In 2014 when Ryan and I first started trying to have a baby, my expectation was that I would be pregnant within six months. That didn’t happen. We tried for a year using ovulation kits and trying all of the “correct” positions. The reality was that each month our hearts would fall when I would get my period.
In 2015 we were referred to a fertility doctor and I thought for sure we would be nine months away from a baby. Our first procedure was medication with timed intercourse. To start I had to take Clomid for seven days so I decided to research the effects of Clomid before we began our round. What I learned from my search is that you become a demon from taking Clomid. I read blogs, articles, and forums about how crazy it makes your hormones and in turn your personality. We pretty much had a cage ready to keep me in during my treatment. Instead, the reality was that the drug had almost no effect on my personality or emotions so I’m not sure what that says about me as a person without Clomid. My expectation of the treatment was that it was going to be a breeze and the only thing that I had to do was give myself a trigger shot and then have timed intercourse. The reality was that day we just couldn’t muster any excitement. I felt like a trained circus monkey forced to perform. We spent most of the day doing random tasks around the house, keeping busy to avoid each other and the one major “task” that we had to complete. That night we realized that we were running out of time and just had to try.
There was no passion and it felt so forced and clinical.
After a few rounds of IUI, Ryan and I moved on to IVF. At this point we also didn’t know what exactly my “issue” was. All we knew is that we had ruled Ryan out as the reason we weren’t getting pregnant. I am now an expert on the subject of IVF. I can probably give you the national statistics for the last ten years on egg retrievals, transfers, clinical pregnancies, and live birth. I researched this topic for hours a day, comparing data at clinics to see which one had the best success rates and what my odds were at my age. I watched videos on procedures and CCS testing. I poured over articles on OHSS, and how the meds affect your body. Going into our first round my expectations were a pregnancy as a result of a transfer of at least one embryo. I didn’t expect my emotions to be out of control from the medication as I had tamed the beast that is Clomid.
I expected it to be like maybe a heavier version of PMS.
I have no issue with needles and expected it to be so easy to inject myself that I might have even designed a little injection choreography in my head. I expected that it would be about eight days of injections, and then they would take my eggs and we would have all of these magical embryos to choose from. All of my expectations on this experience were light years from reality. My injections went on for over two weeks I was injecting three needles a day, and one that I am sure was a quilting needle due to the size of the gauge.
My entire abdomen was so tender and bruised, I had actually run out of injection room, so I was injecting into bruises. I lost my bright-eyed attitude in the first week and was trying to trick myself into injections. I would count to three and try to inject myself on two, like I had some sort of super brain that would allow me to trick myself. That method, for the record, does not work. I was also a wild roller coaster of hormones. Simple things that didn’t go smoothly in my daily routine, felt like the biggest obstacle that I had ever faced.
This is not the time to try to set up a new wireless printer unless you enjoy lying on the floor in a puddle of tears.
Egg retrieval was the not the magical experience that I had expected. I had a nurse that dropped my blood pressure to 70/30 when she did my IV. I was given Fentanyl and Ativan that made me somewhat comfortable but there was still pinching, pressure and sharp pains. I developed OHSS which resulted in hospital visits, monitoring my fluid input/output and I had to check in with the clinic every day. Even on our second round my expectations didn’t meet reality. This round, my ovaries were so lifted from the fluid that they couldn’t use freezing. Three doses of Fentanyl didn’t even put a dent in that pain. My recovery from that retrieval was worse than I could ever anticipated as it was almost three weeks before I could walk and move normally. On our third egg retrieval I expected the worst as I had very low expectations for my recovery at this point. Instead I was back to normal after four days, no OHSS this round and barely any cramps after two days.
After our egg retrieval on our first round of IVF, things were looking great.
We had 27 eggs retrieved and out of this I was expecting around five embryos. Nineteen of the eggs were mature enough to be fertilized, so we started with 13 embryos fertilized and ready to grow. Day 2 we had 11 embryos, but by day 4 we only had four embryos. We experienced a seven embryo drop off in one day. The reality was that after CCS we would only end up with one embryo. We transferred our single embryo and I expected that in nine months I would be a mother delivering a healthy baby. After all, we had done the CCS testing to get the best possible embryo. Our reality was that we miscarried on Christmas Day at five weeks.
On our second round I thought I had this in the bag. I had spent six months prepping with acupuncture, supplements, a fertility diet, and eliminating all things that were harmful to egg quality. They retrieved 19 eggs, and 13 were mature enough to be fertilized. We started with 13 embryos on Day 1, then 7 embryos on Day 3, and then none by Day 4. How was this my reality after I had done everything in my power to boost my fertility? Was my Day 4, 7 embryo drop off really a thing?
Is this something that I should expect for every IVF round going forward?
On our third round I had very little expectations going in. I would just be glad with one embryo at this point. It’s funny how things change during your journey as I was so greedy to start and now I am so humbled and will be glad with whatever I can get. We had 27 eggs retrieved, 20 were mature this time and we had 14 embryos growing away. We had 14 all the way to Day 4. I couldn’t help it, my expectations leapt through the roof as this was going to be the round. That was until they called and let us know that we had 7. For the third time we had experienced the dreaded Day 4, 7 embryo drop off. By the end of Day 5, we had one embryo that went to blastocyst. My expectations were so low this round but when we still had 14 going into Day 4, I was expecting at least 3 embryos at the end. My reality is that I have one embryo, untested and with very little expectations about its future.
They say it only takes one, which were my expectations going in, but the reality is that it takes more. We had our one, it was transferred and then we miscarried. The reality is that none of my expectations on any of our rounds of fertility treatment were met. I didn’t even have high expectations. I did however expect that by now I would have a baby. It has been four years, and over $70,000 since we started. This isn’t what I expected, but for now it is our reality.
By Sarah Cheltenham, sparklessarcasm.blogspot.ca