Remembering all the angels taken far too soon who are now watching over us in heaven.
Clearly I didn’t blog throughout my IVF cycle – as explained in my previous post I just really focused on me and took a break from my life… including electronics! But I started this blog to document my fears, emotions, and crazy experiences so I am going to go back through and do just that.
Thankfully I kept a very detailed personal journal and although I won’t share it all here, I am going back through and updating with entries throughout my cycle. It will take me few days but we’ll get there. 🙂
Wow, I can’t believe we are already two weeks post retrieval. It’s been a crazy 2 months – my cycle went from almost being a bust to turning in to the best news we’ve received since we started trying to get pregnant.
14 eggs retrieved
11 eggs mature
9 eggs fertilized
9 good quality blasts frozen day 5/6
You read that right folks – 100% freeze from fertilization and we have NINE beautiful blasts (literally) chilling in Lone Tree. Holy freaking goodness.
Seriously though, we still can’t believe it.
That all being said, I have to say it out loud…. IVF fucking sucks. No matter what you read, no matter what you do, no matter how you prepare – nothing will change the fact that this whole process is one of the hardest things you will ever go through. The drugs; the extra drugs that you think you won’t get but actually need double-of; the endless appointments; the overwhelming and ever-changing emotions; the secrecy; the loneliness; the agony of waiting for your phone to ring every afternoon; the would-of, could-of, should-ofs; the outrageous cost; the physical discomfort and pain; the damn ultrasound wand – it’s all really shitty.
But I wouldn’t change a day of that hell for any one of my 9 pieces of heaven.
I like to think I handled the whole process with a good amount of grace. I really focused on positive energy and intention, staying relaxed and taking as good of care of myself as possible. I read 3 books. I took a step back from all of my extra commitments and was home every night by 5pm. I journaled by hand and spent as little time as possible on electronics. I never flinched as DH jammed needle after needle in to my bruised stomach. I let myself cry it out and then would get up and work past my sadness. I accepted the process for what it was and tried to make the best of it. My therapist called it “Mama Bear” mode – I made this cycle my main priority and would have done anything to protect those follicles growing.
And they did grow. And we were blessed with 9 miracles.
“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you in to something great. So just focus and keep aim.”
There’s nothing worse than when people think you’re pregnant. And unfortunately that’s exactly what all of my friends who didn’t know we were going through IVF thought. (One perk of a freeze all cycle…) I went to brunch the first time since completing my cycle and indulged in a delicious (and very much missed) mimosa and watched as every single girl at the table watch me take that first sip.
“Wait, you’re drinking? We all totally made bets you were pregnant, you haven’t drank in months!”
“Nope, not pregnant.” (takes sip)
“Are you sure?”
“Pretty damn sure, I am on my period and I am about to get drunk.” (downs remaining cocktail)
Every single time I say “No I am not pregnant” it feels like a hard kick in the stomach. Having to reassure people of lack of said non-existent pregnancy so I can drink in peace? Well that pretty much knocks me out cold.
I have always had finicky veins – they’re hard to find and weak. When I was in the hospital for a ruptured ovarian cyst I remember having 9 different techs and nurses try to find a vein only to eventually end up in my foot. (Which was almost as painful as the cyst!)
Well finicky veins and IVF do not mix. I am beat up man, beat up bad. If you didn’t know better you would think I am a heroin addict. The inner crook of my arms are completely out of business and my hands aren’t far behind.
The phlebotomist explained she might have to go through a little scar tissue but she found a side vein she was going to try. “Ok, big pinch here. Just bear with me…”
It was only a few seconds but fainting while giving blood was a first. I had many close calls but never actually had the real shebang. A nurse had joined her now and they were both standing over me lying back in the chair.
“Breathe, just breathe. You’re ok, we just lost you there for a second. Keep breathing you’re getting some color back.”
After laying for what felt like forever with ice packs behind my neck, I finally was able to stand up and felt myself literally peeling from my chair. I hadn’t realized that I had completely sweated through all of my clothes and my shirt was now visibly damp. The embarrassment I felt in that moment was overwhelming and I got emotional. I wasn’t embarrassed I passed out, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t control my body functions and had left the evidence on the chair.
My phlebotomist didn’t even skip a beat, she reached out and hugged me – sweat and all. “Don’t you ever apologize for something like this, ok? You couldn’t control that and I am so sorry I caused it. Don’t you worry yourself or clean that up, you just go relax.”
I don’t know if I will be doing much relaxing but her embrace was just what I needed in the moment. That and a new arm for the rest of the blood work in my future.
I woke up this sunny Sunday morning excited for my first ultrasound. DH and I even planned for a little shopping and lunch expedition at the mall near the Lone Tree office after we were done. I couldn’t wait to see how my follicles (and future babies!) were developing. For some reason, I never had DH come back with me for my ultrasound and this time I wished I did.
As the ultrasound tech scanned and jammed the ultrasound wand around I watched as her face continued to drop. I looked up at the screen and saw only 3 follicles on my right and 5 on the left.
“1985, that makes you 29, huh?” she asks.
“Just curious… Ok we’re done. Let me go get the nurse and we’ll go from there.”
Lisa, the on call nurse, came in to the room and I could see the sticky in her hand – it was nearly blank.
“You’re responding a little slower than we like to see but it’s still early. Dr M is actually on call today so she’ll be able to review your file personally and we’ll call you by 4pm with next steps. It’s probably best if you see the receptionist at the front desk and ask her to schedule a regroup with Dr M for either Monday or Tuesday.”
Tears instantly start flowing, I couldn’t believe it. “I just don’t get it, I thought I would have more. My left ovary is usually my star, are you sure there are only 3?”
“I understand this hard and I know you wanted to see different results but like I mentioned, it’s still early. Things can really change. Try to relax and we’ll chat in a little bit.”
I couldn’t stop at the reception desk, I walked straight out the door leaving DH scrambling to grab his book and coffee from the waiting room and chasing after me.
I cried. Hard. And bless his heart, DH cried too. He reminded me the nurse said we’re not out of the game and we have to stay positive.
In that moment, I couldn’t care less about being positive. And that’s not who I am. I wanted to scream F-YOU and eat a carton of cookies and cream ice cream.
I did everything they told me to do… EVERYTHING… and somehow even with high doses of stims I had even less follicles than my AFC. I was crushed and in that moment I couldn’t care less about being positive.
Dear ovaries: YOU HAD ONE JOB. Figure it the F out.
Lisa called around 1pm and explained that my bloodwork was reassuring and Dr M understood my concern but said don’t worry yet. And instead of upping my stims, they’re going to add in Clomid to my protocol and check again in 3 days.
“Give those guys some time to come out of hiding, ok?”
How do you explain to friends that don’t know you’re going through IVF that you can’t meet for dinner because you have to be home at an exact time to jam a needle in your stomach without seeming like you’re being anti-social and blowing the off?
How do you politely explain to a friend who does know why another friend doesn’t?
How do you even find the right time and place to finally open up to those you feel comfortable with about this process?
For me, it’s not been easy. I have told maybe 10 people and each time I feel more and more vulnerable. My mind just spins – what are they thinking? Are they judging me? Are they wondering whose fault it is? Are they going to ask a lot of questions? Do they even understand what IVF really means?
One girlfriend was totally taken aback and said “oh wow wow wow. Ok, well good luck I guess.” and then sent me a two page email the next day explaining she was taken off guard and honestly never knew anyone who went through it so she didn’t know how to react. She also spent hours researching the IVF process, endometriosis, and how to support someone struggling infertility. Another girlfriend immediately just hugged me and said “I won’t ask any questions, you tell me when you want to talk.” You never know what you’re going to get but keeping it together in the moment is hard.
I chair a committee for Junior League and it’s very clear to those on my team that something is up. That being said, only one lady out of 60 has any idea what is going on. Why? Because women are mean and women judge – and half of them are VERY pregnant and we all know how fun that is.
My girlfriend asked me the other day why I hadn’t told my co-chair and I simply said “She told me at dinner that she doesn’t like kids, doesn’t see herself having them and thinks all of her friends who have kids have horrible lives they don’t enjoy. Even if we don’t agree, it was clear she would likely never understand.”
Flash forward to this weekend and said co-chair and good friend of mine asked if DH and I wanted to come over for dinner and drinks. We just talked about how DH and I were free and I don’t want to lie to her but I also wasn’t about to be like “gee would love to but I have be home for an injection.” I explain we’ve had a busy week (which wasn’t a lie!) and I wanted to lay low for a few days. She was totally understanding but I felt like she thought something was a little off.
I feel just horrible, I feel like I am being shady and dishonest. And it doesn’t help with the whole keeping your stress low thing. I just want this process to feel authentic and for me that means keeping it close to the heart. I feel bad for likely not giving many of those closest to me enough credit but the fear of judgment and rejection is so strong, I can’t get myself to say it out loud.