You might be wondering how we ended up here, in the middle of an IVF cycle. Rest assured that IVF was something we didn’t just jump right into, and we certainly didn’t want to be here. And yet, here we are.
I’ve always known that I wanted kids, and as soon as I knew I wanted to marry Dale, I knew he’d make a great father. When we got married, we were excited to just enjoy being married for a while without the added pressure of having a kid. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel 100% ready to be a parent. So we grew our family in other ways – adding three furbabies to the mix – and had lots of fun. Trips to Hawaii, time with family, annual passes to Disneyland, and more delicious meals than I can count. Despite some family tragedies and ups and downs along the way, I can absolutely say that we’ve been blessed.
Around two years ago, we started having a serious conversation about if it was “time”. Time to start a family. I vaguely remember around Thanksgiving that we decided we would start to try in the spring of that following year. So when January 2016 rolled around, I made an appointment with my OB. I let her know that we were about to start trying, and she gave me a clean bill of health. I kind of expected maybe some recommendations, things that I could do to improve my chances, etc, but since I was still relatively young and healthy, she said there was no reason to assume that we’d have any issues. She told me that it could take up to a year for a healthy couple to conceive. Hearing that, at the time, it felt like a year was a million years away. In the following few months, I started taking prenatal vitamins and read up on how to have a baby. Did you know that there are really only *maybe* FIVE days you have a chance of getting pregnant each month?!? I was dumbfounded. I’m a planner, and I like to be prepared, so I studied up as much as I could on babymaking. It is most definitely an art and a science.
Here’s our TTC timeline, from kicking things off until today:
June 2016: when we started trying in earnest. Those first couple of months of trying I remember being really carefree, and honestly not caring too much about whether or not we got that positive pregnancy test. We were having fun and I was loving the idea of the possibilities ahead.
August/September: I got antsy. I started using OPKs (ovulation predictor kits), peeing on so many sticks that I’ve lost count. I symptom spotted like crazy. Feeling slightly nauseous? I MUST be pregnant. Do my boobs hurt? Am I tired? Yep, I HAVE to be pregnant. At the end of every cycle, I couldn’t help myself; I started taking pregnancy tests a few days before my period was due, and would often take two, or three, or four, but always the same result: negative.
October: I got the gut feeling that something must be wrong. I started seeing an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility (shout out to Tina at Coastal Acupuncture!), and felt like for the first time that my concerns were validated. Tina listened to me, was compassionate and wanted to help, even if I was seeing her earlier than most people would seek help. My cycles were a little shorter than she would have liked, so I started getting regular acupuncture, which helped both my cycles and my sanity.
November: I get bloodwork done at the recommendation of my acupuncturist to check my hormone levels, and Dale gets tested as well. Both of our results come back basically normal.
December/January: The holiday season is tough. I have my longest cycle ever and this time, I REALLY do feel pregnant: super tired, boobs are killing me, feel a little sick. This lasts for maybe a week or so, but I never see those two pink lines. Literally shocked when every test I take comes up blank. I’m a handful of days late, a few days after Christmas, and I have the most intense cramps and bleeding I’ve ever had, while on a red-eye flight to Maui with Dale for a tropical vacation. Later I realize that I probably had a chemical pregnancy and am miscarrying.
January through May: Three of my closest friends are all due within a couple months of each other. I help plan, throw and/or attend all three baby showers for three beautiful baby boys, born happy and healthy. It’s bittersweet.
June 2017: It’s been a year. A year is the socially acceptable and typically recommended time period of waiting before a doctor will suggest seeking medical intervention. We are officially diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. I try one round of Clomid, a drug prescribed to help women ovulate, given by my OB before I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) for the first time. I have two appointments scheduled with two different doctors; one I had to wait a month to get in, and the other one was initially booked out through September, but my acupuncturist works her magic and gets me in to see the doctor I ultimately chose in June. My friend who had struggled with infertility asks me how I’m doing as I am heading out to my first appointment. She says that for her, when she went to meet with her RE for the first time, it felt like she had been sitting on the sidelines the whole time and she finally had a chance to come off the bench and get in the game. I couldn’t have said it any better.
We hit the ground running; after choosing a doctor, we jump right into our first IUI cycle. I’m finally feeling positive about our situation, having been told by my RE that the both of us are young and healthy and there is no reason not to assume we can’t get pregnant with an IUI cycle. That being said though, in a best case scenario if all the stars line up right, we have a 20-25% chance of gettting pregnant via IUI. Regardless of what happens this cycle, it feels really good to get regular monitoring and to actually know what is going on inside my body in real time. I don’t even mind all the hours wasted in the waiting room. Our first IUI is on Father’s Day, which feels significant. We wait the requisite two weeks. We come up short.
July: IUI #2 is also a bust. My positive attitude is now tinged with pessimism. Third time’s the charm, right?
August: IUI #3, aka TRY ALL THE THINGS. This month we threw the freaking book at it, full steam ahead. The past two months I ovulated quicker than expected, so this month I make sure that I’m going in for daily monitoring early, especially since we are due to head out of town for a wedding right around when the doc estimates I might ovulate. We end up doing two IUIs, one a day earlier than the last couple months, just in case. We also end up hastily booking our own hotel room on site when we arrive in the Bay Area for the wedding, when our “two bedroom suite” we were supposed to share with my parents ended up being a “two bed room suite”. No babymaking to be had when the beds were practically touching, so we snagged a room a few doors down. Despite all of our, ahem, efforts, our results are still negative.
September: Feeling like we are back to square one, I decide I don’t want to keep throwing money, time and emotional effort at IUIs any longer. I’m heading into the busiest time of year with my work, replete with plenty of travel, and can’t even think about spending countless hours in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or my legs up in stirrups any more. I. Am. Over. It.
I asked the doc during my last IUI cycle in passing her thoughts on us trying IVF. She was supportive, and said that with what she knows about both me and Dale, we’d have an 85% chance at a successful pregnancy on the first try.
WHOA. 85% is pretty freaking good.
Despite every fiber of my being wanting to get pregnant on my own, without shots, without being put under, without spending thousands and thousands of dollars, I book a pre-IVF consult with my RE. And despite knowing our odds, I’m feeling pretty doom and gloom about it.
October: Holy crap. It’s here! The month we start IVF. There’s phone calls to me made, medications to be ordered (and delivered in a giant box that needs to be refrigerated), bills to be paid, consents to be signed. This is getting real.
I start shots on October 24th, the night of the same day I’m struck with the stomach flu. Seems like piss poor timing, but doc gives the go ahead to start, so start we do. The shots really aren’t so bad.
I built it all up in my head. IVF was this big scary monster that I didn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole. But, once we finally got started, I was just happy that we were doing something. And I thank God that it seems like, for once in the last 20+ cycles, things are finally, actually looking up.