A new article has just come out about the effects of infertility in STEM fields – “Infertility and the Leaky Pipeline”. While the piece focuses on women in STEM the topics are broadly applicable. The authors have including links to lots of published papers on infertility and have created an amazing list of resources for people who are struggling to conceive, including how to get tax breaks, places that you can apply to for financial help and lists of grants and scholarships. It’s worth a read!
As many of you may recall we have 3 embryos on ice at our RE. Every year we get the bill for their “rent” and every year I pay it because I can’t stand the idea of letting them go.
The fact is that I want another baby. I’d like a girl. I’d like to baby wear, which I never really got to do with the boys. I’d like to exclusively breastfeed, which I never got to do with the boys because I always had to supplement with formula in addition to breastfeeding (they’ve always been voracious eaters). I’d like to do all the things that people with one baby get to do that mothers of multiples aren’t able to do.
The reality is that I’m 42 and while I’m in good health and good shape I wouldn’t be able to even get pregnant (assuming the defrost and transfer worked) until I’m 43. We already have 3 kids (we have my step-daughter full-time, plus the twins). We are already low on time, money and energy. We’re finally out of diapers. And importantly, our families are not supportive of more babies and there’s no way we could do it without their support. And let’s be honest, having a “singleton” when you’ve got 3 other kids is obviously not going to live up to my granola, crunchy, sun drenched, baby love fest dream.
I’m not sure I’m ready to be done with babies, but I’m not sure if I feel that way because I actually want another child or because I worked so hard for those embryos. It seems like it would be such a small and easy thing to do a transfer and be pregnant, which still seems like such a novelty and a gift. But while I was holding my sisters sleeping newborn daughter over the holidays it occurred to me that I was ready to give her back. I had other things I wanted to do – I wanted more pie, I wanted to play with my kids, I wanted to talk to my aunts – I wanted to snuggle her and love her and then give her back to my sister. So maybe it’s time. Maybe it time to move forward and reconcile myself to the idea that I’m done having babies. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea but we’ll see how I feel when it’s time to pay the rent…
Just when I think I’m over something, BAM!, I get hit with an emotional bombshell.
At least this time it’s good!
Scrolling through Twitter I came across an interesting article about microRNA’s and how they can change the genetic information of a donor egg while in utero. Specifically,
Molecules known as MicroRNAs that are secreted in the mother’s womb can change the genetic information of the child, the researchers say….Practically speaking, this means the mother’s DNA influences the way the baby develops. Her genetic material essentially helps to “decide” which of her baby’s genes get turned on and off. Even more, it means the baby will acquire some DNA from the mother, even if the egg comes from another woman.
I know all about epigenetics and I have held tight to the idea that my boys were profoundly changed by the environment in which they grew. But the idea that they might actually have some of my DNA hit me like a ton of bricks. The difference is subtle but profound, at least for me. Suddenly I feel like I can take a little credit when people comment on my son’s hair, which is the same color as mine, or when they stop us and say that he’s my spittin’ image. No matter how comfortable I become with the fact that my boys didn’t come from my eggs some things have always hurt, just a little. Sometimes more than a little.
Whether or not they have my genetics doesn’t truly matter – it doesn’t change my love for them or their love for me or the fact that they are my sons – but the process that I had to go through to conceive them was extraordinarily difficult for me. Sometimes it’s good for me to stop and realize that I’m still healing and recovering from that process.
So, wherever you are in your process take a moment and honor your struggle. Give yourself a moment of grace and rest. It’s a long road but it’s worth the trip. And the trip is full of surprises!
I’m sitting in a coffee shop across from a woman I haven’t seen in 25 years and I’m struggling to hold back tears. This woman was my best friend in 5th grade but we lost touch in high school as interests and friend groups changed and life moved on. We reconnected through Facebook several years back and one day while I was pregnant with my boys I was randomly scrolling and noticed a post where she mentioned her egg donation. My jaw hit the floor. I sat, stunned, for several minutes trying to manage my thoughts and feelings and I finally just wrote to her and laid it out. I told her I was pregnant through egg donation. I thanked her on behalf of the women she donated to. I told her she was a hero to me. And I had a million questions but I didn’t want to to pry. But here was a real live person who could give me some insight into the mystery woman who was always in my thoughts, the anonymous woman had donated the eggs that let me have my babies.
Last month I finally had the chance to sit down with my friend and hear her story. It moved me to tears. And this childhood friend, my hero, has agreed to share her story with us. So thank you B, for everything.
Why did you decide to donate?
I never wanted kids. And, spoiler alert, I still don’t.
But my friend E did. Desperately. And it wasn’t happening.
So that’s how my donor adventure started. Just kinda exploring the options, a little bit on behalf of my friend, but mostly because she made me aware of the need out there with the nights of heartbreak and tears and hugs and feeling utterly helpless to do anything for someone who meant the world to me. And when she got pregnant and clearly didn’t need me and my eggs, I thought, well, everyone has an E in their lives. So even though SHE didn’t need me anymore, someone’s E did. So I would do it for them.
And I won’t lie. The money was nice too. I’m no saint. I’m not sure I would have been altruistic enough to do six rounds of daily shots and blood draws and ultrasound wands up my junk and days off work on behalf of a multitude of strangers if I hadn’t been getting a nice wad of cash for it.
But it started off with wanting to help.
What was your donation experience like?
It’s been a while now. I’m 41 and the last time I donated was when I was 33. But I remember in the beginning, lots of tests. Family histories, and forms, and psych tests, and blood tests, and financial disclosures, and talking to my boyfriend (now husband) to see if he was cool with this, and then more forms, and more tests. They vet the crap out of donors, or at least the place where I donated did.
Beyond that I remember bruised thighs and tummy from all of the injections. I remember daily blood draws, to the point where I got track marks on my arms and I was afraid people would think I was an addict. I remember getting really intimate with the transvaginal ultrasound wand –was that daily too? I feel like near the end of each cycle it was–and how I stopped caring who got all up in my junk cause pretty much the entire world had seen it at that point. I remember the nurse drawing a target on my butt for the “trigger” shot, so my husband would know where to jab me—the one shot I didn’t do myself. I remember daily calls with the nurse coordinator, to let me know my hormone levels and how to adjust my shot doses the next day. I’m not sure if the recipients got calls too….I know everyone’s cycles had to be synced up to some degree, but I honestly don’t know much about the recipient side of that, whether they got the info on my progress or not and how that effected whatever process they had. I remember feeling “puffy” as I got close to the end of each cycle. My husband swears you couldn’t tell from looking at me, but I felt like I was wearing a weird heavy water balloon in my tummy. Like I ate too much, but it wasn’t my stomach.
I remember sitting in the waiting room of the clinic on retrieval days. I looked around at the other women there and I felt guilty. I assumed they were women who were trying so hard to get pregnant. I remember crying for them as I waited for my retrieval, and blaming it on the hormones.
The retrieval itself was under anesthesia, so all I remember about that is counting backwards. But every time, my husband said the first thing I asked when I woke up was how many eggs there were. And because I was coming out of anesthesia, I would immediately forget and ask again. And again. And asking if it was ok, if it was enough. Was that a good number? Is that enough? How many eggs? Is that good? How many?
Do you think about the families you donated to?
I do sometimes. Not as much now as when I was going through it, but they cross my mind. But honestly it was a bit like donating blood—once those eggs left my body, they weren’t mine anymore. They weren’t connected to me. Who they went to and what happened to them after that wasn’t part of my experience.
I did six cycles, and after my first round, they classified me as what they called a “high yield” donor, so each cycle after that was split among three women. So that’s sixteen possibilities. The clinic that I donated at won’t tell the donors anything about what happens with the eggs, not even if it was successful or not. And honestly, that isn’t a bad thing in my opinion. They said it was because when they did tell donors, they would get upset and depressed if it didn’t work out. So it is nice in a way to still be able to think of it as 16 possibilities, rather than knowing that for some of them it still didn’t happen. That would upset me.
There was one family that I still think of a bit more than the others. A little while after my last round of donation, I got a package from the coordinating nurse/clinic. I had no idea what it was. But when I opened it, it was from one of the women who received my eggs. Inside was a package with a little handmade neckwarmer filled with rice and some stationary and a card. Which I still have. And which still makes me tear up whenever I think about it, even as I type this. It said “Thank you for helping us make our family.”
That makes it more real for me. Before I got that package, it was just something I did and it wasn’t really connected to real people. But that card made it real for me. Made HER real for me. This woman whose cycle was once synced up with mine, and who received this donation from me, whose family I weirdly became a part of in a roundabout sort of way. Yeah, that got me. It still gets me. And holy shit (am I allowed to curse here?) do I hope it worked for her. I hope it worked for everyone, but damn me I really hope it worked for her.
Would you ever want to meet the donor families?
I wouldn’t object to meeting them if they wanted to meet me I suppose. But honestly I am mostly…unconnected to that.
I don’t have a burning desire to meet the children. Because they aren’t MY children. Not in any way that means anything to me. They have a bit of my biology, but so does that guy who was in a car accident and got some of the blood that I donated. I know it isn’t really the same, but it is to me a bit. I didn’t carry them. I didn’t get excited over seeing a heartbeat in their ultrasounds. I didn’t go through the pain of childbirth. I didn’t feed them or tuck them into bed or yell at them to do their damn homework. Their mom did. I am not their mom.
But I would understand if they were curious about me and wanted to meet me. And I would be ok with that I think. Although I would be afraid they would be disappointed. I am utterly ordinary.
Are you glad you did it?
Yes. Without hesitation, yes. There has never been a moment of regret, even in the cramping and not so pleasant aftermath of retrieval. And there never will be.
I gave 16 women a chance to have a family and I only wish it had been more, that I could have done more.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the different reactions people have to infertility.
For me, I had a total existential crisis. It shook the foundation of my world. I had absolutely bought into the idea that if I tried hard enough I could accomplish anything, and for the most part that had been true for me. So the idea that I couldn’t have a baby, a thing that most people did with ease, shook me to the core. And then couple that with the want and the need and the desire to have a family… I was devastated.
Contrast that with my friend K. She was diagnosed with DOR and did IVF 3 times. She was disappointed each time that the cycle failed but she certainly wasn’t devastated. And after the 3rd failure she quickly and cheerfully moved on and she and her husband now have 2 beautiful daughters through adoption.
And then there’s G. She was diagnosed with PCOS and started the injections and the monitoring but firmly insisted throughout the process that what she was doing was not ANYTHING like what I had to do during my IVF cycles. This despite the fact that she was doing EXACTLY what I had to do, only without the retrieval and fertilization part. (Granted, that’s a big difference but still). She got pregnant and now has a lovely little girl. In retrospect, she admits that she didn’t want to admit that what we had to do was the same because IVF sounded so sad and broken and scary that she wanted to distance herself from the very idea of it, the very idea that she might need it.
And then there’s P. She and her husband tried to get pregnant for about 2 years. Then they sat down, had a heart to heart, and decided that if it happened that was ok and that if it didn’t that was ok too. She’s 43 and unlikely to get pregnant now and she’s totally ok with that. No crisis, no medical intervention, just acceptance.
Of course it’s totally natural and expected that everyone will have a different reaction and choose a different path. It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around because it was so difficult for me personally. I’m not really sure what my point is with this musing, except to highlight the fact that if you’re dealing with infertility whatever reaction you’re having is ok. It may feel like the world is ending but it may also not feel like a big deal. And that’s alright. What you’re feeling is valid and don’t you ever let anyone tell you it’s not.
We have 3 frozen embryos left. I don’t think of them much really but last week I got the bill for their “rent”, which is $400/yr. That’s not a huge expense considering how much it cost to make them but we have 3 children already and every little bit helps, especially when it comes to saving for braces and college and whatnot.
I brought the bill to my husband and asked him what we should do and he flippantly answered “Donate them to someone else. Or to medical research. I don’t know. What did we initially decide we wanted done with them?” Here’s the thing though – I’m not sure I want to let them go. I’m already pretty overwhelmed with 3 kids and a full time job and building a business on the side, but we worked so HARD for them. And I’m not sure I’m done. I love my twins to the moon and back again but I feel like because they were multiples I missed out on something (I feel stupid admitting that but there you go). I had very few quiet, snuggly moments. I never got to baby wear. I feel like I missed out on little things. When I was done with one baby it was always immediately on to the next baby and round and round and round. There was never really a chance to stop and enjoy the small moments. I don’t know why I seem to think that having a teenager and 2 toddlers would allow me the time or the latitude to stop and smell the roses if I had another one. It sounds ridiculous even to me.
And there are so many cons – the time, the money, the energy. And I’m almost 41 – what am I doing thinking about another baby? But then again no one ever looks at their watch and goes “Wow. I’ve got so much extra time and energy. I should have a kid.” or looks in their wallet and says “Too much money in here. Time for a baby!”.
I keep thinking “Maybe we should do the work up and just put one in and if it takes it takes and if it does’t then it doesn’t” and move on. But what if it works and then we have another baby?
Thoughts? Am I totally nuts? (Because I feel totally nuts).
My best friend got divorced this past Monday and I was her witness. I spent the night at her house so that I could distract and support her and so that we could arrive at court together. Another friend of hers joined us on Sunday night – a woman from her neighborhood who was set to undergo a double mastectomy on Tues. We were a jolly bunch!
During the course of the night this friend expressed something interesting. She told us that when she was with other woman who were breast cancer survivors or with women in the process of treating breast cancer she felt dismissed – her cancer wasn’t “bad” enough, she hasn’t had chemo or radiation, she hasn’t had a recurrence. She spoke of feeling terribly alone in her process because people without cancer didn’t understand, but people with cancer – presumably the folks who would know what she was feeling and experiencing and help her along the way – were not very supportive.
I can’t speak to the experience of having breast cancer or being a cancer survivor, but the description resonated with me because of its similarity to the infertility “hierarchy of suffering”. Here is a breakdown of many of the possible iterations of fertility issues –
- You had trouble getting pregnant but got pregnant eventually.
- You had a child (or children) but then experienced secondary infertility.
- You had trouble getting pregnant but got pregnant with limited medical intervention (IUI, Clomid, etc.).
- You got pregnant using IVF and it worked the first time.
- You got pregnant using IVF after 2-3 tries.
- You got pregnant and lost the baby but got pregnant again and had a successful pregnancy.
- You got pregnant using IVF but it required many rounds of treatment.
- You experienced recurrent pregnancy loss followed by a successful pregnancy.
- You got pregnant using donor eggs.
- You have never successfully gotten or stayed pregnant.
If you’ve been around the infertility world for any length of time you could put these into an order, a hierarchy of suffering. And that order would be based on many things, including your own experience. I can shamefacedly admit that I’m guilty of being (inwardly) dismissive of some of these experiences, as if they have less importance or value than my personal experience. I think it’s natural to feel that people who have endured “less” than you can’t possibly understand the pain and anguish you’ve felt. How can a women who has never experienced the loss of pregnancy understand recurrent pregnancy loss? If IVF worked for you the first time how can you possibly understand what it’s like to endure round after round of unsuccessful treatment? While I think that these are natural reactions I also believe that we need to fight against this instinct. All of these scenarios are difficult. Women in all of these situations need and deserve our support. There should be no hierarchy to suffering – everyone has their own process, and everyone handles these challenges differently. My friend with DOR did 3 rounds of IVF without a successful pregnancy and happily moved on to adoption without regret and without giving it another thought. I did 3 rounds of IVF with 1 loss, successfully got pregnant using donor eggs and I am still suffering from grief, loss and shame.
As someone who has run the gamut of infertility and had to resort to something outside of the common experience even in this community (donor eggs) I fall high on the “suffering scale”. I am guilty of feeling that people who have had early success can’t possibly understand my process. I want to change that. I don’t want anyone facing infertility (or pregnancy loss) to feel like they don’t have allies in the community or to feel like they’re outsiders simply because they haven’t suffered enough. That’s ridiculous. So please, if you’re feeling isolated, if you’re feeling alone, if you’re scared and uncertain – get in touch with me. Leave a comment. I will stand by you and hold your hand. We should all be in this together.
I’ve got your back.
A post by another blogger that I follow inspired me to share my thoughts on this. Do any of you watch the Real Housewives of Orange County? I do. It started one day when I lost the remote and was too lazy to get up and change the channel manually (what is this, 1997?) and now I’m hooked.
In the show one of the housewives is married to man who has 4 (3?) children from previous marriages and had a vasectomy – she has no children of her own. He had his sperm frozen and so they are pursuing IVF to have a child together. I’ve been giving this whole story line the side eye from the beginning. She’s so chipper and so open about the IVF process, but of course it’s happening because he had a vasectomy, not because she’s infertile. No blame on her. No fault of hers. These folks have more money than sense so unlike most of us they’re just moving forward without any financial considerations, which rankled a little. She spends the entirety of several shows complaining about her stim meds and her ovaries and how swollen she feels and is generally very dramatic about the whole thing (yes, it sucks. Really a lot. But come on lady). This woman (Meghan) announces happily to all of her friends right after the transfer “I’m pregnant with my twins!” without even entertaining the idea that something might go wrong in her perfect little world.
BUT. This is a woman who desperately wants a baby. This is a woman who is chronicling on TV the trials and tribulations and the pain and process of IVF – we see her fear when she does her injections. We see her in the stirrups at appointment after appointment. Her husband, a baseball player, is uninvolved and pretty unsupportive, and we see her struggle to curb her enthusiasm and her expectations in the face of his dispassion. After all, he already has kids. As a woman married to man who already had children this really hit home. I have spoken to so so so many of you struggling with being a stepmother but wanting your own children. So often, our partners want to support us in our attempts to have our own babies but are less committed and less enthusiastic – they already have kids, after all. This leaves us feeling alone and (sometimes) selfish. Should we be satisfied with what we already have? But I digress…
A few episodes back Megan and her husband decided to put in 2 embryos and because they’ve had genetic testing (unlimited funds strike again) they know that one embryo is a boy and the other is a girl. They’re going to have twins, she tells the world! (inwardly I cringe). Megan capers around talking about her nonexistent baby bump and her twins.
In the last episode they go in for the ultrasound. There is a lovely gestation sac and a healthy baby with a perfect heartbeat. But only one. And she loses it, right there on the table. She’s devastated that there’s only one baby and not two. I watched this utterly torn, angel on one shoulder and devil on the other.
- Devil – Are you serious? She has a healthy baby! What the hell is she crying about? I know so many people who would give almost anything to hear those words! How dare she? What an entitled bitch!
- Angel – *sob* I get it Meghan. I’m so sorry. You had 2 healthy, genetically perfect embryos transferred and you had expectations and dreams that you would birth 2 healthy, perfect babies. Half of your babies are gone. Your dreams are different. The life you’ve been imagining is no longer a possibility and that is so so hard.
And as you all know I’ve been there. The one time that I was pregnant with my own eggs I will admit to being a little sad that it wasn’t twins – couldn’t be twins (we only transferred one egg). After infertility the idea of the bounty of 2 babies is impossible to ignore. When I lost that baby I felt deeply guilty that I had wished for twins because all I wanted was my one little baby back. So when we were doing our donor egg transfer and the doctor asked if we wanted 1 or 2 embryos transferred I immediately said 2. What I actually said was “2 improves our chances for a baby, and it’s the path of least regret for us.” In truth, I wanted twins. And I got them. I felt them both implant. I knew that at one point at least, I was pregnant with 2 babies. There were some issues with the hCG tests (see previous posts) but when I walked in for my ultrasound I was utterly convinced that I was carrying twins. So I understand the impulse. And I imagine it must be even harder to accept when you know the sexes of the embryos – that makes it even more real and allows your fantasies to be that much more complete and complex. Your future life is so real you can taste it.
We all have ideas about how our lives will turn out and infertility throws a wrench into those plans. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rich reality TV star or a hard-working school teacher, we all have dreams and hopes and wishes. This stupid reality TV show has made me confront the fact that I need to be less judgmental about how people get to where they are and be more supportive of their process. Megan’s pain isn’t any less than mine. Her process isn’t any less important. There’s no hierarchy to suffering. We’re all women working towards a common goal and we need to be loving, understanding and supportive. So if you feel the need for some love and support – hit me up. I want to be a positive part of your process.
Until next time, friends.
So, in case you were wondering, it never gets easier. Or at least it hasn’t for me yet.
My sister (who also has DOR) is scheduled to have her second, naturally conceived baby next month. And I couldn’t be more thrilled for her, and I couldn’t be more jealous.
And just now (literally 12 minutes ago) I just got a text from my BFF. She’s pregnant. Unexpectedly.
And I am ECSTATIC for her. She has PCOS and went through fertility treatment to conceive her son, and we had recently been talking about when they were going to try for another one – we had a long laugh about how “trying” meant something very different to us now then it used to. Trying means doctors, and needles and suppositories and dates with the dildo cam instead of wine and movies and sex and dates with our SO . And now she’s pregnant, which is a miracle and I am totally legitimately thrilled. But I’m also bummed. She was the one other person who sorta kinda got it. Of course, her babies are bio babies and so I have an entirely different level of emotional infertility shit to deal with, but still. I just can’t shake that sense of playground injustice that makes me want to stomp my feet and yell “It’s not fair!!!!”
Do I want another baby? Maybe? Probably not? But do I want to have that weird feeling in my stomach and pee on a test and be shocked to see two lines? YES. Do I want to plan a special surprise for my husband to tell him that we’re pregnant? YES. Do I still want a bio baby? YES. Do I love my boys any less because they’re not bio babies? NO.
At least now I’ve come to realize and embrace that I am big enough and complex enough and mature enough to have contradictory feelings at the same time. I can feel thrilled and bummed at the same time, and both of the feelings are real and legitimate. I can desperately want a bio baby and still know that I would never trade my babies for anything, even bio babies. I can be glad that my sister and my friend don’t have to go through IVF to conceive and still be pissed that I had to and they didn’t. Those feelings are ok. Now I just have accept that it’s going take more time, maybe a lot more time, for the infertility wound, in all of its many facets and manifestations, to fully heal. And as you know, I really really hate waiting.
Just got back from the teaching visit with my RE, where I wrote the biggest check I’ve ever written in my whole life. Here’s the plan!
- 10/25 start Lupron
- 10/29 stop BC
- 11/4 start Estrace
- ~11/17 – ultrasound lining check
- ~11/18 Donor egg retrieval
- ~11/19 we’ll be told how many eggs were retrieved
- ~11/20 we’ll be told how many fertilized
- ~11/24 Transfer
- ~12/3 Beta
Everyone I spoke to told me how much they loved my donor, how sweet she was, and how excited she was to be starting the cycle. I’m putting together a little gift basket for her – the DE nurse says I can leave it at the clinic and they’ll give it to her the day of the retrieval. I got a nice basket and lined it with Thanksgiving themed kitchen towels. I’m putting in a stuffed animal (for her young son), a Willow Tree angel (here), a jar of homemade bath salts and homemade soap and some chocolate. I’ve also gotten an artist friend of mine to hand paint a card. Now I just have to figure out what to say! I mean, how do you thank someone for this? I have one chance to express to this woman how much this act, this gift, will mean to me and my family. I want her to know how much I appreciate her putting herself through this (I’ve been through IVF – it’s rough). I know she’s getting paid and I’m sure the money is an important consideration for her, but there are easier ways to make a buck. Plus, according to my DE nurse she isn’t doing this for the money – she seems to truly have altruistic intentions. Maybe they always say that, I don’t know. Regardless, I want to give her some sense of how grateful and thankful we are.
You know, it’s weird. IVF, DE, infertility – it’s a super intensity experience. And somewhere, nearby, is a women who is thinking of me and I am thinking of her. We’re on this parallel path, she and I, with coordinated cycles, blood draws, doctor visits. We’re both going through a significant amount of trouble, spending an incredible amount of time to achieve a common goal, and yet I’ll never meet her. I think of her every day, and I’m sure she thinks of me sometimes, and we’re sharing a very unusual and strangely intimate experience, but we’re strangers. It’s just….odd.
“Oh my god!” I said. “What if this procreation thing works?”
We never thought to ask: What if it doesn’t?
Large sections of this essay (I Used an Egg Donor) resonated with me. Some didn’t – clearly I didn’t natural and quickly accept the idea of donor eggs like this women did – but overall I think this presents a light-hearted (as light as is possible with this heavy-assed topic) glimpse into DE IVF. I certainly love the quote below.
“When you’re busy playing hide-and-seek and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar and scraping peas off the floor, the last thing you think about is your babies’ DNA.”
No one expects that they’ll need to use someone else’s eggs to conceive a child. Well, maybe a few do, but for most of us this is not the way we planned it. It’s a last resort, rather than a first choice. And it is a long and painful road to get to the point where you make that decision.
First, there is the decision to go to the fertility clinic, usually after months or years of dedicated effort to procreate and continual, repeated disappointment. At the fertility clinic there are the tests, the waiting, the fear. Then the shock of “The Diagnosis” – that condition that suddenly defines your reproductive potential and, by proxy, redefines how you see yourself. Then “The Treatment”. Whether it’s corrective surgery, medicated cycles, IUI’s, IVF, etc, it is invasive, expensive, time-consuming, soul crushing, relationship damaging and anxiety ridden. Add in generous measures of shame, guilt, fear, failure and anxiety and you can come close to understanding how absolutely devastating infertility can be. But, we all think that treatment will work for us, we all think we’re the lucky one. Maybe you are, but maybe you aren’t. If you are, congrats! But if you aren’t (and statistically most of us aren’t) – you search your soul and you muster your courage, because either you will move forward and try another treatment, or you will reevaluate and choose a different path. Both roads take immense courage and sacrifice. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat until your strength, patience, or bank account run out.
At some point during this process you will have a crisis of confidence, a crisis of self, a breakdown, a total loss of joy. There will be moments where you can’t go on, where you can’t get out of bed, where you can’t face your husband/wife/mother/father/friends/doctor/expectations/life. Days of extreme anger and frustration and “why me?”. There will be bargaining and pleading and praying. And there will be pain, both physical and emotional. Lots and lots of pain.
At some point during this process someone may say some version of “This isn’t going to work. I’m sorry. Despite all of the advances of medical science we can’t help you. You will never have children.” And at that point you will begin to consider things that you never imagined you would consider. For me, that was egg donation.
Early on, my RE asked me if we would consider using an egg donor. I gave her an absolute, unequivocal NO. No way, never, not ever would I ever even consider that. NO. NEVER. EVER. But, that was before 2 failed IUI’s, 3 failed IVF’s, 1 miscarriage, countless nights spent crying, untold numbers of heartfelt talks with my husband, and hundreds of hours of considering my dwindling options for motherhood. That was before I spoke to many, many people who decide to use egg donation to help create their families. And then, once I began to consider it, I was completely overwhelmed by my feelings about what that would mean for me, for my husband, any DE conceived children, our families…. Would I be the mother? Would I feel like an impostor? Would I love the child the same as if it was my own? Would my husband/family/society view me or my child differently? And how on earth do I choose a woman to replace me? Because that’s what it feels like initially – that you’re choosing a replacement. I didn’t think I could live with the decision to use an egg donor, but I also didn’t think I live with not having a child. (The adoption conversation we will need to save for another time). One of the wonderful ladies who follows my blog wrote to me and told me that at some point you magically turn a corner – it may be finding the right donor, or coming to terms with the situation, or completing the grieving process – and it suddenly feels ok. Not perfect, not ideal – but doable. And she was right. One day I woke up and it didn’t hurt to look at the profiles. I start to feel excited. I stopped looking for myself on the donor sites and started looking for traits I would like to pass on to my children. Somehow, lord only knows how, I was not only ok with donor eggs, but embracing the idea and excited to begin.
I chose to share our decision to use an egg donor with some close friends (we don’t plan on keeping our conception journey a secret from our children so we may as well start getting used to talking about it now) and unfortunately we were met with mixed reactions. I don’t know why I was surprised given that I was conflicted initially as well. But, it still hurt to have my friends tell me that our choice is “unnatural”, “deviant”, “desperate and selfish” and “horrifying”. Of course, those same people had to get off the phone with me to go put their children to bed. So, easy for them to make pronouncements from on high. But, I can understand their knee-jerk reaction. Truly, I can. But the thing that I wasn’t able to communicate to them and the point that I’m trying to make here is that no one arrives at this decision quickly. No one takes it lightly. We have all, every last one of us, been through hell before we arrived at this particular cross roads. I would wager that everyone who has ever chosen to use donor eggs gave it an incredible amount of thought and did an unbelievable amount of soul-searching. And something that I have learned from this is that my choices are for me, my husband and my family. These are the right things for US. They may not be the choices you would make, they may not be the right thing for your family. But I believe they are the right choices for me and my family. I hope that we get support, but if we don’t – oh well. I can live with that.
Donor Egg Bank insists on anonymous donations only.
Called my husband and told him and he said that my “unrealistic expectations and inability to compromise would keep us from ever having a family”. !!! Inability to compromise? I have compromised on everything! EVERYTHING. Unrealistic expectations? All I want is someone who kind of resembles me, and for them to be willing to possibly speak to a kid in 18 years. That’s unrealistic? I’ve given up the idea we can make a baby like everyone else. I’ve given up time, money, health, financial security and sanity to do IVF. I’ve given up the idea of ever having a biological child of my own. I’ve given up the idea of using my sisters eggs and having a biological connection that way. I am not willing to give up anything else. And I don’t think I’m being unreasonable, unrealistic or uncompromising. And I’m devastated that he thinks that.
I’ve been MIA for quite a while – sorry. I just needed a break from all of the IVF/infertility stuff. However, a lot has happened!
S and I went back to our local RE and had a hilarious conversation about what we wanted to do next. We told her about CCRM (she was appalled that they made us redo all of the tests she’d already done – bills are still coming in and we’re over $6000 now just from the ODWU) and that I wasn’t comfortable there and didn’t want to cycle with them. I launched into the back story of when my sister offered to donate her eggs and the conversation went something like this –
Me: “So, I was in the car with my sister and was telling her about CCRM.”
Me: “And I told her my AMH has dropped.”
Me: “And she said-“
Dr: “What did she say?!?”
Me”-that she would like to donate her eggs to us.”
Dr.: “YES!!!!! I’ve been waiting for you to say that since you walked in!!!”
So, she was thrilled, to say the least. Then we told her we wanted to try one more cycle with my eggs, if it looked like it could be viable (ie, if my AMH is >0.1 and my baseline ultrasound shows 4+ follicles). She readily agreed. We met with the donor egg nurse (who might just be the nicest person alive) and left feeling pretty good about things. What a change, walking out of that office feeling hopeful, or at least not in tears.
My sister has been in touch with DE nurse (she also loved her) and we are moving forward on that front. She is going to see an RE in her area to make sure she fits the criteria and that her reproductive bits are all in working order (Please universe, let her be ok – Not for my sake but for hers. I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy and it would break my heart for my sister to have suffer it). We’ve booked flights for her and her fiancé to fly out here on their spring break (they live across the country) so that we can all go to the psychologist and so that my sister can get the final parts of her testing done.
I started my period yesterday (for the first time in years I was happy to see it arrive) and I go in day after tomorrow to get the verdict (in the form of an ultrasound with the blood work verdict being a day or 2 behind). Will we be able to move forward with one final IVF cycle using my eggs?
To be honest, either way is going to be tough. If it looks hopeless that’ll be the last nail in the coffin of me ever having my own biological children, and despite feeling prepared for that finality I know I’m not. It would be a huge, bitter pill to swallow. But, the thought of another failed IVF cycle, or worse – another miscarriage – is beyond daunting. And…. I feel like there might be some relief in just letting go – letting go of the expectations, the possibilities, the “what ifs”, the constant researching, the painful, unrealistic hope. I imagine it could be very freeing to just accept that I will never have biological children, mourn that, and move on to other possibilities. I feel that I have reached a point where the waiting and the not knowing and the limbo is so hard that I’d rather just have a verdict. And honestly, 4 months ago I could not have imagined feeling that.
You know what I think the difference is (besides time)? Choice. I feel I have a choice again, that I am in control of my life again. That is an offshoot of the incredible gift my sister offered me – she gave me an option I was comfortable with, and put the ball back in my court. I am no longer at the end of my rope, out of options, out of control. Not saying either of these options will work (OE or DE), but if they don’t I can imagine that there are more options. And I know that I could be open to them. One way or another, it will happen for me. I will make it work.
I’ve made a few decisions.
- I don’t want to cycle at CCRM. They’re great and all and we’re going to finish out all of the testing that they advised and take the supplements but it’s too expensive, too far away and our chances (even with them) are just too slim.
- I’m going to cycle one last time with my RE here. She has advised against it, but reluctantly said she’d do it if we were set on it. I’m going to set up a meeting with her later this month to discuss it further and to discuss the possibility of using my sisters eggs. I feel like I need to do one more cycle using my OE. Maybe because the last time it worked, maybe because I’m stubborn, but I think I need to do it for my own peace of mind.
- I’m going to ask my sister to start moving forward with all of the tests that she would need to be an egg donor. I’m secretly concerned that she may also have DOR (both for her sake and for ours) and so I don’t want to absolutely get my heart set on her DE as an option. She could also change her mind, and I would completely understand. I would be a little crushed, but I would understand.
I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about DE, and I worry most about the effect that it would have on her. IVF is a painful, long and invasive process, and I hate to think about her having to go through it. I also worry about the long-term emotional ramifications. I’m pretty sure that I know how I feel about it, and S has been on-board from the beginning but I worry about how she would feel in the long-term. It’s a complex, confusing and emotional process.
I don’t know if I would consider DE if they weren’t from my sister – that genetic link is critically important to me (as it turns out). What if the baby looked like my sister and not like me? I could live with looking down at my baby and seeing my sister’s eyes, trust me. But could she?
I read something this morning that has fortified my resolve. Someone said “The donor provides the blueprint, but you build the house.” I like that.
(This will be a rant. Many apologies. You’ve been warned.)
I have to go to my in-laws for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I’m dreading it like the dentist. I like my in-laws and I usually enjoy visiting them – they live in a beautiful part of the country in a lovely home, they have fabulous wine and I can sleep as late as I want. This time, I would rather have the flu (the really bad kind where you don’t know which end to point at the toilet).
I don’t want to talk about my miscarriage. I don’t want to talk about trying, or what we’re going to do next. And I swear to god that if my mother-in-law tells me one more time “just relax and it’ll happen, my friends daughter blahblahblah” I will either kill her or myself. Relaxing will not help. It’s a medical condition. That’s why I see a damn doctor every day. That’s why I jam needles in my belly and pay thousands of dollars for the privilege. That’s what this whole process is about. Trust me lady, if a massage, a movie and a cheap bottle of wine worked we’d be pregnant 10 times over by now. I’m really frickin happy that your friends daughter and her husband went on a damn cruise and got pregnant, but we can’t get pregnant that way and we’ve spent all our cruise money trying to do it the hard way.
And while I’m on my soap box rant I’d just like to add that no infertile person ever for any reason anywhere even once EVER needs to hear “Maybe you’re just not meant to have children.” Oh really? Maybe your dad should go off his high blood pressure medicine. Maybe he’s just not meant to live for very long. Am I destined to be such a bad parent that some divine force decided I can’t have children? Is that what happened? Well, thank you for clearing that up.
I know they mean well, and I try to respond politely (or I just walk away before I cry). But for just 5 minutes, here in the privacy of my own blog, I’m gonna be fucking pissed off about it. Because it sucks. Every day. It hurts. Every day. Have you suffered infertility (and not the “it took us sooooooooo long to get pregnant! 3 months!!” kind)? Then I welcome your opinion. Do you have a medical degree? Please, tell me what you have to say. If not, stick to some variation of “I’m sorry”, “What can I do to help you right now?”, “Are you doing ok?” or shut the hell up.
Rant over. (Except for the snarky lols below.)
I am at a loss. I don’t know where to go from here. I’m at the point where if I continue I’ll feel (and seem to most people) desperate beyond reason, unable to recognize and accept the truth. But I’m not ready to give up. Not yet. We got pregnant, and on our first real try! Yes, that pregnancy failed, and yes that may have been due to poor egg quality, but it may not have been. Early miscarriages happen to many many many fertile women. All I need is that one healthy egg and a Dr. who will help us. Like Yomicfit said in her comment – I need someone who will fight for me and my future children (Thank you, Yomicfit, for your kind words and for sharing your story).
So I’m going to try all the stuff that my first RE said I shouldn’t do. “Dr, can we do anything to improve our chances?”, “Don’t smoke or drink caffeine.”, “Um, right, I know, but what about DHEA? I’ve read that it’s used in many fertility clinics on women with DOR to improve egg quality”, “No, definitely don’t do that. It’s unproven and it’s a hormone. You don’t want to mess around with your body chemistry.” (Side note-it was difficult not to laugh during that conversion. Don’t mess around with your body chemistry says the woman who prescribed me massive amounts of body chemistry altering hormones.) “Well Dr., what about that combination of melatonin, folic acid and myo inositol? I’ve read some studies that show that can help oocyte quality.”, “No, that’s extreme. If you want to feel like you’re doing something why don’t you get acupuncture. I don’t think it works but it certainly doesn’t hurt.” (You know what’s extreme? Jabbing yourself w needles 5 times a day – thats extreme. We’ve already crossed that line)
Now, I’m not a doctor (or at least, not that kind of doctor) so I’m not implying that I know better then her. Certainly reading a few journal articles and doing online research doesn’t qualify me to have much of an opinion. She’s been doing this a long time and has a lot of experience and knowledge. But it seems to me that if we’re willing to pay the price (financially, physically and mentally) shouldn’t she be open to alternative options, especially when they’re often used by other clinics? Perhaps she can’t support them in her official role but couldn’t she offer some kind of guidance rather then just “I’m sorry, we can no longer help you?”.
So, ok. I’m going to do acupuncture, and yoga. I’m also going to find a clinic that is more progressive and willing to try alternative actions that may help improve our chances. After all what’s it going to do, decrease my fertility? HA!
As we were leaving our appointment she told us to go see Dr. Schoolcraft, that she didn’t know what he did but he had success with difficult patients. Well I’ve read all about Dr. Schoolcraft now, exchanged messages with many of his previous and current patients. You know what he does (besides having the best lab in the world)? He tries new things. He has his patients who have run out of other options try alternative medicines. He prescribes DHEA, melatonin, folic acid and myo inositol. I am happy to be an experiment. If it will help me have a baby and/or help doctors learn more to help other people have babies then I’m in.
I don’t know if this stuff will work. But I don’t know how to stop trying either. I can’t let go of my vision of my life so easily. I won’t walk away just because one person told me it’s hopeless. It’s hopeless when I say it is, goddamnit!
We had the follow-up appointment with our RE yesterday. We were expecting some discussion about the miscarriage, a reassessment of protocol and a general good feeling – after all, we managed to get pregnant on our first complete IVF. That’s good right?
She told us she was sorry things didn’t work, I just wasn’t a good candidate for IVF and that unless I was ready to try donor eggs there wasn’t much else she could do for me. I was floored. Stunned. Crushed. I couldn’t even speak. S told her that wasn’t what we were expecting, we weren’t ready to give up yet, after all it was our first real IVF cycle. She said that, no, it was our 3rd cycle, I was a very poor responder and they couldn’t justify the risks of an egg retrieval and all the meds for so few follicles. She was very sorry and did we mind if she took this call from her daughter? She was clearly too busy to argue with us about my reproductive future. No time to discuss how all of my plans for children and a family, grandchildren for my mother, siblings for my step-daughter, were now in shambles. No time for that. As we were leaving she did mention that if we insisted on continuing we could see Dr. Schoolcraft at CCRM in Denver. That she didn’t know how he did it but he had some success with “difficult” patients. Apparently I am now a “difficult” patient, a “very poor responder”.
I’ve been crying for almost 20 straight hours. At noon today I had to pick myself up off the floor, wash my face and put on my big girl pants to go have a meeting with my Ph.D advisor. Walking around at work I felt like I had to hold myself very, very still. Like if I moved too fast I’d lose the tenuous hold I had on my self-control. It’s like I’m made of delicate Venetian glass and if I move too fast I’ll shatter into a thousand pieces.
I don’t know how to accept it. I don’t know how to bear this.
I never wanted a huge house. I never daydreamed about my wedding. I never worried about who I would marry. But I have been naming my children since I was 8 years old. I have imagined being pregnant a 1000 times. I have imagined what my babies would look like, how their fingers would be shaped, if they would have my smile. Since I met my husband I have spent at least some part of everyday daydreaming about our children – his nose with my hair? His height and my eyes? I have thought about what Christmas would be like, things I would do for birthdays. And now that’s just gone? Forever?
Would it be different if I hadn’t waited until I was 34 to start trying? Are my degrees, my career, worth not having kids? I didn’t realize that was the deal I was making. I thought I was being responsible, waiting til I was ready. What is the purpose of my life now? Work?
And my husband. Oh god my husband. Because he choose to be with me he will never have more children, which he desperately wants. Because he picked me his life is less.
I can’t give my parents grandchildren. I can’t give my husband a child. I will never have a real family of my own.
I feel like such a failure.
So, the day before I got my BFP I had an acquaintance from work come up to me and congratulate me on my impending pregnancy and then tell me all about the people she knows that have done IVF. That was sweet of her, except that I didn’t ever share with her that we were going through this process. I asked her how she knew and she told me that a mutual friend, D, had told her. That surprised me as this friend is usually very closed-mouthed, and I had asked the few people I told not to share it with anyone else. I struggled with it for about 24 hours and then decided to write D an email and ask her to not talk about it anymore.
Of course, it wasn’t as simple as all that. We had been at a birthday party that weekend and everyone was drinking except me. The acquaintance asked a different friend, K, why I wasn’t drinking, were S and I trying to get pregnant? K is another friend who is in on my little secret. And K, a little tipsy, said, “Yes! We’ll find out soon!” So the acquaintance cornered D and asked her out of the blue if S and I were having trouble conceiving and if we were doing IVF. D said she was stunned and answered that she thought so.
So. I can’t explain how angry and betrayed this all made me feel. I know that none of it was done with malice. That the acquaintance was just being nosy and my friends were just cornered, or a little drunk and indiscrete. But nonetheless I am beside myself with anger and hurt.
Because IVF is AWFUL. First, you get the diagnoses of infertility, which is crushing in a way I can’t explain. You can’t do what even Snooki can do, and she can barely find her way out bed every day. You feel broken, like less of a woman. You can’t give your life partner, this person you adore, something that they expect and deserve – their life is less because they choose to be with you. You can’t give your parents the grandchildren they want. You feel like an utter failure, a disappointment as a wife, a woman, a daughter. Never mind your own dreams and plans of a baby, a family. So you come to grips with that as best you can and start looking at options. You decide on IVF, and then submit daily to strangers inserting (with various levels of gentleness and care) a cold plastic dildo inside you and telling you how badly you’re doing at IVF “you’re a poor responder”, “if you don’t start growing some more follicles we’re going to have cancel this”. You stab yourself in the stomach 4 or 5 times a day with needles and inject strong medicines into your body so as to create a hostile take-over of your reproductive system. You turn your life upside down to accommodate all the doctors appointments, the rigid injection schedule. You feel sick from the meds, from the process. Your ovaries swell to the size of baseballs and start secreting fluids into your abdomen. Your veins collapse from the number of blood draws. Then the shots stop and they do the ER – you have an operation where someone pierces your vagina multiple times with a needles to extract your eggs, which they tell you are probably of poor quality anyway (you really should try donor eggs). Then its a day in bed with cramps and bloating and pain and fear. Next is a long line of pills, patches, suppositories and foul tasting lozenges. No sex. Constant leak of medicine from between your legs. Then the eggs fertilize (or not). If not, you start over. If so, it’s back into the OR where they put the fertilized eggs back inside you with a catheter threaded into your uterus. You can’t imagine a more sterile, hard, loveless way to create life. Then you wait on pins and needles to see if this little ball of cells will stick (and of course continue the pills, patches, suppositories and foul tasting lozenges.) And, unlike most fertile people, you have reason to be afraid. You know all the things that can go wrong, all the ways this can fail. And you have invested SO MUCH. Your time, money, health, and in some cases sanity are hanging in the balance. All to do what other people do on accident after too much cheap wine.
They tell you at the beginning that the process is hard, that you need a support system. So, I tried to create one – a few close friends, my family, my husbands family. Not very many people. It’s embarrassing, and breathtakingly intimate – like having to tell people your deepest darkest failure and intimate details of your sex life all at once. So then to feel that after all of that, AFTER ALL OF THAT you have become the subject of idle, thoughtless gossip…it’s devastating. Humiliating.
Maybe it’s the hormones. Maybe it’s not that big a deal. I can see both sides. But if I could take it back and never have told anyone that’s what I would do. But I can’t. So when I found out I was pregnant a few days after that incident I didn’t tell any of them. So now that I’m “a little bit pregnant” and basically waiting to miscarry no one knows that either. I think I prefer it this way. It’s lonely and I feel terribly shattered but at least I feel safe alone with my grief.
I’ve been in a bad mood lately. Call it hormones, call it stress. I think I’m going to call it isolation, which is unfair and overdramatic, but it doesn’t make it any less true to me.
My husband (obviously) and immediate family know what we’re going through, as well as a handful of close friends. Everyone is very loving and supportive but lets face it – this makes everybody uncomfortable. At a first cut, it makes you think about the sex life of your friend (or daughter or sister or whatever) which is uncomfortable. But really that’s not the problem. To think about this the way I am you have to break it down into 2 categories of people – fertile and unknown.
As an example – My 2 best friends are both fertile. Together they have 5 gorgeous, well-adjusted children that they timed perfectly and conceived (more-or-less) on purpose. They were both pregnant when I told them about my infertility issues and the steps we were taking, which was awkward. Of course they were supportive and wonderful (because they’re supportive wonderful people) but I felt the need to explicitly spell out that I don’t begrudge them their children or their pregnancies, and that I want to still share in those experiences. Is it sometimes difficult? Yes. Do I sometimes get jealous? Yes. But I don’t want to be left out and excluded. I know I could theoretically talk to them about it anytime, but I feel like they would be uncomfortable, and that it would be a burden at best and a strain on our friendship at worst.
And the other group-the unknowns. These are the ladies (many of my friends) who haven’t had kids yet but hope to soon. They were in the same boat as me – waiting to finish school, waiting to be settled, waiting for Mr. Right. And I am the manifestation of their secret fears. Did they wait too long? Why have they never had a pregnancy scare? Are they infertile too? Just being around me is a reminder that this could happen to them.
Any way you cut it, everyone is uncomfortable.
So it ends up being just me, sitting on the couch.
Let’s symptom spot! My favorite!
I’ve been cramping (AF like cramps) since the retrieval. Yep, 10 straight days of cramps. So, that’s the progesterone. We can also put bloating and constipation and irritability and excessive thirst (which leads to excessive urination) in that category. Also, breast soreness. This started around the time I started round 2 of progesterone suppositories so it is probably also associated with the meds, although it’s getting a bit more intense. But no more intense than it usually is right before my period. I’m tired, but then again I’m always tired.
Which leaves me with……nothing. No symptoms. And by now (according to Dr. Google) most people have some symptoms.
I don’t hold out much hope for this cycle. The internet says our chances for a BFP are a little less than 1 in 4, my RE says it’s more like 1 in 9. Despite the low odds I’m constantly told to stay positive, think only good thoughts. I have to take my meds 3x a day, do yoga that increases blood flow to the uterus, not drink alcohol or coffee, not eat sushi, not get stressed or upset. And it all feels like an exercise in futility. A farce.
But every once in a while I slip. I find myself daydreaming about what it would be like to tell S that it worked, that we’re finally pregnant. What it would be like to have a 4 month old at my sister’s wedding (of course I already know the due date if this actually works). What it would be like to tell my step-daughter that she’ll finally have a sibling. And that’s the worst part. The more I think happy, positive thoughts the more devastated I’ll be when I get that BFN. I never really thought that the IUI would work. When we got the BFN it was ok. But this time we have a real chance. Our genetic material combined, it grew, and they put it back inside me. It’s REAL. I know that even with all of my logical assessment of the odds of a BFP and trying to be REALISTIC (which is rather the opposite of positive) I will be gutted if this doesn’t work. I can see that BFN abyss of loss and sadness and failure and self-blame right in front of me and I am frantically trying to build a shell around myself so that when I get the BFN and topple in to that hole I’ll have something to break my fall.
**Update – I broke down and tested today at 4:00. BFN. Just saying…
This whole game – IVF, IUI, mini-IVF etc. – is about numbers. Going in to the IVF process we were told we had about a 35% chance of conceiving if everything goes swimmingly. That sounded pretty good. If I had a 35% chance of winning the lottery I’d play. But slowly I begin to realize that everything was NOT going swimmingly. Despite being on the maximum amount of follicle stimulating drugs I only produced 10 follicles, which reduced to 6, which reduced to 4 plus one gigantic monster follicle called a dominant follicle. That makes me a “poor responder” to the meds which reduces my chances of having lots of eggs and/or of having healthy eggs. Having a dominant follicle is also bad, since it kills off other follicles, further reducing my chances of conception.
Suddenly, I found myself looking at the numbers in a different way. A 35% chance (if everything is perfect, which it’s not) is actually 65% chance of not conceiving. Given my circumstances my odds are reduced to let’s say 15%. That’s an 85% chance of NO BABY.
No one talks about this. I’ve stalked around TTC boards for a long long time and they’re populated with success story after success story – and that’s wonderful. I’m honestly happy for those folks and think that those boards are a fantastic resource. BUT. You begin to notice that many (if not most) of the people that posted often with updates, stories and experiences just….faded away. BFN after BFN. Cancelled cycle after cancelled cycle. Heartbreak after heartbreak.
We all think we’re special. That we’re gonna be the one to beat the odds. Maybe that’s true, but as I sit here the night before my first IUI staring down the barrel of a 92% chance of failure I am all too aware that the odds are not in my favor.
Let’s jump right in (for background info please see the “About Me” tab)-
By my count (in the last 3 weeks) I have given myself ~45 shots in the gut, had blood drawn 14 times, had 6 veins collapse, been jabbed 12 times with the
dildocam, and peed on 14 sticks. And I’ve only cried 4 times. Once when they told me my follicles were growing too slowly and were likely to be duds, once when we decided to convert my IVF an IUI, later that same night after researching the odds of a successful IUI, and once when I accidentally injected the Follistim into an abdominal muscle. (Burns like hell – never thought lack of abdominal fat would be something to complain about but there you go.)
After all of that I have one monster follicle that gobbles up all my expensive medicine and houses a hard-boiled, unusable egg, 2 sad small little follicles trying to beg scraps from the monster, and 2 “slow and steady wins the race” follicles on the other side. None appear to be excellent recruits. And in this game what you want is eggs – lots of eggs.
Let’s break the IVF game down. We want a baby which comes from an egg which grows in a follicle. HOWEVER. Not every follicle has an egg. Not every egg is mature when collected. Not every mature egg is of a good quality. Not every good quality egg fertilizes. Not every fertilized egg grows into an embryo. Not every embryo is viable. Not every viable embryo will implant in the uterus. And not every implantation “sticks”. So with only 2 or three possible eggs (at best) it seemed best to skip the expensive, invasive IVF egg retrieval and embryo transfer (assuming we would even get that far) and go for an IUI – less expensive, no surgery required, no work missed. Make me ovulate (with a shot, of course), take his sperm and wash it off to get rid of the deadbeats, and inject that directly into my uterus skipping the whole messy (apparently confusing to sperm) vaginal and cervix bit of the process. We said yes, let’s do that.
I just took what I hope are the last night of the shots (add 3 more to the tally) and will go back to the RE in the morning. Add 2 more peed on sticks, 1 more blood draw and one more date with the dildocam… And probably one more cry.