Waiting is a killer, it's something that we don't like to do. I'm sure you've waited in traffic and it doesn't seem to be moving? Or you have an important meeting and the taxi driver takes you on a scenic route around the city? Frustrating right.
You can now imagine what it's like when you're waiting to start IVF treatment? If you've decided to go ahead with treatment and have a few months what do you do to stop the anxiety, worry and stress of it all?
My husband and I decided to move forward and start preparing for baby number two. There were a few things going on around the world, COVID-19 had us in lockdown however my IVF clinic remained open for treatment so we thought why not! Perhaps I went into our transfer a little bit conceited and thought just like round one, my emmy baby (embryo) was going to stick and I'll be pregnant. I thought I was the unicorn of IVF. Well the first FET didn't take and then the second was unsuccessful and it hit me like a train, I was a trainwreck.
However, it forced me, once again, to look into my health & diet and after receiving my blood results I had a clear idea of what I needed to do. I thought I was eating healthy, I ate lots of salads and fruit, perhaps all the wrong foods because I was running on empty. I had no iron, no vitamin B, C, D, low folate...the list went on. I asked myself how was I supposed to grow a human if I was running on empty? I was barely nourishing myself let only a baby. I decided with the help of an acupuncturist and a dietician I would wait 90 days until my next egg collection.
Why 90 days? Eggs start their final phase of development about 90 days before ovulation. The immature follicle to the development of a mature egg released is 90 days and within that time you can improve the health of your eggs and quality. If you're like me and waiting 90 days for your next treatment here's what you can do during your wait.
1. Check your blood. Get an idea of what your vitamin and iron levels are so you can improve on them or continue as you are if they are fine. You can see your GP and request a blood test, of course, discuss with GP you're going for IVF and want to optimise your health before the next round. Please discuss with your Fertility Specialist also.
2. Look into foods that will boost your vitamin and iron levels, which will also increase your energy levels. Chicken livers are rich in iron, broccoli, sardines too, eat lots of dark green leaves/vegetables and taking pre-pregnancy supplements will also help to support the level of nutrients you need.
3. Exercise! For some, it's a dirty word and it's not everyone's favourite activity. However, the benefits of exercise helps in all areas of the body, it keeps your heart healthy and it energises you. I have bad circulation and I'm always cold, moving the body around helps with the circulation as it increases blood flow, increase blood flow also means blood flow to the uterus, which is important during transfer time.
There are lots of ways to keep your body moving, going to the gym, if you're not a gym bunny, a home workout is just as good. Go for walks, hiking, go to the beach for a walk, try fertility yoga, there are loads on YouTube.
4. Spend time with your partner/husband. When my second transfer failed I looked back and suddenly thought about the whole process and what I learnt, nothing really. I decided I was going to approach the next round differently, I want to enjoy the journey and not concentrate on the destination (baby at the end). I don't want to miss out on learning something new and enjoy my time with my family. We're in an unusual situation at the moment, with COVID-19 both my husband and I are working from home, it means we're spending much more time with each other. I get to have lunch with him most days, we meet in the kitchen for a tea break, I flirt at his desk and he comes knocking on my office door for chats, I joke and say we're having an office romance. Do whatever works for you, you're a team and you're in this together.
5. See your friends. Staying away from friends and isolating yourself can be more harmful than good, they are on your team and love you. At times I get into my own head and say they don't want to hear about my journey yet again, however they do care. But I realised when I went for dinner recently I didn't even talk about my fertility journey, we just laughed, ate good food and enjoyed each others company.
Spending time with my pregnant friends or most recently friends with more than 1 child is also important for me. We're trying for baby number 2, I want to know what it's like and hear how they manage and juggle work, how they introduced their new baby to their toddler, how they prepared their toddler for a new sibling. I can read books, I can get the experts advice but my friends have trialled and tested and will tell me no lie. I know it's not for everyone, especially if you've been trying for a long time and it's a trigger, however for me it's my therapy.
6. Help someone. Taking your mind off your own worries and pain is a good distraction, we take the focus off ourselves. I know when you're in pain it might be hard to give a word of encouragement to someone else when you're feeling discouraged, broken and need words of hope and positivity for your own strength. However, giving someone words of encouragement, cheering them on or lending an ear to listen, I discovered gave me the strength I needed to heal myself and encouraged me to keep going.
7. Write a gratitude list or journal. This is very powerful for me because again it distracts me from my current situation, I stop focusing on what I don't have and look at what I do have in my life, it forces me to appreciate and look at the beauty and there's so much joy that surrounds me.
8. Protect your mindset. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, our voice is louder than everyone around us and we say such nasty things, especially when things are not going according to plan. That chatterbox needs to be quiet and told to shut up because it has no place and serves no purpose, after all, you wouldn't let your partner, best friend or a co-worker speak to you the way you speak to yourself. We need to sow in words of positivity, words of growth, words of power, words of determination, words of life. To remind me I have messages on my mirror, on my phone and I put post-it notes on my monitor, I surround myself with people that are on my team, people cheering me on and I choose to block the negative comments and people. Mindset is important, protect it.
And there you have it, 8 ways to help you enjoy each stage of your fertility journey. As I say waiting is a killer, but preparation is key. Wherever you are on your fertility journey, I wish you lots of love and light. We can do it!