The infertility to IVF journey has 7 major stages that a couple has to undergo. If you relate to these stages then be reassured that you are not alone in this highly anxious and clueless journey. For those of you who are on the other side of the fence, this stage-wise journey break-up will help you understand what a woman goes through during infertility journey and you will surely empathize with their pain. By the end of it we would have convinced you to become an #InfertilityDost and show your solidarity with the cause.
The honeymoon period is over. You now wish to take the next natural step in the journey of life – Parenthood. You try for a few months or even go to doctor who gives you basic pills like folic acid and vitamins, helps you understand about ovulation, and sends off with a smile. You clean your lifestyle a bit, dream about having a cuddly baby and enjoy sex.
6 Months Later
It has been almost six months of trying and no luck with conception. You check with Google, your close friends, sisters and mom for any inputs. You follow some tips given by them like prop up on a pillow during sex, turn left ways after having sex, stop eating a particular fruit or vegetable, ask your husband to cut down on smoke and alcohol, buy an ovulation kit. You check with your gynaecologist who asks to get some tests done. The test results come almost clean with some minor and manageable fluctuations. You are told there is nothing to worry and some medicines are added up to your prescription, and you are sent off with a reassuring smile. Your heart also knows there is nothing to worry. You are conscious and meticulously plan your sex life as per ovulation.
1 Year Later
This is not normal. This does not fall into how you planned. You research aggressively. You start to fret over why you are still not able to conceive naturally. This is the time, on expert guidance of some close friend, parents or relatives you shift from a GYNAECOLOGIST To An INFERTILITY EXPERT. You enter a new world. You begin to hear new words like IUI, IVF, ICSI etc. You feel totally lost and you know you don’t belong here. This is a wrong world which you have entered by mistake. A long list of tests, frequent vaginal ultrasounds, long waiting queues; painful diagnostic procedures, tons of questions about your family history become a routine. The taboo word “INFERTILITY” hits you like a thunderbolt for the first time. You feel completely lost and clueless. Your heart says all this is bullshit and there is nothing wrong with you.
2 Years Later
You probably had your tryst with a few failed IUIs, more tests, more confusion, more physical and mental trauma. Your personal life has become a complete rollercoaster ride. Mood swings rule the day. There is an intermittent cycle of hope and depression. You have changed doctors and are seeking for alternative treatments. You become reclusive and avoid social gatherings for people have started poking you with questions about your pregnancy plan. The ones who know about your medical situation tend to give “free ka gyan” which you totally hate. Paradigms of life are changing. Priorities are shifting.
A Few Years Later
You have tried everything. You are in a physical and mental trauma. Nothing seems to work out. You are now knocking at the highest medical intervention possible- IVF. This is famously known as assisted reproductive technology or test tube baby. Anxiety and stress levels have hit the roof. Cribbing to God, crying when your younger cousin gives birth to a baby, having low self-esteem, running to astrologers, mindlessly doing puja or havan is quite natural at this stage. Acceptance that there is something wrong with you in a big way is now slowly settling in and this feeling tends to unsettle every other feeling. IVF treatment takes a toll on everything. Decisions have to be made.
A Failed Infertility Treatment
Failure is inevitable. I am yet to hear any woman who didn’t face a failure during infertility treatment. It can be a failure of methodology, failed IUI or first cycle of IVF failed – whatever it is but you will have to face it. You will realize that you are much stronger than you ever imagined you can be. All this failure is making you a better person. You are mature, stronger and most importantly, growing empathetic. You are seeing immense pain both mental and physical as a front runner and this has changed the way you look at the world. You are changing and this is for the good in the long run. Though at this time you won’t realize as you are in deep pain but some years down the line you will see it yourself.
The Disillusionment Stage
You are tired and abruptly leave everything midway and just run far away. You leave treatment, you leave trying, and you leave thinking even about future. You simply want to go as far as possible, away from everything, even your husband. You want to do nothing. Your energies are all drained. I went to Auroville during this stage to reconnect with my real self that I had lost amidst all this frustration.
You Decide To Move On
You will realize that staying happy and appreciating what you already have is more important rather than blindly chasing an impossible dream that has wrecked and ruled your life. You take some hard decisions. You go for another IVF with better knowledge and preparation or if you have already crossed the threshold of number of feasible IVF attempts then you start contemplating about donor, adoption, and surrogacy or choose to remain ‘child-free’. You can’t go on like this – confused and messed up- anymore and you decide to accept the situation at hand gracefully and decide to move on.
This is to tell you that you are not alone in the journey from infertility to IVF. Bring the child in a happy world. Stay happy and miracles will happen. You will be blessed with a child (irrelevant of the medium you choose) or you will be blessed with conscious knowledge that will help you look beyond. The journey is undoubtedly a tough one but it will surely make your life more meaningful. After this infertility journey no one remains shallow. Change your perspective and see this infertility to IVF journey as a learning phase, learning about real life skills.
P.S: At any point of this infertility to IVF journey you might be blessed and will have a child thus breaking away from the journey. But remember there are many you will go till the end. Empathize about their pain and say a prayer for them. You have been a part of this journey so you know best, how it feels. Do your small bit. Connect, help, support, listen to women still in the journey, and most importantly #SpeakUp about your infertility to IVF journey for that can not only inspire other women but also change the society’s taboo perspective around this subject.
To others we sincerely request to be sensitive to the pain of infertility and pledge and Be an #InfertilityDost .