Having spent some time talking with my friend Stephanie Fry about her new book, The IVF Journal, I gained a lot more insight about all the literal blood, sweat and tears that went into crafting this incredible resource for infertility patients.
Now that I’ve had a chance to thoroughly give The IVF Journal the read that it properly deserves, I can say that this book truly is a gift for our community: we benefit tremendously from her wisdom, her compassion and her levelheaded, down-to-earth writing style that makes IVF seem all that more approachable.
The IVF Journal
The Official Infertility Voice Review
I think one of my favorite things about getting to read published works written by friends and folks I know is that I hear their voice reading it aloud in my head as I work my way through the book. Stephanie is a live out loud kind of woman: boisterous, warm, and affable with a razor-sharp wit and sense of humor. That made reading through The IVF Journal all that more awesome because it was like Stephanie just plopped down in my living room and starting telling me everything she knows about IVF in a way that not only makes sense, but a little easier to digest.
A Guide That Can Adapt to Your Unique Needs
What I love most about this book is that, despite a dearth of worksheets, tips, and resources, Stephanie makes it known right from page one that this is “your book, your rules.” While she goes ahead and gives you every conceivable worksheet to help you plan, manage and get through your IVF cycle, you don’t have to fill out every page. She lays out everything you could need on your journey, but it’s up to you to pick and choose what tools are going to be most helpful for you.
The book is broken up into seven sections, spanning everything from the basics of how IVF works and what you can expect, to communicating with your clinic and medical providers, tracking finances, undergoing the IVF procedure itself, surviving the two-week wait, as well as support for mind-body wellbeing and resources for multiple cyclers. I think that’s what makes this such an approachable book for anyone going through IVF – including third-party. There’s no reason that I couldn’t have used this book when we did our donor egg cycle in 2012.
An Excel/Google Spreadsheet Lover’s Dream Come True
On to the worksheets, and boy howdy – there are many! If you’re just getting started with IVF, all these different planning guides might seem overwhelming. But that’s the great thing about Stephanie’s approach to her organizational tools: she tells you exactly how you can use them. The worksheets and charts are comprehensive, so whether you’re just looking to keep track of the most important, big top-level pieces of information to extremely detailed hormone levels or medication instructions, The IVF Journal helps you keep all of that information in one convenient place.
There are standard worksheets from outlining a basic primer of your infertility diagnosis history (making it easier to share with doctors if you have to go to multiple specialists) to medication dosage calendars and instruction charts and plenty of budget planning and financial tracking sheets. But The IVF Journal has a number of other helpful and quite frankly ingenious charts and worksheets: there’s the Two-Week Wait Project Planner, with space to respond to your ever-shifting mood while you wait for beta.
I also appreciate that Stephanie does not don rose-colored glasses that every IVF cycle will work – something that comes from her own painful, personal experience with IVF. She helps you plan emotionally for the possibility that your cycle might not work. She includes both Positive and Negative Results Prepping Worksheets that include everything from celebration and announcement plans in the former, as well as immediate coping steps and options for moving forward in the latter instance. When I say this is a comprehensive resource, I mean it: Stephanie has painstakingly put together a book full of resources and planning tools for every single aspect of the IVF experience.
The Hidden Gem You Shouldn’t Miss
While The IVF Journal may at first glance seem like stretches of worksheets and guides punctuated by informative, approachable introductions and overviews, there are especially poignant moments and sections that illuminate Stephanie’s own journey to motherhood through infertility and multiple cycles of IVF. Her “Note from the Author” and “Closing” directly address her audience with compassionate candor with the perspective of a woman who deeply understands the gamut of emotions experienced during IVF and infertility.
I think the most moving moment I discovered was her “Special Ritual for Multi-Cyclers” toward the end the book. Stephanie is a practical optimist about those who may need more than one IVF cycle to build their families:
“When you are facing a second (or third or fourth!) treatment cycle, it can be easy to focus on the negative and to become overwhelmed by the sheer fact that you have to do it all over again. My advice is to honor the journey you are on by having a little commemoration ceremony at the start of your cycle. I did and it made me feel a whole lot better.”
She shares a personal moment of how she and her husband would give themselves a pre-cycle pep talk when it was time to unbox their medications:
“We recognized the sadness and hope that came with starting a new cycle and with the toast-like clink of syringes we were on our way.”
The Bottom Line
The IVF Journal is at once field guide and expedition log for one of the most complex and often daunting journeys for infertility patients. Stephanie approaches the complexity of the IVF process with compassionate clarity and wisdom from personal experience. Containing a wealth of organizational worksheets covering everything from medication calendars to expense tracking spreadsheets and charts for your emotional inventory, The IVF Journal spans the gamut of the IVF experience in an approachable, organized guide that readers can adapt to their own unique IVF journeys and needs.
Stephanie’s guide is your new, super-organized best friend to hold your hand in the clinic waiting room, to keep you distracted during the two-week wait, to help celebrate your positive beta or pour you another glass of wine if your cycle doesn’t work.
Whether you’re coming up to your first IVF cycle or your fifth, The IVF Journal should be required reading for every IVF patient.
If I haven’t convinced you to go and pick up your own copy yet, how about the allure of a free giveaway? *wink wink*
Enter to Win a Signed Copy of The IVF Journal
Giveaway ends this Friday, July 25th at 11:59pm EDT. There’s lots of ways to rack up all your entries, so enter below for your chance to win!