It was May 2016. The day had finally arrived when we would start IVF.
The anticipation was almost too much to bear! I was excited, scared, and nervous…but mostly excited. Could I possibly be pregnant in a little over a month????
I remember step 1 was to self administer shots in my belly for a little over a week. The needles weren’t too scary looking (unlike the progesterone shots) and once I did the first one, it was smooth sailing from there on out. Lucky for me, I have always had a generous reserve of fat around my abdomen and had no problem finding places to pinch. At this point, it was more of a mental thing. It’s hard to jab yourself with a needle! (I give all the credit in the world to people with diabetes.)
It’s interesting to talk to other women who are also going through IVF because every clinic seems to do things a little differently. For these shots, my doctor had told me to try to do them around the same time every night. I was driving to Iowa from Chicago to visit some relatives and remember pulling over onto a dirt road in the dark to give myself my shot because it was time. Thankfully, everything went well and I was back on the road within a few minutes. All I kept thinking was, “Oh, the lengths we will go to just to get pregnant!”
I definitely bruised from the belly shots (unlike the butt ones). I was SO glad to see that last needle go!
In all honesty, the rest of the IVF process was kind of a blur, especially since I did it 2 years ago. After the belly shots (which were to stimulate ovulation), I had to go in for the egg retrieval. I was put under and the whole procedure was over and done before I knew it.
Three of my friends had over 20 eggs each at their retrievals…I had 11.
It can be hard not to compare yourself or your situation with others…try not to.
It will only drive you crazy, in my opinion. I remember thinking, “Only 11??? Is that because I’m older? Are my eggs not as good? Should I have stopped drinking earlier? Was it my diet? I really need to eat healthier. Should I have exercised more?”
IVF is as much if not more of a mental and emotional process as it is a physical one.
After the retrieval, the laboratory puts the sperm with the eggs…and we wait.
A few days later, we got the call. From the 11 eggs, we had 5 that turned into embryos. Later that day, one of the embryos died. We had 4 embryos!
I believe most clinics will only transfer 2 embryos, due to the high chances of multiples. After discussing our options with my doctor, because of my age (39 at the time), we decided to transfer 3 and freeze 1. We were giddy with excitement, fear, and awe. What if we ended up with triplets????? The prospect was almost too much to digest.
The transfer was smooth and quick but I was super uncomfortable. Sometime during the transfer, our 1 little lone embryo died. We were left with the 3 that had been implanted. I felt a slight sense of pressure since my friends had several embryos to freeze, in case their transfers did not take. We had none so this was our one shot.
I was told to come to the clinic with a full bladder. “Drink 24 oz. of liquid before you get here.” I already have a pretty small bladder and it seems to fill pretty quickly. I should NOT have drunk the full 24 oz.! But I am ever the rule follower.
When I got to the clinic, there was another couple ahead of me for a transfer and the clinic was running a tad bit behind. I crossed my legs and pretended not to feel the discomfort I was feeling.
Finally, it was my turn! I changed into a hospital gown and was wheeled into the operating room. Hubs and I got to watch on the screen in real-time as the doctor injected our potential children into my uterus. Just like that! Done within seconds. Painless and quick.
I was wheeled into recovery and told I should remain lying down for at least an hour. This meant I could not go to the restroom. I told them there was no way I could hold my bladder for that long. They gave me the option of having a catheter put in or a bedpan. I chose catheter.
A few minutes later, the nurse came back in.
“Sorry. The nurse who puts in catheters just left for lunch.”
Are. You. Serious. I nearly died right there. “Um…ok,” I croaked. “Give me the bedpan.”
For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of using a bedpan…it’s the strangest thing. My body so desperately needed to urinate…but my mind wouldn’t cooperate with my body. It felt unnatural and wrong to pee lying down. Finally, I was able to let go and get it done…so much so I overflowed the pan! Ooops. Just another glamorous part of my journey!
The next step was to go home and do the dreaded “2 week wait”. Those were the hardest 2 weeks of my life! Hubs and I tried to get my mind off of the wait. We filled our time with hobbies and going out to dinner and getting together with friends. I tried not to think about anything IVF related. Then again, I found myself daydreaming about life with triplets…
One of the nurses pleaded with me NOT to take a pregnancy test during this time. “For your sanity…please don’t,” she said. “I cannot tell you how many women have taken them and have gotten false positives…or the opposite. They take the test, it comes up negative, they come in here heartbroken and crying…only to be pregnant.
Please do yourself and us a favor and DON’T take the test!
Just wait until the full 2 weeks and come in for your blood test and do it that way.”
I chewed on her words very carefully. I am normally that person who likes to shake the box and try to guess what’s inside…or sneak a peak at the end of the book to find out what happens before reading the middle. But I heeded her words. This was very important to me and I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my already sensitive state of mind.
Finally, the big day arrived. The end of my two weeks happened to fall on a Sunday (Father’s Day). Hubs was working that day and had already left home. I headed out to my appointment, my body wracked with anticipation. The nurses were so friendly, kind, and reassuring. They drew my blood and told me they should have the results by 1 p.m. later that day.
Around 11:30 a.m., I got the call.
“Congratulations, you’re pregnant.”
I am tearing up as I write this. I had waited so many years to hear those words. I felt like I was in dream and was afraid someone would wake me up from it. Me? Me. Seriously? I was pregnant????
Unfortunately, two out of the three embryos did not stick. We were having a singleton. I felt a strange combination of sorrow and joy. I mourned a loss of what might have been…but it felt greedy of me. I was thrilled beyond belief at the one.
The best part of my morning was calling up Hubs and telling him, “Happy Father’s Day, babe. You’re doing to be a dad.”
Missed parts 1 and 2 of my story? Read them here: