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Navigating the Land of IF- A Melissa Ford Interview

Posted Oct 05 2009 10:02pm
By: Trina Leonard

Written as a "travel guide" to the Land of IF (the online abbreviation for infertility), Melissa Ford's new book, Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options, offers a refreshingly candid perspective on the emotional and social aspects of infertility, as well as practical information about testing, treatment, handling invitations to child-centered events, talking with friends and family and more. Ms. Ford is well known for her widely-read blog on infertility, , and as a contributing editor for BlogHer. In a recent conversation with GIVF, Ms. Ford discussed her blog, her experiences as an infertility patient and her tips for current travelers in the "Land of IF."

When she began her own journey by trying to get pregnant naturally, Ms. Ford says she was shocked when conception failed to occur. "Before that, I had trekked through life pretty successfully, in school and in work," she says. "For the first time, when I began trying to get pregnant, I put in the 'work' and wasn't seeing results." Thanks to IVF, she eventually became the mother of twins, but her infertility experience changed her, including her attitudes about treatment. At first," she says, "I had lots of 'won'ts' and 'can'ts' in my vocabulary. Now, I would eliminate those and leave myself open to the possibilities."

She says that patients should do their best to maximize their visits to the doctor so that "you don't leave with questions unanswered because you forgot to ask them." To use both the patient's and the doctor's time well, she says: 1) Always be honest and upfront. Better to over-report than miss telling your medical team something important. 2) Write questions down before the appointment. Know what you need to ask. 3) Use a journal to record your questions, the answers and other information about medications or the process. "I kept a spiral notebook in my purse and wrote everything in one book," she says.

Traveling in the Land of IF is an emotional as well as a physical journey. Ms. Ford says, "It is very important not to ignore your emotional needs. Having the emotional side addressed makes getting through the physical side easier." She launched her "Stirrup Queen" blog in 2002 after participating in an online patient organization, but not finding the kind of information and support that she really wanted online. Now, more than 2,000 people visit her blog each day, reading her thoughts and sharing their own experiences - both physical and emotional. Online support is a valuable adjunct to "face to face" support for infertility patients. Ms. Ford says,"In online support, you constantly have new people you can connect with. There is always someone who will listen to you and who may have had a similar experience."

Although most blogs and books about infertility focus on women, Ms. Ford zeroes in on men's needs, too. "Men's emotional needs are sometimes overlooked, because they process their emotions differently. My husband is very male and can compartmentalize. When he was at work and I'd call or email him about some aspect of our treatment, sometimes I didn't think he cared as much as I did, but eventually I learned that just because he wasn't talking about it didn't mean he wasn't affected."

-Go out, perhaps with friends or a partner.

-Join a support group.

-Find a therapist who specializes in infertility.

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