Well, here we are. It’s September. Snuck up fast didn’t it? Don’t worry, I wasn’t prepared for it either. Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was how well I’d respond to our current IVF regime. IVF #3…hard to believe, hard to imagine, hard to wrap my head around. If you would have told me I’d be STILL trying for our first child on IVF #3, I would have never believed you. You have all these hopes in life…by now I’d thought we would be on baby #2 since we started trying THREE years ago. That’s right…three years of trying to start a family. Three years too long. I’ve had several friends have 2 or 3 babies in the time I’ve tried to have ONE. ONE. That’s all I’m asking for God, just one. PLEASE GOD!!!!!!
This cycle of IVF is different in the fact that we have decided to have PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) testing done on our embryos. Since August 31st, I have had over 30 injections of numerous hormones (my stomach is filled with bruises), MULTIPLE doctors appointments, & several extremely uncomfortable ultrasounds. Between both ovaries I have 30+ follicles (that will release the eggs) and I’ve never been so uncomfortable in my life. My ovaries are HUGE. Going to the bathroom gives me more pain than my miscarriages had and I almost cry each time. I hardly want to walk or move. Because we aren’t transferring this cycle (we won’t transfer for a while) and doing PGS, my clinic is trying to give us the best chance to have several embryos to test for “normalcy” — while I understand, it also comes at the cost of a lot of discomfort. To give you an idea, my first IVF cycle I produced 17 eggs — so now I have almost double. Yikes. I’ve never been so bloated in my life.
So, I will go in tomorrow for our egg retrieval. I’ll be put under anesthesia, which I HATE, and they’ll take my eggs. After that, they will be fertilized via ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection). My clinic will grow the embryos to day 5 (blastocyst) stage, take a small biopsy sample from each embryo that made it that far, then send the samples off to a lab in Michigan for testing. The PGS process isn’t cheap. We’ve paid the fertility clinic $2150 already for the biopsy + freezing and then we will pay the lab another $2300 (testing of 8 embryos is $1900 and the courier fee is $350). I’m assuming we will have more than 8 to test because of how many eggs I have so the price is going to skyrocket fast. Each embryo after 8 is $250/embryo for testing. Oh boy. This could get even more expensive. Thank God for family; both of our mom’s have contributed quite a bit to help us pay for this which has been amazing and we are extremely thankful for. I still can’t imagine what we will be paying for the rest of the embryos to be tested, but it’s what we signed up for and we will make it work.
When I woke up in the middle of the night last night to rush to the bathroom (it’s extremely painful when I have to pee because my ovaries are so big; there’s so much pressure)…and I was in SO much pain I was almost brought to tears, I told myself — NEVER AGAIN ERIN. Never again am I going to go through this. The pain, the injections, the emotions, the no guarantees have started to take a toll on me I have to admit. We suffered two miscarriages and the sudden passing of my father in six months time. Each time we had hope, it ended in us being crushed. But then…then I start thinking. I think of everything my husband has been through in life — three tours to Iraq in combat, losing his Marine brothers, and fighting for our country and not once did he give up. He works third shift and somehow still finds it in him to be by my side at every appointment. I’m not sure how he has a hand left with hard I squeeze sometimes from the pain I’m in. He’s my rock and my world. Sometimes I figure with all he has been through it can’t be nearly as bad as what I’m going through.
I recently read an interview with Ashley Gardner (the couple that famously did IVF and ended up with quadruplets) and everything she spoke about infertility was true. At one point she says:
“IVF is rough! If you know someone going through infertility treatments give them a hug!
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we were unified and ready to stand up to the beast called infertility. Three shots every morning and pills and medication and doctor appointments sometimes every day. It literally consumes your every waking moment.”
It’s true. It consumes your every waking moment. When you’re on a medication schedule and always at the clinic there’s no way around it. When I was at my clinic for my blood + ultrasound this past Monday, the nurse quietly said to me, “Erin, we need to get you a baby. You’ve been through too much.” I almost cried on the spot. They see countless patients day in and day out…yet, they know your name, your story, and all you’ve been through. They are the most kind, genuine, sincere, caring individuals I have ever met. Nobody’s second home should ever be a fertility clinic. I’m hoping someday that changes for us.
In the past couple weeks I made a choice to deactivate my Facebook. And boy, was it the best decision I’ve made. Matt & I have had so many pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, etc lately that I just had to do it. We are so envious of all of you. It’s hard to make sense of it, but we are. Infertility is one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through in my life; next to losing my father. I knew that I needed a better mindset going through this cycle and scanning through Facebook seeing all your announcements, ultrasound photos, belly pictures, baby outfits wasn’t ideal. Trust me, we know that everyone has their own life to live. I hope you all know how truly blessed you are. And we appreciate you TRYING to understand what we go through, but in reality, you’ll NEVER understand. Ever.
I recently came across a post in which a woman discusses her loss of her child at 12 weeks and everything she says is gut-wrenchingly true.
“But after that initial outpouring of condolences, it seemed that many people just faded away, making me feel as if I had a disease they didn’t want to be exposed to. A handful of close friends and family helped soothe my broken heart, but in my darkest moments, I’ve never felt more alone. The world welcomes a pregnant woman with open arms and boundless joy, annoying as those unsolicited parenting tips and belly rubs can be. But when you lose a baby whose existence maybe hasn’t even been announced, that pink-and-blue bubble pops, plunging you into a state of gut-wrenching isolation. There’s no formalized way to acknowledge or process this type of grief. I spent many long days balled up on the couch, craving human contact but unable to cope with the prospect of facing a world so full of babies, children, and pregnant women.
Television and the internet offered no relief, either. A simple scroll through Facebook could wreck my day, with its never-ending stream of baby bumps and first steps, first words, first birthdays, and first days of school, while the celebrity baby frenzy plagued news outlets. Even social media navel-gazing that had nothing to do with kids — a pic of happy hour cocktails or a rant over traffic — were gut-wrenching reminders that while my life felt like it had stopped, it was still humming merrily along for the rest of the world.
In the meantime, I watch friend after friend get pregnant, give birth, rejoice and complain about motherhood, sometimes get pregnant again, and all too often drift away, caught up in the craziness of child-rearing, but also, I suspect, feeling like we have less and less in common. And some of that distance is on me, too. Sometimes, I just don’t have it in me to hear about the agony of sleep deprivation or the joy over first steps. It harkens back to high school in some ways: the sickening longing of being excluded from a club I desperately want to join but, no matter what I do, can’t get into. Only this time, the stakes feel much higher: my aging eggs and I, sitting on the sidelines in some sort of motherhood purgatory, while all the other lucky mommies parade their offspring in strollers and Bjorns, never missing a chance to proclaim how amazing the life-changing wonder of parenthood is. In a society that puts raising kids on a pedestal more than ever, it’s the loneliest place I have ever been.”
Has dealing with infertility put me in the loneliest place I’ve ever been? Absolutely, yes. But I get by with a lot of support from my close family and very few close friends (you know who are, so thank you) and my #ttcsisters on Instagram. I haven’t given up yet, no matter how close I’ve come.
So tomorrow, I’ll wake up and make the journey to the fertility clinic again (for the fifth time this week), put on my brave face, and pray for the best.