You may have seen my post for Infertility Road Pt. 1 –if you haven’t, take a look before reading on.
Today we delve into Pt 2.
Feeling alone in your struggle.
Infertility can come from the man or the woman OR it can be the fearsome “unexplained”. I had the latter, coupled with “advanced age” (36). The majority of fertility issues are “unexplained”. It’s a very helpless “un-diagnoses”……..without a reason treatment is a painful guessing game.
Guessing on a miracle is beyond comprehension and it is incredibly lonely.
As I explained in my first post, we started small on the infertility treatment scale. It took years, and years, of costly steps to get to IVF. We were at LifeQuest in Toronto. Through my 2+ years at this clinic I had felt like part of a herd, I rarely saw the same physician twice. I was a robot who followed all directions to a “T” with hopes that IF I were a perfect patient it would = success.
It’s important to point out that the technicians that I saw, daily, for bloodwork and ultrasounds, were very kind. We got to know each other a bit — niceties — but I never felt that figuring out my “unexplained infertility” was really anyone’s priority.
The cost was huge. Month after month, on top of the emotional toll, we kept paying, and paying, and paying for procedures — always believing that “this one would be THE one”.
Weeks of cycle monitoring (daily bloodwork and ultra-sounds) followed by a hopeful procedure (IUI with or without injectable hormones) — followed by two weeks of waiting — followed by disappointment. Then it starts all over again.
That, in a nutshell, was 2+ years of my mid-late 30’s.
When we embarked on our first round of IVF our physician actually PUT ME ON THE PILL. (I cried daily for a month.) Can you imagine? The reason given: the doctor was going on vacation so he wanted to “hold me off”, “synch me up”, to his schedule.
I was exhausted and broken by this. It seemed so wrong, but I was desperate to follow all directions. I did it….. When he returned from holiday I did the three weeks of daily injectables….then got to “the day” only to find out I hadn’t produced enough eggs to warrant IVF. There were only 5. The cycle was a very expensive bust.
Crushed, I wanted to give up.
Enter the game-changer. It was January of 2007 and I had been poked and prodded, daily, since the spring of 2004. Like angels in our midst, we met with a man who would become to be known as Uncle Doc. A shy man, so I will not name him here, suffice it to say we are still in touch a decade later. At the time of our first meeting I didn’t know UD, my husband did, he was a friend through other channels. Boy-oh-boy am I ever glad I found the muster to make this meeting as it would ultimately lead us to parenthood.
Uncle Doc’s right hand woman, his 2-I-C as it were, was a pioneer in infertility treatments and IVF. Before we entered their room the pair of them had hatched an URGENT plan. Sitting before them I was 39 — there was no time to waste — so off I went with an appointment booked with Dr. Anthony Auyeung.
Yes, they pulled strings to get me into the clinic immediately — as in just days later. (Typically a consultation with Dr. A would see one wait months.) His is the office hopeful parents go when they are labeled “lost causes”.
Dr. A is a one man show, with a very tight team. He is your doctor. No one else touched my file. He went through my entire stack of results, and programs, from LifeQuest. Watching him flip page-after-page, scratching his head, he finally said “I wouldn’t have done that -Wow, Ok, get ready — we are going to make our plan.”
Plan we did. We would do one, very aggressive, round of IVF and if unsuccessful we could go the donor egg route – where the odds of conception would increase exponentially. If unsuccessful, he advised us to consider a surrogate or adoption.
There was no mention of a long line of treatments, no false hope given, he was pragmatic and blunt. It was both frightening and satisfying, in an odd way.
And so it began.
One round of cycle monitoring — one — we commenced with the IVF cycle (the one where I was injecting stimulating hormones). I had the bloodwork and ultrasounds, with the same technicians, daily. We got to know each other well and I was buoyed by their support and positive, cautiously optimistic, ways.
I had the retrieval on March 16th, on the 17th Uncle Doc called me to tell me to “have a green beer today because you won’t be drinking anything for the next 10 months.” I did ….and then (happily) didn’t.
The next day, with my husband 1000 miles away, my best friend accompanied me to the clinic for “the transfer”. Extremely nervous, I walked in to find Dr. A waiting. He said, “So, we have two left of the five we retrieved……one is a C+ student, the other is a Valedictorian.”. I watched, via ultrasound, as both were placed with care inside my uterus. I could see the sparkle of cells from that little valedictorian…..I felt a surge of hope.
I went home …………and waited.
The waiting is so hard. The worry very visceral.
More to come in Part 3!
To you, and you know who you are:
If you are going through this, do not think that you are alone. Never in my adult life had I felt so isolated — so alone — as I did during this stretch of life. It was extraordinarily difficult to articulate to others how I was feeling. I’m writing about this journey now so that I might be able to help even one woman who is struggling through this process. If you or someone you love is going through this …. forward along this blog. I can be reached via the comments section or more privately through the blog email firstname.lastname@example.org. The email goes only to me.