Much of what people hear about IVF involves the scientific process. The 'how' and the 'what', to enable babies to be born to people who cannot, for whatever reason, conceive naturally. What isn't always talked about is the emotional side to IVF.Missed the previous post? The Process, Part Two
IVF treatment is a very emotional and intense time for the people involved. Not just because of the hormones being injected into the women’s systems, but because of the all of the feelings around the 'how' and 'why' they arrived at the treatment.
My husband I had IVF treatment because we were not able to conceive naturally. We had around three years of testing, investigations, fertility drugs, and many appointments where we were told we would not do this ourselves and we would need help. So our emotions were already pretty intense by the time we started the treatment.
I think the emotional side is difficult for everybody involved, to deal with, but also people outside of the treatment as well. For whilst you are heavily entrenched in a situation of infertility investigations, the people around you may not fully or ever understand what that feels like and may find it difficult to empathise with you or on a basic level, to even say the right thing to you. e had many people say to us that we should relax and stop worrying out trying to conceive. We had people regaling stories to us of friends of friends of friends that they knew who went onto the IVF waiting list and then by some miracle found themselves pregnant. Their stories and sentiments were well meaning but when you'e on the side of infertility that is not getting better, you receive them with resentment, envy, frustration, and even anger that nobody can understand you.
I was lucky to have some friends who had undergone the treatment and I was able to talk with them about how I felt, but I know there were many of our close friends and family that were simply at a loss for words, particularly when their own lives began to welcome children with what seemed like an unfair ease for them whilst we were experiencing the opposite.
There were many times when we questioned the 'why' and the unfairness of life, that the one thing we wanted so much was the one thing we couldn’t have. We questioned privately whether we had done something wrong in our lives to have this. And the more we learnt about the different treatments and the fact that the failure rate was higher than the success rate, we began to lose hope. We began to feel it wasn’t going to happen for us and perhaps it wasn’t meant to happen for us.
I remember reading at the time, among the many books and articles about fertility treatment, that the pain of infertility is a form of grief. You are grieving for somebody you may never meet and something you may never have. But it is invisible grief to the outside world because you can't present it to people and ask them to understand you are grieving for somebody they can't see. I remember reading that and thinking how true it was. And how it would never leave you.
The emotions we felt during the IVF treatment itself were heightened because we had the hormones on top of what we already felt, but we also had more positive feelings than we had felt before, and for the first time in a long time, we had anticipation and we had hope.
There were some tense times waiting for each stage to pass so we could move on to the next one, and obviously the 'two week wait' wasn't an easy wait, but ultimately the best feelings were reserved for the end when the treatment worked.
Read the next post in the series: The Importance of a Support Network, Part Four