IVF was rough on us as a couple. I imagine it is for most everyone. As I’ve shared, we discovered late in our journey that my male infertility from a balanced translocation was the source of our recurrent miscarriages. I felt guilty about being the source of our problem, and of the physical pain that I was inadvertently putting my wife through.
Reviewing internet information about how to support your wife during the IVF treatment process yields a lot of advice. There are plenty of suggestions focusing on emotional support, being present, actively listening to her expression of pain as she goes through fertility treatment. These are all very valid and important ways to support your partner, however this may not come naturally to some men, especially if you’re task-oriented or action-motivated. They didn’t work for me.
After years of infertility struggle, I learned how to best support my wife in ways that I felt capable of doing. I put together this list of task-oriented actions you can take on to support your wife through the IVF treatment process.
Understand...all of it. Learn about the fertility treatment protocol, the drugs, the IVF injections schedule, the side effects. Take an active role in your wife’s treatment cycle. You’re in this together. She’s not doing this alone. Show her that by understanding her IVF injection routine, knowing how all the various drugs work and what their role is in her cycle. Having a firm understanding of what she is doing, and when, shows her that you’re present and you know what’s going on. FertilityIQ has some amazing courses that let you both know what to expect at various stages: https://www.fertilityiq.com/courses
Go to the appointments! I made sure that I was able to attend as many of our office visits as possible throughout our treatment cycles. I moved customer appointments and staff meetings around her treatment plan. My wife is pretty Type A, and really took ownership of all the drug ordering and organization of IVF medications, and this process inspired the MyVitro product line. But just being there to hold her hand during ultrasounds was helpful to both of us. You’ll have to juggle your work schedule, as will she. The Ladders has a great guide for talking to your boss about infertility: https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/ways-to-talk-to-your-boss-about-infertility
Say “no” for her. Manage the social calendar during treatment. If she’s not up to it, that’s ok. Say no to weekend barbeques, no to dinner with your parents, no to her niece’s birthday party, no to the neighborhood block party. This experience isn’t fun and she’s not going to want to have to explain what’s going on any more than necessary. Take it off her plate. Say no for her. And it's much easier to do if you understand what’s going on when during her fertility treatment cycle. If you don’t currently share or manage calendars together, a google calendar or using a tool like Cozi (https://www.cozi.com/calendar/) keeps you on the same page.
Shots! Shots! Shots! Giving yourself shots isn’t easy. She’ll have to do it multiple times a day. You can share the burden by preparing and giving her injections. When we went through IVF, we were always nervous about misplacing medicine, choosing the wrong needle or breaking vials. This ultimately led us to develop a product line to organize fertility medications. The IVF Organizer and Fertility Caddy are practical, concrete, and tangible tools that you and your wife will use multiple times a day as you build your family. Having your IVF medication organized, safe, and secure will help you both feel in control.
With infertility, the answers aren’t always clear and it's a rocky road to navigate. I hope some of these suggestions resonate with you and help you and your partner on this journey.