Written by AB, Guest Blogger
The thing that surprised me most about my (ongoing) fertility journey was the waiting. Something I never expected, and at times it consumes me, and to be honest, makes me feel like I’m losing it.
I got pregnant very unexpectedly in early 2018. I was away in Africa on a humanitarian mission when I figured out my period wasn’t just late because I was traveling. After the shock wore off, I was thrilled. I joined Pinterest. I planned a nursery there. I picked names. I also knew due to my age (39, about to be 40 at that time), that I was at higher risk for miscarriage. I googled the tables, and each day my risk was lower and lower. The day I hit the 8 week mark, and was less than a week from coming home, I started bleeding. Lots of googling ensued and I texted a friend back home who was an OB, who said not to worry if there was no cramping. And then the cramping started. What followed was agony. I had only told one person there for safety reasons. I had to continue working, all while losing my baby. I was in a daze for weeks after.
The miscarriage and the aftermath made me realize how much I wanted to be a mom, and although I had talked about it for years, I was now 40 and I was done waiting to meet the right person and it be the right time. A few months later I tried to make an appointment with an RE someone had recommended. The next available was over 6 weeks away. And so I waited. I did see a different RE earlier due to a cancellation. I did a bunch of tests. And waited for the results. We decided since all the tests were normal, to start with IUI.
My wonderful friends threw me a donor picking party- I felt so supported. And wouldn’t you know it- the first IUI worked! After my 2 week wait, I got a faint double line on my home test and ran to the doctor’s office to have my blood drawn- except it was 3:30 pm. So I had to wait until the next day for results. And when they called, they said it wasn’t clear. How could it not be clear? You’re either pregnant or you’re not. But my beta was 9. Which is over 5, but way under what they would want. So more waiting to go back fro a repeat and it was 19! More than doubled. I was cautiously optimistic.
I then had to go out of town for a trip, so my next beta wouldn’t be for 10 days. On the trip I was exhausted and nauseated. My beta when I came back was higher and we scheduled the OB ultrasound at 7.5 weeks.
And so I waited patiently.
A friend rearranged her work schedule to come to the US with me. My doctor did the ultrasound instead of a tech- I saw something on the screen and got so excited, but the doctor said “wait”, and I knew something was wrong. She called a tech in and they looked at the images and looked around some more. Then she said “I’m sorry, this is not a viable pregnancy”. In her office we discussed the options- D&C (which I didn’t want and didn’t feel I had time for), cytotec (which sounded horrible but fast) and waiting for it to happen naturally. I had a trip booked 10 days later so the waiting and unknown did not appeal to me. Turns out Cytotec didn’t work as fast as advertised, and the next 4 days were miserable to say the least while I worked through the weekend because I was unable to find the voice to call one of my partners for coverage.
Then the wait for my beta to return to 0. Then wait for next cycle. I tried IUI twice more. It didn’t work. Was time to move on.
Little did I know about the waiting that comes with IVF is so much more. Wait for your cycle. Start birth control. Stop birth control. Wait for US and blood work at day 3. Wait for results to see if ok to start cycle (meanwhile you are sitting on a giant box of very expensive medication with scary looking needles that you have just spent a small fortune on). Start injecting yourself. More blood tests and US. Wait for the daily phone call telling you whether to change anything or not. Wait for the follicles to be big enough for trigger and retrieval.
Wake up from retrieval and wait to hear how many they got.
The hardest part for me is after retrieval. Is the wait for the calls from embryology. Because now it is completely out of your hands. My previous clinic (cycles 1 and 2) called on days, 1,2,3,5 and 6 if needed. My current clinic (round 3) only calls day 1 and 5. I remember at the end of the day 1 call asking- what do you mean I won’t hear from you for anther 4 days??
As I write this, I am currently waiting for that day 5 call. I took 3 months off between cycles 2 and 3. I have been doing acupuncture for 6 months. I added every supplement my new RE told me to. I take about 20 pills per day. We changed the protocol and added growth hormone and upped drug doses. I flew out of state. I climbed some mountains to keep myself occupied while I waited between daily appointments.
I am afraid to let my phone out of sight, even for a second as I wait for it to ring. I am afraid to answer it- am so hopeful the voice on the other end will tell me it’s now time to wait for PGS results.