It was four years ago when I found myself right smack in the middle of my worst nightmare. I was preparing for my 4th round of IVF and feeling completely and utterly alone. I started writing down my emotions in order to try and understand it all. Now, 4 years, 2 kids, 11 pounds, and one published book later, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.


There are so many things I wasn’t prepared for when it came to IVF. Knowing what to expect is such an important part of this journey. It will keep you from feeling upended when your stomach is bloated, your heart is broken, you’re in a hormonal rage against the guy making your coffee at Starbucks, and you’re about ready for a divorce.

So, on that uplifting note, grab your prenatal and read on as I fill you in on the 5 things no one tells you about IVF:

Your age plays a bigger factor than you think.

Did you know that women are born all of the eggs they will ever have? Women are born with approximately 1 million eggs, and this reserve declines with age, accelerating around age 35. Eggs are either genetically normal or abnormal. Over time, the percentage of abnormal eggs increases. For example, at age 25, approximately 75% of a women’s eggs are chromosomally normal. By 35, that number goes down to 50%. By the time you reach 40, it’s only about 10%- 15%. While everyone’s body and circumstances are different, I wish I had been educated about these statistics and the effects of age on female fertility earlier on.

It’s a roller-coaster, so hang on!

An IVF cycle does not yield the same results for everyone, and there are often many bumps along the way. Don’t blame yourself. It’s par for the course.

During the egg retrieval process, there can be things that can catch you off-guard. For one, the number of eggs retrieved can vary immensely. Don’t get fixated on the numbers. If your numbers are low, you may have to go through multiple rounds of retrievals. Understand that this is common.

After the egg retrieval, there is often a drop-off between the numbers of eggs retrieved, the number of eggs fertilized, and the number of embryos that make it to freeze. If you don’t end up with as many embryos as you expected, don’t panic. Remember, it only takes one.

Oh, the hormones.

Welcome to crazy town, we have been waiting for you! Do you know those injections that everyone talks about? During IVF, they are responsible for ovarian stimulation, and the goal is to harvest as many mature eggs as possible for retrieval. But what your friends may not have told you is that they also make you bat sh*t crazy. It’s important to talk to your family and friends about what you are feeling (instead of just yelling at them). Hang in there, and remember that this is all temporary. You are one step closer to being a mother. Just warn your husband to be patient...and to wear a helmet.

Be the expert in you.

Take the Quiz

It’s not your fault.

Infertility is a medical condition. It’s not your fault, and the sooner you realize that the better. Stress does not cause infertility; infertility causes stress. You’re not struggling to conceive because you smoked cigarettes in college or because you eat too much gluten. There are many causes of infertility, and I assure you that most of them are not things you can control. Please stop blaming yourself; it will only make the process harder.

It will change you in the best way possible.

After the battle is fought and the dust settles, you will learn things about yourself that you never knew possible. It will expose you to a level of awareness that will change the way you empathize with people. The bravery and perseverance that now define you will feel like a badge of honor, one that you will wear proudly as you reach out to help the women that come after you. You can do this. You will do this. Hang in there. You are not alone.


Brett Russo was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated with a degree in business management from Bucknell University, where she also met her future husband. After graduation, Brett found her passion working beside her twin brother and father for her family’s printing company, of which she is now the chief executive officer. She married her husband in 2015, and together they fought the hardest battle of their lives with their journey through IVF. Brett chronicles her journey through infertility in her book, The Underwear In My Shoe. Brett lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two sons.