Monday, 3 December 2012

Thinking Agony

Dear womb4improvement,

I have to start by saying I enjoy reading your blog!

I am new to the whole 'infertility' game. I'm MD, so I have access to lots of scientific articles on my condition (PCOS) and I freak about the statistics. I'm also a major control freak, I try to chill but mostly I stress ;-)!

My question to you is not an easy one I guess... I am currently on injections (and all the other lovely pills that come with it, and not to forget the delightful moodswings...) and I would like to know how I can block my mind so I don't think about it all the time!? When ever I tell my boyfriend it occupies my thoughts, he says I just have to forget we are trying... But injections every evening and, following ovulation, shoving 3 pills a day up there, I find it very hard not to be consumed by it. Knowing exactly when the verdict is due, it kills me to wait and get disappointed again! Then you dust yourself off and try again, but the mind games start all over again... How do you deal with it?

Kind regards,

Control freak

Dear Control Freak

As it happens a few months ago I wouldn't have been able to help you at all, but recently I have found the perfect way to stop obsessing about infertility.

All you have to do is try to sell your flat and buy a house at the same time. Throw in buyers who are really keen to move but ask the most in-depth questions that you don't have a hope in hell of answering and add to that sellers of the house who really don't seem to want to sell and find yourself stuck in the middle in the run up to Christmas.

Suddenly your insomnia won't be based around base-line scans or drugs courses but boundary-lines and damp courses.

Although I appreciate this might be a tad extreme for most infertiles.

If I was being sanctimonious I'd give you sage advice about not googling symptoms and suggest that you try not to obsess about how you are feeling. But that would be hypocritical - I estimate that during my last IVF I was personally responsible for over half of the worldwide searches for "2 days after IVF" googles, and the following day; "3 days after IVF" and the day after "4 ... well you get the point.

I also become a complete calendar whore - by the time I go in for an embryo transfer I can tell you:

  • What day should test for a positive
  • When my six, eight and 12 week scan will be
  • My due date
  • The age difference between my potential child and their cousins and all of my friend's children
  • What day of the week their 18th birthday is likely to fall on ...

It maybe isn't entirely healthy.

On the other hand there is no way, particularly in the midst of IVF that you can forget about doing IVF. In fact you shouldn't forget because that'll really screw up your medication.

In your boyfriend's defence I must concede that by talking about it all the time you are both highlighting and feeding your obsession - it is self-perpetuating and doesn't give you the chance to think about anything else. 

I have in the past been a bit frustrated by how disengaged the husband can be through the IVF process. How could he not remember the ratio of ICSI to IVF embryos that we had? And when he asks me if it is egg collection or embryo transfer that requires a full bladder I could throw my bottle of filtered water at him (blame the hormones) it seems like such basic knowledge it could almost be interpreted as him not caring. 

This does frustrate me, but the alternative is worse. Living in relationship where we are both as obsessive as one another about the whole baby making thing would be unbearable. That doesn't mean that he has to forget about the infertility but it can be a bonus if your partner can think about something else and help distract you. 

So my advice isn't to try and block thoughts of infertility, but whenever you are tempted to wail to your boyfriend "Why can't I get pregnant?" stop yourself, quickly change to "Why can't I get ... a parking space", "... an iPhone 5" "... into these trousers." (The trouser thing, by the way, that'll be the drugs.)  

I'm not saying stop all mention of infertility to the guy going through it with you, but don't turn it into the only thing you talk about, change the subject and who knows, whilst you are bickering about who should go through to the finals of masterchef you might - just for a moment - forget about your current cycle.

Good luck.



  1. The Aunt to cure all agony hits the nail on the head again. I must think up a problem for you to solve for me.... just because I am greedy and want your undivided attention, not because I actually have a problem. Oh, hang on, maybe I just found my problem, I am a needy attention seeker.

  2. This is the hardest part about infertility. You are with your body every day. Every twinge feels like a "symptom". People with death wishes tell you to relax, it will happen, and you can't because you may be one of those people that needs to stand on their head and drink herbal tea out of a straw to get pregnant, and not one of those "just relax" folks who get pregnant. And you only have a few good fertile years, so you can't waste them, so you better hurry, but relax, because it'll happen, but don't wait too long.

    Wanting to be pregnant and not being pregnant is the hardest thing to date I've ever had to mentally handle. I can easily see why it makes women desperate. It made me desperate.

    My only advice - not that ANYONE asked - is to fill the social calendar, plan the trip. Live your life as planned. But just know it's going to be with you, the stress and the wish to be pregnant. But at least you'll be doing fun things while you try not to cry.

  3. Fab advice! Yes to the trying to buy/sell property whilst doing fertility treatments - such a great distraction except for the fact that you might lose your mind from the simultaneous stress (we did that too).

    And also yes to the annoying partners who don't seem to have any clue what is going on at any point in the cycle, except that it's also sort of great because they're calm and collected about it...

  4. My hubby and I bought a house whilst in the midst of IVF. In hindsight, my hubby now says it was probably not the best idea, but I slightly disagreed – yes it was stressful, but it took my mind off everything else for the time being.

    In serious, not everyone can or will do the same but I found that reading a good book, watching a good movie / box set and not putting too much pressure on yourself worked for me. This was the one time in my life (and I will be doing a 2nd round next year), that I honestly put myself first. If I didn’t want to go out, see someone, do something, I didn’t, simple as that. My hubby was my rock and stability during the whole thing, by god my hormones went to town but for me the stress was more going to and from the Consultant office, all the blood tests and the fear of the ‘unknown’. Truth be told, I just got on with the injections – did it in the morning and then just moved on not thinking about it too much, you still need to live and laugh through all of this. I tell myself for my 2nd attempt, I know now what will be happening and what will occur, so this has calmed me somewhat but it’s a rollercoaster ride, and you need to hang on.


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