Self Advocacy For Your Fertility Journey: You Are The Captain of Your Ship
At a recent coaching session with one of my fertility clients, I got the warm fuzzies when she told me she followed some of my advice, that it worked out for her, and that she felt good as a result of it. That always gives a coach the warm fuzzies.
But what gave me the warmest, fuzziest fuzzies of all was the specific suggestion that she followed – to stand up for herself and speak up when she felt she was treated unfairly.
A little background:
A few weeks ago she went in to her clinic, where she has been treated for more than a year, for a procedure that had been recommended by her doctor.
Her regular doctor was not available to perform the procedure, and after she arrived and was prepped, the substitute doctor told her that it wouldn’t do any good and that she was wasting her money.
Imagine how this feels. You’re on the table, in a surgical gown (can you say, vulnerable and exposed?). You have already experienced crushing pregnancy losses. You’ve mentally gotten yourself prepared – and have spent a considerable amount of money – to have a procedure that your doctor has recommended to help you achieve your dream of becoming a mother.
Most of all, you’re at one of the most respected fertility clinics in the United States, a clinic to which patients travel from all over the country for treatment.
It’s understandable and expected that doctors will have conflicting professional opinions. Their opinions and recommendations are all based on sound scientific and medical principles. Maybe having the procedure wasn’t necessary. Who knows, and it’s beside the point in this discussion.
The fact of the matter is, a doctor openly expressing such an opinion directly to a patient that they have never worked with, and at a time when that patient is her most vulnerable, is not only inappropriate, it’s grossly unprofessional.
Fortunately, this is the exception and not the norm in the world of reproductive endocrinologists. At Conceive IVF you can be assured that you are receiving the most professional and yet the most compassionate care available in the Middle East. Patient reviews have called Dr. Shrivastav “A true professional, a stickler for results but who makes one feel totally at ease and comfortable.” This is a standard he has set for his entire staff and the hospital as a whole.
After my client sent an email to her doctor, who apologized to her, she felt better. I encouraged her to take it a step further and contact the head of the entire clinic, who, like Dr. Shrivastav, sets a professional standard for his entire organization. He needs to know of an incident where a patient was left feeling uncomfortable and unsettled under the care of one of his doctors.
I said my piece and let it go. I didn’t know if she would take it any further. That was something she needed to decide and be comfortable with on her own.
Speaking up is hard. Especially for us women. We are trained from a very young age to not speak up. To not rock the boat. To be seen, not heard. To be gracious. To have good manners. To “be good girls.”
Over time, however, being a good girl has largely resulted in us females ignoring our own needs, and giving our power away so that we feel completely powerless and out of control over our own lives. This happens in many areas of our lives, and we bring that mindset to the fertility journey.
Self care is vital for the fertility journey. It’s crucial that you take care of yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Because the journey is such a roller coaster, with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, taking care of yourself gives you the strength that you need to continue on the journey.
Self care also means acting in alignment with your own self-interest.
Advocating for ourselves is actually the most impactful, and the most empowering, form of self care.
As I wrote to you in my last post, learning how to speak up and advocate for my own self-interest was one of the biggest lessons I learned from my fertility journey. It’s a lesson I needed to learn and bring to the other areas of my life, and I needed the fertility journey to teach it to me.
That’s why I wouldn’t change my journey.
You are in charge of your own destiny. If your doctor tells you something that doesn’t make sense or doesn’t “feel right” in your gut, say something to him or her. Ask questions. Do your own research until you find what feels right and makes sense for you.
You are not a recipient of care. Contrary to what we’ve been led to believe our entire lives, the doctor doesn’t “fix” what’s wrong with us or “make” us better again.
You are a partner with your doctor in your care. Together, you and your doctor work to find the best solution for you, within the realm of medical science. Your relationship needs to be a highly collaborative one.
Your fertility journey is like a big ship, and you are its captain. Your doctor, nurse, ultrasound technicians, and all the other members of your support team, are your crew. Your mission is to get pregnant, and each member of your crew has a key piece of the puzzle to make it happen.
Your doctor has one of the most important pieces, but it’s still just one piece of the puzzle. You are the one figuring out all the right pieces for you and putting the puzzle together. This can be done while still being gracious.
It’s more work for you to approach your journey in this way but the end result is more than worth it. Not only do you learn how to tune in to yourself and know what you need at any given moment, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve always acted on behalf of your own self-interest.
You’ve been true to yourself.
This naturally carries over into all areas of your life. When you act in this way, your learn how to always honor your needs (and to know what your needs are!). It becomes easier to leave jobs and relationships that no longer serve you. You don’t second-guess important decisions you make. You make room for bringing more abundance into your life that’s always in alignment with your own interest.
What an awesome way to live, right?
As I said, speaking up is hard, but it does get easier the more you do it. And as you practice doing it, you’ll reach a point where you can’t imagine not doing it.
As for my client, she did reach out to the head of the fertility clinic and shared her experience. She also heard back from him, who said that he would address the issue with his entire staff.
She created a ripple effect that will benefit all of the patients under the clinic’s care, and advance the state of practice in the entire clinic.
She made a difference, and most importantly, she was true to herself.
Talk about amazing warm fuzzies!