I have been beside myself with worry and “what-ifs” since our IVF egg retrieval on Sunday morning. My husband and I started the IVF process a few months ago and it has been quite an experience so far. I will admit that when I would hear women talk about the emotional toll IVF takes, I just didn’t get it. Some things in life we simply cannot fully understand until we have experienced them first hand ourselves.
The first steps meant undergoing a myriad of tests and exams to be cleared to even start IVF. This took a couple of months from start to finish and was then followed by being on birth control pills for 2 weeks. Even from that point it felt like things were going so slowly!
A little bit of history. I’m 39 and married my darling husband a bit later in life. I was 37 on our wedding day and just 3 months later turned a year older. Hence, IVF. I have a history of endometriosis and about 13 years ago I had 4 endometrial cysts removed.. 1 each year for 4 years! My gynecologist suggested I remain on birth control as a preventative measure for future cysts, which I tried for a time. Long story short, I do not do well taking pills every day and would miss a pill here or there and BAM.. my cycle would start! This went on for months until I finally just stopped the pills. Surprisingly, my cycles were on schedule each month after that and I haven’t experienced a cyst again (knock on wood!). We don’t know for sure if my body still struggles with endometriosis and my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) said there wasn’t a test to find out without opening me up, which she felt was counterproductive.
So here we are. Today is Wednesday and we won’t know until Saturday if our eggs have made it to the 5 day blastocyst stage. Our RE doesn’t do a 3 day check on the eggs. I have done a lot of research on this and from what I have read, if they make it to the blastocyst stage then they are much more likely to become a viable pregnancy. So we had 6 eggs retrieved (I cried when the nurse told us, much to my husband’s confusion.). 5 matured and 3 fertilized. I got upset because I had read the statistics and odds of such low numbers making it to blastocyst. Sometimes I’m not sure if reading helps or makes things worse. Statistics are useful, but really just a probability game. Just like my reading IVF forums about taking the shots… I had convinced myself it would be a horrible experience, but it wasn’t. Not at all. My husband was planning on giving me the shots but I wanted to try administering the first one just out of curiosity and it was such an easy and painless thing that I ended up just doing them all. The trick I did learn from some women on the forums: USE ICE! I held an ice pack on my tummy for about 45 seconds and that made it very comfortable to inject the needle. Now I totally get that everyone is different. This was just my experience. Oddly enough, I actually enjoyed 8:30 p.m. every night (injection time!) and just mentally told myself we were helping to “make our baby” to psyche myself up.
So back to today. This has been a very long week so far. The day after our retrieval when they called to let us know how many eggs fertilized, I felt gutted. I was was so overcome by sadness that it surprised me how I have had such a hard time staying encouraged. That day I lounged on the couch all day, only managing to make a Publix run for a small apple pie to make myself “feel better.” Yes, I’m an emotional eater. The pie was just a numbing balm but it did help for about 5 minutes.. ha! Also my boobs have been crazy sore! Isn’t that one of the first obvious signs of pregnancy? What a sick joke! I tease. But the physical symptoms, including the moodiness and bloating have not really helped my feelings. I have however tried to pull myself together and I’m doing better. Instead of enjoying a glass of wine or desserts, I have gotten back in the gym. It is amazing how much better I feel after 30 minutes on a treadmill jamming to Tupac, Biggie, Beyonce and Pitbull! I also have to brag of my hubs. He was at work the day I found out how many eggs fertilized and we spoke over the phone briefly. I asked him if we could do another cycle if we needed to and his reply was “sure, we will do however many it takes.” In that moment, I felt more love for him than ever. His encouragement just when I needed it the most felt amazing and I will never forget that moment.
We are Christians and love the Lord. I mention this because our faith in Christ has offered me the most comfort during this time. I believe God allows us to go through difficult things in life as a means for us to draw closer to him. At times in my life I have spent time in the word, listened to sermons on YouTube and really tried to grow my faith. In retrospect, this usually seemed to only take place when I was going through hard times. I have always gone to church too, but most of the time it has been out of guilt more than anything. Not always, but mostly, if I’m totally honest. I think some of this is human nature, but that doesn’t make it right. Nonetheless, I’m learning and I’m always reminded of James 4:8 “draw close to me and I will draw close to you.” I’m a big fan of Dr. Creflo Dollar and have learned so much about the integrity of God through his teachings over the years. Check out this sermon if you too, are in need of encouragement and a reminder of God’s sovereign hand:
On Saturday, we will find out good or very disappointing news. But regardless of what our outcome is, I will remind myself over and over:
All is well because I’m in his hands. I’m not going to lean on my own understanding, but in all of my ways acknowledge him because he cares for me.
I know millions of women have experienced the journey of IVF. My heart goes out to them more than ever before and I’m grateful for this experience because it has given me an empathy for people like never before. When I hear of someone who has gone through failed IUIs, IVFs, miscarriages or lost a living child, my heart will bleed for you like never before. For that alone, I’m grateful for this experience.