If you sometimes feel less like a person making choices, and more like a puppet being bounced around in a play about infertility, you're not alone. Infertility can make you feel like it's in charge, instead of you. When you begin fertility testing, you may feel the doctors are in charge, or the tests are in charge. Same with treatments. You may go about your day in a daze, or carry out your doctor's instructions with a great sense of helplessness.
Despite how it feels, however, you are still in charge of your life. You do have choices. And you have needs that should not be ignored.
Don't Ignore Your Need to Ask Questions
While your doctors know more about infertility and reproduction than you do, they don't know you like you do. You may have questions, and they should answer them. Don't put them too high up on a pedestal and assume every plan of action is unquestionably the best one. Maybe their plan isn't right for you. Or maybe what they have in mind for your treatment isn't what you're willing or ready to do.
Ask questions. Ask them to explain to you test results and what they mean for your prognosis. Ask them why they recommend treatments and if you have any other options. When treatment fails, ask them why they think things went wrong and what can be done differently next time.
And don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion, especially if treatment isn't going how you'd like or if you've had multiple treatment failures.
Don't Ignore Your Need to Think Things Over
If you're sitting in your doctor's office, and in a period of a half hour find out your only chance for success is IVF, you may not be ready in that moment to jump into a treatment plan. Maybe you will be - but if you're not, that is ok. You have a right to think things over.
I talk about the need for speed a lot, reminding my readers that their biological clocks are ticking. However, waiting a few hours, days, or even a few weeks, is not going to make or break anything. If you have a big decision to make, take a step back. Tell your doctor, if they don't suggest it themselves, that you need time to think.
Don't Ignore Your Need for Support
Infertility often feels like a lonely journey, but you are not in this alone. There are millions of people like you living with infertility. There are support groups, like RESOLVE, and there are therapists who have training to help you deal with your struggles.
Don't forget about your friends and family, either. Not every person will be able to offer you support, but I believe you should have at least one friend and one family member who you can speak to about your fertility woes. Don't ignore your need for support. Reach out!
Don't Ignore Your Need for a Break
Taking a break from the infertility roller coaster isn't an easy decision, but for some people, it can be the best decision they ever made. Speak to your doctor about how long you can afford to take a break from trying to conceive, and if you feel you need a good amount of time to not focus on trying to conceive, take that time.
Personally, I can tell you my husband and I took a two year break in the middle of our trying to conceive years, and it made a huge difference. I will embarrassingly admit that I had hoped the break would also somehow cure me. I thought we'd finish our break, we'd start trying, and miracle of miracles, I'd get pregnant right away! Instead, it took three more years before we finally conceived and had our twins.
But I am very happy I took that break. It reenergized me. It made me feel strong again, like I could handle the disappointment. It also allowed me to rebalance my life, and remember that life isn't only about getting pregnant.
A break for you might mean a few months, or it may mean a year or more. Whatever you need, take it.
Have you been ignoring your needs? Have you ever taken a break? Asked for more time to think? Sought support? Feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!
More on coping with infertility:
- How to Cope When Trying to Conceive Overwhelms You
- 10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
- How TTC Affects Your Sex Life
- How to Cope During the Two Week Wait
- Emotional Impact of Infertility
- Coping with Fertility Test Anxiety
This post is in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW), which this year is from April 22-28th. Every year, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association hosts a blog challenge on a chosen theme in honor of NIAW. This year's theme is "Don't Ignore..." Want to join in with your blog? Check out the RESOLVE website.
Photo (c) Rob Melnychuk / Getty Images.