I remember when I was young a few girlfriends, and I had always talked about our life plans getting married at a certain age and then becoming a mother, having how many kids, and we all thought it was easy, all go according to plan, and many of us still did it, that is until we came closer on our fertility journey and realizing that the process wouldn’t run as smoothly, as we thought it to be.
We lacked awareness of potential natural fertility complications, stress, and hormonal issues (such as PCOS) just to name a few at play. Had I been able to speak to our younger self, I think we would’ve said we understood the importance of taking care of our bodies better especially if our intention was truly to become a mother one day. We would’ve listened to the elders saying don’t eat so many raw, cold foods and drinks, drink hot water, don’t leave our hair dripping wet after showers, wear warmer clothes to keep our body warm when it’s cold out and learn to relax during the exam periods so we could manage our stress levels better. Maybe we would’ve paid attention or tried harder in PE (physical education) classes too. Maybe we would’ve taken care of ourselves better during the menstrual cycles too, at least earlier instead of just a few years possibly or less leading up to the time that we wanted to try and conceive.
Even many men think that they have all the time in the world before they need to consider becoming a father, because they have no idea or many do not have the idea that it really does take a lot, especially for a woman who may not be in the best health condition to conceive. It doesn’t just happen when they try. We have to factor in age, hormonal health, body health on both sides, and so much more. I was recently talking to someone who was concerned because she really wanted to become a mother as soon as possible but her boyfriend seems to think that they have all the time in the world to enjoy themselves first before bringing a baby into their family and she laid out how unrealistic that is because as a woman who was in her mid-30s, she was going to naturally have a harder time than someone in their early 20s and she may not be able to conceive immediately and it may take a few tries crossing fingers that there are no other further complications.
I’m sure you would agree that each and every person has a right to the best physiological, mental, and emotional health including the capacity to reproduce and enjoy the blessings of parenthood. And that includes having the choice of how many children to have, at what age, and at what intervals. Sadly, that’s not how it always works.
The Road Leading to IVF
The journey to fertility can be a long and stressful journey for some, and that may include you. So long and frustrating until you are left without any other choice but the expensive and stressful IVF procedure.
Sometimes it can take quite a while to finally accept that things are not happening the way they normally would when you can get pregnant after just a few months or even years of trying. When you need a BIG intervention that is IVF.
It can take a while before you accept that something might be wrong and finally have yourself checked out by a doctor to determine what is wrong. Addressing what is wrong and preventing you from getting pregnant can be quite stressful, not to mention expensive as well.
The reason for infertility can be male factor infertility like issues with the sperm as well as other fertility problems like endometriosis, uterine factors, and tubal factors. You can go to great lengths to address all possible fertility issues and still fail.
Unfortunately, some infertility issues can still be very difficult and hard to address. And even when everything is checked out alright, unexplained infertility can still become a possibility. In fact, unexplained infertility is the second most frequent reason to resort to IVF next to damaged or nonexistent fallopian tubes.
Resorting to IVF
You finally accept that IVF could be your only solution with IVF being the most effective reproductive technology. When your doctor first suggests in vitro fertilization (IVF), you’ve probably already gone through years of stress and worry that infertility can frequently bring.
Unfortunately, IVF is not the rest that you need because with IVF all the emotions you may have felt may only intensify.
Again, IVF is lengthy and stressful – physically, emotionally, and financially. Yes, it can be a very expensive journey and the worst is that it does not even guarantee success. It is even more likely to fail. But despite all the stress and uncertainties, you may still feel the need to go through it even just for a glimmer of hope that you would get the most precious reward that a couple may ever seek— a baby.
In Hong Kong, public hospitals and clinics that provide IVF services are more affordable than private ones but public options are more limited and stricter, and waiting times can be long and challenging. It may take a few years after you get into the public system before treatments start.
It can be depressing if you see it as something you will have to deal with and pay for whether the IVF succeeds or not. Naturally, overwhelming thoughts and emotional wrestling come up for a couple at this stage. And some women feel a deep sense of guilt too if the IVF treatments are unsuccessful which makes it even harder on their emotional body.
With your IVF journey, you have to be all in and you must proceed well-prepared. You will have to expect thorough consultations with your physician, all the anticipation of what the physician has to say regarding IVF if it is medically appropriate for you.
You can expect a battery of evaluations of your uterus and fallopian tubes to be probed for abnormalities such as polyps, fibroids, scar tissue, or any abnormalities. Then any issue must then be repaired before the procedure. You must feel like a lab rat probed and dissected. Any abnormalities leave you feeling like a failure, a mistake that must be corrected.
If you are over 35 years old, more tests will need to be done. And at some point after all this, you may not even qualify for IVF and you will have to consider egg donation and adoption.
The IVF process is a complex procedure that usually lasts for 7 weeks. While the first 5 weeks or the “ovarian suppression period” only requires two to three visits you will still need to take your birth control pills and have an ultrasound and transfer catheter trial.
All the information you will need to understand, and all the effort, time, and money spent can be quite overwhelming. At week 6 you will need to start getting used to injections several times a day to stimulate the formation of eggs in the ovaries.
Week 7 you will need to anticipate the egg retrieval and embryo transfer which can last 15-40 minutes under sedation when a needle will be inserted twice in the vagina and ovarian follicles containing eggs will be emptied. Then the uncomfortable progesterone shots need to be taken daily.
There’s no way to tell how all the medication can affect you along with the money worries. How all the set activities can disrupt your normal day-to-day activities. What adds to the worry is that there is no way to avoid telling some people you are going through it to provide a reason for your absence at work, at church, or whatever social responsibilities you will have to attend to.
What makes it harder too is that you will also have to deal with their anticipation of wanting to know the result. As if the pressure of what the result could bring to you is not enough.
The waiting time before the pregnancy tests can be very difficult as well. It’s going to be very hard to balance anticipation for good and for bad news. That can be very exhausting emotionally.
It is truly a period in your life when you need to be kind to yourself and to your spouse. To be mindful of your mental health and to strengthen yourself and your relationship to be prepared for what the result is going to be.
Reiki to support IVF
You can join an IVF support group, get all the information you can get, and mindfully do things you enjoy to support yourself and your spouse during your IVF journey. And one of the best things you can do is Reiki as an alternative natural treatment to help you relax and reduce psychological and physical distress during this very stressful period.
Have a few sessions before and after egg retrieval, embryo transfer, and even before and after the big reveal. The success of your IVF increases while the stress is reduced along with other environmental factors through Reiki sessions.
Whatever the result, the energy healing of Reiki also points to blocked energy inside the body and brings back the normal flow of energy, allowing the body to operate optimally and access the body’s innate ability to heal itself and restore balance physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
You probably heard the word “stress” a lot in this article, but always remember beating yourself up during this arduous journey will not help. There are a lot of factors at play and unfortunately, bringing a baby into your world is genuinely one of the things that we are unable to have much control over. It’s easy to go into self-blame mode throughout the IVF journey, which doesn’t help your well-being on a holistic level either. While it may be smart to prepare yourself for some not-so-great news, cultivating and creating energy and space to enjoy the journey and trust that anything is possible is also equally important too.