It is an awful thing to admit to yourself you will never be able to get pregnant. All those times I babysat as a teenager and dreamed of one day having a family of my own… I know now that dream won’t come true the way I planned. There will never be a fun weekend away with my husband that will result in a “happy accident.” Admitting I need help means letting go of the hope of things happening the way I wanted and getting on with reality.
And the reality for us is IVF.
At our first meeting with a fertility doctor, several months ago, we wanted to determine if IVF was the only option for us to have a biological baby. After a long review of my medical history with him and some tests, we determined this was the case. My husband and I then decided to go ahead with this after several months of discussion.
So here I want to share the IVF process with you, whether you’ve been through it, or are thinking of going through it, or are wondering what it is and how you can support a friend going through it. IVF can be really hard even with supportive doctors, family and friends. It can be emotionally, physically, and financially difficult to navigate through.
After our decision to go ahead, I had my first IVF appointment based on my cycle. My first appointment was about two hours long and had three parts. First, they weighed me and took my blood pressure. Then we met with our actual doctor to do a scan or ultrasound to see if there was anything that could delay starting the process. Everything looked good, so we could go ahead!
After meeting with the doctor, we went to the nurse who would be managing the IVF process with us. She gave us a huge packet of information. It contained a list of medications and foods and drinks to avoid (the same things you would avoid if you were actually pregnant), prescriptions my husband and I would both need, an overview of what procedures (link to IVF description) we would be going through, and several forms to review.
The forms raised BIG questions. They covered different issues we might face and permissions we would need to give. We did not have to sign them right away, but we would need to discuss them and sign them at our next appointment. This included a form about ICSI (encouraging sperm into the egg if the sperm seemed uninterested in fertilization on their own); the freezing and use of embryos should there be extras and who would have possession of them should either me or my husband pass away; and a consent of our understanding that multiples may occur. These are tough things to think about, and they are hard to get your head around. You may have religious or other beliefs that you and your partner need to discuss in order to make the best decision for your family.
The nurse then gave us the prescriptions we would need, the pharmacies where they could be filled, and told us to ask about cost before filling them as some places are more expensive than others. She then gave me a demonstration of how to mix two of the medications–I will be giving myself shots in the abdomen for about two weeks. I won’t need to start the shots for another two weeks, when we come back for our third appointment, at which time she’ll show me again, but the more times I can get a demonstration, the better!
After meeting with the nurse, we met with someone in the billing department. She showed us our costs and expenses for the office and doctor’s services, and costs for the medications we would need. After learning the full cost and agreeing to eat ramen noodles for the rest of our lives, we paid for our appointment, made a second appointment and left. I didn’t realize the process would be so quick–from starting the medications to the blood test to find out if I am pregnant, the whole thing will only take about eight weeks total!
I am not a doctor or a nurse, so I am trying to speak very generally about what I am going through. If you are going through this process or are debating choosing fertility treatments, your instructions may be totally different than mine. But I hope just talking about what goes on during IVF will help others, so I’m willing to share my experience!
It’s a scary thing to face, to decide to put your body through, and to manage emotionally. I know hope is going to be my best friend AND my worst enemy. Managing hope is going to be the hardest part of this process for me. I am nervous and scared, and anxious about all the medications I have to mix correctly! My husband is going to have a rough eight weeks on this roller coaster with me. But we’ve made the decision together, and I’m at peace with getting help to have a baby. I just hope it works.
Conversations and Questions
- Before making this decision, here are some conversations we had as a couple:
- How do we, as a couple, feel about going through fertility treatments?
- Are we financially able to each give up what’s necessary to make this happen?
- Are we emotionally able to support each other through this challenging time of our lives? Would talking to a counselor or someone at church help us work through any differences we might have about how we want to move forward?
- Will our employers be flexible with all the appointments we will have? What, if anything, does our health insurance cover?
- How do we feel about multiples (twins or triplets)?
- Are there some treatments we are willing to try and others we are not?
- Are we going to share that we are going through this with our family? With our friends? Or do we prefer to keep it private?
- Are we at a time in our lives when we can be devoted to this being our focus and only calendar item, or do we have big events coming up (wedding? business trip?) or stressors (new job? buying a house?) weighing on us that we might want to get through first?
We also made a consultation appointment and had a list of questions for the doctor. We asked questions like:
- What are my fertility treatment options given my health situation and age?
- What if X, Y, Z treatment doesn’t work? What are our options then?
- What are general success rates for someone in my situation?
- What kind of financial programs does your office offer – loans, payment plans, multiple treatment discounts?
- What is the treatment process and how long does it take?
- What do you recommend for us?
There are a couple of fertility treatment offices in Jacksonville:
Find the best fit for you and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
I know adoption is an option, and it is one we have discussed. It is a beautiful choice. I believe everyone, whether they need fertility treatments or not, should talk about if adoption is right for their family. Right now, though, we have chosen IVF because we believe it is right for us at this point in time.