By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
When you are going through a cycle of fertility treatment, one of the most challenging things can be coping with the highs and lows along the way and you will soon realise why the experience is often described as an “emotional roller-coaster”. Veering from one extreme emotion to another can leave you feeling exhausted and in need of support.
Jumping the hurdles
When you start a treatment cycle, you may have spent some time going through tests and other treatments and it can feel as if you have already been on a long journey. You might expect things to become a little more straightforward once you begin your treatment, but each stage that you go through offers the possibility of yet more challenges. How will your body respond to the drugs? How many eggs will there be? Will the eggs fertilise? Will the embryos be good quality?
A treatment cycle consists of a series of hurdles to be got over, and as soon as you have jumped over one, it can seem as if another appears in front of you. There are so many points during the treatment at which things can go slightly awry and sent you crashing down into a low before a glimmer of hope brings back a sunny outlook again. If a scan shows a slow response to the drugs or there are fewer eggs than expected you may feel desolate, but that can be quickly turned around if the embryos you have a good quality.
One step at a time
Of course, with fertility treatment what you really want to know is whether you will get pregnant but if you are totally focused on the end point, it can make any challenges along the way difficult to handle, as all you are thinking about is the potential impact on your likelihood of getting pregnant.
If you are able to focus instead on each step you take as you go through the process, and concentrate your energies on getting through that stage, it can make it easier to cope. It is unrealistic to expect that you will stop thinking about possible outcomes entirely, but if you can focus on reaching the next smaller goal ahead, this will help. Understanding that there may be times when you will be faced with unexpected challenges, and when things don’t go quite as anticipated can help you to deal with potential problems. Difficulties along the way don’t necessarily mean that your treatment will not work, but may mean that plans have to change or that things have to be done differently.
Seeking help and support
If you face an unexpected challenge during your treatment, you should make sure that you take advantage of all the help and support that you are offered. Talk to your consultant about what has happened, and listen to their advice rather than allowing yourself to get into a state of panic. If you have access to a counsellor during the cycle, make an appointment to go and talk about how you are feeling about what has happened, as they may be able to offer some useful strategies to help you get over the difficulty.
Perhaps what is most important of all is to remember that most treatment cycles, even those which appear to have been effortlessly successful, will have had some challenging times along the way and that this often an integral part of the emotional rollercoaster of fertility treatment.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.
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