We want to welcome a guest blogger Lauren. She blogs at Not Just an Army wife. She also tweets as notjustarmywife.
I've gotten to know Lauren through blogging and tweeting. She has a remarkable story of strength and perserverance. I hope you enjoy her post today.
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Hey all! My name is Lauren and my husband and I have been battling infertility for just about four and a half years. When I saw Suzy asking for bloggers to write a post about their IVF experience, I jumped at the chance even though our IVF did not work.
Suzy asked me if I would consider writing my post about dealing with the emotions of an IVF not working. I agreed since I have experienced a whole range of emotions, but found it hard to actually write about them. I had so many ideas floating around in my head; however, every time I opened up my word document to write them down, I felt my world crashing down around me.
I guess I should provide some background information just in case you don’t know our story. E and I have been trying to have our first child since April 2008. Over the years, I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, an underactive thyroid, and a potential luteal phase defect. I’ve taken Clomid and Femara, injected myself with Gonal-F and Menopur, have done five IUIs and one round of IVF. We were able to get pregnant twice on Clomid back in 2010, but sadly both pregnancies ended in the first trimester – the first at almost 12 weeks and the second at five weeks.
When we finally made the decision to go forward with IVF, I felt excited, hopeful, scared, nervous, anxious. You name it, I felt it. I was excited because I felt that our chances of getting pregnant through IVF would be so much higher than when doing IUI. I was hopeful because maybe (just maybe), we would finally get to be parents because of IVF. I felt scared because IVF doesn’t work for everyone.
What if it didn’t work for us? Where would we go from there? I felt nervous and anxious because I had a fear of developing OHSS. I had a mild case of it during our second IUI (which resulted in a cancelled cycle as well as three cysts bursting) and that was very unpleasant to say the least. I had a fear that going back to student teaching the day after my transfer would negatively impact implantation. I had an irrational fear that the stress of writing lesson plans and being observed by my university supervisor during the dreaded two week wait would cause this not to work. I also had another completely irrational fear – What if I couldn’t find a Gatorade flavor that I could tolerate (FYI – I didn’t. Any suggestions are welcomed)?
Our cycle started and was fairly uneventful as far as IVF cycles go I suppose. I stimmed for 11 days and had decent E2 levels. I had no issues with the anesthesia during the egg retrieval and my RE was able to retrieve eleven eggs (no small feat for my PCOS ovaries – we’re more about quality then quantity here). Nine of those eleven eggs fertilized through ICSI and we were able to transfer two beautiful eight-cell, grade I embryos three days later. I felt excited, happy, and hopeful as we watched our embies settle in.
My nurse gave me our first “baby picture”, which I proudly displayed on our refrigerator. I looked adoringly at this picture every time I walked into the kitchen. Days went by. I dutifully drank my Gatorade, upped my protein intake, and tried to take it easy. No working out, no heavy lifting, and a ton of sitting in the classroom during the day.
As the days went by, I didn’t feel anything. No sore boobs, no cramping, no heartburn, no increased urination. Nothing. Things didn’t seem to be working the way we wanted them to. I told myself that I would hold out peeing on anything until at least 9 DPO. I made it until 10 DPO. Much to my surprise, all I saw was one pink line. One lonely line. I screamed, “Where’s the other line?”
After realizing that that other line wasn’t going to show up, I broke down. E tried to calm me down, but nothing he said helped. He kept asking if it was too early. I wanted to say that it might have been too early, but deep down, I knew that it was over. I started bleeding on Saturday (Two days before my beta was scheduled). I was frustrated because who the heck bleeds through three daily doses of progesterone? Apparently I did.
To top it all off, I was supposed to go to a baby shower later in the day. E told me that I didn’t have to go. Heck, the new momma-to-be even told me not to go and that she would understand. I didn’t want to let this stroke of bad luck affect anyone else, so I put on the best happy face that I could and went to that shower.
So many times I just wanted to break down and cry. I saw all of these mothers with their adorable children and wondered if they knew how lucky they were to have them. I wondered if anyone (other than the momma-to-be who was a fellow IFer) in the room had trouble conceiving. I wondered why it was so easy for some to get pregnant, yet so hard for others.
Fast forward to two days later. My blood test confirmed that I wasn’t pregnant. I took the call during my lunch break and immediately started crying. Unfortunately classroom lunches don’t last very long and I had to wipe the tears from my eyes so I could teach a room full of fifth grade students. I couldn’t keep crying at school (obviously), so I found myself bottling up my anger and sadness and letting it all go when I would get home. I cried and cried and cried all night for days on end. I found myself feeling envious of those women who had successful IVF cycles. Why them? Why not me? Very selfish of me, I know, but that’s how I felt. Honestly - I still feel that way sometimes.
Not only was I feeling angry and sad, I was also feeling very frustrated by our clinic. Since E in the military and I go to an RE who is military himself, we have to stick to a very irregular schedule. After my second beta came back negative, I immediately asked when we could do our first FET cycle (we have 6 frosties waiting for us). I was told that they wouldn’t be doing another fresh IVF cycle until August, so we had to wait until then.
My RE’s nurse immediately sensed my frustration and calmly explained the reason behind the wait. Since retrievals and transfers are done at a separate facility off-post, we had to work with the other facility. They only schedule FETs during fresh cycles due to limited staff availability and the fact that my RE has hundreds of patients in his practice. He can’t limit himself to only doing IVFs and FETs. Sounds like a reasonable explanation, right? At this moment, yes, definitely reasonable. At that moment in time shortly after finding out we lost our embies, not reasonable at all. Cue more crying. Cue more anxiety.
As I waited for July to come so I could start birth control pills for FET, I felt stuck and constantly sad. All I wanted to do was sleep and cry and sleep some more. However, I knew that I couldn’t do that. I had to finish my student teaching so I could graduate. I had to get back into the gym to start losing the 10 pounds I put on from the IUIs and IVF. I had to do anything to bring me out of this funk.
Thankfully, I had fantastic support from E, from those few friends who knew about IVF, and of course from my Twitter pals. Even though the sting of failure was still ever-present, these people helped me out of that funk. While I’m still disappointed that we lost our embies, I have a renewed sense of hope that FET will work and we will finally have our baby that we have been waiting for.
Hopefully in a few months, I won’t be writing a post about dealing with emotions after a failed FET.