Erin McDaniel is a six-time IVF “survivor” and now mum to 2 boys. She is a fertility coach at MyFertilityCoach.com based in Chicago, Illinois.
Erin works with women across the globe to provide support, a guiding hand, strategies to cope and calm, and encouragement to face each day of the journey a little bit stronger.
Here she tells us how a fertility coach can improve the experience of IVF.
I remember feeling like it would never end. I remember being proud of how deftly I could give myself injections – mix medication, switch needles, inject with no pain, no blood, done and move on. Removed out of self- preservation. The next minute, the walls crumbled and I was counting how many injections, how many supplements, how many total follicles…all, seemingly, for naught. It was crushing.
As I sit on the other side of six IVF rounds that resulted in two boys, of course it was worth it. But like many of you, I knew from the beginning it would be. That doesn’t really make the experience any easier.
In the early days of my fertility journey, I was frustrated, angry, confused, and lonely. It seemed there was no one to help guide me and I kept hitting unexpected delays and pitfalls.
I’d lost all sense of who I was by that point, all sense of what truly made me feel hopeful, what made me feel in control, what gave me joy and made me laugh out loud. At the mercy of doctors and nurses who didn’t explain a lot and too sad to spend time researching other options I simply followed what they recommended with no thought to care for myself in the process.
After the second unsuccessful round of IVF I knew something had to change.
We took a break and took time to grieve, to think, to try new things and let the tension of constantly being “in treatment” ease. We found a new doctor who had a measured sense of optimism. I found an acupuncturist who opened me up to the world of diet and lifestyle changes that made me feel better physically and more in control – like I was “doing” something. She was the first professional to truly believe we had a chance and who encouraged me to factor myself into the treatment plan. How could I balance my quest for a baby with my need to stay sane in the process?
Once I gathered a broader support team and started to care for my whole self things got easier. I felt empowered, had greater perspective, and was more calm despite the inevitable ups and downs. Round 3 of IVF resulted in my first son who is now four and then, 3 years later, his little brother joined us as a result of Round 6.
How I got started as a fertility coach
Unfortunately, I had never heard of such a thing as a fertility coach when I was going through IVF. Really wish I had…
After having my second son, I wanted to make a career change. I was seeking a new mission and wanted more flexibility in my work life.
I knew that my experience of infertility equipped me to help others facing a similar challenge both from a knowledge and empathetic perspective, as well as from a place of genuine passion to improve the patient experience. When I came across a blog post written by a “fertility coach”, it all clicked. I started researching exactly what that was, how they help, and what my place in the ether could be. My career in marketing, social media, community building, and facilitation have fuelled my approach and, really, since the point of reading that blog post in early 2017, it has been clear this is what I’m meant to do.
So, what is a fertility coach?
A fertility coach is the trainer to your athlete. Someone who knows the game, so to speak, and can offer guidance, support, suggestions and understanding.
So much of infertility becomes clinical, external, and a list of never ending “to dos” that are often accompanied by fear and guilt. A fertility coach can help strip away the unnecessary, the things that just cause stress, and help you feel more connected to your experience, your body, and your future family.
Most fertility coaches have been in the trenches of infertility and know first-hand what couples are going through.
They know the feelings of being overwhelmed and confused. They listen intently to what is being said, what is not being said, and share their understanding as a way to help you more clearly see where you may be blocked and what your true desires for the process, not just the outcome, might include.
Many people feel uncomfortable discussing IVF even with close friends or family. I was.
Because of this, the experience is lonely. You may have lost close friends, you may withstand insensitive comments or questions with a laugh or gritted teeth – and then later cry in the bathroom. A fertility coach can help alleviate this isolation. She is a listener; receiving all the thoughts you want to say but don’t have someone to hear. She can connect you with other sources of support from mentor programs to support groups to therapists or counsellors. She will ensure you know you aren’t alone.
Additionally, a coach will help you stay accountable to the goals you’ve set whether that is diet or exercise changes, starting a meditation, yoga, or visualization practice, setting boundaries,
Finding a new perspective, or something completely different! A beautiful thing about coaching is that it is client-driven, meaning you are in control of creating a path that works best for you.
What are the benefits of working with a fertility coach?
Reduced stress, validation, empathy, encouragement, suggested game plans, curated resources, along with understanding – to name a few.
One of the best outcomes my clients report – at the end of each session – is that they feel calmer, lighter, and are able to breathe easier. Their mind has stopped racing for a bit and they are clearer on what they want to do next and how to get there.
I believe women who feel empowered to take control of their whole health – mental, spiritual, and physical – while undergoing fertility treatment have a more positive family building experience.
Together, we identify fears, trigger situations, and the information you might be missing. We’ll make a plan to balance all areas of your life so that you can be more calm, present, and empowered. I work with women like you to provide support, a guiding hand, strategies to cope, and encouragement to face each day of your fertility journey a little bit stronger.
Contact me if you’d like to learn more about me or book a complimentary coaching session to begin planning your more calm, peaceful, approach to IVF, visit MyFertilityCoach.com.
You can also connect with Erin on Facebook (Facebook.com/MyFertilityCoachUS) or Instagram (Instagram.com/MyFertilityCoach).
Have you used a fertility coach? We would love to hear your stories and how it helped you? Email me on Claire@ivfbabble.com