Warning: This post discusses topics related to reproduction in a tactful, mature manner. Don’t worry, there are no anatomy diagrams to label or intimate details. Just the truth about this difficult process.
Get Those Eggs Out
My husband Matthew and I had tried two IUIs and been unsuccessful. It was now time to move onto in-vitro fertilization (IVF for short – more acronyms!). I had mixed emotions because IVF tends to have a higher success rate, but required surgery (and time and money) to remove eggs.
Again, we had to wait. Our second failed IUI was in February of 2014. My body needed to reset after the IUIs and gear up for the egg retrieval. Armed with my bucket o’meds, I began injections and prescriptions to stimulate egg production. For anyone handling the ups and downs of infertility, you dread skipping a cycle and having to wait even longer. (Imagine a group of people picketing, chanting “What do we want? A baby! When do we want it? This cycle!”). By this point, we had wanted a child for 3 unsuccessful years now. Haven’t we waited long enough?!?
It’s always nervewracking to go through something you haven’t experienced before. I had read up on what happens during an egg retrieval, sought advice from other women, and was given instructions from my RMA nurse, yet still was anxious. Finally, in May I had a ‘hot date’ scheduled with my infertility clinic to get some of those eggs out. After getting a surgical gown on and waiting what seemed like forever, I walked back to the surgical room and hopped up on the table. For my retrieval, I was to be under anesthesia and was told to count backward from 10. I think I got to 8 and was knocked out.
When I woke up, I was back in the room I waited in and felt drowsy. Matthew was there and as I started talking, I went from laughing to crying in an instant for whatever reason. Matthew laughed at me. Nice, supportive husband I have. The nurse informed us they had retrieved 32 eggs…that was promising, right? Embryologists put together the sperm and eggs in a laboratory dish then monitor them to see which fertilize and divide to form embryos. A few days later we learned from RMA that out of our 32 eggs, 16 of them had fertilized. The original plan was to have an embryo transfer a few days after the egg retrieval, known as a fresh transfer. Due to some of my bloodwork levels and the stage that the embryos were at, it wasn’t an ideal time to transfer. Our embryos were frozen to wait for another cycle. Oh good! More waiting! It was frustrating, but I trusted that Dr. Maguire was making choices that were right for me and would give us the best chance for a pregnancy. Out of our 16 embryos, 8 were successfully frozen. I was nervous knowing that our numbers drastically decreased by half through each stage, but know that there are women out there that may only get 1-2 embryos and some that get none. We were very lucky.
Get That Embryo In
Since we skipped the May fresh transfer cycle, my IVF transfer date was in June. Finally! On the day of my transfer, I was back in the familiar RMA building and once again on the table with feet in stirrups ready to get this show on the road. Matthew and I made small talk while waiting for the doctor and listening to whale sounds (okay, so it was supposed to be relaxation/white noise music, but it sounded like whales). In a rush of noise, people, and machines, the doctor and embryologist came in prepared to make the transfer. I watched on the screen as the catheter entered my uterus and a small dot suddenly floated across the screen. That was it. It was done. This time I knew there was an embryo that stood a chance. I just hoped that my body would do its job and make that baby stick. As soon as we got back on the highway to relax at home, Matthew said to me, “You’re pregnant and it’s a girl.”
After the transfer, there is a two-week wait until you get your first bloodwork done to test for pregnancy. It’s a weird feeling continuing your normal routine, going to work, making dinner, knowing (hoping) that your future child was attaching and growing. The worst day was when I had my blood taken and waited for the results. It felt like ages. Finally, after teaching my morning classes, I checked my phone and listened to my nurse’s voicemail. I was pregnant.
Stunned, in awe, and amazed that things were finally looking up, Matthew and I were elated. I thought about my due date and our child. It was an amazing feeling, but I still felt guarded. I didn’t want to dive into nursery themes and baby names until I was further along. Just because you get that first positive pregnancy test doesn’t guarantee that all is well. Matthew had to stick quite a large needle into my backside every night to inject the progesterone in oil medication. When I returned for my second blood test, my beta hCG numbers should have doubled but only slightly increased. Two days later they decreased. Dr. Maguire called to let me know that things weren’t looking good and that I was going to miscarry. It wasn’t because of anything I did. Miscarriages happen often, but a majority of women don’t even know they’re pregnant that early on. Sometimes our bodies reject pregnancies because something was abnormal. Unfortunately my pregnancy was ending, yet fortunately, my body naturally miscarried the embryo naturally without surgery. After this agonizing ordeal, Matthew and I decided to road trip together to a few states and enjoyed our time together. After our loss, I anticipated a lot of crying and hopelessness. Surprisingly, I said to myself, “OK, this one didn’t work out. But it’s only our first IVF. Let’s see what I need to do to try again.”
Get That Embryo In (Round Two)
Once again, I needed to wait for my body to get back in sync from the loss and be ready for another IVF cycle. Our second transfer was scheduled for the end of September in 2014. More medications, more injections, more waiting. Now knowing what to expect, I hopped onto the table, affixed my legs into the stirrups and waited for the next embryo to make its way. No whale sounds this time though. The transfer was the same chaos of people and machines, same watching of the embryo float across the screen, and same hope as last time. Once again when we left, Matthew said, “You’re pregnant again and it’s a girl.” I rolled my eyes and reminded him that he said that the last time.
After another two-week wait, I got the call from my nurse saying I was pregnant again. Knowing how this went last time, I told my close friend about the news and remember saying, “We’ll see how this one goes.” Well, this one went perfectly. Lucky embryo #7 stuck. And my beta hCG numbers doubled each time I went back for blood tests. Again, Matthew gave me progesterone in oil shots into bruised muscles every day for weeks. The nerves I felt going for blood tests and ultrasounds didn’t really go away. But listening to my baby’s heartbeat for the first time eased some of my worries. Finally at week 8, I “graduated” from RMA and continued on to have a pregnancy that I appreciated and thankful for. In June of 2015 – 4 years after deciding to try to have kids – my beautiful, amazing, miraculous baby girl was born.
For All of My Fellow Infertility Warriors
I know that every story doesn’t end in success like ours does. But know that wherever you are in your process, whatever doubts cross your mind, whatever you may be feeling, you are not alone.
I see you, couples who are wondering what insurance is going to cover (or better yet, not cover), considering taking out loans, going broke, or skipping cycles to save money.
I see you, those who silently cry over pictures of infants and baby clothes hoping to not draw attention to your pain.
I see you, enduring cycles of miscarriages, hope, heartbreak, optimism, and disappointment.
I see you, those trying to be a mom even if that means you endure this all on your own.
I see you, trying to come up with an answer when people ask, “So when are you going to have kids?”
I see you, those who have struggled for 5 years or more and are not giving up.
I see you, listening to other women complain about morning sickness or watching yet another episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when you would give up everything to have those things.
I see you, adopting children who are wanted and giving them loving homes.
I see you all.
My advice? Do what you need to. For yourself, for your significant other, for your sanity. Join a support group, whether in person or online. Follow and share on an infertility forum. Search for, follow, and read others infertility stories (like you just did here!). I too have had to grin and bear my fair share of baby showers and pregnancy announcements. And honestly, it’s still not easy, despite having a child after all of this. But I am thankful. I wish we didn’t have to go through all we did and could reproduce the old-fashioned way. But that wasn’t our journey. That wasn’t our story. This was our adventure.
Clearly, I am an open book about all of this. Send me a message on Facebook or comment below. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me. There is always someone out there to support you!