I'll never forget the first thing my parents said after my husband and I announced we wanted to try to get pregnant via IVF. "Are you sure?" That was tough to hear, since we were so excited about the prospect of in vitro fertilisation helping us realise our dream of having a healthy baby.
We'd just been through a horrible loss, and the only thing really keeping me together was that tiny glimmer of hope that this was not the end of our story. Still, I understood my family's reluctance. They just didn't want to see me go through anymore heartache.
While I respected where they were coming from, I eventually had to accept that they might not be fully on board. In fact, my mum and dad weren't the only people in my life who didn't get why we were subjecting ourselves to the emotionally and physically challenging journey ahead. It definitely took some work, but I was able to arrive at a place where I accepted that the only two people who had to "get" our decision to do IVF were me and my husband.
The first step in getting to that place was being really sure about our choice, which we were — even if the truth was that until a few months before, we had never even considered the idea of doing IVF to get pregnant. We were lucky enough to welcome three healthy daughters without the help of any fertility treatments. We weren't even 100 percent sure we wanted to expand our family, but then I got pregnant again, and we were overjoyed! For the next six months, we excitedly planned for our new addition.
When we lost her, it was beyond devastating. Everything changed when life took such an unexpected turn. Suddenly, I was willing to go through anything to hold a healthy baby in my arms again. And that is when my doctor suggested IVF. We could do preimplantation genetic testing on the embryos to rule out a host of conditions, and boost our chances of having a healthy child.
Of course, IVF isn't cheap, and it was very stressful to part with so much money on a gamble, as it wasn't a sure thing the process would lead us to our desired goal. But we were lucky enough to be able to afford it, and so, confident in our reasons for moving forward, that is just what we did. I only shared the news with family and close friends. Most people were supportive, including my parents, after their initial hesitancy.
Still, some people in our lives said hurtful things, like, "But you already have three healthy children. Isn't that enough?" The answer? I love my kids more than anything. I wasn't doing IVF because I didn't think my kids were enough! I also heard, "Maybe another baby just isn't meant to be." I decided that was up to me to figure out, not them.
Ultimately, I realised this wasn't about getting people to understand our situation, or accept our choice. Our IVF journey was about doing what felt right for our family. Training myself to focus on what was happening under our roof (and at the fertility clinic!) was how I kept myself from becoming overly affected by others' comments and opinions.
Also, I consciously surrounded myself with people who lifted me up during this difficult time. Many friends were wonderful about supporting us, and really being there. My parents were also a huge help. They still worried about me a lot, but no one was happier than them when I announced that IVF had worked, and I was pregnant with their first grandson.
To anyone who is considering IVF, I would warn you that not everyone will be on board. People might say hurtful things, but in my experience, they aren't trying to hurt you. Most sentiments come from a place of concern, even if the exact words don't come out right.
If there's one thing I learned in the wake of my loss and subsequent IVF journey, it's that a lot of folks simply can't relate! They love you, and mean well, but they don't always know what to say. Give them a chance, but in the end, just know that with or without getting everyone's blessing, if you feel IVF is right for you, that is what matters most. You can simply let others know what you need is support, and the rest is up to them. Except for the whole IVF part. That's all you!