10 things I wish people would have told me when I started trying to have a baby…

  1. You don’t get pregnant right when you stop trying “not to”

I distinctly remember the first time that we tried to “stop not trying to have a baby” (commonly known as “pulling the goalie) and going to bed thinking “wow I just got pregnant.” The next morning, I woke up, still thinking I’d be having a baby in 9 months when our dog ate a sock. We had to rush her to the vet to get them to force the sock up and I remember thinking while we were there, this will be such a funny story to tell when I have my baby in 9 months! It is safe to say we did not have a baby 9 months later or 9 months after that or 9 months after that and so on.

2. It doesn’t work the way it did for your mamma or your mamma’s mamma

As time went on after the sock incident, once we started being more open about our struggles, people would ask about my mom and grandmothers and if they had a hard time getting pregnant. I’m one of 4 kids, my mom is one of 5 and my dad is one of 6 so needless to say they didn’t have our troubles. I heard countless friends/family and even doctors say, well you’ll be just fine look at your mom and grandmothers. Since I am writing here today, I think you all know that my journey didn’t look anything like theirs.

3. Your OB/GYN is great for pregnancy but not trying to get pregnant

Probably like most people who realize getting pregnant might not happen as easily as they thought, my first call was to my OB/GYN at the time. She was a great doctor, spent a lot of time reassuring me that having a baby would eventually happen and did some good tests. All that said, we probably spent way too much time thinking some simple blood work, basic medicine and “just relaxing” would do the trick.

4. When it is time to leave the OB/GYN don’t settle for the first fertility specialist you find

When we realized it was time to move on, we went to the closest fertility specialist who seemed to be well known in our community. We only made it through one round of treatment at that clinic before realizing it was not the right fit for a lot of reasons that I can go into with anyone who is interested. We made the significant time investment to switch to a clinic that was an hour away but was worth every penny in gas and minute spent in the car. I know it sounds hokey to say this about a fertility specialist but from the moment we walked into the office it was a “when you know you know” type feeling and that stayed with us through our whole journey.

5. Once you do find someone, stick with them and be wary of “second opinions”

After we found our new doctor and were still struggling to have a baby, countless, well meaning friends and family members would mention “a friend’s daughter” or a “cousin” who traveled to such and such place and got pregnant right away. Others would innocently ask “would it hurt to get someone else to look at your case?” While all these suggestions came from the right place, they caused me to question a doctor who I loved and trusted in a time when what I really needed was re-assurance that I was making the right decision for my care.

6. Consider other treatment options but always talk with your doctor

Just like with the well-meaning ideas about second opinions, friends and family would say “oh did you try taking this supplement” or “change your diet in this way” or “try these yoga poses.” In the end, I found it most valuable when I would ask my doctor about these suggestions. She was always straight forward with a recommendation. One non-conventional treatment option I chose that my doctor supported was acupuncture. I ended up loving the way it made me relax and became close with the doctor who helped me.

7. Your fertility specialist is much more than a doctor

One of the reasons we loved our fertility clinic so much was the entire staff. From the front desk, to the lab techs, to the nurses to the nurse practitioner, everyone was kind, caring and compassionate. I didn’t realize how much in some ways fertility is a “team based sport” and we had an amazing team.

8. Consider financial options

While it is rare that insurance will cover traditional fertility treatment, there might be other parts of the process that could be covered.  There also may be other financing options. Most fertility clinics have a dedicated coordinator to help patients figure out the hefty price that comes with treatment.

9. When the road gets really bumpy, check in on your mental health

As things got harder and my journey got longer, I realized that I couldn’t continue to lean only on my core support group (my mom, best friend, husband) to listen to my many emotions about our struggles. All of these people were so invested in my journey themselves that it made it hard for me to be totally honest with them. I started seeing a therapist and had a regular sessions to express my true feelings. It took me a while to open up about this with the all too common stigma of mental health. Just like with our overall journey, I am going to be more open about therapy and the benefits it had for my mental health.

10. It is okay to be honest about your struggles

My last piece of advice goes back to my opening comments on being more open about infertility. For the first good bit of our journey when family or friends would ask “when are you going to have a baby”, I would “smile and nod” usually responding “oh you know, hopefully soon” then deal with whatever pleasantries came thereafter. It took me a long time to start being more honest and even then I would usually respond with “well it is taking us longer than we thought.” In retrospect it probably would have been easier to wear a T-Shirt saying “before you ask, we’re trying to have a baby.”

Maybe “wearing what is on your heart” is taking this a bit too far 😊 but at the end of the day I hope that this blog post inspires us to all be more open and supportive when it comes to infertility. Thanks again to Emily for letting me post here!