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What to Say to a Friend Going Through IVF

The 1 Thing I Wish Someone Had Said to Me When I Was Going Through IVF

When I was going through IVF, there was no shortage of information out there. I read countless stories about other people's experiences online. I got tons of (sometimes unsolicited) advice from friends and family members (despite them not having gone through IVF themselves!). At every appointment, and there are a lot of them when you're doing IVF, doctors and nurses spouted facts, statistics, and studies about success rates. But here's the brutal truth: a lot of the information out there is about when IVF doesn't work.

I learned this hard fact when I began the IVF process. Looking to connect with someone who could relate to what I was going through, I remember scrolling through dozens of online community posts and blogs, which detailed emotionally devastating infertility struggles, followed by anguish and heartbreak when IVF failed. Now, let me be clear: I am not downplaying those aspects. It's a very real truth of doing IVF. Most people don't go into a fertility clinic as their first choice for getting pregnant. Most people there have been through fertility hell en route to a baby. I am certainly no stranger to loss and heartache, which is why my husband and I turned to IVF to help us conceive a healthy baby. And I'll be the first person to say that IVF is physically and emotionally painful beyond anything I have ever experienced.

But what I wish someone had said to me while I was going through it is that sometimes, IVF works. Not to create false hope, because as my doctor explained to us, only one in three women get pregnant via IVF. And how it was presented emphasized that two in three women don't get pregnant. But online, I kept finding accounts from women who had gone through five, six, or 10 IVF cycles before finally getting pregnant. Again, I know this happens! And oh my God, my heart goes out to these people. Still, I wish someone had reminded me that sometimes, IVF does work, so that I would have felt more hopeful. Because honestly, having just lost a baby late in pregnancy, and hearing so many sad stories and challenging statistics, I felt like I was living in a hope vacuum.

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I remember telling my husband I was certain IVF wouldn't work for us. Except it did. So now, I want to tell people going through it that IVF can work. I know it doesn't work for so many people, and I can't say enough how much that breaks my heart. I'll never forget how grueling it is to go through the IVF process, with invasive procedures, and your emotions being toyed with at each stage, from hoping your eggs are healthy to praying you get healthy embryos to begging the universe that an embryo will implant. So when it doesn't work, I hurt deeply for those people. But I think we still need to hear the other side; I think we should be reminded that there are uplifting IVF stories out there.

I feel so fortunate to share one of them. I now have a 9-month-old son, who was conceived via IVF. I look at him every day and can't believe he's actually here. There were so many times I wanted to give up. There were so many nights I looked at my husband, holding another big, ol' needle, primed to plunge it into my rear end, and said, "I can't do this anymore." There were so many mornings I didn't want to go and get another blood test. There were so, so many days I felt convinced, deep in my heart, that we were doing all of this for nothing.

But I am so grateful I stuck with it. To anyone in the middle of an IVF cycle, please hear this: it could be worth it. Don't give up hope. It could work. Just consider that as much as you consider that it might not.

Image Source: Getty / Rosanne Olson
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