So. This is not our first time around the IVF block. I’ve spent a good portion of the weekend (well, a good portion of yesterday anyway) looking over my old blog from when I got pregnant with the twins. It was interesting. I was willing to just bare everything that was going on from the cycle, and this even after a year of the heartache of infertility, the diagnoses (endo, one working ovary), and the fear. I shared the fear willingly. I talked about symptoms and pregnancy tests and left it all out there for anyone to read (nevermind my readers could be counted on my hands with fingers left to spare).
I don’t know why it’s so hard for me this time. I think infertility robs you of so much. You see fb posts announcing pregnancies before women have even seen the doctor and you think “don’t you KNOW what could happen????” Infertility makes you aware of so much heartache. So much to be afraid of. It makes it very hard to be present because you are always looking ahead to what could happen or which shoe may drop.
There’s no glamour or dignity in IVF/FET. You spend the first few weeks of your cycle getting poked and prodded with something or another – needles, the ultrasound wand, the speculum. You jab yourself with needles and pop pills like an addict. The meds you inject and ingest make you feel horrible. You get moody, you have hot flashes, you can’t eat or you eat constantly, you snap at those closest to you. And that’s just the Lupron and the birth control pills. Then, if you’re like me, on an FET cycle, you start adding estrogen patches to the mix, and they leave dark rings around them with sticky glue that won’t come off for days. Pretty soon it’s time for the big guns – the progesterone shots. If you’re like me, it’s easier to do them yourself because those needles are the size of an ice pick and you’d rather just hold your breath and jab yourself in your hip than have the horrible anticipation of someone else doing it for you.
You’re bruised, and tired, and you haven’t even gotten to transfer yet. And the day finally comes. You wake up, and you gather all of your fertility good luck charms, your transfer cd, and your water, and you try to remember to breathe in the car on the way to the clinic. You sit in the waiting room and manage to sit behind the one woman in the clinic complaining about being pregnant with twins and the stretch marks she’s going to get and you can’t hold back the tears. If you’re me and you’ve done this before and you have little ones at home, you close your eyes and you picture them in your head and you pray that you can do right by them in all of this.
You hear your name and you meet with the doctor and he tells you that you have three good embryos. You exhale for the first time all morning. The fourth, he says, never should have been frozen, so we will transfer the remaining three. They put you in a room, offer you a valium which you gratefully accept. Then you take the walk. The walk to the “other” part of the clinic, where the transfer and rooms and the surgery areas for retrieval and the embryology lab are all located.
There’s a bed with blankets and chocolates, a nice touch. You’ve been drinking water all morning, but of course it’s not enough and you have to drink more. The nurse, who’s always so sweet, tells you that she’ll be back to check you in a few minutes. Your cd is in and playing, and it’s sort of relaxing but it’s hard not to cry anyway. And if you’re me, you say “this is it” – meaning this is IT, because this is pretty much your last shot at this. No more embryos, no more money. The embryologist comes in to make sure the name on your wristband matches the name attached to the embryos she’s been thawing and then the doctor comes in to get things rolling.
As much as you want this part to be peaceful, to be something beautiful, it’s not. It’s painful, with the full bladder and the pushing and maneuvering to get things in position. They tell you they are transferring the embryos and you’re looking at the ultrasound screen and all you see is snow. They try to make you comfortable and tell you to lay there for 10 minutes and set an egg timer. Of course by then ALL you can think about is how badly you have to pee and how badly it hurts to not be able to.
And the lack of dignity continues when they bring you a bedpan because you’re in pain from not being able to pee and that becomes a disaster because, well, it’s a bedpan and finally the bell on the egg timer rings and you give up and decide to just get dressed and go down the hall to the bathroom. When you get up it’s like when you’ve been drinking and haven’t stood up for awhile and you stand up and realize how much you’ve really had. The valium has kicked in and you need to lean on your partner in order to walk 50 feet to the bathroom.
When you get home, you make your way slowly up the stairs and climb into bed and fall asleep for hours. You spend the next few days feeling like every little cough, move, or whatever is jeopardizing the little embryos inside of you. Your best friend comes over to help out because your partner has to work and you have two little ones at home and the doctors tell you bedrest.
And now you sit, 5dp5dt, and your first beta is tomorrow. They won’t tell you anything, because they do a 6 and an 8dpt and don’t give you any information until after the 8dp5dt test. You understand but it’s cruel and unusual punishment to drag you out there for a blood test that they hold onto the results for 2 days for. So you analyze every symptom and lack of symptoms and wonder what could possibly be going on in there.
You think of people you know, family, friends, who have gotten pregnant without any of this. And you would never wish infertility on your worst enemy, but you sometimes wish they understood. Because you wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep this process from them if they did. So the circle of people who “know” is small. Supportive, wonderful, and small.
So when you look ahead at the week to come, you’ve already prepared yourself to have to call in sick if the news isn’t good. And you pray. For strength.