Friday, December 29, 2017

IVF - The Journey

From the beginning of my IVF journey I’ve had a huge amount of support. I have friends who have gone through the process, friends who are going through the process and friends who don’t completely understand IVF, but are there for me nonetheless. I am also blessed to have a husband who is an awesome cheerleader and who is capable of handling all of the unstable emotions that have possessed me during this journey. I’ve never truly been alone, but it’s been a lonely journey at times especially when I allow my thoughts to run rampant for an extended period of time. 

Although my good friend had given me the full IVF run-down, I still wasn’t prepared for how taxing it would be. 

I’m on a break at the moment, but I've practically lived at the fertility clinic for the majority of the year. My life has become twice-daily booty injections, pills, blood work and unstable emotions. Thank God that I’m great with needles because there is a lot of sticking and poking involved. The injections are a team effort. I prepare the injections and Edward is in charge of administering. 

Preparation for the egg retrieval was physically and mentally exhausting. One morning, my co-worker/friend swung by my desk to say hello and I felt myself beginning to crack. I was already in a troubled state before she stopped by and that ‘Hello’ set me off. Because I was at work, I blinked back my meltdown and after being woo-wooed by my friend, I quickly got myself under control. 

I tried to be strong. I tried to convince myself that it was only appointments. I can do appointments. They tell you what time to be there, you wake up and you go. But it's so much more than 'only appointments' and there is only so much psyching up of myself I could do before the situation leveled me. 

My egg retrieval was extremely comfortable and the outcome was positive. I had healthy eggs that developed into healthy fertilized embryos. We lost a few of the eggs, which is normal, but we still have a good number of embryos of which I hope 1 (or 2) will develop into a baby so that I don’t have to go through the egg retrieval process again; but if I have to do it again - I will. 

Now that we had our good, healthy embryos we began the preparing for the embryo transfer. Preparing for the embryo transfer was less intense than preparing for the egg retrieval, but still extremely exhausting. My first embryo transfer was canceled because my uterine lining was a bit thin. I really appreciate that they didn't want to waste my embryo on a ‘chance’, especially since we went through so much to get them. Still, I was really disappointed. I was aware that I should be flexible because things can change from one day to the next or be canceled at the drop of a hat, but I’m not a flexible person. This experience is forcing me into flexibility whether I like it or not.

About a week after my canceled embryo transfer, we began preparing for the transfer again. This time I’d searched Google inside-out and upside-down for methods of increasing the thickness of my uterine lining. I drank pomegranate juice, red raspberry leaf tea and a good friend recommended acai extract supplements. My doc also prescribed additional medication so that instead of receiving one nightly booty injection Edward had the pleasure of administering two. Something worked because my uterine lining thickened beautifully and we were given a date for our embryo transfer.

The transfer was easy, but the doctor who performed the transfer asked if I’d ever had surgery on my uterus. I figured he asked me that question because he’d had a hard time inserting the catheter, possibly due to scar tissue that developed from my previous surgeries.

My embryo transfer failed and I went dark for a few weeks. I knew that there was a huge chance that the transfer would fail, but I was hopeful going into it for the first time. I was a bit hard on myself for believing that the first try would be successful and I had to fight to accept that the hope I felt was natural. 

I tried to talk myself out of the darkness, but it became hard to get up in the morning. The act of removing my feet from the bed and getting them to touch the floor was difficult. Getting out of bed meant that I had to go out, smile and pretend that I was ok. I was already exhausted and pretending took a lot of energy. I just wanted to lie down. I had such a bad breakdown at work one day that I thought I was going to have to go home. I couldn’t be on the street or on the train in the condition I was in so I just hid in the bathroom and called my dad-friend who has always been great at calming me down. I really felt like I was going crazy.

I’m blessed to have a two surrogate mom-friends and one surrogate dad-friend who continuously look after me in situations like these and who have saved me millions of dollars in therapy. One of my Christian surrogate mom-friends was able to talk me off the ledge. I’d completely shut down, but I knew that I needed to talk to someone and so I reached out to this particular mom-friend. She actually didn’t say much, but she said everything exactly right as if she had a message to deliver specifically to me. It sounds insane, but I felt the darkness lift as my friend was speaking and at the end of our conversation I felt complete peace. That conversation broke me out of my depression and a peace that passes all understanding has been with me ever since.

I had another painful test on my uterus to determine the condition of the cavity before having another embryo transferred. I was right about the scar tissue. Thankfully, by the time I received the call confirming that I would need a third surgery to remove scar tissue in my uterus, I was in a much better mental space. I am actually really looking forward to the surgery because it will give me a chance to relax for an entire week.

My surgery was supposed to take place this month, but everything is out of whack due to the medication my body has endured, so the surgery has been postponed until January. In the beginning, I had an expectation of immediacy and with IVF, that’s not at all realistic. I’ve come to accept that a change in a day, a month or a couple of months doesn’t really make much of a difference. Things are going to happen when they are going to happen and there isn't a thing I can do about it. 

At the end of every year I visualize where (God willing) I hope to be by the end of the following year. I’m working on adjusting my expectations. I’m working on letting go of the things that I can’t control and making the most of the things I can control. I’m grateful to be in a better place mentally and I’m grateful to have people in my life to steer me back on the right path whenever I veer into darkness. 

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