So, when are you going to have a baby?
So when are you going to have a baby? For someone who is not planning on having children or might not be ready to have a baby, a question like this might provoke various reactions. Yet for couples going through fertility issues it might be another reminder of their personal struggles with something most people assume once you are ready, it will just happen. Even when you attempt to explain the difficulties of conceiving, it seems people always have an answer to why it might not be happening. Try putting your legs up for 10 minutes, put a pillow under your waist; try various positions, have your tried standing on one hand whilst holding a cat with the other.
What people fail to understand is, not everyone one can conceive naturally, not everyone who has intercourse on the day of ovulation conceives, not everyone who tries for a week or a month or even two months is rewarded with a baby and not everyone who eats healthy, exercises and achieves the latest yoga move increases their chances of conception.
A lot of couples usually say “I wanted to get married first and then have children and I just assumed it would happen” or “I was so naive and just imagined it would happen straight away for us.” The reality is, for most couples this does not always happen as planned and some spend years going for test, scans and constant appointments. For some IVF is their only option, an option which can be financially demanding, emotionally draining and overwhelming.
The IVF process can have an immense pressure on couples. Couples can become obsessed with having a baby to the point whereby sex becomes planned and regimental and that puts a lot of pressure on you as a couple. Going through fertility issues does not mean your friends, sister in law or work colleague will cease to become pregnant. In fact it may seem everyone around is becoming pregnant with no effort and although you are delighted for them, it underlines your own longing. It evokes feelings emptiness, anxiety, depression and uncertainties.
What happens during IVF
IVF involves six main stages:
Suppressing your natural cycle – the menstrual cycle is suppressed with medication.
Boosting your egg supply – medication is used to encourage the ovaries to produce more eggs than usual.
Monitoring your progress and maturing your eggs – an ultrasound scan (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Ultrasound-scan/Pages/Introduction.aspx) is carried out to check the development of the eggs, and medication is used to help them mature.
Collecting the eggs – a needle is inserted into the ovaries, via the vagina, to collect the eggs.
Fertilising the eggs – the eggs are mixed with the sperm for a few days to allow them to be fertilised.
Transferring the embryo(s) – one or two fertilised eggs (embryos) are placed into the womb.
Every stage comes with unknowns, uncertainties and lack of control. Women often feel they have no or little control over their emotions, disconnected from their body and constant mood swings. It is not only women who go through this difficult and unpredictable journey, men also go through their own battle, questions around muscularity and inadequacy surface. Having to watch their partner self inject everyday, take pills, sit in the corner whilst different doctors prod in between their partner’s legs and having to watch their partner go through the discomfort of egg collection.
For most couples the two weeks wait is often described as the most anxious period during the entire process. Most convince themselves it has not worked, try and believe somehow any little sharp pain or discomfort is a sign that something must be happening. This point is where couples feel they have no control over what happens and at times that can be difficult to accept.
As difficult and as turbulent as this process is, one cannot help but to fantasise about how it would feel to be a mother/father; in your mind you have already held your baby, introduced him/her to friends and family, picked out your pram and even decided whether you will breastfeed or not. In this journey you naturally hope, for it is hope that keeps you going to every scan, appointments, disappointments; whilst fear of the unknown follows you like a second shadow. Because without hope this journey would not even be possible. Nothing worth having comes easy, life is full of unknowns, uncertainties, not everything we desire, we end up having.
I believe counselling is an important part of preparing yourself for treatments. You do not have to be alone in what feels at times a difficult and overwhelming path. Counselling is a chance for you to:
To help manage the stress of scans and treatments.
To help you think through your treatment options and their implications.
To understand conflicting thoughts and feelings.
To find your own solutions.
To cope with disappointments when treatments don't work.
For support if you're on your own.
To talk with someone who has the objectivity to listen without judging.
"The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering".
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