I was recently talking to a woman who is about to begin her very first round of IVF. She asked if I had any tips or tricks, and it got me thinking. There are so many different approaches when it comes to infertility. And, I’ve tried A LOT of them. Everyone’s preferences are different, but here are the top three things that worked for me; and the top three epic fails.
Okay, first and foremost, if you’re trying to conceive and you haven’t tried acupuncture yet, don’t walk; RUN to an acupuncturist. There’s a reason that hospitals and fertility clinics, who practice Western medicine offer acupuncture (Eastern medicine) before and after embryo transfers. Because it freaking works.
Acupuncture uses super fine needles that are inserted into specific locations on the body. In traditional Chinese medicine, the energy force of “chi” is believed to flow through certain pathways in the body, called meridians. Acupuncture helps by allowing “chi” to move through your body without any roadblocks. When the energy is able to move properly it helps with bodily functions, hormones, thyroid, stress and conception.
Michael and I both went to acupuncture at least once a week, then increased the amount of treatments during fertility cycles. It also helps balance out the artificial hormones and stimulating drugs that can consume your body and mind. It was my savior, especially on Clomid cycles.
My second tip is to find yourself a solid support system of people who have gone through this themselves. There are so many wonderful trying to conceive groups online. You can post questions or concerns to a forum and groups of women will respond.
I talked to two women who successfully conceived through IVF during my entire journey. I texted and called them daily, comparing numbers, side effects, and asked them a thousand questions. My husband reached out to a friend of his family who had been in his same position. If you’re in a partnership going through this process, it’s imperative that both people communicate and take care of themselves, not just the one who is physically doing the heavy lifting.
Talking to people who have gone through this process helps to validate your feelings, prepare yourself for what to expect, and most importantly aid in keeping some shred of your sanity. Even though it may feel like it, you’re not alone.
I remember going to a bachelorette party in Nashville, mid IUI cycle. I was so worried about being hormonal and making everyone uncomfortable from my excessive sweating and spontaneous bouts of tears. I was so relieved when I learned that another bridesmaid was on Clomid too. She and I spent so much of the time running out of clubs, pouring sweat through hot flashes, together. I was so grateful for her the entire trip. (I’d like to add that she now has two beautiful babies of her own.)
My third tip is meditation. I personally used circle & bloom mediations (circlebloom.com). They have meditations specifically designed for trying to conceive naturally, IVF, IUI and FET cycles. Each program has meditations for specific days of your cycle. For example: Precycle Sessions, Cycle Day 1+2, Trigger Shot and Extraction, etc.
At first I couldn’t take it seriously. I felt like an idiot trying to “picture a glowing light of energy” around my feet. But, I thought I’d stick with it. If anything it would give me a way to feel like I had some sort of control in the process.
But then, before I knew it, I was getting really good at it. I was able to use my mind to get to a place of complete peace and relaxation. I did the meditations every night, sometimes multiple times in a row. I put headphones in and did the embryo transfer meditation during acupuncture immediately before and after both of my successful transfers. The transfer session is such a beautiful meditation that it brought me to tears all four times. Meditation is still now, the soul way I can get myself to calm down really quickly.
Okay on to my epic fails in trying to conceive. This first one we made the mistake of trying multiples times, never learning from our mistakes. This one is what I like to call the “Just relax and don’t think about it” method.
During these times of denial, Michael and I did everything in our power to pretend we weren’t consuming hormones and unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant every month. We did a million activities to try to distract ourselves. We went on like seven vacations, because so many people told us that’s when we’d get pregnant. Which in turn, made us nervous wrecks during our vacations, trying to relax so hard that it actually did the opposite. But so many people encouraged that “just relaxing and not thinking about it” was key, that we found ourselves trying it over and over again.
“Just relax and it will happen.”
To anyone who has ever given that advice, I know that your intentions are nothing but great, but please shut up. I don’t need to hear how Fertile Myrtle went to Sonoma and accidentally got pregnant after trying to conceive for five minutes. If you haven’t gone through it yourself, zip your lips. No one who is having difficulty getting pregnant wants to hear about how easy peasy it was for you by just simply relaxing. Plus, I’d like to see you inject yourself with progesterone and try to relax. Ain’t fucking happening sister.
Bone broth. This is the first holistic approach that completely backfired on us. Our acupuncturist recommended that we try to drink bone broth because it apparently has amazing health benefits. One of the benefits was that it would aid in fixing my “yin deficiency” aka adrenal fatigue. Apparently this adrenal fatigue was part of the reason I wasn’t able to get pregnant. So, of course I would try anything to fix it.
To make the real deal bone broth, you have to cook down bones over a long period of time. So, Michael went to the store, bought the carcass of God knows what animal, and proceeded to slow cook it on our stove for 14 hours. The end result; our apartment smelled like a fucking slaughter house and we ended up with a gelatinous goo of bone broth, that looking at was enough to make you dry heave. Michael chugged a glass of it and pretended like it wasn’t that bad. I got two sips down and immediately puked in the kitchen sink.
Okay, so the third and final fail, was my trip to see a holistic doctor in a neighborhood not far from mine. I figured it was worth a shot to try all types of medicine, so I paid the $450 upfront appointment fee and went for it.
I sat with the holistic doctor for what I thought was a consultation, but ended up being similar to a therapy session. After looking at my tongue and talking about my parents’ divorce, her diagnosis was that I didn’t ACTUALLY want to get pregnant. I was the reason I wasn’t getting pregnant because I “didn’t want it enough.”
Three hours later, she sent me on my way with instructions to “cure me” of infertility; immediately stop eating bananas and gluten, get over my parents break up…oh and SHIT IN A BAG and send it in the mail to their lab.
It’s bad enough to question my desire to be a mother. But asking me to shit in a bag is where I draw the fucking line. I left in tears, incredibly flustered, backed my car up into their mailbox, and felt a thousand times worse than I did before entering the building.
When you desperately want to become a parent, you’ll try literally anything and everything to achieve that dream. No matter where your journey takes you, whether it be going number two in a plastic bag or having your body covered in needles; it’s YOUR journey. Some of it will crash and burn and some will help you find some sort of serenity in this incredibly exhausting process.
An upside to all of this; I have a lifelong comeback when my daughter questions my over-protective parenting style.
“But Kelsey’s mom is letting her go!”
“Good for Kelsey. Did Kelsey’s mom drink animal remains to conceive her? That’s what I thought.”