How to hack IVF July 09 2017, 2 Comments

[ This post is from Dec 18, 2015 and first appeared here... a bit has changed since then but I've chosen to publish it verbatim. - Jeanne ]

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As I write this my company is on the verge of failing.  We had such basic ambitions, but still we couldn’t reach them.  IVF is like that.  You aspire to such an easy thing - to have a baby -  something that 16 yr olds seem to manage so effortlessly, and yet you can’t… no matter how hard you try or wish it into existence.  You feel like a failure because even if you know that for you this thing you are doing is very complex, it still looks the same in terms of outcome: nothing.

There is no single ‘Hack’ to IVF.  In fact I cannot really even personally testify that it works.  All I know about is staying sane while doing this.  For this there are many “little hacks”, things you can do along the way that will make life manageable.  I learnt these because I was doing the IVF process as well as a startup with my other half.  My husband and I did these things in tandem, and together.  Ironically our startup was around babies.  When people would ask us if we were parents I would always feel like such a phony, but try and laugh it off by saying as much.

Really would not advise doing IVF at the same time as a new business if you have any other choice.

In our case we didn’t get pregnant and it pushed us back so that this Christmas things ran late… and when things run late you miss windows of opportunity, which mean that you can bet those 1%ers that have to happen are much less likely to.  IVF is like this too: you need to do everything at exactly the right time so that the small probability has a chance of hitting paydirt.

The following list is just my own thoughts, though I have asked friends who have been through it as well.  Their response was generally “yes we did this, we just didn’t realise we were” or “we should have done that, write it down pls”... so if you trust a granular sample size you can trust this too.

1 - Have lots of separate folders for medical paperwork.  

Keep bills apart from your doctors info so it doesn’t look you in the face.

2 - Get a good icebox

and mark it so no one gets confused.

3 - Think of the process like an Architect designing a house:

the more time you spend planning construction the less likely there is to be a problem with the build.  The initial medical testing period cannot be rushed, so try and feel like the testing is actually part of the process not just the lead up to it, else you will get very frustrated early on...

4 - Like your doctor.  

IVF has become very procedural and there is from my standpoint not too much that differentiates, when all being equal you have your body with your age, your issues bla bla.  If you like the person you are going to see (and give your cash to) it will make a difference to your experience so shop around for a human being that treats you like you matter, and are not just no 4 on the waiting list.

5 - Like your nurse more than your doctor.  

They are the ones who will help you with the practicalities of life.  Try and see the same nurse so you don’t get different thought bubbles every time you visit.

6 - Do all the appointments together.  

I know so many women whose husbands could not make it for this or that reason, usually work.  But honestly these meetings can be like having a cancer treatment, it’s entirely shit to go alone.  You don’t actually ever know which appointment is going to be the one that slaps you around, so just go to all of them together.

7 - Mantras work.  

When you are injecting yourself once or twice a day the morning is best (you don’t think about it while asleep).  You need to do it the same time of day so try and do everything else the same directly before and directly after.  I used to run and eat breakfast before and check personal emails after.  When you actually have to do a procedure it looked like this for me:

  • Wash hands, tell partner not to barge into the bathroom in the next 15 mins
  • Get everything out of fridge
  • Read the mantras “I am capable, brave and will be able to do this… bla bla bla”
  • Get injection and materials ready and place everything (spatially) exactly where it was the previous day - same order, position, direction and openings
  • Pray, on my knees.  Not for anything in particular but yes, usually for myself
  • Do the deed - inject - at this time I would sing a verse or two that I knew was about the required ten seconds before withdrawing the needle
  • Sharps away, items back in fridge, highfive for the husband and back to work…

8 - When injecting go alternate sides.  

Be very careful not to inject on top of where you did a few days ago as it will cause large and ugly bruising.  Best is to start beside belly button and work out towards your side, alternating LHS and RHS each day.

9 - Diet: eat whatever you like.  

This is not the time to be depriving yourself.  It may make you feel in control but you’re not, honestly.  I would say that for me not eating explicit sugar, alcohol and caffeine helped with controlling my moods but this was more relevant to the business than IVF. The pain medication can make you constipated so before the operation drink pear juice or eat high fibre fruit & veg to give yourself a head start.

10 - Counseling.  

In Australia it’s mandatory.  Don’t talk to your spouse about everything: there are times when even you know how irrational you are being.  Talk to the counselor and arrange the appointments in advance. If you feel fine that day you can bitch about any number of other things (if like me you are living at home with your parents again), but make sure it’s in the diary and you know you can open up to someone trained to listen and not take on your stress.  For me it was such a relief to have my husband go to counselling.  I knew afterwards he would be chilled out, at least until we started work again the next morning and got hit with a fresh wall of problems to solve.

11 - Stress bust:

I found the best was running, bathing and Movies.  The worst was hanging with inquisitive family or socialising with other people.  Note to self: Jeanne you were a rockstar doing all those user interviews with people who have babies and not being envious or dispassionate.  Go me.

12 - Waiting room ready 

You are going to spend a lot of time at the doctor having scans and waiting in rooms with Hello Weekly and Harpers Bazaar magazines.  I would always take a book so I felt less dirty afterwards.  Don’t answer email there - bad idea.

13 - The third place:  

Find a nice place (cafe/bar/park bench) where you can go routinely after you see the doctor or have any appointments and can just chat.  We used to go to an amazing cafe and have breakfast/lunch.  I looked forward to it, like a treat after giving blood or something.  Going straight home is difficult; you take all the emotions with you before you have had a chance to unpack.

14 - Change your vocab.  

We replaced all the horrible words in IVF with new ones.  For example we called the scan “the photoshoot”, we called the doctor “the stalk”, we called injecting “jabbing the chubb” and we called the operation “hatching”.  We called the trigger day “game day”

Now this would have sounded stupid to me before I went through it and realised every little 1%er makes life less hard when you are doing IVF.  We had other names too but they are kind of context specific ‘in jokes’ and wouldn’t interest you.  Those will help too.


Sure there are many more but this is what I remember.  Good luck!


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My name is Jeanne Bardin

I wrote this only because I thought it might help someone.  Actually I’m very, very private.

We started a vertically integrated business called Twoodie.com selling ‘organic’ baby toys after having lived in Asia and seen what cheap plastic toys do to our health, communities and the environment.  We gave a shit, so we tried.

 

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More tips:

15 - Exercise. 

This is very anecdotal evidence but for me it helped to stop running and do more low impact exercise.  Experts agree with this and suggest keeping your heart rate below 120. I think 30-40 mins 4-6 times a week seems to be the best balance, maybe also for life outside of the ART journey.  Of all the people I know undergoing IVF and those trying to have a baby "the free way" it seemed that swimming and walking ranked highest amongst people that had success and managed to keep themselves together in the process.