In 1978, the idea of creating human life outside of the human body was out of this world. But that was also the year the first “test-tube baby” was born. Louise Joy Brown was the first baby to have been conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF). Since then, there have been more than 8 million babies born around the world through IVF.

It’s been over 40 years, yet the process is still a complex and challenging one. IVF involves extracting a woman’s eggs, fertilizing the eggs externally, and then transferring the fertilized embryos into the woman’s uterus by way of the cervix. It sounds simple enough, but there are so many biological, environmental, and social factors that come into play. In reality, it’s a stretch to say that you can fully prepare for the journey that is IVF, but the more you know about what to expect, the better you’ll be able to manage.

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So, how can you mentally prepare for IVF? Here are some important things to know:

IVF is not a one-size-fits-all process.

The typical IVF cycle really only spans four to six weeks, but with all of the other moving parts, it can stretch for months or even years. At the start of the IVF process, you and your partner will have to go through numerous physical exams and tests. You can expect ultrasounds, sperm and egg analyses, and blood tests. Depending on your diagnosis, your provider will then either order more tests to be run or determine the proper IVF protocol for you and your partner.

While some find success on their first IVF cycle, for others it can take multiple cycles. The longer you are on your IVF journey, the better you and your doctor will know your body. It’s important to remember that no two people will have the same experience with IVF, and you can expect a lot of back-and-forth trying out new strategies throughout the process. Because bodies react differently to drugs, it may take a while for you to find the protocol that works for you.

Find the right clinic, and trust your providers.

It’s normal to feel frustrated and even angry at times, especially when you receive bad news. But you have to trust that your clinic is doing all they can, from the doctors to the embryologists to the fertility nurses.

Fertility clinics have dynamic and multidisciplinary teams, and you’ll find that fertility nurses may be your main point of contact. Fertility nurses are trained to assist you and the clinician in all stages of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. They work together with clinicians, medical technicians, and other professionals to build relationships with you and field any questions you may have. These fertility specialists have years of experience and training under their belts. Try to remember that they are working towards the same goals as you.

You can’t do this alone; you need a solid support system.

Infertility can be emotionally devastating, particularly for women. A study by the Nurse Practitioner revealed that infertility can cause high rates of anxiety (23%) and depression (17%). When negative thoughts start to creep in, try to actively replace them with positive affirmations. Think about how strong the process has made you or how the difficult days are just part of the journey.

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It’s also important to look towards a solid support system. Lean on your partner, your trusted friends, your family, or find an infertility support group online. Being around people who are going through similar experiences can give you much-needed camaraderie. You can expect a whirlwind of emotions throughout fertility treatments, so having a strong community is crucial.

You’re stronger than you think.

Going through IVF will challenge you physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you leave your IVF consultation, or when you receive that big box of medications. It’s natural to think, “How am I supposed to know how to do this?” Navigating appointments, blood draws, ultrasounds, injections, insurance companies, and medical bills can be like having a second job. Failed cycles will test you more than anything else ever has before. But if you take it one day at a time, you will discover just how resilient you are. You’ve got this.

Get more tips on how to prepare for IVF.