Fertility specialist appointments – tips to prepare and reduce your anxiety in the lead up.May 31, 2022
It’s just a doctor’s appointment, right?! So why do we feel so anxious in the lead up? Why do we feel nervous in the waiting room? Why is it always so tense, quiet and awkward in there?
Because it’s not just a doctor’s appointment. A fertility specialist appointment is so much more. It’s waiting to decide your fate. It’s potentially receiving bad news. It’s holding your breath, just waiting to see if there’s a next step, or if this is the end.
While our fertility specialist was amazing, I always felt anxious before, during and after my appointments. Because I had been sitting in that very office to receive bad news too many times.
This was the office we heard the news, I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat. It’s the office when we were told, I’m sorry, but there’s no other way you’re going to have a baby of your own. It was the office where I had disconnected from my body so many times, because of the physical violation and humiliation.
You begin to anticipate bad news. And there is plenty of time to anticipate it, because there is so much waiting. Some of us wait months or even years to get an appointment.
It’s completely understandable that your fertility specialist appointment is going to make you anxious. No, it’s not just you. You have a very good reason.
So how can you make the wait AND the appointment a little less traumatic?
Here are some tips you can implement in the lead up, and when you’re in your appointment –
- Selection of your doctor and clinic is SO important. You are paying a lot of money and trusting them with something that is incredibly important. So, if it doesn’t feel right, or if you feel dismissed or that they aren’t listening to you, don’t be afraid to shop around. We need to advocate for ourselves and if your doctor and team are providing unnecessary stress, they’re not for you. You deserve to find a team that will provide you with the support you need – they’re out there – you just have to shop around. I know this can be stressful in itself, however it is definitely worth it to find a clinic who will be kind to your needs.
- Write down all the questions you’d like to ask your fertility specialist BEFORE you get to your appointment. When you’re in your appointment, your emotions may be high which means you’ll forget things. There’s nothing worse than remembering a question you had after you walk out the door.
- No question is a stupid question. I used to feel silly asking questions or getting clarification from my doctor, so I’d walk out of my fertility appointments feeling even more confused and lost. But the truth is, you’re not an expert, nor are you supposed to be. There are SO many acronyms and different terms in this process, it’s impossible to know it all. You’re not expected to be an expert. So, if you can’t understand something, it may mean that your specialist isn’t explaining it well enough. A great way to ensure you’re understanding properly is to explain it back to them i.e. “So, what you’re saying is….”
- If possible, set the time for your appointments to work in with your day. There is nothing worse than having an appointment scheduled for the beginning of the day and having to rush to work afterward. Or planning them for your lunch hour, so have to run to make them, and then run back to work. Rushing, and also knowing you’re going to have to go back to work after your appointment can raise your anxiety alone. You imagine what you’ll do if you hear bad news and then have to go back to work and act like nothing has happened. You’re already under an immense amount of pressure, so there’s no need to take on more. Try to make your appointments at the end of the day, so you can go home afterward. Or better yet, take the day off. Because you’re going to be emotionally exhausted no matter what.
- On the way to your appointment, call the receptionist to make sure they’re on time. If they’re historically late (which most are), you don’t want to be sitting in the waiting room for an hour. It’s only going to escalate your anxiety. And if they are running late, go for a walk in the fresh air before heading in there, or go to the coffee shop around the corner. Waiting rooms can be quite clinical and uninviting, plus they may bring back past trauma if you’ve been there before. So, the least amount of time spent in there, the better.
- Music is magic. Seriously. Research has shown that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain, as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. I’d highly recommend that you create a calming or energizing (depending on what works for you) playlist on your phone. On the way to your appointment, in the car, play it. Put in your headphones and listen to it while you’re sitting in the obscenely quiet and awkward waiting room, and don’t take them out until they’re ready for you. It will help, I promise.
- Breathe. When we’re stressed we tend to shallow breathe. So, while you’re waiting – either in the office or laying on the bed, try some breathing exercises to calm your nerves. Put one hand on your heart, and one hand on your belly, and as you inhale through your nose feel the breath fill your belly, and expand into your lungs. Then exhale through your mouth, feeling the breath deflating your chest and lastly your belly. Keep repeating throughout your appointment if needed.
- Celebrate. I know that sounds silly, but the act of merely setting up an appointment, anticipating it, and going to it, is big. Because this is a big fucking deal. And if you don’t do something to release the stress from your body, it will sit there. So do something to celebrate the fact that you have done something incredibly hard. After your appointment, treat yourself. Because every milestone you hit (no matter how big or small) needs to be celebrated. It could be a milkshake, going out for dinner, buying yourself something, getting a massage or your nails done. Something to acknowledge that you are doing great. And you are, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
But more than anything, give yourself a little grace. Accepting help is challenging at the best of times, and seeing a fertility specialist is not the way we pictured it. So given the fact that you’re doing something you don’t want to be doing, you’re paying a lot of money, and that this is really important. You deserve to go easy on yourself.
There is no perfect way to do this, except to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if that looks messy, and involves tears and a little yelling. That’s ok. Because this is tough.
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