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EXCERPT: The IFer's Bill of Rights
Navigating the LAND of IF: Understanding Your Infertility and Exploring Your Options (Seal Press 2009)
by Melissa Ford
There are three main things you deserve as someone seeking assistance in family building.
1) YOU DESERVE ANSWERS
If you have questions, you deserve answers to them – and in a timely manner. In the case of treatments, you deserve to be told the test results – not just that a beta is positive or negative, but the hCG levels. In the case of an adoption agency or donor program, you deserve to have someone return your call and give you the information you deserve.
Unless you are an RE yourself, you must admit that you know less about reproductive endocrinology than the person on the other end of the stirrups does. At the same time, they should be educating you – and you should be educating yourself – so you can help guide your treatments. I certainly don’t have a medical degree, but I obviously know a great deal about hormone levels and menstrual cycles. Some of that is from reading and research, but a lot of it is from my very patient and wonderful RE, who took the time to explain the procedures and choices. And this leads to your second right.
2) YOU DESERVE TO BE A PARTNER IN YOUR JOURNEY
Part of this right depends on your being well read and educating yourself on family building and fertility. The other part of this right depends on the professionals who are aiding you in the process.
Each time your infertility professional lays out the options and lets you help choose the path, you are empowered by knowing you are the most critical member of the team. My RE was great about doing this. To be honest, being so in charge made me feel more responsible for some of the failed cycles . . . but it also made me feel more responsible for the successes. It’s true that the doctor or agency is more experienced with the process and probably has more knowledge and information than you — but you know your head and your heart better than anyone.
It sometimes happens that an infertile professional encourages IFers to make a decision they’re not ready to make. What then? It’s a hard call, because if you trust your professional, you know that your best interests are at heart, and that he or she is really trying to save you heartache or bring you closer to your ultimate goal. However, at the same time, you are not only balancing reality and yor medical needs – you are balancing strong emotions about how you envisioned yourself reaching parenthood.
There is no easy answer in this situation, except to listen to your doctor’s thoughts . . . and then trust your gut. If you r gut agrees, fantastic. If it doesn’t, you may wish to seek a second opinion. Regardless of what you decide, your infertility professional should be supportive of your decision . . . which brings us to the last point.
3) YOU DESERVE TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT
The two other rights also deal with respectful interactions, but what I mean here is that you deserve to have your privacy taken into account, to not feel ridiculed or bullied, and to have your concerns taken seriously.
That said, you also deserve someone who is not going to put you through the wringer simply because you ask to be put through the wringer. You may be rip-roaring ready for IVF, but you (hopefully) also want a doctor who will practice due diligence and walk you through the testing – and ensure there is an actual need for IVF before you take the risks inherent in the procedure. Making sound, conservative decisions is part of respecting the patient.