Hindsight is a truly marvellous thing, isn’t it? If only we could go back and do things differently – taking with us all we’ve learnt from our own experiences and mistakes. I feel this way tenfold when I think about my own fertility journey. Now, while I obviously can’t jump back in time and do things over, I wanted to share some of the most important things I learnt on my journey, to help anyone at the start of, or even in the middle of, theirs.
1. If something doesn’t seem right, get it checked out as soon as possible
Irregular, painful, or absent periods? Lumps, bumps, oddities, or just a general sense that something isn’t right? There’s no need to wait to get checked out. Our fertile health doesn’t suddenly switch on when we’re ready to try for a baby. The better looked after it is, the better state it will be in when you (and your life circumstances) decide that you’re ready to be a mummy.
2. Once you enter the world of fertility investigations and treatment, try not to be in too much of a hurry
This was one of my biggest mistakes. It took me what felt like such a long time to be in the right place in my life with the right partner, then get to the top of the NHS waiting list, that by the time we started fertility treatment, I was already pretty desperate to be pregnant. I didn’t want to ‘waste’ any time on extra tests or second opinions. I just wanted to have IVF because that was going to work, right?! Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I wish I’d slowed down and made time for what I learnt in lessons 3, 4 and 5 right from the very beginning.
3. Have ALL the tests!
Even the ones you don’t know exist (see lesson 4). Every time I had a failed cycle, a consultant suggested a test I’d never heard of before. And for me, almost every test came back with something new, something that explained why previous interventions and treatment attempts had been unsuccessful. As far as I was concerned, I had a diagnosis of PCOS and knew what was wrong, and so any doctors should therefore know how to treat me. WRONG. PCOS was only a tiny part of my problem – a significant, but tiny part.
4. Read widely
And I don’t just mean on forums – although they sometimes have their place (mostly in the crazy two-week wait!), they are not always the best source of accurate and up-to-date information. There are a multitude of brilliant fertility websites, apps and even podcasts now (like IVF Babble, Fertility Network UK, Fertility Help Hub and Fertility Circle to name a few), with a plethora of information written/spoken in an accessible way – so start there. By doing this, you can be your own expert, and your own advocate. I’d seen five different consultants and had twelve medicated cycles including three IVF cycles before I started doing this … the difference it made was huge!
5. Ask ALL the questions!
Once you start doing lesson 4, this one happens pretty naturally. What about this test? Why this medication? Why this protocol? What are the pros and cons of that decision? Are there any alternative options? Once you start asking questions, and getting answers, you’ll be more able to make informed decisions. For far too long, I let the experts be the only experts in my care until I realised that actually, I am an expert in my own body and mind, and my opinions are really important.
6. Build a tribe of people who truly get it
As a trained psychotherapist, I am a huge fan of talking, and a natural oversharer, I was never one to keep my journey to myself – from the beginning, most people in my life knew at least a little about my struggles and my treatment. However, I realised that talking to understanding and empathetic friends and family wasn’t always enough – I still felt incredibly alone at times, like an infertile surrounded by lovely fertiles! It wasn’t until I set up a fertility-specific account on Instagram and started connecting with total strangers that I started to feel supported by people who truly understood. For my mental health, this made a huge difference – the support I received from strangers who have since become friends was invaluable.
7. The two-week wait sends everyone a little bit crazy!
After fifteen cycles, I can confidently say I tried every approach to the two-week wait! I tried testing every day, and not testing at all. Sometimes I took time off work, other times I tried to carry on as normal. Sometimes I spent hours obsessively searching on forums, and asking Dr google everything and anything from “are itchy feet a sign of pregnancy?” to “does everyone get sore boobs when pregnant?”. During every cycle I went a little bit mad in the two-week wait, and by talking to others, I learnt that pretty much everyone does. What can you do about it? Not a lot! I found giving myself a little treat, a little extra me time, and some markers to look forward to during the dreaded two-week wait were about the only thing that really helped. Aside from that, just ride it out. And if you feel the need to go on Dr google, don’t beat yourself up about it – we’ve all done it!
8. Love your body – treat it like the temple it is, and it will truly thank you
This is perhaps the biggest lesson I learnt, and in case you didn’t already know, the story behind Wellbeing Sisters. I’d been through so much treatment – over three quarters of my journey – before I found out about the difference that lifestyle, diet, supplements and toxins could make to my fertile health. Yes, even for me, with my lengthy and complicated diagnostic history, these little changes had the power to make the world of difference! I’d always believed I was reasonably fit and healthy, so wasn’t convinced that these changes could really make that much of a difference to super-infertile me. Well, the difference was incredible, and I only wish I had done it sooner – check out my story for more information (stick the kettle on first though – it’s a long one!)
View this post on Instagram
Take 2! Wellbeing Sisters co-founder, Natasha Gold, tells her story. Having been told by multiple leading doctors that she would never successfully conceive and carry a pregnancy using her own eggs, Natasha wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer. Extensive research and consultation with various experts led to diet, nutrition and lifestyle changes including removing toxins from her beauty, skincare and cosmetics. The change was unbelievable – Natasha is excitedly awaiting the arrival of her little girl in November 2020! Any questions? DM us or pop them in the comments below!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natasha discovered the benefits of conscious, clean living, targeted nutrition, and the true value of emotional wellness whilst on her own fertility journey. Prior to starting Wellbeing Sisters she spent 13 years working as a child and family therapist, and despite never having any intentions of changing careers, decided that Wellbeing Sisters was an idea that simply had to become a reality.