By Lesley Jones
At the age of 35, I decided to become a single mother by choice, because I didn’t want to give up on becoming a mother, simply because I hadn’t met “the one”. I thought the process would be simple, I would go through IVF, and nine months later, I’d have a baby. (Bless my fertility naïve heart.) So, imagine my surprise when I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve and a very low AMH. I had no one to talk to or help me understand how this diagnosis would affect my life. None of my friends experienced infertility, all my female relatives have children, not even an acquaintance I had at the time could relate to what I was going thru. Luckily my doctor and nurses were there to pick up the pieces. I cried on their shoulders when two of my cycles were cancelled. Called numerous times, and cried some more, as they talked me off the hormone induced edge of reason. I began to lean on my teams, the nurses especially, for guidance and friendship.
After my fourth failed round of IVF, I took a break and re-evaluated my life. I was a retail manager, in my sixth year with a company that did not support my decision to have a baby, and I had given them my reproductive years. What was I doing? I was single, childless, and completely unhappy in my career. Infertility forced me to take a long hard look at my life, and I needed a change. During my treatment, I wished for a support system, not just friends, but someone in a professional capacity I could talk to and share my grief. Someone whose job it was to help me navigate the emotional rollercoaster of emotions I was feeling. My doctors and nurses were wonderful, but I needed someone to sit down and do nothing but listen to my feelings. And I didn’t want another therapist, I had one of those, I wanted someone who understood infertility. So, I quit my job, moved from Houston to the Austin area to be closer to my family, and decided, at the age of 37, to go back to school.
I’m now taking classes and prerequisites to become a nurse specializing in psychology and infertility. I want to eventually partner with a fertility clinic in the Austin or Dallas area and be an in-house fertility psychologist. Because of the emotional toll on fertility patients, I believe it would be in the patient’s best interest for therapy sessions to be a treatment requirement. I know there are some clinics that may require this, but not many. How helpful would it be to talk to a therapist who’s been in your shoes? Who’s taken the shots, had the transfer, and even heard the bad news? This would have changed my journey.
I know most people use the phrase or hashtag, “Infertility sucks”, but I don’t. Infertility changed my life, and I’m grateful. I’m using this experience not only to advocate for an emphasis on the mental health for fertility patients, but also be a voice for my people.