I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written a post but I’ve been struggling to find the words for this particular one for the past several weeks. My emotions have been all over the place because of medications, good news, bad news, and of course, our current commander-in-chief’s use of executive orders as well as the bills being introduced in Congress (including a personhood legislation that can complicate things for the infertility community). I’ve learned a lot while struggling with fertility, most especially that nothing goes as planned… ever. From the very beginning of this journey, I’ve been thrown one curve ball after another; from realizing it might be hard for me to get pregnant (who knew?), to the never-ending tests that give us no explanation, to 3 failed IUIs and then finally going through with IVF. It’s exhausting, I’m exhausted. And honestly, this is nothing compared to what so many other women have gone through. But I’ve also tried to recognize that it’s no easy feat the things that I have gone through either.
So here’s an update as to the events of the past month. Remember in my last post, I said that 3-5 days after egg retrieval a woman will expect to have the fresh embryo transfer? Yeah, well that was supposed to happen with me but it didn’t. I started taking all the pre-egg retrieval medications which included 2 shots in the morning and 1 at night to boost my egg production. I had a tentative egg-retrieval date of January 9th and it couldn’t come soon enough. Taking these medications put a lot of strain on my body and my emotions. If you’re a woman who experiences PMS, this is 10 times worse. It was fine at first but the more medication I took, the more my physical and emotional body ached. I felt bloated all the time (I had to wear yoga pants to work practically every day), I was sad (pretty much about everything), and tired (so much so that I had to take some time off).
I wasn’t responding to some of the medications like I was supposed to (this is after probably 3 days on the medications) and the doctor upped one of my medications. I went into the doctor’s office every day for 10 days to have an internal ultrasound to check the growth of my follicles and to get blood drawn. By the end of it, I looked like I was a drug addict – so many wounds in my arm all of which were bruised over not to mention all the marks on my belly from the 32 shots I took during the 11 days of “stimulation”. Unfortunately, the day before my egg retrieval, I found out that my estrogen was dangerously high (of course, due to the medications). This increased my risk for what’s called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which basically means that I was producing too many follicles and my ovaries were severely enlarged. Well, duh!
So the day of my egg retrieval came and the doctor warned us that if they retrieved more than 20 eggs, we wouldn’t be doing a fresh transfer because of my severe risk for OHSS. I thought I might be in the clear because they’d been tracking about 16 follicles for the past 11 days. As I woke up from the anesthesia, I learned from the nurse that they retrieved 24 eggs. And although that’s awesome, I was devastated to learn that I wouldn’t be having a fresh transfer 5 days later but instead, will be doing a frozen embryo transfer (FET) almost 8 weeks later. That’s two more months I had to wait after 4 years of trying to get pregnant. I get it, it’s only 2 more months and it was for my own health and safety but it sucked. Nothing has gone according to plan this entire fertility journey and I just get so exhausted from having to deal with changing plans.
Dan brought me home as I cried in the passenger seat. He bought me a milkshake and got me set up in the bed for the rest of the day. I was exhausted from the medications, from the anesthesia, from the good news of retrieving so many eggs and the bad news of having to wait another 2 months for the transfer. So I slept the rest of the day and didn’t wake up until the following morning. The next several days consisted of severe bloating and a bit of weight gain and a whole bunch of constipation tied in (I know..TMI). So I had a mild case of OHSS which is good since symptoms can be a lot worse. But I was still uncomfortable.
And then the waiting game began. I went back to work and tried to distract myself. I lived it up on the weekends with friends since I could drink again (might as well while I can, right?). But I still thought about how things didn’t go as planned, practically every minute of every day. This is why telling a woman who is struggling with fertility to “just relax”, is the most insensitive thing ever. Do you think we don’t want to be relaxed? Do you think we don’t try to do everything in our power to relax and stop stressing/thinking about getting pregnant? I would if I could… but I can’t.
And then yesterday happened. I woke up, just like any other ordinary Saturday and checked my email. In it was an email from someone I interact with fairly often with news that she was pregnant. Total blow to my already fragile emotional state. And I lost it. I’ve been getting better about people announcing their family expansion news (especially when I know those people struggled as I did) but this person so easily gets pregnant and I just don’t understand why life can be so unfair. As much as I try to be happy for someone with such great news, I’m so tired of not being the one to announce that I’m pregnant. I immediately started thinking “what if my embryo transfer doesn’t work” and I have to see this person’s belly getting bigger and bigger for the next 6 months while mine remains the same. I went into a terrible depression 2 years ago because of a similar situation and I’m worried I’m going to spiral down into that dark place I didn’t ever want to see again.
I worry I won’t ever have a pregnancy announcement. I worry that when my sister-in-laws get pregnant, I won’t be able to be happy for them. I worry that this frozen embryo transfer won’t work. I worry that even if it does work, I’ll miscarry. I worry I’ll go into another depression. I worry that if I do, I won’t be able to get myself out of it. I worry I’m not strong enough to endure any more of this. I worry that I’ll never stop yearning to be a mother. I worry I’ll never be one. I worry all the time. I worry every day. Every time I think things are getting better, I get news that turns my world completely upside down. And I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of putting on a fake smile every day when my heart is breaking inside. I’m exhausted of baby announcements that aren’t mine. I’m exhausted seeing parents rolling their eyes as their kids have a temper tantrum. I’m exhausted of not having things go as planned.
So the next part of the “plan” is to have a frozen embryo transfer on March 6th. But even that might change so I’m not getting my hopes up. I’ve starting priming for the transfer today which means I’ve started taking more medications… more shots.. more pills. If all goes well, the lab will thaw two of my best quality embryos (in hopes of them surviving the thaw) the morning of March 6 and I’ll go in to have them implanted. I usually try to end a post on a positive note but it’s hard to do that today. So I’ll end with a quote:
“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light” – Madeline L’Engle