The Infertility Patient Experience

path-to-fertilityinfertility patient and acting crazySitting outside, all wrapped up, and writing to you, whether present or past infertility patient. Reflecting on the week. Enjoying the crisp air and the squirrels chasing each other up and down the trees.

Lately, Carrie Van Steen and I have been hearing a lot that you all think you’re acting crazy. Some of you are even getting that confirmed by well meaning partners, spouses, family members.

You worry that you are terrible patients. We get that. You worry that you really are crazy. We get that too. It’s the reason that we have Ladies Night In. When you hear other women’s stories and they are kind enough to reveal the truth about their crazy, you realize that in the realm of infertility, you’re really not all that crazy. Or terrible.

What makes a terrible patient? We kind of had a contest last night. Only last night, we thought of it more as the craziest patient contest. I could swear I’ve written a blog like this before!

And it’s not really about being a crazy patient or a terrible patient. It’s about being THAT patient. The one the whole office talks about after they leave because they are that something. Difficult. Crazy.  No one wants to be THAT patient.

So we talked about it last night. What makes you THAT patient? Crazy, difficult, over the top, whatever you would like to call it. I offered an all expense paid trip to Paris for truly crazy/difficult last night. Alas, I didn’t hear a single thing that screamed crazy and so no one won. Although Paris may have sounded inviting, doubtful anyone would have really wanted to win.

Acting Crazy During Infertility: What Qualifies?

Here are a few wrong answers about acting crazy that I’ve been accumulating at Fertile Yoga and Ladies Night In:

  1. You ask too many questions. You call back and ask the same questions again. You email and ask similar questions one more time.
  2. You cry through your appointments.
  3. You take your time to make decisions. You go home and think about things. You discuss things with someone you trust.
  4. You change your mind. Then you change it again. And maybe one more time.
  5. You’re upset/distraught/overwhelmed about the outcomes of tests, procedures or results.
  6. You resent the amount of time, energy and money fertility treatment costs.
  7. You can’t remember the names of the medications/procedures.
  8. Your left ovary has a habit of disappearing and the doctor has to look harder to find it.
  9. You want to know each and every level of your blood work and each and every size of each follicle during an ultrasound.
  10. You don’t respond well to the medications.
  11. You call the offices, your nurses, your patient coordinator and your doctor often.

You listening? Those things are not crazy.

Infertility Is Hard.

Infertility is hard. It has its own language that your doctor is fluent in and you are not. There are a lot of difficult decisions that come up without any warning, that you are not expecting. Infertility and fertility treatment is hard.

Me, I just threatened the life of my board certified reproductive endocrinologist.

Yes I did.

Yes, I did, out loud, to him. Right.

Not in my head.

Out loud.

And when I share why, you will think it was perfectly reasonable.

We voted last night and no one picked my threat of homicide as crazy.

Hmm. Bears some thinking about.

Here’s why I threatened his life.

I was on my fifth cycle. Everything went perfectly. Absolutely picture perfect. Better than one could or should expect.

Which had been true of the previous four cycles.

My doctor delighted in sharing with me how perfectly my cycles were going. Each step of the way, he would commend me on how well things were proceeding.

And at the end of the day, at the end of the cycles, there were no pregnancies.

Threatening his life might have been overboard. Telling him how I was going to wrap my hands around his throat might not have been necessary.

Interestingly enough though, last night, talking to eight other women, experiencing their own levels of perfect and not so perfect results and cycles; none of them were particularly impressed with my level of crazy/difficult patientness. It made some sort of sense to them and to me that having perfect cycle after perfect cycle with negative pregnancy results would or could make me vaguely homicidal.

I won’t even share with you what Carrie Van Steen did during her fertility treatment that teetered on crazy. She and I will write that blog together for your reading pleasure.

Just please know that we know that this is beyond difficult. It’s the reason that we don’t actually have a “THAT” patient that we feel is unreasonable beyond measure. We know that hearing bad news and having to process it is difficult.

Beyond difficult.

We are not judging you on how terrible or crazy a patient you are.

Now, if we could just get you to stop judging yourself.

Please remember that we are here for you. To hold your hand, to listen to you cry, to answer your questions, to make you giggle.

To help you create your families.

Topics: Feelings, Support

Lisa Rosenthal

Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.

Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.

Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.

Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.

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