My journey with IVF was just that– it’s mine. It’s not what I read about on web forums. It’s not what my forever kind followers messaged me about. It’s just mine. I hope this story inspires some, and I know it will frustrate some, too. But this is my tale.
Our IVF story really began with that very first needle pricked into my belly. Up until that exact moment, I was so completely and utterly certain that I was not an “IVF girl”.
The backstory is short and simple. We had started trying to have our second baby a month before Sunday turned one. By month three of trying, we were pregnant! That pregnancy lasted 11 weeks, at which time we lost the heartbeat. Of course I could write a lengthy tale of emotions on this topic, but truthfully, aside from the utter shock and disappointment, I was ok with it. I knew the statistics of how common miscarriage was, and I was so thankful for how happy and healthy our little Sunday was, so I felt this was a right of passage for our family’s next step. Sort of a, “we got so lucky with the first, so it was written in the stars that we would have to pay for it, somehow,” mentality. Balance the blessings with the curses, blah blah blah…
After that, we continued trying naturally for another six months– each month that went by, I was positive that it would be our lucky month. By month seven, we started IUI’s, both non-medicated, and medicated, and by IUI month six, we achieved another pregnancy! This pregnancy was short-lived and vanished by six weeks, just shy of hearing a heartbeat for the first time.
If you could imagine, I was still convinced that if I tried naturally one more time, it would be the lucky time! So we did. And it didn’t happen. Cue: first day of IVF, 20 months after we first started trying.
The waiting room at fertility clinics feels like a factory of gentle robots. Dozens and dozens of women gather at 6am, ages 20’s to 50’s, all ethnicities, just sitting silently. Exhausted. I always wondered why no one spoke to one another, offered a hand, a smile, a word of encouragement. Looking back, I sat silently because I was afraid of what I would hear. I was so positive in my mind that my fertility story would be an epic success, that I didn’t want to be weighed down by a neighbors story of years and years of failure. I needed to keep my head in my zone. This aside, there was much comfort in knowing that so many women were going through a similar experience– I was not alone.
IVF was like a game to me. I was given the rules and I was determined to win. The general format of IVF is that you visit your doctor’s office every morning or as directed, to have a nurse draw blood from your arm which allows your doctor to read your hormone levels. Once the results come back a few hours later, you’re instructed by your doctor to take X-Y-Z medication that day, typically self-administered injections, either subcutaneous or intramuscular, in your lower abdomen, thigh, or upper buttocks. Usually the shots have to be administered at the exact same time every day, give or take 30 minutes or an hour. The shots happen daily, for weeks or months or years, depending on your protocol and your luck. I did mine at 7pm every night, which allowed me the flexibility to go out to dinner and enjoy my nights after my shots, if I so desired.
My shots were FUN. Am I allowed to say that? Of course I would rather not have to go through it all again, but yes, the experience was fun. My husband, who usually gets home from work very late, agreed to be my biggest partner and advocate. He came home every single night, like a rushed Superman with half his cape trailing off, to give me every shot on time. We bonded… hard. We laughed every single time. We hysterically laughed every single time. Who were we? I was a Journalism major and he a Finance major and here we were mixing top secret sterile powder-to-liquid solutions with needles seemingly fit to tranquilize a horse. We were slowly becoming trained Anesthesiologists (is this sounding too Dirty John?) and we were convinced that we were ready to be on call at NYU hospital should we need to be of service. I dreamed of putting babysitter-like fliers up on my neighborhood streets offering assistance to anyone who needed a hand with injections. Speaking of…does anyone need a hand? We’re available.
Our memories of stabbing my tush and belly with shots every night were left only with smiles. I didn’t react poorly to the hormones and turn into a raging emotional version of myself. I was happy. I felt like, finally, after this near two year journey of feeling out of control, that I was finally taking control of our destiny.
We got lucky. Our IVF transfer worked on the first try. We picked the “healthiest” embryo and prayed that this “Science Baby” as we always called it, would join our family. I spoke with Sunday every night about how excited we were to one day give her a little sibling. We told Science Baby that it was welcome in our house and we couldn’t wait to greet it with open arms.
My journey with IVF was short (only 9 weeks of needles) and sweet. Our experience was a blessing and we are so thankful for our little fresh transfer embryo who worked so hard to grow inside my belly. We cannot wait to meet her. She will forever and always be our Science Baby.
*This post was originally posted at Elshane’sWorld. It’s been reposted here with Elshane’s permission.