The news that clinics were able to apply to open for treatment again on the 11th May was very welcome, and it seems like clinics are very quickly being approved by The HFEA to start treatment again, with many already approved.
They have had to submit detailed plans about how they will keep patients and staff safe, so will be getting all those things in place, if they haven’t already.
It may take some clinics longer to get going, if they have had staff redeployed to critical areas to cover Covid support, and capacity may be reduced due to staffing and social distancing regulations.
Please know that the clinics I have spoken to are desperate to get helping you again and are doing everything they can to help you start the treatment you are desperately waiting for.
I wanted to offer some advice on coping through the extra waiting, the uncertainty of when your treatment will actually start and getting yourself ready (emotionally) for starting treatment.
I have listened to comments and concerns people have voiced and have tried to answer the common worries and questions.
I’m worried about when my treatment will start and if I will be further down the waiting list now.
I know its hard if you were about to start treatment and you are now further down the list. It's still unclear how clinics will prioritise treatment restarting and will be done on a clinic by clinic basis, so keep checking with them and try to use the time to get IVF ready and focus on your emotional wellbeing.
How will things be different in the clinic?
I have been told my partner will not be able to come with me to appointments, which worries meI know this may be hard, especially when you are feeling emotional and need to have appointments with your consultant that may be difficult. Try to remember that it is a short term solution to enable treatment to start as soon as possible, so support each other as much as possible outside of appointments so you feel calmer and more in control when you are at the clinic.
Discuss all your questions with your partner before the appointment so you are clear on how you both feel and any questions you both have.
Make a note of the questions to take in with you, and paper to write down your answers whilst in your appointment.
Your partner could maybe take you to the appointments and wait in the car so that you have moral support before and straight after your appointment.
How can I take back some control of the situation?
Make a list of all the things you can control so you can create a plan, and all the things you can’t control (e.g. when your treatment starts) so that you can find some acceptance about it and move on from letting it stress you out. For example..
What can I do to help when I’m feeling anxious about treatment delays and then getting started again?
As there may be a wait still before you can get started with treatment, I wanted to share some things to help you focus on the positives and help you take back control of the things you can do and feel in the best state possible for starting treatment:
Use the time to make sure you are in your optimum state for conceiving – It’s really hard being told that there is a delay to your treatment, it can feel like time is slipping away, so try to think of this time as extra time to get make sure you ready for treatment by looking after your physical health (eating healthily, getting enough rest, drinking enough water, limiting alcohol and caffeine) and your emotional health (getting enough support, taking time for self-care, recharging your batteries, reducing anxiety where possible).
Rest! We are all so busy all of the time, this virus and the enforced lockdowns/ social distancing has forced us all to slow down and rest more, so take the opportunity to recharge your batteries, reduce stresses where possible (I know this situation brings new ones too) and slow down.
Spend time doing the things that help you relax and recharge your batteries - As you can’t really go out at the minute you can do things like reading, meditating, watching Netflix, keeping in touch with friends and family via zoom. Things that help you feel calmer, more in control and distracted as much as possible.
Get some time out in the fresh air where you can - Walks in nice open spaces where you can get fresh air and some exercise. You can appreciate your surroundings, get some space to clear your head and it gets you out of the house for a bit.
Spend time quality time with your partner away from treatment - The pressures of work, social commitments and treatment can put a lot of pressure on relationships and mean you don’t have much quality time together. See this as a gift of quality time together to have nice meals at the table, film night, games night, talking to each other. I understand it can also feel a bit overwhelming when you are locked down and having ALL your time together, so keep in touch with friends, plan in solo time for things like reading, walks, exercise and its ok if you get frustrated with each other, we’ll all be the same :)
Get support in whatever way works for you - The type of support people need and want is very personal, so think about what type of support works for you - something more anonymous, a more public forum like Instagram, or more in depth counselling support.
Think about other things you would like to do and achieve - As you are locked in your house, it’s a perfect time to start a new hobby, learn something new, make changes that you’ve been thinking of making. Make a list of some things you have wanted to do for a while but always feel like you don’t have time to do (it doesn'y have to be anything major and only when you feel up to it, there's no pressure!):
Start a journal – Journaling has been found to improve your emotional and physical health, by reducing stress, boosting your mood and improving memory function. Writing down your feelings is a great way of releasing those emotions in a safe way, whilst also giving you some calm time for yourself, especially if you are isolated from your usual support network.
If you would like more help and support through this worrying and uncertain time, my IVF Positivity Planner can help you focus on looking after yourself emotionally, setting goals to make changes and it gives you lots of advice and support on coping when TTC.
This article covers lots of feedback I have heard from patients, in the hope that it will help doctors and nurses understand how patients really feel, and also help everyone that is going through IVF know they are not alone.