What I wish I could have told myself

Gunce • Head of research at Glow. Unwilling infertility expert. 2 kids after 6 IVF treatments.

(Originally posted on the Glow Blog)

I joke around sometimes that I have a Ph.D. in Fertility. After all it did take me almost five years to master the subject (and conceive my two children).

In that time, I read countless books. I took deep dives into clinical research. And I experimented endlessly on my one poor test subject, namely myself.

When it was all said and done, I wished I could invent a time machine so as to go back and tell my younger self a thing or two.

Here is what I would have said to myself:

“Hey, hun. It’s me. Yes, it’s really me. I know I look haggard. But for a good reason: You have kids!!! Two amazing, wonderful, incredible children. A boy and a girl. Yes, they are fantastic. That’s the good news. The bad news? It’s gonna be a while before you can meet them.

"Look, I know you are just starting out. And that you think this will be easy. That if you have lots of sex, things will just magically work out. But um, that’s not what happens. At least not to you. But maybe if you learn from my mistakes, your path might be slightly easier than mine. Pen, paper? Okay write this down:

"You have to lose a bit of weight. You have PCOS and being overweight is not helping. You ovulate much more frequently when you are closer to your optimal BMI. I know how hard it is – but try, it is the best thing you personally can do to improve your fertility.

"Start monitoring your body. Immediately. Track your basal body temperature. Obsess over your cervical fluids. Become familiar with your cervix. As a woman with PCOS, you can have several near-misses with ovulation each cycle. The more you monitor, the more equipped you will be to learn which ones are real. You need to learn more about your body and its patterns.

"No more lubricants. They kill sperm. Only use natural ones or Pre-seed.

"Start eating and drinking as if you are already pregnant. Your body is a miraculous place where a new life will begin. You cannot treat it like a garbage can. No more junk food. No more diet-anything fizzy. Drink water instead. Eat lots of healthy fish (low in mercury). Vegetables. Fruits. Non-animal proteins. Cut down on caffeine. (Yes, I know that will kill you.) Obviously, no drugs or smoking. Take prenatal vitamins daily. They are incredibly important in preventing birth defects.

"Don’t schedule sex. Instead, schedule intimacy. If you know that your fertile week is coming up, make a date with your husband. Go and see a movie and have dinner. Let things take their natural course. With the road you have ahead of you, the last thing you want to do is make sex a chore.

"Relax. No wait, don’t punch me. Yes, I know how ludicrous it is to tell you to relax in this stressful situation. I realize that’s like telling you to not think of the pink elephant. Ha! You thought of a pink elephant, didn’t you? But seriously, you have to relax. That means that you make a real effort to de-stress yourself. Yoga works. So does meditation. But anything that you find pleasant is relaxing. Go for a walk. Catch up with a friend. Watch Veronica Mars. Do what you need to so that you do not obsess about this all the time. And speaking of walking…

"Exercise. Look, I remember your 14 hour a day job. I know it left you no time to work out. But you have to fit something in. Walk to work in the morning. Bike on the weekend. Swim when you can. Nothing too crazy or strenuous. I am not telling you to train for a marathon. But the more you engage in moderate activity, the quicker you will conceive. Isn’t that a great incentive?

"It’s okay to feel what you feel. You are not crazy. And you are not a bad person for being jealous of every pregnant woman within a hundred miles. It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s okay to be frustrated, angry, sad, and mad and to rage against the universe. Life isn’t fair. And nobody has ever claimed otherwise. Give yourself the time and space to feel what you feel and then take the next step forward, whatever that may be.

"Last thing. There will come a day when you feel like giving up. When you simply cannot endure yet another negative result. When the doctor visits and the shots and the invasive procedures overwhelm you. That day when you are past the edge of your endurance…that’s when I want you to close your eyes and see this image.

"As one day, this will be your reality. And those two…they will be yours, to cherish and to love.

"And I promise - they are worth every single sacrifice you make and more."