Last week, Jennifer Aniston announced she was undergoing IVF treatment due to ongoing fertility issues, describing the time as “really tough”.
She’s certainly not the only person who finds the process challenging and it’s so encouraging to see her discuss it so openly.
“Jennifer Aniston has spoken out about her IVF journey for the first time and it’s good that she acknowledged that there can be freedom at the end of the process if you don’t manage to have a baby,” says Meg Thomas, fertility coach and podcast host helping women navigate the IVF journey.
Meg has been a yoga and meditation teacher and coach for over eight years and has spent the past five years trying to conceive using multiple rounds of IVF.
“I know from personal experience how daunting the IVF journey can be and how important it is to get the emotional support you need,” she says.
Here she shares advice on how to support yourself before, during and after your IVF journey.
Set up your support group
IVF can be exhausting and can take its toll. It’s good to know the process in advance and remember when you need someone to support you.
There are a number of waiting times: one time you wait to see if you have made a healthy embryo, and the other time you wait to find out if you are pregnant.
You need to know who to call with your messiest, most broken heart.
Tell your inner circle what you need
Whether it’s a coach, therapist, or friend, tell them what you need up front. You may want a friend to act as your “mirror of faith” to tell you that it is possible to conceive a baby during these waiting times because the more cycles you do, the harder it can be to believe that it is for you works.
If you’re feeling vulnerable and need support, try this phrase: “I just need to talk this through and you don’t have to resolve anything, can you listen to me for a second?”
Make an emotional first aid action list
Make a list of 10 things you can do when you feel sad, anxious, or stressed. Maybe it’s a diary, a float tank swimmer, or a nature walk?
Prepare yourself, because when your hormones are on a rampage, it’s hard to be creative about what you could do to make yourself feel better.
Connect with empathetic friends
Jennifer Aniston chose to keep her IVF journey a secret, which is healthy and can protect you, but on the other hand can fuel feelings of shame – feelings that you are not worthy of having a child, or that you are heartbroken. Shame feeds on secrecy, silence, and judgment.
Empathy is the antidote. We need to connect with people who have empathy – people who know what it feels like to be vulnerable, disappointed or broken.
Empathetic people can make you feel connected to humanity. Shame keeps you apart.
feel your feelings
A wave of strong emotions only lasts 90 seconds, so it’s better to feel your emotions than to numb them with alcohol, food, or a Netflix binge.
The first step is acknowledging what you are feeling. Where do you feel it in your body? Instead of just saying “angry,” look for nuance, is it envy, desperation, anger? Naming how you feel is very empowering. feel everything
Allow space to acknowledge what you are feeling and then move it through your body. To some, this looks like talk therapy, yoga, walking in nature, crying, meditating, running, and so on. Feel it, name it and move it.
The IVF process teaches you life skills – how to use your voice, how to talk to a doctor, how to follow your intuition, how to listen to your body and stand up for yourself.
Listen to your intuition
Your inner voice will guide you every step of the way if you let it.
If your intuition tells you to stop scrolling social media because seeing all your friends’ baby pictures makes you sad, stop scrolling. If your intuition tells you to switch fertility clinics, switch. If your intuition tells you to question this super long list of drugs, ask your questions.
Create a funeral ceremony
When you decide to complete your IVF journey without getting pregnant, allow yourself to grieve the loss of the dream of who you thought your mother would become. The only way to get through it is to really allow yourself to feel it. Create some sort of ceremony, like writing a letter and then burning it, where you can acknowledge and let go of the journey you’ve been on.
I am a highly experienced and well-connected journalist, with a focus on healthcare news. I have worked for several major news outlets, and currently work as an author at 24 news recorder. My work has been featured in many prestigious publications, and I have a wide network of contacts in the healthcare industry. I am highly passionate about my work, and strive to provide accurate and timely information to my readers.