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Surviving Infertility: Trust, Self Advocacy, Breath

In order to survive infertility, my best IVF advice is to develop a healthy combination of trust, self advocacy, and deep breathing.

In an effort to give you all a bit of a rest from all the IVF talk and keep the majority of it in January (I think that we could all use a break, yes?), I wanted to close out the month with some thoughts on my first IVF cycle. 

I think if I were to give any advice on going through IVF, it would be to develop a healthy dose of trust and self advocacy, as well as the ability to take a good, deep breath. And I don’t mean that in a patronizing way.

 IVF Advice: HOw to sruvive infertility with a mixture of trust, vigilance and self advocacy, and deep breaths @Suzlyfe

Surviving Infertility and IVF Advice: Trust, Self Advocacy, and Deep Breaths

All of this is to say….


The IVF patient MUST trust her doctor. You must trust that you are in good hands. If you don’t, find another doctor. 

The IVF patient MUST trust the process. You are not the first patient to do this. If it can work for you, it will.

The IVF patient MUST trust her partner. Trying to conceive is high stress enough, and then you add a bajillion hormones to the mix? Could be a recipe for disaster if you don’t have stable relationship. Having a baby will not fix a broken partnership, remember! Also, not being able to have sex? This is when you find out what your relationship is really built upon.

The IVF patient MUST trust herself. This is your body. Yes, there are going to be times when you are going to be confused by your body, but you know when something is wrong. Even if you make them do a “needless” test, if it gives you the peace of mind that you are ok, then it is worth it. THAT SAID, don’t become a hypochondriac. 

Self Advocacy

Now, as much as I trust my doctors (which I do, 100%), I am not a doormat. If you do not understand what they tell you, make them spell it out for you as many times as you need them to do so until you get it. If you don’t hear from them when they say that they are going to call, get on the phone (or via your messaging system) and call them. Don’t do so at midnight, and if it is a medical emergency for the love of God call 911.

As much as the doctors have things down to a science, let’s face it: you are one of sometimes hundreds of patients handled by a single doctor and various (highly competent!) nurses. There are going to be times when they are going to need to be gently reminded who you are, which medications you are on (particularly if your insurance only covers certain meds), and certain lifestyle choices that you make (the fact that I am a runner with Crohn’s Disease, for example. Sure, my chart says Crohn’s, but the psychologist knowing that I was a runner was integral to that first discussion), and other major medical notes.

A few examples of self advocacy:

My Snafu with the Refills They apparently told me to stay on top of my refills, but I don’t think I really got it, or even heard it.

My Embryo Transfer The transfer doctor was fairly convinced that we were going to transfer 2 embryos. Alex and I raised the alarm, and she conferred with my doctor who also confirmed that I was a single embryo transfer.

Also, I was told that I would hear from the lab on Tuesday to confirm my appointment for my transfer. I didn’t hear from them by 1 that day, so I MyCharted (messaged) them and got my confirmation. 

An instance where I wish I had pressed a little harder (and I will, in the future) is that I didn’t know how many follicles I had at each ultrasound. Next time, I will ask–not to be nosy, but because there was a time when the tech (who only does the scans, does not “read” them like the nurses do) didn’t see follicles and assumed that I didn’t have any on one of my ovaries. Turns out they were hiding, but she didn’t know, and I had to go back. Also, I think that knowing the number of follicles would have helped with my surprise at only getting 5 eggs.

This tri-part approach helped @suzlyfe through #IVF but can apply to so much #life #infertility Click To Tweet

Take A Big Deep Breath

For a fewer reasons, stress management/nerve calming (because, DUH, you are going to be nervous) and because of that damn ivf 2 week wait. 

One of the biggest stressors for IVF patients is self created stress. Like I said in the risks and side effects of IVF post, IVF patients are, by their very nature, driven individuals who are willing to do just about anything to have a family, and IVF is their last change to have their own children within their own body. Alex and I just arrived at that point a bit more quickly than most. 

IVF is a high risk, high reward pursuit: you are investing thousands of dollars–this is a substantial part of our savings, and the only reason it isn’t our entire savings is because we are lucky to live in Illinois–and putting your body at great risk as well as you mental state as you turn your daily routine upside down and change the physical nature of your relationship with your partner. 

But if I can say anything, one of the most beneficial things that I did for myself during this first IVF cycle was to only dig as far as I needed to. I turned off fertility group posts on Facebook. I stayed away from sites telling me that it wouldn’t work, or that people had been trying for years and years with no success. 

If you are committing to a cycle of IVF; be just that: COMMITTED #infertility Click To Tweet

Because you need to go into each cycle that you commit to as just that: COMMITTED. You need to be realistic but hopeful. You need to have hope and to believe that IVF will work–remember, they aren’t going to take you on in some desperate attempt because you are going to mess up their numbers! Plain and honest truth–but you also need to level with yourself and weigh your risks and side effects, as well as your chances per your doctor

Other IVF Posts:

And My Personal IVF Story

And now I am going to try to give you guys a bit of a break for a while. Of course, feel free to shoot me any questions in the comments or via email, and I will answer them as appropriate!

If you have struggled with infertility, what did you struggle the most with?

If you are fertile (lol), what is a similar situation where you have had to demonstrate a similar measure of trust, vigilance, and stress management?

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  • Reply Heather @Lunging Through Life

    You’re a rockstar. I think the biggest is trusting your doctor. Not even in just this case but find a doctor you love for everything you need. I also am the one asking a bajillion questions and if they don’t like that, then see ya! But really, don’t be afraid to get second opinions, too, with doctors (not you.. in general ha)
    Heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Second Trimester Upper Body Burner {Pregnancy Friendly}My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 5:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Hey, second opinions all around! Always second opinions!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply Jamie

    I switched doctors after the OHSS. That was a pretty big sign to trust someone else. Also, I think self created stress is the biggest issue. There’s just to much pressure. I think you’re dong a good job playing the long game and staying calm as best you can.
    Jamie recently posted…5 Superpowers That Parents and Teachers ShareMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 6:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope so. I have an incredible support system (which I count you as part of!) and I am so thankful to them!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    I can’t imagine going through this and all it brings. You are stronger than you know!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…Are These Habits Getting In The Way of Your Health Goals?My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 6:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I think I am finding out how strong I am every day!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    You are so strong! Trusting the doctor would be the hard part of this. Now that you’ve gone through fostering all the trust and practicing the self advocacy, hopefully those will help you through the next round as well!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…January in Review: InertiaMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 7:30 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      And that is why I was so adamant about where I went, and who I worked with!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm
  • Reply Cora

    These are great insights that could parallel many big changes one is going through. I suppose my committed stages of recovery, with my admittance to the hospital, would be closest for me. It took a vast amount of trust in the professional team, a crap load of commitment and vigilance on my own part, and many many deep breaths from all. Thank you for being a calming breath for so many out there.
    Cora recently posted…The Fatigue of Open Time: The Time I Finished My To-Do List (Week In Review)My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 7:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I am so glad that I can be a breath of fresh for you. That is all that I could ever ask for, Cora. Love you.

      January 31, 2017 at 1:46 pm
  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    A good doctor can be hard to find but it’s so necessary! Having trust in your doctor and knowing they genuinely have your best interest in mind is so important to me too.
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…January Goals & Intentions ReviewMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 7:31 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You really have to vet them and be patient–try to avoid jumping at the first one that comes your way!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:44 pm
  • Reply Julie @ Running in a Skirt

    So glad you are taking a break! Such a hard process and I’m sure it will help to get your life back.
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Crock Pot Honey Nut & Dark Chocolate Chex MixMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 7:50 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I kind of wish that we could jump back into it, but I’m pretty glad that we have the time to get my body back on teh right track with gaining weight and all of that good stuff!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:43 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    I was a “fertile myrtle” back in my day….but I struggled with the actual carrying of the baby so I can sort of relate. It’s so important to stay positive and CALM which is easier said than done.
    Michelle recently posted…My birthday presentMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 7:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oh, isn’t it! SO much easier said than done. Miscarriage is so hard–you are already on your way!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:42 pm
  • Reply lindsay Cotter

    you have an amazing support system. Which is key! Glad you know when to break and reboot mentally. Gah, so draining, for sure. p.s you need to write a book on this

    January 31, 2017 at 8:01 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I am sure there are many who are far better equipped and credentialled to do so, but I would love to faciliate any discussion that will help anyone going through infertility.

      January 31, 2017 at 1:41 pm
  • Reply Lindsay

    I’m so sorry about this first round. Ttc and infertility is soooo hard.

    I’m sure you’ve heard this, read this, etc etc – success rates for a bfp are much higher if you’re at a bmi of 22/23ish. You’re soooo thin. I understand you have crohns, which I’m sure makes the weight thing tricky. But…alot of your meals seem super low cal…so if you ate denser or more I’d bet you could gain a bit. It would definitely help you I’m sure of that. Also…running sooo much just kills calories and keeps you thinner. I think if you could mentally do the tough work of becoming a healthier weight your body woukd naturally take to pregnancy much easier.

    Growing a baby takes alot of energy. If you’re body doesn’t feel it has extra “reserves” it’s gonna fight you on growing and nurturing a new life. I’ve been thru alot of this. I truly understand.

    I hope you get your baby sooo much! Much love.

    January 31, 2017 at 8:30 am
    • Reply jade

      This is great advice Linday! My sister went through 2 rounds of IVF and it wasn’t until her bmi was over 23 did it work.

      January 31, 2017 at 1:08 pm
      • Reply suzlyfe

        Thank you for your comment and support, Jade, and yes, Lindsay’s advice of working to achieve a healthy body weight to support pregnancy is quite accurate. That said, it does not tell the whole story. I am so happy for your sister!

        January 31, 2017 at 1:23 pm
      • Reply Lindsay

        It’s true. It makes sense too. Your body want and needs extra reserves to create and sustain new life. Suzy you don’t have any extra reserves (body weight). Also, breastfeeding. need fat stores if you hope to one day nurse your baby!

        February 1, 2017 at 8:00 am
        • Reply suzlyfe

          Thank you for you concern. I appreciate your time and support!

          February 1, 2017 at 11:42 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Lindsay, thank you so much for you respectful comment, concern and support! I really appreciate it, and I do understand your point. Unfortunately, the blog/social media etc only tells a certain part of my story–I assure you that everything that I am doing is with a doctor’s approval and guidance. I also assure you that a great man nutrient dense foods are consumed on a daily, hourly basis–but they are usually not at times/lighting for photographs/posts/etc. I assure you, I am vigilant about what goes in my body!
      But again, I so thank you for comment! It is greatly appreciated, and it is duly noted.

      January 31, 2017 at 1:39 pm
      • Reply Lindsay

        I only meant my comment with love. Want to help. I guess I just see way more light, veggie filled meals. Healthy? Yes! Nutrient filled? Hell yes! Optimal for weight gain efforts? Not a chance.

        I’m not even in need of eight gain as I have a bmi of 22 and 3 kids from it.. but my days are filled with ice cream, cookies (non modified to be super healthy cookies) burgers, fast food, cheertos (lol, love them) all eaten along with healthy fruits, meats, veggies.

        Indulge, eat some pop tarts, a snickers, down some doritoes, taco bell. Sorry..getting side tracked. But with all you run, your current posted meals.. of course you’re as thin as you are. It makes sense. Weight gain can be achieved, simple math to do so. It’s not easy or comfortable. I had to gain over 40 lbs to achieve a better more fertile bmi. But it got me 3 kids within 4 years. And shocker to me… I’m happier at this weight and staying here!

        February 1, 2017 at 8:09 am
        • Reply suzlyfe

          I’m glad that worked for you and that you are so happy!

          February 1, 2017 at 11:41 am
      • Reply Lindsay

        P.s. many doctors give bad advice … well intended but not accurate. I know many girls in an I fertility group who while ttc had doctors tell them ” no don’t gain weight. Don’t quit running. ..your the picture of health”… all that advice caused years of ttc with fail after fail.

        Well guess what. ..when they tried the gaining weight, quiting running (temporary )… hundreds of these woman got their babies.

        Many I know and some even marched back into the RE’s office who failed to get them pregnant, the RE who told them that gaining weight wouldn’t change anything. That they couldn’t EVER conceive without ivf or injects or clomid or fermara or whatever
        … and they did it and surprised their RE.

        Don’t discount yourself or what you…YOU, can do to help yourself attain this goal.

        Being a mom is the MOST amazing thing ever. By far.

        February 1, 2017 at 8:16 am
        • Reply suzlyfe

          I agree–being a mom is the most amazing thing ever! I hope to be one soon.

          February 1, 2017 at 11:40 am
  • Reply jennifer

    Thank goodness you are self advocating, you don’t need a litter! Hang in there 🙂
    jennifer recently posted…Sleepy Tart Cherry Hot “Chocolate” – Caffeine FreeMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 8:34 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Lol! I definitley don’t. We might do 2 next time, but only if the doctor things it is a good idea!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm
  • Reply Esther

    Great outlook and it is so true!
    Infertility sucks but reading your posts has given me some hope.
    I’m so glad you have so many people around you who are supporting you through this process!!
    Big hugs!
    Esther recently posted…Cheesy Cauliflower ‘Bread’My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 9:26 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, love. You have so many people behind you as well!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    Do the majority of people transfer two embryos? And if so, how many of those turn out to be twins? What are the percentages, do you know? Totally curious.
    Suzy recently posted…Week in ReviewMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 9:33 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      So, it depends on the age of the patient, the likelihood of the patient to successfully carry the child, and also the day of the transfer/age of the embryo. The older the patient, the more embryos they put in. Once the embryos are in you, it is up to the body, but identical twins are only as likely as they are within your family.

      January 31, 2017 at 1:28 pm
  • Reply Emily

    Susie, YES. YES. YES. I’m learning this just in life, trusting and not getting run over like a doormat; my mom is such a good reminder of that. She loves to serve others, but she always speaks out for the right thing too. 🙂 KEEP doing you
    Emily recently posted…Why am I so bad at Loving? (Help me Learn How to Love)My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 9:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you Emily! There definitly is a fine balance between trust and protecting yourself. Just like in love!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:25 pm
  • Reply Ange // Cowgirl Runs

    I think your reminder to ask questions is key of ANY doctor. Too often we parrot what we’re told by a professional without truly understanding.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…Hello February! My Goals for the MonthMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 12:31 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hear you. I can often be a bit too apt to do just that because I am the wife of a doctor, but what I appreciate about Alex is that he encourages me to be an advocate and to have a healthy dose of skepticism!

      January 31, 2017 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Laura

    Advocating for yourself and staying on top of the process is so key. It’s so easy for something to be forgotten or misunderstood and like you, I found that there were always corrections or miscommunications that I had to be on top of. But the deep breathing is the most important, by far! Stay sane, my friend!

    January 31, 2017 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply GiGi Eats

    You’re such a trooper. I feel like I have never told you that, but I want you to know that is what I see you ass. As a bad ass trooper, who always has her head up, even when she wants to cry! 🙂
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Rollin’ With These Spring RollsMy Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 4:07 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Gigi. You honestly have no idea how much that means to me.

      February 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm
  • Reply Suzlyfe's mommy, Clare

    hmm…….a similar situation where I needed trust, vigilance and stress management?—–when you were diagnosed with Crohns.
    Yes, the monster finally had a name, and now it was our monster, but it was still a monster.
    I had to trust your incredible doctors and their wonderful nurses
    I had to trust that you would tell me how you really felt when I asked you
    I had to learn to trust my instincts as your mom. I knew you better than anyone else, and I learned to trust my gut first, then my eyes
    I had to try to maintain a balance so that you could be a normal teenager, while we dealt with this chronic illness
    I watched you all the time to make sure you weren’t turning grey–you did that a lot those first few years!
    Stress management–
    We had the barn….and those crazy beloved horses of ours. They helped both of us more than anything, and of course, there was Champ
    Equine therapy was our tonic, it still is mine

    We learned to live our lives with this nasty disease rather than letting IT live our lives, instead of us.

    January 31, 2017 at 4:55 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I would have been nowhere without you and the barn and the drives back and forth.

      February 1, 2017 at 3:14 pm
  • Reply Jenn

    I’m sorry the first round didn’t work out. Reading this takes me back to my own journey. Thinking of you as you continue on your path. By the way, which doctor do you see? I saw my doctor in the burbs, but he had/has offices in the city too.
    Jenn recently posted…Meatless Taco Chili (Dairy Free, Vegan)My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 6:47 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Dr Robins is my dude. He is blunt, to the point, and amazing.

      February 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    Stress management all day every day. But definitely when I was pregnant. I had to be my own advocate and the OBs and midwives even TOLD me that at my first appointments. They wanted to make sure I was an informed patient which was very nice.
    Rachel recently posted…T-Rex, Four-Legged Friends, and Bipeds (aka Spring Training 2017 Week 4)My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 9:16 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      That is the mark of a great team, for real!

      February 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm
  • Reply Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday

    Trusting your docs is key in all health battles. I certainly haven’t hit the jackpot there, but hopefully one day (soon).
    Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Breaking the Rules: Why I Quit Whole30My Profile

    January 31, 2017 at 10:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Just keep hunting #nevergiveup You just need Alex to be your doc

      February 1, 2017 at 3:13 pm
  • Reply Farrah

    I heart you and the “self advocacy” part is so true. I think a lot of the time, communication goes awry most often when (a) the patient doesn’t understand but pretends to, or (b) the doctor doesn’t follow up in a timely manner, so good on you for advocating for yourself whilst still being considerate! <3 That quote on worrying is so, so true too. x_x Hang in there! I'm glad you're stayin' strong! <3!

    February 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Spoken like a truly GREAT doctor xoxo

      February 1, 2017 at 3:11 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    I love that you’re using this all as a learning experience not only for you – but for everyone reading too! Self-advocacy really is SO important!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: Why I Can’t Be a Monkey + Recent FavesMy Profile

    February 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope that it can help others (as much as it has helped me!)

      February 5, 2017 at 6:46 am
  • Reply Agness of Run Agness Run

    Your post are very inspirational, Susie. I admire to your bravery!

    February 4, 2017 at 7:24 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Aw, thank you Agness. I hope that I can help someone out there!

      February 5, 2017 at 6:34 am
  • Reply San

    Everyone who goes through IVF is a trooper in my book! I can’t imagine having to go through this. You’re so strong.
    San recently posted…What I read: JanuaryMy Profile

    February 9, 2017 at 1:12 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are so sweet! Thank you, love.

      February 9, 2017 at 3:02 pm

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