What I Wish I Knew When I Was Trying to Conceive
by Allison kariser of robyn
I wanted a family. But things got hard when I tried to turn my dream into a reality.
We tried naturally for eight months - every month felt like a roller coaster ride, hope then disappointment followed by more hope then disappointment. We went to a specialist who couldn’t find anything wrong with us (two healthy 28-year-olds!) so we moved on to the least invasive treatment options like medication and intrauterine inseminations. Months of more negative pregnancy tests and no explanation led us to the doorstep of IVF.
During this time, I went through an emotional and physical wellness journey, learning all I could about managing my stress and taking better care of my body. I also set out on a mission to make sure no other woman or family felt as alone or confused as I did. That’s why I started Robyn: the company on a mission to demystify, destigmatize, and democratize the path to parenthood. Today, Robyn is a community for women and families to share their experiences throughout pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, postpartum, and parenthood. We also provide educational content from a curated network of maternal wellness experts who you can connect with directly.
Here are a few things I wish I knew from the very beginning:
1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility
I didn’t realize how common infertility is. I didn’t know 1 in 8 couples struggle and that would have made me feel less alone at the time. The numbers are even greater for miscarriage and pregnancy loss - 1 in 4. Finding support and community completely changed my experience from one that was isolating to one that was empowering.
You have to be your biggest advocate
I didn’t know, but very quickly learned, that I had to become an expert on my own situation. Whether I was dealing with a doctor, employer, or insurance company, I had to speak up for myself, or no one else would. There’s too much on the line - physically, emotionally, and financially - to let someone else drive the bus.
Take control of what you can control
One of the most frustrating parts of infertility is that you feel like things are out of your control. Learning to deal with this uncertainty can be difficult. One thing that helped me was taking control of what I could control. I changed my diet and exercise routine. I added acupuncture and therapy to my calendar. This isn’t going to be right for everyone but it helped me feel better physically and emotionally through the process.
While I needed the support, there were times when family, friends, or colleagues were not helpful. I wish I knew earlier on how important setting boundaries and asking for what I needed would be in this journey.
Every path to parenthood is unique
When I started on the road of fertility treatments, I was not educated on all the different paths to parenthood that exist (donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, surrogacy, adoption, etc). Starting a family is not a one-size-fits-all approach. That knowledge would have contributed to a healthier emotional state from the get-go.
My personal fertility journey has a happy ending. I ended up having twin boys through IVF and then a third boy naturally. People ask me all the time to compare the IVF experience with the natural experience. When we did IVF, I mourned not having that "traditional" experience. Surprising your husband. Surprising your family. But you know what? Now, that I've had both experiences...it doesn't feel different at all. I wish I could go back to my former self and comfort her that the method wouldn’t matter at all in the end.
Whether you have a child naturally, through IUI or IVF, use an egg or sperm donor, surrogate, embryo adoption, adoption etc - it is BEAUTIFUL and REAL and SPECIAL and you are a PARENT regardless of your path to parenthood.