What My First Medicated Fertility Cycle Has Been Like

Medical treatment against male or female infertility With male and female symbol

It was cycle day one, and I stood in the queue at the pharmacy anxiously waiting my turn. They had gotten new stock of the fertility medicine I’d been prescribed for our medicated cycle just in time. The first blessing. 

When I got to the front of the queue, I handed the pharmacist the script and continued my wait as she went to the back to fetch the meds first, then spent almost 20 minutes inputting information on the computer and communicating with my medical insurance. She put the medication in a brown paper bag, explained the specifics of when and how each one needed to be taken, and then printed out and handed me the receipt, saying:

“You don’t have to pay anything. This was fully covered and our medical insurance paid for everything.”

The second blessing.

I’d expected to have to pay most of the costs out of pocket. However, to my surprise, it seemed that the timing had worked in my favour. The hard work of the Infertility Association of South Africa who’d been lobbying for our medical insurance companies to cover fertility medications and treatment had finally paid off. As of the 31st of January this year, various fertility related costs were either fully or partially covered depending on the criteria. I breathed a sigh of relief, as this meant that should the initial cycle not work, I could now afford to do a couple more cycles. 

The next day, I started on the medication as instructed to. I was struck by a mix of emotions. I was anxious, excited, afraid and hopeful all at once. I couldn’t settle on one feeling. It took a bit of extra effort to ground myself and still my thoughts were racing. I wasn’t sure if it was the hormonal effect of the medication or the shock of things in our fertility journey suddenly moving forward again after over a year of endless delays and setbacks. My anxiety grew day by day – the underlying fear of whether or not this cycle will work out for us kept creeping up, the fear of being disappointed heightened and the knots in my shoulders hardened. To calm my anxiety I’ve had to lean on familiar mindfulness tools. I start my morning listening to an uplifting audio meditation. Then I journal to address whatever emotions are rising to the surface on the day. 

What am I feeling?

Fear.

What am I afraid of right now?

I’m afraid of being too hopeful. What if I try everything and still come out at the other end without a baby?

How can I release this fear and reframe my thoughts around this?

Do breathing exercises to release anxiety

Do yoga stretches to release my tension

Focus on what I am grateful for and all the things that are working in my life 

Take my supplements, eat healthy, go for acupuncture and trust that I am doing everything I can to support my body and my fertility 

Do some art therapy, go on nature walks and allow myself to have some fun

Outlining these different things gives me something positive to focus on. The items on my list become grounding touchstones at overwhelming points in my day. When all of the day’s work and tasks are done, the fearful thoughts start to creep up again. So my evening routine has centered around gentle yoga stretches, a fertility affirmations meditation and a yoga nidra meditation to relax my body and help me fall asleep more easily. It’s made a world of difference, especially since my dreams have been intense with all these nagging fears rearing their ugly heads in them. It’s been good to feel my muscles unwind as my body sinks into the mattress and I slowly drift off to sleep. I look forward to these quiet moments of peace.

There is so much uncertainty around this process and what the outcome will be. I’ve had to remind myself that I can’t control what happens. The best I can do is to live my life one day at a time. I can focus on how I want to feel, nurture my heart and be kind to my body. I can be grateful that certain things have fallen into place a lot better than I’d expected. And I can keep the little flames of hope alive in my heart in the meantime. How I do hope that the end of my story will be a third blessing to count. But there are no guarantees and there is no way of knowing what will happen. Only time will tell. 

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