So you are finally (probably after lots of waiting and waiting) preparing to begin your first cycle of IVF. I am sure by now your fertility clinic has provided you with a plethora of information and medication to get you started on your IVF journey. No matter how fabulous your fertility clinic doctors and nurses are, they are probably leaving out some really important tips that will help you to survive your IVF cycle. So here is a collection of some of the best tips to prepare your life for IVF:
Prepare Your Dwelling
When you are going through IVF, there is a high probability that you will be spending a lot of time at home. You are going to have an injection schedule to follow and may only feel comfortable playing IVF chemist from the comfort of your own home. The hormones may also leaving you feeling less than social (tired, cranky, and bloated). So take some time BEFORE your cycle begins to make your home a warm, cozy, comfy IVF palace!
- Clean Up: Take some time to get your house cleaned up. Or ask someone to clean it for you (I am looking at you significant other…) Your energy may be zapped during your cycle and nothing feels better than relaxing in a clean house.
- Make Your Nest: Where is your most favorite spot in the house? Identify it and put anything and everything in that spot that brings you comfort. Blankets, pillows, puppies, whatever! You will want a place to retreat to on the days IVF is making you feel less than your best self. Plus don’t forget, after your egg retrieval…BED REST! Get all the comfy pillows and blankets ready now.
- Feed Me: You may have little appetite, or you may want to eat all the things. Either way it is best to get your refrigerator and cupboards prepared. If you can, prep some of your favorite meals in advance (or have your lovely partner do it!). This way food is ready to go right into your belly on the days that standing over a hot oven is the last place you want to be. Stock the pantry with some safe, bland foods just in case nausea takes over. Oh, and pineapple. Apparently, after your IVF transfer you should be eating lots of pineapple, so stock up!
- Organize: During IVF, your home will become a temporary pharmacy. You will receive a massive amount of medications, needles, and other nifty medical supplies and you need a place to organize said supplies. I recommend scoring yourself an inexpensive over the door shoe organizer like this one. Be sure to stock up on the necessary supplies before your injections start such as ice packs, band-aids, Tylenol, and chocolate of course.
Prepare Your Partner
One of the more challenging parts of IVF is navigating your relationship. This is an exciting, scary, stressful and hormonal time for all involved. Yay hormone induced mood swings! Chances are your partner is in awe of what you are about to take on in order to make the two of you parents. They are probably also trying to figure out how to help you through it all.
- Decide What You Need: Think about what you need through this. Decide specifically what you need from your partner. Make a list. Nothing is too big or too small for your list. Put it all down there. You are preparing to make science in your womb. Therefore you get ALL THE THINGS.
- Tell Them: Okay, so you have figured out that there is no way in hell you can stick yourself with a needle and you need them to play nurse. Perhaps you want them to attend every single appointment or only the big ones. Or maybe you need nightly foot rubs and lots of hugs. No matter what it is. Don’t assume they “will just know”. Let them know exactly what you need from them.
- Information Station: Between medications, procedures, and protocols, going through IVF means taking a crash course in medical school. You do not need to be the only pseudo doctor in your house. Ask your partner to read the materials you are given or to attend any and all appointments you need them to be at. Make a calendar in your home or online you both have access to so you can keep track of appointments, medications and other important information together. (Google calendar is great for this!)
- Talk About It: Be sure to have regular check-ins with one another throughout the process. Talk about how you are both doing and feeling. Don’t be afraid to be honest with one another. Ask your partner how they are holding up. IVF is hard stuff. Be compassionate with one another and agree to keep it a judgement free zone.
Prepare Your People
Whether you decide to tell everyone or no one about your decision to pursue IVF, it will help to prepare the important people in your life and their expectations of you.
- Work It: You are under no obligation to tell anyone you work with about IVF. However, monitoring appointments, side effects from medications and the unpredictable timing of egg retrieval and transfer may warrant at minimum a conversation with your manager, supervisor or HR personal. Release any guilt about not taking on any new clients or projects temporarily too! Time to take care of you.
- Family: Think about how much information and with who you will share your IVF journey with. Be prepared for lots of support from those you tell and don’t be afraid to set boundaries with them about how much you want to share or not share about the journey. will getting one million phone calls from your mother drive you batty or make you feel super supported? Don’t forget to tell them what you need and do not need right now.
- Friends: Similar to family, you will need to decide which friends you share your decision to pursue IVF with and who you won’t. Your friends who you do tell will want desperately to know how to support you, so again, don’t be afraid to tell them. If you have pregnant friends or friends with new babies, be honest with yourself. If attending a baby shower, bris or naming ceremony is your idea of personal hell right now, it is okay to politely decline. You are not a bad friend. I promise.
- Back Pocket Statements: People say a lot of dumb shit to people who are trying to make babies. People also say a lot of well meaning but dumb shit to people who are making science babies. Nothing is worse than being caught off guard by an insensitive comment or question. Try and come up with a few quick responses you can keep in your back pocket. For example, if you are using donor eggs to make your baby and Aunt Sally asks “but who is the mother?” be ready with a response. “Well since I am responsible for growing, feeding, clothing, schooling, and keeping her alive…I guess that means I am”. That will shut Aunt Sally up.
Deciding to do IVF is a big deal. You are going to be asking your body to take on some serious business., making a science baby in your womb. You have complete permission to take care of yourself, mind, body and soul in whatever way you need to. COMPLETE PERMISSION.
- Clear Your Calendar: It will be hard to predict how you well feel from day to day during IVF or when you are slated for appointments, monitoring and procedures. Take a good hard look at your calendar. Anything that is not an obligation, and I mean a real obligation feel free to label it “optional”. Trust me, you are going to feel like you have plenty on your calendar thanks to your fertility clinic and their desire to frequently set you up on dates with Mr. Wand.
- Treat Yo’ Self: Get in the habit of treating yourself. Maybe you will have a decadent piece of fancy chocolate after each injection. Or maybe you will schedule a manicure and pedicure every week during your cycle. Decide on some rewards and gift them to yourself without guilt!
- What To Wear: How do you feel about yoga pants? Because those snug jeans you love to wear, they may become your worst enemy during IVF. There is a lot of bloating in IVF. Growing those follicles means embracing the stretchy pant. Get yourself some comfortable (roomy) pants, skirts or dresses. Elastic waist bands are your best friend, friend. Don’t forget to get yourself some rad socks for your retrieval and transfer days too! Good excuse to go down the Etsy rabbit hole.
- Blogs and Pods: The bad news is, you are going though IVF. The good news is, you aren’t the only one. Luckily, there are some pretty fabulous women and men out there who are documenting their infertility journey in blog and podcast format. Listening or reading to others experiences can be just what the doctor ordered. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Matt & Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure : Matt and Doree are a couple who use their awesome podcast to talk through their infertility issues and the IVF process—both with one another and for their listeners.
- IVFML: With IVFML, a new podcast miniseries about infertility, Anna Almendrala, a senior editor at HuffPost, and her husband Simon Ganz want to be those oversharing friends who make the process easier.
- Our Misconception: In this blog, Chris and Candace talk openly and candidly about there very long journey through infertility, marriage and parenthood.