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Nicole the Fertile Chick: Why You Need an IVF Buddy

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I joined the online group Baby&Bump in January 2010. At the time, I had been trying to conceive for over a year, and desperately needed to commune with people in a similar boat as myself. I have previously highlighted the fact that, even though I had an amazing support system in the form of a wonderful husband and fantastic family and friends, what I desperately needed was to speak with people who had walked, or were walking, the same journey. I couldn’t find any such people in real life, so I started my online search. And then I found the community I had been craving.

When I first joined the forum, IVF was the furthest thing on my mind. I was on Clomid at the time, and joined the support group for that. Before I knew it, I was a member of a plethora of other groups. I became “cycle buddies” with women with a similar ovulation pattern to mine, and we symptom spotted together and consoled each other through our computer screens. And when any of us hit the jackpot, and was able to share the picture of a positive pregnancy test, or announce on the group page that they had gotten a BFP (big fat positive), we would all share in that joy and be encouraged.

Later that year, when I decided to attempt IVF, I finally wandered into the Assisted Reproduction section of the site (a section I had previously avoided like the plague). And I silently stalked a number of the threads, reading and observing what these women were going through. I stalked the diary of a group member named Caz, who was attempting IVF for the first time. I silently walked with her through all her hospital appointments, injections, scans, hospitalization for ovarian hyper stimulation, her pregnancy announcement, confirmation that she was carrying twins, and the early birth of her beautiful son and daughter. I eventually stopped being a silent stalker and stepped out of the shadows, and we became fast friends. I stalked about 5 other diaries this way…some had positive outcomes like Caz, and others didn’t.

By the time I was ready for my own cycle, my doctor was amazed about how much I knew, most of which I had learnt by following the journeys of my fellow B&B ladies. I promptly started a journal on the site, and got some stalkers of my own. I chronicled my own steps day after day, just as my mentors had done.

I also joined a thread for women cycling the same time as I was, and we shared information about our medication, our progress, our feelings, everything. It was great having an outlet. When that cycle failed, my cycle buddies were the people it was easiest for me to vent to. I sometimes felt suffocated by my dear husband’s attempts to console me. My mother was taking it worse than I was, and my friends seemed almost clueless about how to help – but my online friends got it. They understood. They had been down that road, and they knew the right things to say. They gave tough love. When I was still grasping at straws, hoping that there was a possibility that the cycle had worked, even after several failed pregnancy test results, a very low hCG beta number, and very heavy bleeding, they were quick to bring me back to reality, making me realize that the chances of me being pregnant were slim, and that the cycle had well and truly failed. I credit my decision to cycle again, only a couple of months after the failed cycle, to these wonderful women.

For round 2, I was understandably a bit apprehensive. I had to join a new cycle group, as most of the members of my previous one had moved on to pregnancy groups. I started off not really participating in the group, as these new women felt like strangers. It felt like I was repeating a class, and I was resentful of these newcomers, especially those who tried to ask me questions, since I “had done it before”. Eventually, I had to get over myself and loosen up. After all, there were some other women in the group who were cycling for the 4th, 5th, and even 6th time. If I was feeling like an agbalagba, how were they supposed to feel?

And then one day, I got a private message from a group member called Caline, who was cycling for the 5th time. She said she noticed that we were on the same protocol, and starting our medication around the same time, and was hoping we could be cycle buddies. I read her message with an arched brow, and a bit of a side eye. This woman who had already had 4 failed cycles want to be my cycle buddy??! Hian! I foolishly wondered if that wouldn’t be bad luck for me.

In the end, I figured there was no harm done, so I accepted her request. We started by sharing our history till date, and her story broke my heart. Apart from those 4 failed cycles, she had had 2 cycles cancelled due to poor response….so 6 cycles in all. This was not inclusive of her several failed IUI cycles. I silently admired her strength and tenacity to keep on trying. By the time we started our cycles, I realized the benefit of having a cycle buddy. Yes, it was great sharing in the open forum of the group thread, but having a cycle buddy meant I had that one person I could always vent to…that one person who would always be there to listen. The fact that Caline had had so many cycles meant she was always able to give me sound advice. She gave me some useful tips which helped minimize the side effects of the down regulation injections, and made me realize that I was not a freak of nature by not being excited about the process, second time around.

We made sure not to compare numbers, so it didn’t matter that I had a few more follicles than she did. As she made me realize, we simply had to pray for quality, and not quantity. As we approached our egg retrieval and embryo transfer days, we both decided to try some things neither of us had tried before, such as eating pineapple core to aid implantation, and also going on strict bed rest. She transferred a day after me, as I had a day 2 transfer, and she had a day 3. During our 2-week wait, we communicated only with each other, as we decided that participating in the group forum would add a bit more pressure than was necessary. As we had decided not to symptom spot, we didn’t want to have to answer questions about what we were, or weren’t, feeling. So, for the entire 2 weeks, Caline and I tried to talk about anything but symptoms…what we were eating, what movies we were watching, how our husbands were driving us up the wall. Most of the time, we succeeded, but sometimes we didn’t, and briefly inquired about that odd twinge or cramp. Overall, we gave each other the needed PMA (positive mental attitude) boost, when the other was feeling low.

We tested on the same day. Whilst I got a very strong positive, she got a very faint line, and some other sticks she used gave negative results. But you would never guess, as she was literally screaming (i.e. typing in caps…) on my wall, when I announced my positive pregnancy result that day. You could tell that she was over the moon for me. By the next day, her test results were stronger, and when she eventually took a digital pregnancy test…she got the beautiful words “Pregnant, 1-2 weeks). I didn’t realize how anxious I had been for her until her pregnancy was confirmed. I immediately could feel the emotions that had driven her to “yell” on my wall. I laughed, I cried, I screamed! My Caline was also pregnant. We had helped each other through the process, had bonded along the way, and had become wrapped in each other’s heart. We proceeded to become bump buddies, and in November 2011, both our dreams came true with the arrival of our children, born 3 weeks apart.

Today, I know her by her real name, and she is still one of my closest friends….even though we have never met. When she struggled with postnatal depression, when my husband and I briefly struggled to adjust to our new life as a foursome and no longer a duo, when she hit the big 4-0, we were there for each other. And as we both contemplate our frozen embryo transfers, we look forward to being cycle buddies yet again.

The morale of this story is, if you are considering IVF, it is best not to walk the journey alone. Find someone to buddy up with. It doesn’t have to be an online buddy. If you are lucky to make friends with a woman from your clinic, or anywhere really, cycling at the same time as you, that would be just as effective. Trust me, it makes an ordinarily difficult process so much easier to handle. And if you’re lucky like me, you get blessed with a lifelong friend along the way.

If it will help anyone, I have shared the diaries from both my failed and successful cycles, on my website.

Good luck…..and baby dust to all! ☺

Photo Credit: Dreamsime | Monkey Business Images 

Nicole is a woman in her late 30s, with a passion for all things fertility related. She suffered infertility for the first 3 years of her marriage, and found it extremely isolating. After she had her kids, she started The Fertile Chick (www.thefertilechickonline.com) to create a community and happy-place for all women, in various stages of the fertility journey.

27 Comments

  1. Tess

    March 16, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Nicole Dearie, as I always say ‘God bless u’. God will soon answer me with ‘I ve heard nao’.lol…Nicole was my ivf friend (although it was a failed cycle),but I can say it is way easier to talk to someone that has had the same experience or is going through the same thing. I don’t think anyone who has gone through that road will truly understand. Baby dust to everyone.

    • nicolefertilechick

      March 16, 2015 at 11:46 am

      Dear Tess, it was really an honour being your IVF buddy….and I am praying that your next cycle will bring your miracle(s)! xoxoxo

  2. Chige

    March 16, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Hi Nicole……. I am an avid reader.pls I wanted you to address some issues.i have said more than once I have never battled infertility so I don’t know what the people in it go through that’s why I read to get a better insight.How did you cope with days like yesterday(Mother’s Day) when you were TTC.?? Also,what is the best attitude towards those TTC from us who had no issues conceiving?because I have a friend battling infertility and most times don’t know how to act around her? Thanks.

    • nicolefertilechick

      March 16, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Thanks so much, Chige! Mothers Day is one of the most difficult holidays for a woman TTC, and I will surely write about it soon. As for how to relate with your friends TTC…..all you have to do is show them love and consideration. And if the person is very close to you, you could read up her condition and/or treatment, so you are able to meaningfully discuss this with her. Trust me, she will really appreciate that you love her enough to better understand what she is going through.

    • Chige

      March 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      We are both medical doctors so we know about alternative methods like IVF. My problem is do I start the conversation about it?also,I don’t really talk much about my kids with her so as not to strike a raw nerve. I don’t know…… We are quite close but being on different sides of this divide has put a strain on the relationship.like now I’m expecting my 3rd and not sure how to tell her.pls,what were things people did when you were TTC that you found condescending or insensitive?

    • nicolefertilechick

      March 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Chige, the most condescending thing I found was when my friends deliberately didn’t talk about their kids or pregnancies with me. I know some of them might have been trying to be sensitive, but trust me….the pain from hearing about a friend’s pregnancy is WAAAAY less than finding out last. Please try to relate with her as you would any of your other friends, and you could end any baby related discussion with something like “You’ll soon find out for yourself”….or something of that nature…the doesn’t sound patronising, but also states that you are hopeful that she will be a Mom soon….just like you.

      But one thing you should avoid is raising any suggestions for fertility treatment. Unless she discloses that this is what she is considering, this is an absolute no-no….as she might clam up and feel pressured. But the minute she lets you know she’s considering it, then be on it like white on bread, supporting her all the way.

      You’re a good person, Chige! Your friend is lucky to have a friend like you!

    • Chige

      March 16, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks a lot You’ve been very helpful. Will tell her ASAP. And God bless you as you continue to help those going thru this difficult phase.

  3. Ewami

    March 16, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Just this weekend my 44year old sister who has never had a child, opened up to me about wanting to try out IVF. I’m so grateful because this article is so timely and very useful, of course. Can you please share with me the websites, so I can pass it on to her? Thanks.

    • nicolefertilechick

      March 16, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Ewami, BabyandBump (babyandbump.momtastic.com) is really great, and comes highly recommended. Other great ones are Baby Center (babycenter.com) and Fertility Friends (fertilityfriends.co.uk). She could also check out our site as well (thefertilechickonline.com)

  4. lois

    March 16, 2015 at 9:41 am

    This post is just quite inspiring… Nicole you always have something to share

  5. Katniss

    March 16, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Ohh wow. Sometimes we take so much for granted. God bless you for learning from your challenging times and using that experience to help others

  6. Tuzaqueen

    March 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Ewami, if you’re asking for the website where Nicole met Caline its baby and bump. I’m glad I read it up after my OB/GYN advised me to as a first time mom…it has till this day helped monitor my 4 year olds growth with other kids whose moms are signed up too. Your sister would love to remain a member

    • Ewami

      March 16, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks, so much.

  7. missy

    March 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I am 32 with early ovarian failure the doctor has asked me to go for ivf. Nicole is it possible to get an email address where i can talk to you? Its driving me nuts because i dont want to talk to just anyone and i need to feel confident about the clinic to use and overall decision.

    • nicolefertilechick

      March 16, 2015 at 11:57 am

      Hi missy. You can reach me at [email protected]

    • Urchbaby

      March 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      i had a wonderful experience @georges medical, u shld try there, georgesmedical.com.

    • Adeolu

      March 1, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      You can try out Medical ART Center. I have read many testimonies from them . Also being the first to deliver the first test-tube baby in West Africa by Prof. Oladapo Ashiru.

  8. TeeTee

    March 16, 2015 at 11:14 am

    This article couldn’t be more sound and I could have written it myself. It is so important. It was my sanity. Praying for blessings for all those in waiting.

  9. cindy

    March 16, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Insightful..

  10. TeeTee

    March 16, 2015 at 11:29 am

    @ Chige, be yourself but take cues from your friend. My moods alternated from one occasion to the other but for most part, I was positive. One important thing us not to be careless in talking. Someone once said to me, “you don’t have kids so you don’t understand….”. She wasn’t being vindictive but it was pretty insensitive to someone in my position of which she was aware. If you get pregnant, don’t hide. She will be happy for you evenif her heart is breaking in million pieces for herself. Nothing good EVER comes out of hiding it from her but sharing with others. Just always strive to be sensitive without being overtly cautious. Good luck, its not easy. I know. I have navigated both sides.

    • nicolefertilechick

      March 16, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Thanks TeeTee! You put it perfectly!

    • Chige

      March 16, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks Teetee, I just avoid the conversation entirely and I wonder if she’ll see that as not caring. But then I don’t want to start probing and look like an over sabi sabi. So I’m just confused.

  11. Phola

    March 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Nicole did it again, thanks for always thinking ahead and sharing all you can, been really helpful reading your writeups, God bless you

  12. Emma

    March 16, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing once again.
    Quite deep.

  13. TeeTee

    March 16, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    @Chige, ask her! If she gives a back off vibe, then back off. She might just be welcoming and you can be that friend she can call when she needs to talk. And please, please, please talk about your kids. For me, not sharing that aspect of your life with me meant there was always a giant elephant in the room. I talked to my friends about their children, I carried their pictures in my wallet (God children), was active in their lives because infertility did not define me. It was a major hurdle I needed to cross and still crossing as I’ve had subsequent failed cycles in my quest to give my child a sibling but you know what, It was/is just that, another hurdle. Like I said, take cues from her. Please work towards eliminating the strain. I know some people are more sensitive to the whole thing but if you never try, you’ll never know which side of the coin she falls on and you just might be missing a major part of your friend’s life. Good luck!

    • Chige

      March 16, 2015 at 11:02 pm

      Thanks a lot . Coming from someone in your shoes,it’s quite priceless. Ironically,she’s my first child’s godmother.

    • Bos

      March 19, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      I talk about my kid and i also send them lots of information, some reply, some don’t. Most felt i was like that ‘cos i had a child but now i’m in the same boat i tell them of my struggles so they know they aren’t alone. Problem is so many are waiting and feel trying IVF is faithless, if only they can understand that IVF needs all the prayers and faith to work also.
      Secondary Infertility is quite tough, i often wonder why is my body betraying me now. Especially as my issues started from a miscarriage – i wonder could it have been mismanagement? or truly this issue was underlay.
      May God grant our heart’s desires….baby dust to us all.

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