“I can’t imagine going through what you are going through,” says many a friend.
I don’t want you to feel my pain. But I think this will help people understand me.
The rollercoaster of simply trying for a baby was rougher than I thought. It’s hope, hard work, expectation, and reality. Over, and over, until you get it right. Family members start teasing and encouraging you to reproduce…you would like to hurt but hug acquaintances who get pregnant easily, etc..
Anyway, after a year of that nonsense, we were blessed with a MIRACLE. We were about to start infertility testing. But then, with my hands trembling, I picked up the pregnancy test in October 2008, and jumped up and down. I was pregnant. The pregnancy went well, and she is here.
I always wanted and hoped for a large family. Once our miracle was 10 months old, we started trying. The first year of trying for number 2 passed uneventfully, but we were distracted by buying a new home. Once we hit about 18 months of trying, I had a laparoscopic surgery, because that was the only way to see if I had endometriosis. The surgery was awful. They found and removed a tiny bit that should not interfere with conception. I lost half my hair after the surgery.
I was traumatized for a while. Mike did an analysis and everything was normal on his end. We did not do infertility appointments in 2012. We just tried because, according to doctors, we had no reason to not get pregnant naturally.
Toward the end of 2012, we thought about adoption. We went to an initial consultation. We could never get an answer through prayer on whether it was the right time to adopt. When I was about to turn in the papers, our bishop told us about a group of anonymous donors who would fund an IVF cycle if we applied, met economic criterion, and were chosen.
So, we started applying for that in February of 2013. The anonymous Angels gave us one cycle of IVF in December, but we were first required to do 3 cycles of IUIs along with many, many, tests, and a home study visit.
IUI means intrauterine insemination. They cost about $400-$600 per try. I was given oral pills, injections, or a combination of both to stimulate hyper ovulation. I was closely monitored, and was given a trigger shot of HCG to allow 1-2 eggs to be released at the optimal time. At the precise moment, we would go to the clinic. They collected a sample from the husband, cleaned it, and used a catheter to inject it into my uterus. The first month we did clomid pills, the second month I did pills plus injections, and the third month I did injections.
IUIs are shown to increase your chances by 10%. We didn’t fall into that category. They didn’t work.
But then, we did IVF.
With IVF (in-vitro fertilization), the woman typically starts with birth control pills. Contradictory, huh? She then gets her period, and starts injections that will cause (hopefully) dozens of eggs to grow in her ovaries. Additional injections are administered to plump up the eggs and help them mature. This part is called stimulating, or “stimming.” After a couple of monitoring ultrasounds and blood draws, if your hormone levels are perfect, you get an HCG shot to give those eggs one last dose of growth! But your body doesn’t release them, THAT would be disastrous.
In IVF, you have surgery to pull out eggs. It’s called an egg retrieval. I had 20 eggs pulled out of me during a conscious sedation. I remember crying out for pain. After that, you rest for 3-5 days while those eggs get fertilized and are watched in the lab. Each day, the number of surviving fertilized eggs goes down. Only so many eggs are going to mature into embryos, which is why it usually takes women more than a month to get pregnant. The ideal time to put an embryo “back in”, which is called an embryo transfer, is 5 days after retrieval. We put two back, and froze the rest. I call it our Apollo 13 cycle… or, the successful failure. We got pregnant, but miscarried immediately, despite the supportive drugs to prevent it. I was assured that it wasn’t my body, but a genetic of the embryo that most likely caused the miscarriage.
ONE IVF cycle can cost from $12,000-$30,000. If you are lucky enough to have frozen embryos, putting a frozen embryo or two “back home” (frozen embryo transfer) costs more like $4,000, but that price can vary. We couldn’t have done that initial IVF without the generous help of the anonymous Angels. We definitely had to pay money to get to that point… But I digress. We did a frozen cycle in June, 2014. Once again, I miscarried. It was really confusing, and awful.
We waited a whole year to try another frozen cycle. In the middle of it, I lost the friendship of two people who I had known as long as we had been married. It was, and still is painful. Ever since IVF, I have been unable to fall asleep well. It has affected and invaded my life. It defined me, despite my best efforts. I was petrified to try again.
I got brave, and decided to switch clinics after my doctor moved. This frozen cycle took THREE tries to even take place. It got cancelled the day of transfer because there was fluid in my uterus. After going through another period, and a new (stronger) set of drugs, it got cancelled three days before because I ovulated despite being on high doses of estrogen to prevent that.
So, then, I got put on Lupron. Lupron is scary. It turns off the ovaries and gives you hot flashes. It has other side effects, but my body finally listened and didn’t ovulate. My body responded perfectly. The people at the clinic surrounded us with love, prayers, good science, and hope.
It didn’t work.
This is exhausting, huh? But that’s where we are. It can be depressing to look at. Things seem bleak, but they seemed bleak for Sam and Frodo. And honestly that’s a bad comparison because doesn’t Frodo… Never mind.
Some people wonder why don’t we just adopt? First of all, there’s no such thing as just adopting. Also, the chances that we will get pregnant while adopting are not as high as society thinks. Nowadays, adoption is more expensive than IVF. We have a hard time making decisions that are so huge, so quickly.
What can I say? We are alive! We have a daughter and that makes all the difference in our lives. The friendships I have made and deepened through our trial has been worth gold. This is the same with cherished family. I can’t express that adequately, but I can do another post on just those people.
I often look at mothers of many children with sympathy, not envy, because I get both sides of it. Motherhood is hard, but it is an innate desire of who I am. I truly love the blog post that points out that being single is infertility plus lonlieness. I feel like there is something epic about this journey, and I’m not going to give up. Like the getting out of survival mode post, I resonate with that song she sang while team building.
“Cause I still got a lotta fight left in me.”