are a few suggestions:
. Implement healthy life habits to stay fit: healthy and balanced diet, etc.
. Do physical exercise. There is no restriction in this phase, enjoy it and do what you most like: swimming, yoga, running, etc. Not only is physical exercise good for your health, it is also excellent for your mind as it stimulates the secretion of endorphins.
. Do relaxation and respiration exercises every day, they will help you relax both body and mind, and they will be very helpful in moments of crisis and intense stress.
. Walk 30 minutes a day in the open air (if possible before noon): the combination of physical exercise and natural light is excellent for the spirit.
. Spoil yourself from time to time: a relaxing massage, a SPA with a couple of friends, some chocolate from time to time, without excess. Everything works as long as you enjoy it!
. Many studies have proven that natural therapies improve fertility and reduce stress: define which best work for you. Acupuncture will help you relax and prepare your body to the treatments and to the future implantation of the embryo. But some will prefer herbal medicine, osteopathy, naturopathy, etc.
Don’t hesitate to contact us!