For those considering IVF, much like becoming a parent, nothing can prepare you for this journey and everyone’s journey is different.
For the first year of my child’s cellular existence, he lived in a deep freezer. We let him multiply a bit, and then stuck him in like a Klondike bar. Don’t worry, he wasn’t alone. Our other baby was in there with him. Little did we know that our little angel would one day eat his sibling.
For those considering IVF, much like becoming a parent, nothing can prepare you for this journey and everyone’s journey is different. I can only speak of my experience, however, and I consciously signed up for this shit. Not because I am some sadist who loves needles, misery, and anxiety, but because my husband has medical challenges that makes it difficult for us to conceive naturally. My plumbing is fine and as my nurse told me, I am “boringly normal.” I cannot empathize with those women who have such strength to cope with fertility issues, but I can say that I have been right there with you in the trenches of my own volition. Regardless of what your situation is, here is a list of things to be prepared for.
Our doctor was a very nice man. Almost TOO nice. I personally am nauseated by people like that and end up feeling like they are full of shit. Anyways, he spoke with optimism and made us feel like we had a good chance of conceiving. He handed us packets of information and a print out of next steps. After that initial consultation, we were handed off to the nurse who is really your main partner-in-crime for all the wonderful things that happen. We left that appointment with more packets and yet ANOTHER list of steps to complete…same as the next. They only give you one slice of delicious sterile, medicinal, painful cake that you can eat at one time because if you ate that whole fucking cake, you might never come back.
This is what all of those “steps” from #1 is about. We thought that IVF would be a doctor’s visit with a long conversation and some health questions followed by something that involved a turkey baster. We were really fucking wrong. Not only were we incredibly naïve about what it entailed, we were also naïve about what I would have to go through, me being all “boringly normal” and all. Let’s just say that they leave no cell of your reproductive system untouched and there are dyes, needles, jellies, pills, and probes that make their way up there. At least my husband had his balls sliced open to make it even. If you are not a fan of your vagina becoming much like the butcher shop up the street where people take numbers to wait their turn, IVF may not be for you.
This is an all-encompassing one. There are so many forms of pain that come with IVF. The first pain is the one you feel at your consultation. Yeah, yeah, kudos to you for taking that first step, but it is not a fucking easy one and no one is HAPPY to be sitting in that office. Be real, people. Once you wrap your mind around what lies ahead, the procedures begin. The poking, prodding, probing…the total and utter invasion of your most private struggles and spaces. And some of it downright HURTS. I know some pretty tough women and everyone is built differently but for most of us, it is uncomfortable and painful. Be prepared to ask for a little Valium to get you through and to be on bedrest when needed. Be prepared for the NEEDLES. So. Many. Needles. For a fresh embryo transfer, they will go in your stomach. For a frozen transfer, they go in your butt and are twice the size. EVERY. FUCKING. DAY. Good luck on it working the first time. But, be prepared for it to not work. Even for me with my “boringly normal” uterus, I had to terminate our first pregnancy since they could not find where it had implanted. We don’t use the “A” word in fertility clinics.
There are a number of tests that must be completed before they will suck any eggies out. They must look at your genes and family history. They must look at your vagina. Cervix. Uterus. Lining. Fallopian tubes. Then, they take whatever good eggs they can get and marry them with the sperm. I had 14 follicles, nine of which had eggs in them, six of which were “mature” and fertilized. And, three of which that grew. Each day we got a phone call and the numbers kept dropping and all I thought was that these were our potential children that were dying off. STOP KILLING OUR CHILDREN. Of the three that were left, we transferred one and the other two were frozen. The transfer is the least awful of it all—finally the turkey baster I was hoping for. Then the longest two weeks of your life waiting to go back for your pregnancy test. Or if you’re like me, you can take a million home pregnancy tests to see if you have a “sticky bean” because you cant help yourself.
A Potential Baby
The last go-around after waiting a year, we put the two embryos from the freezer in hoping for twins since we were behind our desired schedule. Our test confirmed that there was only one pregnancy visible and it had most likely absorbed the other embryo. Sometimes there is only enough room for one. And now having met this boy who is 21lbs and 25in long at 7mo with a big personality to match, we know why.
We are now getting ready for another round of IVF. If we did it before, maybe we can do it again! So, don’t give up hope but be realistic. The challenges that we face as individuals and couples can push you to the brink. The commitment of time, money, and the emotional strain can leave you feeling defeated. Just remember that life is like walking on a path, and one day, the stone you are now standing on will be behind you.
Rebecca Link is a #millennial living outside Washington, DC, with her totes adorbs baby, a naughty Puggle, and a husband who graciously puts up with her shit. When she is not rotting away in her cubicle, she is usually eating snacks, drinking wine, or wiping baby puke from her clothes. Her writing has been featured on Sammiches and Psych Meds, Sweatpants and Coffee, BluntMoms, The Analytical Mommy, and Kathryn Lee Photography. You can find her leading a pack of wild women in her Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/