In this webinar, Karenna Wood, an international fertility coach, founder of Your Fertility Hub and a passionate advocate for emotional support and information for women trying to get pregnant was talking about how to get through the emotional roller-coaster throughout your IVF journey.
It’s really really tough, and you and your husband will almost wax and wane as to how you’re feeling, and I can imagine after 3 failed IVFs and presumably a whole journey just to get to those IVFs, that really does get to that point where you can feel like you’re losing hope. First of all, one thing that I always advocate for is to try a bit of active listening, so to really get to the bottom of how someone’s feeling, often you can’t have those in those quick conversations, or you’re often not really getting to the crux of how someone’s feeling straight away.
I have an active listening exercise that I teach people where you’re basically sitting in front of each other in an undisturbed place and actually saying you’re not allowed to interrupt the other person at all, which is really weird, at first it is a little bit weird, and you’re literally saying: are you losing hope? How are you feeling about moving forward? Let him speak and then say anything else? Let him speak, again, what else, anything else and keep questioning because often it might not be the first thing he says or the third thing that he says, it’s likely to be the fifth or sixth thing that he might say when given that real space to say how he feels that might be the truth of how he’s feeling and where he’s at.
Then you flip that around and do the same for you, he’s not allowed to interrupt, and you’re just basically asking anything else, anything else until you feel that you’ve bottomed that out and also repeat back what that person said, it can be very powerful when somebody actually sorts of summarizes what you’ve said and says: am I correct? Because communication is a two-way thing, but we often don’t hear what someone’s saying. We often miss things quite easily, so try that as an exercise, and I think that could be really illuminating to get to the bottom of some thoughts or feelings that he might be having, it is really common, after several failed attempts to lose hope and maybe it’s around the time of saying to him or talking about having a small break.
I know people are very scared of taking a break in terms of feeling that time pressure, but that for him might be a really important thing. To just say look, we’re just going to have a month or two off, have a window of time to be just us, and reconnect again before even discussing the next steps, next rounds, etc.
Having that healing time, you need to grieve and deal with some of the trauma that comes along with it. You’ve been through that journey of three failed IVFs, there were so many ups and downs, so if you can have a way to maybe think around that, that can be scary in itself, and I get that, but just have a think around what ways could you release that pressure off him in terms of the future rounds. Another thing may be that he might need someone to talk to himself. I purely work with women who are going through this, I often find when I ask that their partner has never spoken to anyone.
I would say 95% of the partners have never gone off and spoken to a counselor or a therapist or gone to a men’s shed or whatever it is where they have their out, they have someone that they can talk to about this stuff because they do talk, in a different way and have different needs. So, maybe thinking about what he might need to get some more connection and support to help him, and finally, we talked a little bit around tuning into that original hope, asking him what he needs to reconnect with that vision of being a parent, reconnect with that path, that belief that you will get there one day, don’t know how, don’t know when yet, but you will get there and what he needs to help to be stronger on that. There’s a few sort of little tips in there, but you’re welcome to connect with me afterward if I can help at all with that.
First of all, I’m incredibly sorry for your loss, a loss is a loss at any stage, and I think that’s really important, particularly when it comes to dealing with miscarriage around infertility, there is so much riding on a positive test to get a positive test and then to lose that is incredibly painful and unfortunately incredibly common. I actually did a poll in our toolbox community last weekend and asked how many women had suffered a miscarriage, and 82% have suffered one or more miscarriages, so this is frighteningly common, unfortunately. With miscarriage, what we’re often not doing is grieving this loss, and it is a loss. It varies between individuals about how you think around whether life starts at which point, or whatever, but to you when you got that positive pregnancy test, there was hope, there were dreams, there was a due date that you were looking forward to, all of those things you need to process and work through and grieve.
This week, on the 15th, is international baby loss awareness day, we’ll be holding a wave of light at 7 PM at your time wherever you are in the world to light a candle and leave it burning for an hour, just to mark the loss because with miscarriages we don’t ceremonies or mark the loss but we need to because that is having a ritual around as we do with death, having funerals, it’s a really important part of being human, of marking that loss and we often don’t do that with miscarriage, so maybe have a look around the wave of light, we’re holding a ceremony in Sydney that I am part of, but there are also events going on around the world or just doing it privately in your own home, finding a way to mark that loss is really important, your loss was only three weeks ago, so it’s still very raw, very, very real where after the third IVF to then get pregnant and then lose that baby, this is really huge, so I would love it if you could take some time out to really process your grief and work on your grief before necessarily moving on to any next step because you’re scared and you’re fearful because that really hurt and it’s scary to think about going through that again and putting yourself up into that place where that hurt can happen again so you have to be ready, you have to be stronger, again and finding the ways to get stronger, so I would definitely take some time and look at ways that you can grieve, some of the trauma and the loss that you’ve been through.
It’s really common, I get told that a lot that these groups can be as I said, amazing places to get some information and some tips and that you can’t take away, they’re wonderful for that, but overwhelm is definitely an issue with them and we go on Facebook technically to be entertained so when you’re going on and your newsfeed is full of other people’s negative or positive experiences, it can be incredibly draining, so draining when they’re negative and incredibly hurtful when we’re seeing trigger posts so really tuning in, I think you’ve almost intuitively said they are overwhelming you at times, so maybe just give it a try, just mute the group for a little while and see how you feel or limit your time within the group, just find some ways to manage that because you’re not going to miss anything and I think that’s the key, it’s not a FOMO situation, fear of missing out, you’re not going to miss anything by muting the group for a while, you need to look after you first and particularly having discussed what you’ve just been through, taking a mental break is really important right now and definitely, that will mean from these groups.
What I’ve actually been told by many of our members inside the toolbox is that they have left every single one of the IVF groups and are purely now a member of our positive private community where we don’t even allow trigger posts or anything like that, so really there might be one group that you find really great, using that group but not the others.
Whatever it is, tune into your intuition about what you need right now, and it’s totally okay to do what you need, you’re not going to miss anything, and you’re not letting anyone else down, you need to do what you need to do and if those groups are overwhelming you then absolutely it’s definitely something that you could have a look at to improve your emotional well-being by leaving them, muting them just for a little while, or leaving them completely.