In case you haven’t read my blog post about my infertility journey, I would suggest starting there to get an overall idea about what I’ve been through. I wanted to spend time talking specifically about IVF in this post.
First, I am grateful for having been able to go through IVF twice. I say this because there are a lot of women and couples who don’t have that option. Some reasons include financial restrictions, lack of insurance coverage, or even health reasons. IVF was hell but, having the option and the ability to go through with it was a blessing itself.
Second, everyone’s journey is different and unique. So, if you’ve gone through IVF, your story may be a little different from mine. But, thank you for allowing me the space to share mine with you.
As I mentioned before, our first IVF procedure was very rushed. The doctor gave us the impression that my egg count was low and I didn’t have a lot of time before they would be gone. So, we agreed to start the process right away. The first few appointments were really about taking blood and doing ultrasounds. They monitored my menstrual cycle in order to time the blood draws. This allows them to check my hormones throughout the cycle. They want to verify that my body is doing what it’s supposed to during that 28 day cycle.
I also started birth control. This is to time the cycle so that we know how to account for all of the days along with making sure I don’t get pregnant while I started the meds. The details of the early stages are really foggy. I know that once I got the green light to start, they ordered my meds. I had to go pick them up from a local pharmacy. This is where it was really stressful. The cost of the meds with our insurance were literally about 3x’s the amount compared to the cost if the meds were paid with cash and no insurance. We weren’t expecting to take out money so quickly. But, we had to rush to get this process started. Once that was all taken care of, I started my shots. These were the injections in my belly fat area. The needles were super small so they weren’t really painful for me. I know I did this for several days.
I would also go to the doctor to have ultrasounds done on my follicles to monitor the growth. My doctor also told me to take some vitamins to try to help improve the quality of my eggs. At this point, my husband already had his sperm evaluated and everything was good on his end. I remember I needed more medication, so, this time we did pay out of pocket for more medication. Then, I did other shots of hormones. It was exhausting. But, I was a fighter and I knew I was strong.
Once the follicles were large enough, I was able to do the trigger shot and my best friend had to do that for me. That shot was a little more painful. But, we had our egg retrieval scheduled and we were super excited about it. The egg retrieval process wasn’t too bad. Since they put you under anesthesia, it’s not painful at all. Again, this round they pulled out several eggs. Five of those eggs fertilized. We waited five days for our embryo transfer. During this procedure, they transferred back two embryos. It was definitely worth it. Again, this was the closest I had ever been to being pregnant. The progesterone shots were very painful. Thankfully, my best friend was there to help me with that.
When our pregnancy test came back negative, it felt very abrupt. For several weeks, it was back and forth to the doctor’s office. There were exams, blood draws, etc. So, to then stop everything all at once, we felt like “That’s it!”
The second round of IVF was a little similar. The only difference was that I didn’t take any of the vitamins to help my eggs improve in quality. I also didn’t have my best friend around the corner to help. My husband had to give me the progesterone shots every night and again, they were still very painful. When the pregnancy test was negative, again, it all just stopped abruptly.
I started to see a therapist to work on my mental health. It took me about a year to finally make that decision. But, I never realized how much trauma I experienced with IVF. I realized that there was a lot of fear around some of the exams I took, especially the HSG exam. I also became very sensitive to the going to doctor’s offices….being fearful of bad news. I still get anxiety when I see my regular doctor.
IVF was very hard on my body and my hormones. My anxiety increased dramatically. I also had some depression. This doesn’t even cover some of the issues my husband had. But, I am encouraging him to share his own story, at least from a male perspective. The last procedure again was in 2019 and two years later, I still have a lot of anxiety and depression. It’s not necessarily from IVF, but, definitely from the pain of it being unsuccessful. I still feel pain in my hip where I used to get progesterone shots and it just reminds me of how that pain still exists.
For me, it was validating to say that IVF was very traumatic. It wasn’t easy at all and it took a lot of courage to go through with it.