You want to know the most unfair part of this infertility nonsense? You actually feel pregnant while you’re going through it—which is totally counterintuitive, not to mention kind of sucks. But if you think about it, it makes sense: It’s because the injections and drugs you're pumping into your body have the same side effects as pregnancy, which makes your body produce these hormones naturally. It’s just one more way this process totally messes with your otherwise sane mind.
Here are the parallels, in no particular order:
1. Giving up drinking. My doctor advised “anything in moderation,” however alcohol is the last thing you’re in the mood for when you’re on all these drugs, some of which might make you feel nauseous and/or give you severe headaches. I used to have a glass of wine every night after work; I have absolutely no taste for it now. I live in fear of migraines.
2. Big, tender boobs. You know how your boobs feel when you have your period? Or when you’re pregnant? That’s how they feel on progesterone. I was always a little paranoid my co-workers were trying not to look at the new size of my inflated breasts.
3. General bloating. There've many times during this that I couldn’t wear my engagement ring and wedding band because I was so bloated, even in my hands—same thing happened when I was pregnant. And don’t even get me started on what the injections do to my stomach… I had a hard time fitting into my regular jeans, too, so I wore a lot of oversized tops and stretch pants, much like I did in the early stages of pregnancy when I didn’t want people knowing I was pregnant yet. Especially before my egg retrieval in September—I had 33 new follicles growing inside of me in one month. Imagine how bloated I looked!
4. “Infertility brain.” It’s the same as “pregnancy brain” and “mommy brain,” loosely defined as “absent minded.” A particularly difficult side effect to navigate around when you have a fairly large editorial operation to run.
5. Dehydration. Everyone knows you’re supposed to drink a lot of water when you’re pregnant. What some people don’t know is, when you’re on all these hormones and fertility meds you’re supposed to do the same. They make you very dehydrated. I never leave the house without a bottle of water in my purse. I always have at least two on my nightstand, and had another three perched permanently on my desk at work. Which leads me to my next point…
6. Peeing. You probably pee just as much while going through IVF than you would while you’re pregnant. It’s a known side effect of pregnancy, so the nightly wake-up calls are to be expected. But peeing every 20 minutes when you’re not pregnant? That's just not fair.
7. Ultrasounds. You get them more frequently when you’re going through IVF than you do when you’re actually pregnant. While seeing the inside of my uterus, and size of my ovaries, is pretty cool, it pales in comparison to hearing the heartbeat of a growing fetus.
8. Sweating. Oh, the constant sweating, especially if you’re on an injectable drug called Lupron. I talked a little about the pre-menopausal symptoms it gives you (specifically hot flashes, sweating, nausea and migraines). Sleeping with the window wide open. Never being comfortable. Always wiping away the beads of sweat forming above my lip while talking to people. Feeling sweaty all. the. time. I had the same problem when I was pregnant. My husband's been sleeping with an extra down comforter, on top of our usual down comforter, for months!
9. People treat you differently. This can be good and bad. When you’re pregnant, perfect strangers will give up their seat on the bus for you. (Good.) When you’re going through infertility, friends and family who know what you’re going through may feel awkward around you and may even go so far as to avoid you because they don't know what to say. (Bad.) I can only speak for myself, but I don't want to be treated any differently because of this, and more often than not I'm happy to answer questions and talk about it, with people whom I love and trust. It also helps explain odd behavior (like being so sweaty), or why you're absent/sick all the time. Plus, if the people around you know what you're going through, it’ll fend off questions like, “Sooo…when are you guys going to start trying again?”
10. Stress. There’s too much to worry about when you’re pregnant. You want a healthy baby, but there’s a lot you need to do to make sure nothing jeopardizes that. When you’re going through IVF, there’s plenty to worry about too—remembering to take all your medications, remembering the obscene amount of doctor appointments you have scheduled, staying hydrated, eating healthy, treating your body right, working your procedures around your hectic work schedule, etc. Worrying about this not getting in the way of that—whatever that is. It’s a lot to keep straight. How do you keep stress at bay during one of the most stressful periods of a person's life?
11. Google. I bet pregnant women and infertile women spend an equal amount of time on Google—they’re just Googling different things.
What did I miss? What are some other ways being pregnant and going through IVF, or infertility, are annoyingly similar?