What I Wish I Had Known at the Beginning of My Infertility Journey

A few weeks ago, I posted on Facebook asking the “been there done that” crowd for your sage advice for infertility newbies. What do you wish someone had told you way back at the beginning? Boy, the responses poured in. Experience makes us wise, and I thank you for being generous with your wisdom!

Time is of the Essence

By far, the most responses I received concerned knowing about infertility sooner and acting sooner.

  • As soon as you start thinking about having a child. Go to your family doctor and consult with him/her. Otherwise, s/he’ll ask you to wait another year or so before referring you for more advanced exams, and you have lost crucial time.
  • I wish someone would have told me to see an infertility specialist (reproductive endocrinologist) RIGHT AWAY. I have an issue that was present in my 20s, but I didn’t seek the assistance of an RE until I was in my late 30s.
  • I wish I had started trying earlier. We put it off for several years and I wish we hadn’t!
  • If ultimately your best chance is IVF, stop wasting time with “lesser” treatments such as Clomid and IUI (artificial insemination). Bite the financial bullet and go to what is going to really work.
  • Speaking for the single ladies: If you want babies biologically, start before 34ish, even if the right man has not appeared. Decisions need to be made and you cannot wait until after 40s and believe it to be easy. You might be one of the “lucky” ones that it is easy, but reality is for many women after 40 it is an expensive difficult and only maybe successful process. All the singles I know in the 40s now trying alone might as well have started single and trying in their 30s and they would have had more success.
  • I would advise any young couple to talk about fertility issues before infertility even comes up. My husband and I had talked about adoption before we were even married and knew we were open to it, and maybe even felt called to it. So when our fertility issues came up it was easier to move to adoption.

Ignorance of Others Can Hurt, and Hurt Bad

A number of people commented that they wish they had been better prepared for stupid insensitive, intrusive comments, especially by people they were close to, but there was no consensus on the best way to handle it. Some people wished they had shared less, while others wished they had prepared comebacks sooner.

  • I wish someone had warned me that even those closest to me might unintentionally say some very hurtful things while trying to be helpful and supportive. Being unguarded and vulnerable when one of those things was said really threw me for a horribly emotional loop. I wish I had been prepared.
  • There are a lot of people I wish I hadn’t told. But then again, showed me who my real friends were.
  • Best thing I did was early on read one of your top comebacks on how to respond to rude dumb comments. It hadn’t happened to me yet but it sure has now, and I was prepared to handle it. (We have two Top Ten Lists for Answers to the “When are you Going to Have Kids” Question—one straight and one snarky.  Not sure which one she was referring to. The straight answers are probably more useful, but the snarky answers are more fun—at least in your imagination.)

Worrying Doesn’t Help

Telling an infertility patient not to worry is like telling a fish not to swim, but there’s worrying and then there’s obsessing. It’s all a matter of degree. Avoiding the edges makes sense.

  • I wish I’d known that I didn’t have to sweat so much, that if I kept walking through the doors in front of me and tuning into my inner guidance, I would find my happy ending.
  • I wish I could have just known that everything really would be ok in the end. That one way or another, we would have a beautiful baby that we love more than we could possibly imagine. And we do! Through adoption.
  • That if you really want to be, you can be parents. It might not happen the way you expected, but it will still be wonderful.
  • I wish I could have convinced myself back then that everything would be okay. I remember the panic and the pain.

Remember to Live While Trying to Conceive

  • I wish I’d have known from the beginning to remember to keep living life in the moment, not just planning for the future. It took us 7 years to get to the point of adoption and bring home our oldest baby girl. That’s a lot of time spent waiting to actually live.
  • If only someone would have told me that it’s OK to take a break from treatment to regroup. This is something I didn’t do, and it almost ruined me.

Get Support

  • I wish I had known that I was not alone in my journey. I eventually found people I could talk to, but it took me being brave and talking about it to people first.
  • The pain has been great, but I’ve met the most amazing women in the world while going through IF and adoption.
  • I wished I had found the Creating a Family Facebook group sooner. These ladies (and guys) have been my lifeline and would have made the first year easier to bear. Glad I’ve found you now.

Knowing When to Stop or Change Treatment is Hard

  • I wished someone had told me that there was no magical line that is crossed and you will know when it is time to stop treatment. I kept going because I think I was waiting for someone to tell me it was time. No one will ever tell you that other than yourself.
  • I wish I had known that nothing would have ever worked for me using my body. I wish I have not done countless IVFs with my eggs and donor eggs. Each ivf was paid out of pocket, and now I don’t have the funds to use a surrogate, which we want to do. I wish all the doctors would have just given me the advice to stop instead kept on wanting to try more IVFs.
  • I kept using my own eggs long after I should have. I wished I had moved to donor eggs sooner. I would have been a younger mom and got to experience this joy sooner.

And perhaps the best summary was this…

I’m honestly not sure any advice would have helped. It sucked and in retrospect my perspective was good, and it still sucked. In fact, if I went back knowing what I know now it would suck even more because while I knew motherhood would be great, I don’t think I could have imagined what joy these boys (adopted) would bring to my life. What got me through was an absolutely wonderful network of online infertility friends, a very loving and supportive husband, and my faith that in the end God would make it right. And He did. But the part in between was hell, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

P. S. Thanks to all who shared. I couldn’t use all the comments since there were just too many, but I appreciated every single one.

Image credit: Jennuine Captures