No one can truly prepare you for what IVF is going to do to you. It is a beast. It is a life-changer. I recently listened to a book on Audible by Liane Moriarty called What Alice Forgot. This is probably one of the best books I have “read” in a long time. In the book one of the characters goes through IVF. The author truly conveys what it is like to go through IVF. She does a better job than I ever will, but I am going to give it a try.
After my husband had surgery to capture his goods, I went through a series of tests to see if I had any issues. Every test that I had showed that I should be able to get pregnant through IVF. The key word there is “should.” I will give you spoiler alert and tell you that IVF did not work for me.
Below is a list of my experiences with IVF. My goal is to let you know that you are not the only one who has gone through IVF with failing cycle. There are people who are facing or have faced what you are going through.
- The Informational Meeting
Before we could start IVF we had to sit through a meeting at the clinic to “teach” us about the process. There were about 8 or so couples sitting around a table with pamphlets, needles, spreadsheets, and very worried looks on our faces. The room was very formal and stuffy. It was your typical conference room with a phone in the middle of the table, oversized chairs that made it is impossible to not hit the person next to you, bottles of water, and a projector. This is not what I had expected. I was hoping for a relaxed/homey environment, but whatever. First, they explained what IVF was and all the steps. We watched a PowerPoint presentation about eggs and sperm and fertilization. Horrible memories of high school health classes filled my brain and I found it very hard to pay attention. Please, we are adults who are trying to get pregnant. I think we know how this works by now.
Then we get to the meat of IVF. They teach us how to give ourselves shots and I thought the woman next to me was going to pass out. She got very white when she saw the size of the needle that would be used to give the Progesterone shot. To this day I wonder if she gave up and did not try IVF because of the needles involved.
The rest of the meeting was about genetic testing, costs, order of surgeries, and at last the success rate of IVF. The bomb hit when she said that IVF does not work for 50% of people. What! Why would they tell us this now? I sat and looked around the room and wondered…who will be the unlucky ones because I know it has to work for me. It has to. I will be a mommy. I will carry a child. I will be a success story…won’t I? Hold it together…do not cry…do not show emotion…just smile and nod.
- That DAMN medicine
I drove home one day from work and saw a huge Styrofoam box on my front porch. I was so excited because this meant that we can start a cycle and I would be pregnant in just a couple of months. Unpacking the box was like opening Christmas presents. I was so gitty and excited for the journey to begin. I even took a picture of everything and sent it to my family expecting them to have the same response. They did not have the same reaction as I did and I was perplexed. How can they not feel my excitement?
Well, the first morning that I had to take a Lupron shot I was a little nervous, but still excited to start the journey. I got ready for work and the shot was the last thing I would do before leaving. When it was time, I took the medicine out of the refrigerator, drew back the syringe, filled it with clear medicine, I checked the amount two or three times (okay maybe more like 6 or 7) and shoved that needle in my belly. Wow! I did it! I successfully gave myself my first shot. My husband ran into the kitchen a minute later and said, “Okay I am ready to give you the shot!” He reminded me of a football player who had been in the locker room psyching himself up and had just ran on the field. I looked at him and proudly said, “Already done!”
After the first of many shots the excitement definitely wore off. I have given myself shots in the car, while watching a live concert, by the bar of a restaurant, in many public bathrooms, and even in the parking lot of a bank by the ATM so we would have light. You learn to live your life and not let the shots effect what you do too much. Just carry an ice pack in your purse and go on.
What I did not expect is what the medicine did to me. I was an emotional mess. I cried, I yelled, and I was everywhere with my emotions. Not only is the medicine messy with you, you are also going to the ups and downs of a cycle. I missed a lot of work to go get blood work done. People at work started to notice me rolling in late from a morning appointment and the gossip started. If they only knew.
Not only did I turn into a raging bitch, I also got fat. When you are stimulating your ovaries they can become the size of a grapefruit. You look like you have gained more weight than you actually have and you may even start to look pregnant. I would secretly look at myself in the mirror and think, this is what I will look like when I get my baby bump. Not only did a get the faux baby belly, but by the time we stopped IVF I was thirty pounds heavier and the heaviest I have ever been in my life. Some comments I got from family were:
- You look like you are three months pregnant. (UGH! You know I am not and would like to be, so how does this help?)
- You will never wear a bikini again. Those days are gone for you. (Thanks for that! We will see.)
- Oh, I know someone you should talk to. She did IVF and went through that same things you are, the emotions and all the weight gain. (UGH!)
- You look good. You were always too skinny anyway. (Whatever!)
- Don’t worry. You still look beautiful to me. (Thanks husband, but I do not feel beautiful anymore.)
3. The Vaginal Ultrasounds
As you can imagine, getting your already tender ovaries prodded is not fun. It hurts like heck. Also, spreading your legs for everyone to see every week is a little embarrassing. The entire time I was getting an ultrasound I was praying for good news. The tech had me write the dimensions and size of each egg as I lay there trying not to cry. She was rough and rude and she did not show any compassion at all.
I could handle the shots. This was my most hated part of the cycle…well except for the end results.
- The 2 Week Wait
I did not mind the egg retrievals or the transfers. Those always meant the end of some of the meds and that the end was near. However, the two-week wait was torture. Every tingle or cramp or gas pain became a worry. I over analyzed everything. I wanted to be pregnant so bad! Waiting to take a blood test to see if I was preggo was never an option for me. The pregnancy tests started soon with me. Thankfully, I always got a positive test. I would wait until at least two days before I told my husband and he would roll his eyes and say, “Amanda you know the meds could affect those tests. Please just wait.” However, I could not wait. Every morning I would closely examine just how pink the lines were. Did they change? Were they getting darker? Were they getting lighter? I could not even wait until I got home from buying the test before I took it. I have peed in every Walgreens from the doctor’s office to my house.
I know…I was insane. However, I could not wait. I tried really hard but I had to know and I did not want to be surprised when the nurse called with my numbers. Maybe by doing this I felt like I had some kind of control. I knew something about what was happening to my body before anyone else.
That is all I can write today. Reliving these times is hard, but it is worth it if someone can read this and just know that they are not alone. My days of doing IVF are probably over and it is a part of my past that has shaped me to be the person I am. Also, all of those failed cycles led me towards adoption. Today I have two amazing, wonderful, sweet, funny, and adorable baby girls. So, if those cycles did not fail, if we had not pursed adoption then maybe my girls would not be my girls. I do not want to even image such a thing!