posted in Pregnancy
Over the next 11 weeks, we invite you to come along on an IVF journey, step, by intense step. From making the decision to go forward with in-vitro fertilization, to the meds involved and what they’re really like, to finding out whether this emotional and sometimes painful roller coaster ride has yielded the results we dreamed of, and prayed for. BabyCenter blogger Melissa Willets will be documenting every detail in a series of blog posts.
Before I underwent IVF, I knew no one who had gone down that road. Very few people talk about IVF, outside of private, anonymous chat rooms. By sharing my very personal experience, I hope to help shatter the stigma surrounding assisted reproduction. Speaking my truth might shed light upon what can feel like a dark, lonely, shame-filled place that, for reasons I’m yet to understand, is shrouded in secrecy.
Before my husband and I met with a reproductive expert at a highly-recommended IVF clinic in our area, I’ll admit I knew very little about in vitro fertilization. And I venture to guess you don’t know much about it either, unless you’ve been through the process.
Sure, most of us understand generally what happens when a couple goes through IVF. The egg gets some help meeting the sperm, and an embryo is created. Then, that embryo gets transferred back inside the woman, and you hope a pregnancy results. Well, yeah, that is what IVF entails. But there is SO much more to the process than that.
This is something I would come to, kind of, understand during our initial meeting with our doctor. She explained how, if we decided to go forward, I would commit to rounds of injectable medications (much more on that to come!), for months. Yes, months. IVF is a long process, something I certainly didn’t get until I started my treatment.
From the day you say “yes” to starting your journey, to the day you get that terrifying phone call with your pregnancy test results, all in all your time commitment with IVF is several months, at least.
But, as our doctor informed us, many couples don’t make it to the final step. Some find out their eggs aren’t viable, and their dreams of a baby end there. If their eggs are healthy, sometimes fertilization isn’t successful, and you won’t get any embryos for transfer. I would learn there are so many different points at which your IVF journey can come to a jarring, shattering stop. If you decide to try for a baby via these means, that is the risk you must accept.
After losing a pregnancy late in my second trimester due to multiple genetic factors with our baby, this wasn’t what my husband and I wanted to hear. We wanted our doctor to tell us that IVF was a sure thing. That if we committed financially and emotionally to in vitro fertilization, we would hold a healthy baby in our arms, guaranteed.
The reality is that after dozens of painful injections, a monetary investment of thousands upon thousands of dollars, and putting yourself out there, again, even after a soul-crushing loss, IVF doesn’t always work. I’ve heard more stories about women for whom it didn’t work, than for whom it did. It’s easy to find stories online where women recount their disappointing experiences with IVF. And we’ve seen the photos of babies surrounded by hundreds of needles; these women may have endured a dozen cycles before successfully conceiving. To say that starting IVF is daunting, is an understatement.
This was the biggest hurdle for us when we ultimately decided to say yes to IVF. Not only did we understand that it might not work, but accepting this is your best chance for a successful pregnancy is tough. I certainly never thought I’d be here. After three healthy pregnancies, if you had told me just six months ago that I would put myself and my family through all of this to have another baby, I would never have believed you.
But we knew in our hearts we still wanted to try for another baby. After losing our daughter, I also knew I would go through anything to avoid enduring that pain again. Once our doctor explained that, given my age, 38, and our previous genetic issues, it was definitely possible that if we tried to conceive naturally we’d “get struck by lightening again,” I knew I was in. IVF it was, with PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis; more on that later).
And so we committed. We were going to start IVF, just like the many, many other couples who, like us, had been through something unfathomably painful to get where we were now. Because that’s the thing; you know without a shadow of a doubt that every woman who walks through the doors of an IVF clinic isn’t there as her first choice. She’s experienced heartbreaking loss or severe disappointment or the brutal frustration of not getting pregnant repeatedly, or all of the above.
But like me, she has hope in her heart, and is willing to put herself through anything to get to her baby.
Next Sunday, please look for My IVF journey part 2: Go big or go home. I will explain in even more detail of what you must buy into when you say yes to IVF.
If you are considering, or have considered IVF, what is the most challenging aspect of making your decision to say yes or no?
Photos: Melissa Willets and iStock