The doctor doesn’t know what it’s like

When I started my first IVF cycle, I had read a book that suggested that you should take a month off work when you are cycling, to deal with all the appointments, stress, and what not.  I asked my RE if that was really true.  “Oh, no”, she said, “you only need to take off the day of the retrieval.  And maybe the next day.”

Yeah, right.

I work in a job that requires mental effort and concentration.  Those things were completely shot once I went on Lupron.  The week before my retrieval my colleagues sent me home because I was forgetting my sentences in the middle and staring into space.  The week after my retrieval I spent lying on the sofa in pain.  Thank god I have a job where I can work flexibly.

So, do you have to take a month off work?  No, you don’t.  People have different reactions to the situation.  For some people throwing themselves into their work helps to reduce their stress level.  It also depends on the kind of job you have – even though I had the short term memory of a goldfish I found rote work and things where you work with your hands quite soothing during my cycle.  But if your job requires you to be mentally with it, or to be a diplomat of tact, you might want to think about taking some time off.  And if you are an air traffic controller, for god’s sake, take pity on the rest of us and stay at home.

But the real moral of the story is not how much slack to cut yourself during a cycle (answer: as much as you possibly can).  It’s that the REs are very savvy about how to run IVF cycles,  but they don’t have a clue what it’s like actually being in one.  They don’t know how crazy you get, how much it can affect your emotions and concentration, how unbelievably stressful it is.

Before embarking on my last cycle with my own eggs I asked my RE what I could do to help manage the stress level of the cycle, since I knew going in it wasn’t going to be pretty.  He said, “We have a psychologist – you could make an appointment to see her while you are in town.”  Are you kidding me?  2 weeks of total hell is going to be offset by one psychologist appointment?   That underscored it for me – REs just have no idea what you’re going through.

So if you want advice about how your cycle should be managed, how many embryos you should transfer, etc., ask your RE.  But if you want to know how hard it is and how to stay sane, don’t ask your RE – ask your fellow travellers or a therapist who is familiar with infertility.



  1. ^WiseGuy^ said

    Oh, I know how that feels! “you want to know how hard it is and how to stay sane, don’t ask your RE”.

    My docs thought I was a bit overreacting with whatever I struggled. When I first started cramping and bleeding, I was again taken lightly – just being given a little something to ‘help me relax and sleep at night’.

    I do not suspect the technical finesse of my doctors, just their belief that their patients are dumb, is a challenge for me!

  2. Anonymous said

    Hi, i agree with what you have written in here about RE not knowing what you going through. I just had one question, has anybody had the desire (strong wish0 to just stop taking all the injections and medications 5 days after the ET? I just dont think I want to go through with this any more, the body conditions are so bad I am desparate to get back to my self. Also, I am dying to start exercising, RE says “NO”, frankly, I am beyond caring.

  3. Anonymous said

    The difference between when I cycled in my 20’s & when I’m in my 30’s now is also so much different. Of course it was hard when I was in my late 20’s, but at our last consult w/ our RE (I am now 34), I explained to him how hard the last cycle was, & I’ve got one more left in me, he looked at me like I was a whimp. I wanted to punch him in the face!!!

  4. Anonymous said

    The nurses at my office looked at me like I was crazy when I asked them to fill out FMLA paperwork for me to protect my job. I am a floor nurse and it is impossible to leave my job once I’m there and we work 12 hour shifts………and they are NURSES and couldn’t understand this concept.

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