Dear Self, One Year After IVF
I wrote this April 29, 2015, while waiting to learn the results of my first IVF cycle. It is presented without further edit. It has swears.
It’s me—you from a year ago! We’re about to try IVF. Boy, we could not get pregnant naturally! We could not at all.
Well, we did once—after the HSG, which is the exam that can also clear tubes. Maybe you don’t remember what that is? Ha ha ha, just kidding, of course you do. We repeated it 15 months later—plus Clomid/IUI/trigger shot AND acupuncture—as a last-ditch effort to avoid IVF. Didn’t work, but, hey—we tried.
Anyway, we got pregnant once and not long after that we were in a Home Depot and our body decided not to be pregnant anymore. Nobody knows why. Things between us and Home Depot are still pretty weird, and that was 16 months ago. Sixteen months! How time does fly. Except when it doesn’t. Except when you’re waiting… and waiting… and waiting… for news that turns out to be bad.
Boy, we cried in the bathroom a lot! I think we do our best crying there. Probably 80% of all our crying is bathroom-based. The other 20% is random places: the office, the kitchen, the car at a Tove Lo song. It was super fun to cry for an hour in the middle of a Hawaiian vacation. No reason! Just found out we weren’t pregnant… again. It really shouldn’t have been a surprise at that point. But for some reason it really messed us up! It was the day before our husband’s birthday, too. Sorry, husband. Thanks for being there for the crying, no matter what.
We’re truly, deeply grateful that our husband was mellow through the whole thing. We read about depressed husbands, low-libido husbands, indifferent husbands, and we’re so glad he was supportive and gentle. We’re so profoundly grateful that none of this fertility stuff hurt our marriage. Our time together has always been happy. Our time together has always been a comfort.
It’s really our own fault we can’t get pregnant. The problem’s not that we’re so very old, although in reproductive terms we are ancient, we are Bible times, we are Lucy fucking Australopithecus. The problem is that we’re so old AND a woman. That was really dumb, frankly. That was just poor planning. There are a dozen guys in our world having their first kids at 40. We should have looked into that option. Googled it at least.
So much research to be done! We don’t know what people did before YouTube. Drug companies tried to make those self-injections simple, but damn if our hands weren’t shaking every time. The best medication was self-medication—wine, work, sushi, and a really frightening amount of Dragon Age. Did we have a weird dream one time about Commander Cullen? Maybe. Hope our husband can forgive.
The pages of IVF paperwork—35+, just like your age!—made us laugh out loud three times:
- Indicating understanding that clinic is not responsible for loss of embryos due to earthquake or terrorist attack, which weren’t options we had considered
- What to do with any embryos if both we and my partner died at the same time. Isn’t it romantic?
- The list of “seek psychological counseling if you have these symptoms.” We had all of them. We had all of them off and on for about two years. Little late, paperwork.
We never saw ourselves doing IVF. We’d never admit this to the other women on our TTC-After-Loss forum but… we never wanted kids that much. We didn’t grow up around little kids. We look at babies and feel mild revulsion. We heard that “it’s different when it’s yours,” and we figured that was probably true. We figured nature would take care of everything.
So far nature hasn’t taken care of jack shit.
So here we are, financially committed to a cycle of IVF and feeling… nothing. I don’t have any hope for it. The doctor says the odds of me conceiving as a result of this cycle are 50/50. I don’t think I have the financial or emotional will to go through the whole monitoring/medication/X-Files harvest again. I sure would have liked having two kids. I sure would have liked a lot of things.
By the time you read this, one year in the future, you’ll already know. You’ll know how many usable embryos you ended up with. You’ll know if any stayed alive. You’ll know if they made it past the magical 13-week gestation mark, the point at which it’s reasonable to tell other people you’re pregnant, because your miscarriage chances are now below 1 in 5.
There’s a 1 in 3 chance you’ll find out what a C-section is like, because advanced maternal age + increased chance of multiples + IVF = well…
You’ll know if you carried to term. You’ll know if a baby was born healthy. You’ll know if it made it out of those fragile first three months. You’ll have weathered that all without God to lean on, because infertility and miscarriage killed your belief in a God with a plan.
I’m so jealous of you. I hope you beat a lot of odds. Over here, we haven’t beaten any odds at all.
But I know we agree on one thing. We’re really, really jealous of us in forty years.
Because in forty years ww’ll know what our family turned out to be.
And in forty years we’ll know more or less whether all these reproductive stunts we’re pulling—the IVF, the ICSI, the general oldness—affected the reproductive chances of our kids.
Lately we’re not that composed at the best of times, but when we think of taking that phone call from a kid… if we have one at all… by biology or by adoption… when we think of that phone call that says, “Guess what, Mom? We’re pregnant!” or “Mom, this fertility stuff isn’t going so great”… we really cannot handle our shit at all.
We are crying in the office right now.
We are glad our office-mate stepped out.
I hope things are well for you on your end. I hope you’re reconnecting with all those friends with small children. I hope you’re replenishing your savings account. I hope you found a way to deal with all this, because I’m not dealing with it so great.
I hope the Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC was fun.
I hope you’re still wearing soft leggings to work all the time, ‘cos that shit is comfy.
You From a Year Ago