Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Things I have learned from IVF and Pregnancy

Going into the whole IVF process, I really didn't have too many people to go to for advice. Obviously I had my doctor, my nurse, and the internet, but for the most part we were really just winging the physical, emotional, and stress related stuff. On the other hand, when you get pregnant people can't say enough about their own pregnancies. They have advice, nightmare stories, mom-to-be tips, book suggestions, articles, and opinions. It's really insane.

I felt the same kind of influx of advice when I got married. Everyone wants to put in their 2 cents and to that I say "nay!". The only piece of wedding advice I will give unsolicited is if you get married on a Saturday, leave for your honeymoon on Monday. You will want Sunday to relax, open gifts, eat a cheesey meatball sub (since you don't have to fit into a wedding dress anymore), and enjoy your first day of married life.

So I decided to document the lessons I learned and if you want to read them, feel free or if you are adviced out or think I am a fool to give advice - this is a blog post you can certainly skip. No harm; no foul.

IVF Tips:
1. You are much more kick ass than you think. 
As mentioned in the beginning of this whole saga, I was anti-shot. At 28 years old, my mom literally had to bribe me to get a flu shot and I had to hold my dad's hand as it was being administered. Now, I have learned you have to do what you have to do and tummy shots in a Marriot bathroom or nightly progesterone shots in the rear can be done because they have to be done for the greater good.
2.  Its okay to wallow but don't make a habit of it.
Learning you have infertility issues stinks, especially when it is the last thing you expect to hear from your beloved gyno. So it is okay to mope for an afternoon or for a day, BUT then be proactive and move on. I am not a religious person, but if you need to spend sometime in church - go for it. I chose lying in bed in the dark. Either way, embrace the funk and then move on.
3. Its okay to flip out. 
Flipping out is different than wallowing and unfortunately it comes on more than once during the IVF process. Of course you have a fabulous support team, but no one can really tell you how you are feeling because they may not get it. You are also being pumped with hormones that make you crazy. Should you flip out unnecessarily, make sure you apologize - you can blame progesterone. I would say I had one good flip out a month, but you may be a nicer, more controlled person and have less.
4. Thank your support group 
This probably goes without saying but they are more than likely the ones you are flipping out at/to. They are also the ones that have seen you wallow, are taking you to doctor appointments, are giving you shots, and just have to be around you in general.
5. Congratulate yourself
In A League of their Own, Tom Hanks' character is talking to Geena Davis' character right after she quits the Rockford Peaches because its "too hard". To this he replies "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great".
IVF isn't great but it is hard. On bad days, remind yourself of the greater good and how far you have come. Yes, day one of progesterone shots is just as annoying as day 72 BUT you are moving forward each day and that is excellent!
6. Invest in Pedailite
Should your ovaries be overstimulated, you will find yourself bloated and constipated. Jen, my nurse, recommended Gatorade or Pedialite. Go for the Pedialite (the mixed fruit or citrus kind if available). If you dilute it with water, it doesn't taste too bad and has much fewer calories than Gatorade.
7. Delete Social Media 
You don't need it. It will make you crazy, narcissistic, or angry. I initially deleted it back in November or December and although IVF has been a smooth sailing and positive process, I still think it is totally unnecessary and unhealthy. As of today I am about 7 months "sober".
8. Write things down
You don't necessarilly need to blog but you will want to chronicle this process. My dad wrote the entire story of my birth and it is an awesome read. When your kid is old enough to appreciate you as a parent, they will also appreciate the hard work that went into creating him or her.
9. Don't bring children, especially babies, to an infertility clinic 
Obviously if you had a successful pregnancy that resulted in a happy and healthy baby, that is fantastic but try your best to find a sitter if you are making a trip to your local infertility specialist. These places are filled with emotionally unstable women in a frustrating, shocking, expensive, and/or sad situations pumped with so many hormones they tear up during an episode of Cold Case (not that that ever happened to me :) ). Even if your first was an IVF success and you are prepping for your second, there are several women in that waiting room on a 2nd or 3rd round of IVF and there is a good chance they may experience some emotion between jealousy and rage at the sight of you.

Pregnancy Tips:
1. Make sure you are prepared. 
Obviously a baby should be planned and a conversation should be had by you and your partner about babies. You will want to make sure you have the funds, the space, and so on to bring a new little person into the world but also make sure you are physically prepared. I wasn't. I don't embraces the pregnant woman in a two piece look, I don't love having my stomach all out there, and as you saw I had a very hard time in the first trimester adjusting to the physical changes. This changes overtime, but it does take time. Be patient with yourself, try to embrace it, and if you can't - its only 9 months.
2. Don't be too proud for hand-me-downs. 
Pregnancy clothes will, hopefully, not be a lifetime staple in your wardrobe so don't be afraid to ask friends if they have any they want to get rid of. My friend Amy hooked me up with tons of great stuff and so far I have only bought a maternity tee shirt, a sun dress, a belly band, and running shorts and I am 23 weeks in.
3. Buy a belly band
You can get away with wearing your old pants a lot longer than you might think. I have yet to break into a pair of maternity pants because of it.
4. Buy empire waist dresses 
23 weeks preg in NY& Co dress
If you have a formal event to go to and don't want to buy a nice maternity dress, get one in an empire way that fits the pregnant you and the normal you (see right). This way you aren't spending money on a dress you will only wear once. Also no one will be like "didn't you just wear that an so-and-so's wedding?" because you are pregnant and hormonal and you might slap them.
5. Recognize your hormones
Like PMS, pregnancy may cause you to be angry, sad,  insane, or tired out of nowhere. Should your significant other, parent, or friend be at the wrong end of this wrath it can cause a raucous. If you go into a hormone induced rage, follow IVF Tip #3 and say sorry.
6. Watch your cravings
You are not eating for two. You are eating for 1.2. During pregnancy you are only suppose to eat an extra 100-300 calories per day, a little more if you exercise. Yes, there are days when you will have an insatiable appetite and find yourself on your 3rd bowl of Special K at 9:00 at night but try to choose something healthy and not a Kitchen Sink Sundae at your local ice cream joint.
Includes 3 sliced bananas, 8 scoops of ice creams,
8 toppings, whipped cream, and cherries. 
Also sometimes an unhealthy craving can easily be replaced by something more manageable -make English Muffin pizzas if you are craving a large pie, try chocolate milk in place of ice cream (you really just want the calcium), or try POP chips in place of Ruffles. 
7. Give into your cravings on occasion. 
Sometimes you are drinking milk and your body is thinking "what the hell is this nonsense?!" and still needs ice cream. Then, G-D-it!, go have some ice cream woman! 
8. People will have their comments
Between the annoying "when are you due" askers, the tummy touchers, and those that give all the credit to the male partner and his super sperm, people are going to say and do dumb and annoying things. Clearly people say dumb things everyday, but it seems pregnant women are more of a target to their commentary. The other day I was at the gym and some old man was like "looks like your husband didn't waste any time!" (insert cheesy old man laugh here). What the heck is that supposed to mean! And you don't know anything about anything! 
9. Pregnancy may not be awesome, but its awesome. 
No, pregnancy isn't comparable to the awesome weekend in Las Vegas you had with your girlfriends, the awesome time you had on your honeymoon, or the awesome deal you just got at TJ Maxx, but it awesome in the biblical sense. The first 2 definitions of "awesome" according to Webster, are 1) expression of awe; wonder that is inspired by the sacred or sublime and 2) an inspiring awe. Pregnancy is that kind of awesome. 

Pregnancy and Exercise
1. Even if it is the last thing you feel like doing - move!
This is hard to do in your first trimester because you are exhausted all the time and I'm sure during your third because you are quite large BUT the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are incredible for both you and your baby. 
2. Go outside
If you are fortunate enough to be pregnant during warm weather, exercise outside. It feels so much better and you can dazzle your neighbors by your athletic prowess and fab pregnant body. 
Even better: don't wear headphones! It helps to feed your ego when someone whispers "she looks fabulous" to her girlfriend as you jog past them (that actually happened today - win!!)
3. Invest in good sneakers
For every pound you lose, that is four pounds of pressure off your knees when running; therefore when you are gaining weigh you are putting more pounds of pressure on your knees. Make sure you have the proper foot and ankle support - it will go a long way.
4. Preplan your route and know where there are bathrooms. 
If you are at the gym, it is easy to jump of the treadmill, elliptical, or what have you and go pee. Not so easy if you are on the road, so find a route where you can take pit stops as needed along the way. My new route is kind of around my block so I continuously run past my house as well as the bathrooms/water fountain in the park.
6. Stay hydrated and watch your body temperature
Those are no brainers but in general: listen to your body. This may be tricky because your body is up to a lot of different things. You have gas, constipation, you may or may not have to pee, you may have a cramp or your baby may be kicking you in the bladder. Either way, pay attention to this signs and make decisions accordingly. 
7. Mix it up!
Look at that Intensity! 
Like any exercise regiment, you can't do the same thing every day. Lift weights (I hate lifting weights but I do it) as they will strengthen your arms and prepare you for carrying baby around, your back which will help later in pregnancy, and other part of your body. We also have a heavy bag in the garage which make for an interesting tae-bo hybrid that I mix with kettle bell work. Friends have also recommended swimming, prenatal yoga, and Pilates.
9. Stretch.
This may not be the case with anyone else but me but pregnancy has given me some wicked restless legs. At night i prop them on pillows, I stretch them, I curl up, but every 15 minutes or so I am moving around and readjusting and just cannot get comfortable. I usually "forget" to stretch or just don't really care, but I think that it will help my current leg situation if I would just spend the extra few minutes doing a little something after a workout.
10. Do your Kegal Exercises
Peeing in your pants when laughing, coughing, sneezing, or doing just about anything else loses its cool real fast!

Sorry - this was a little lengthy

PS. I saw a toupee on the street when I was running today
PSS. Our neighbors have human-sized Alvin & the Chipmunks characters in the garage. Weird.


  1. I'm still at the IVF part at this point and LOVE your IVF tips. You're so right about taking a social media break.

    After countless Facebook meltdowns, I decided to deactivate my personal account for now and it was the best thing I did for my sanity.

    I love your blog... it's so nice to see success stories

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for your comment Elle!! I read some of your blog as well and the IVF process is incredibly exhausting and frustrating so it is good you are preparing to start on your own timeline. I wish you the best of luck on your journey and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.