IVF is one of the hardest things I have ever voluntarily put myself through.
It is hard physically, psychologically, and emotionally and great self-care is important for dealing with all three.
First the physical. The constant prodding and poking involved in IVF, often every morning for a week and usually by a different person each day can be humiliating and violating in a hard to define “am I being unreasonable/other people have it much worse/I chose to do this” type of way.
This sense of repeated violation can be magnified by the gruelling routine of daily injections and scores of different tablets a day. When you arrive at the egg collection process the physical demands can be even greater (anaesthesia burns anyone?)
Then there is the psychological impact of all the drugs. I experienced hugely heightened levels of anxiety, disrupted sleep and racing thoughts. For many, the abnormal levels of hormones in the body make us feel irrational and overly sensitive.
Finally, there is the emotional component. The constant waiting for the right time of the month, the last-minute change of plans as a test result brings forward or delays the next step in the process. The waiting for results from the lab. The stress of the two week wait for the pregnancy test after the transfer. And if unsuccessful, the prospect of doing it all over again. IVF is really tough, and it is tough for both potential mother and father.
I found that as the process of IVF felt so un natural and so medicalised, I was very drawn to natural things, organic food, natural fibres, being outside etc. I found the cool, natural softness of my cork mat was a great restorative.
Even if you can only manage a few minutes of yoga a day, 2 sun salutations, it will provide a little perspective, centering and stretch that can make the rest of the day go better.
It is also really important to treat yourself well in other ways, whether that’s a foot massage, talking with friends, acupuncture, a walk, – whatever soothes and restores you – do it, every day, even if you don’t feel like it or have time. How you feel during IVF has an impact on the chances of success, and on how well you will bounce back if it does not work out.
While we yearn to produce another human being, we must not forget to honour ourselves.
Love Clare, owner of CorkYogis