After two weeks of medicines and doctor’s appointments, we are ready to try to get pregnant. On a day determined by my doctor, I gave myself one final shot. That shot forced me to ovulate. I then went with my husband to the doctor a day or so later to undergo anesthesia for egg retrieval. Once they got the eggs from me, my husband, err, contributed to his portion of the embryo making (It is impossible not to make jokes to each other about this!), and the fertility clinic specialists mixed them together.
My husband had to drive me home from the egg retrieval. Once home I got into bed. I was completely out of it from the anesthesia and slept the rest of that day and part of the next. I had cramping but nothing that lasted. Mostly I was just tired and irritable from the anesthesia.
A few days later the doctor called to give us an update on our growing embryos. We had enough that were doing well that they felt it best to push them to a “day five transfer.” A day five transfer can be a good sign of a sturdy embryo.
So on day five back we went to the doctor. This time, there was no anesthesia, but my husband could not come back in the room with me, the nurse and the doctor. The nurse got me set up just like I was getting a pap smear, but with an ultrasound screen next to me so I could see the embryo being transferred. Very carefully they double checked my name and birthday, and then the doctor used what looked like a syringe to put the embryo in my uterus. I was able to watch on the screen. And of course, I cried. But this time, they were excited, happy tears.
That night I went home to rest. I stayed in bed and read a book. I am allowed to work and do moderate activity, but I thought relaxing was best, for my mental health if nothing else! Then the hard part began – the dreaded “two-week wait,” which is what everyone calls it if you Google search “trying to conceive” chat rooms. That whole two weeks I had to take two medicines – estrogen and progesterone – until I found out if I was pregnant or not. If I wasn’t, I’d stop them. If I was, they would continue until the doctor felt it was ok to stop them when the pregnancy was far enough along.
After two weeks I would go to the doctor for a morning blood test. That afternoon they would call me to tell me if I was pregnant. They warn you in all the documentation many times not to cheat and take a home pregnancy test because of all the medicines you are on – sometimes you can get a false positive. You can also get a false negative. Either is a terrifying thought.
But ten days later, the morning of my blood test, I took a morning pee-stick pregnancy test. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to know, and I was sick to my stomach over waiting for the afternoon call from the nurse. I wanted to mentally prepare myself. I didn’t feel any pregnancy symptoms whatsoever, so I wasn’t hopeful (even though all the medications I was taking could have been the cause of that).
I stared and stared and stared at that plastic test but no second pink line appeared. It was negative.
I cried all the way to work.
That afternoon when the nurse called, she was really sweet. I knew it was bad news immediately by the tone of her voice. I almost felt bad for her, having to call me and tell me my blood test was negative, and knowing it would break my heart. We spoke for about 20 minutes and talked about next steps. Because we have a few frozen embryos left, we have another chance, to go through a frozen embryo transfer, for me to still get pregnant. It’s another round of medicines and ultrasounds, but seeing as some women don’t have left over embryos to freeze I feel pretty fortunate, considering.
So we’re going to try again.
IVF is really tough to go through, even if you are a “science” sort of person. There is so much to manage emotionally – as a couple and as a woman. Physically it is exhausting. I felt sick, uncomfortable, tired and irritable most of the time. The result of course, can be completely worth it, which is why women do this to themselves. I think having supportive family and friends during an IVF journey is really important though, and I am thankful for individuals in my life who are there for me.
Support a friend or family member going through IVF:
- Make a dinner for her
- Take her out for a girls lunch or dinner (but not a bar, she can’t have a glass of wine)
- Send her a good book to read
- Text, email, send her Facebook messages to say “I’m thinking of you” (really, you don’t have to do or say more than that)
- Let her cry if she needs to
- Ask her if she’s ok, and then take her lead as to whether or not she wants to talk about it, or changes the subject
- Help her try to keep positive
- Distractions are good – dinner with friends, a movie or a show, shopping trip, church potluck, whatever you can invite her to.
- Check in with her from time to time, whether she gets good news or bad news. Even a positive pregnancy test doesn’t always mean a healthy baby. She’s going to need you either way.