Here we are being crazy, imagine that...
After a couple times we really got the hang of it. Here is us about a week into the shots...you have to make this whole process fun!!
After we did the two weeks of three a day shots, and you start going almost every day to have the eggs you're growing measured and counted. When they reached the correct size, we went for egg retrieval. Thank God they knock you out for that, because they put a huge needle up in your hoo-ha to extract the eggs. While that's happening, hubby is leaving his little guys in cup so they can quickly pick out the best ones and mix them in with all the huge eggs that I just laid, ah-hum, I mean produced.
Then in 5 days, when they had become healthy little embryos, we went back in. We started with 18 eggs, and 11 were mature. One by one they started dropping off, and by day 5 we only had 2 little guys left when we went in for embryo transfer. This part was my favorite. Even though you have to be up in stirrups with a full bladder so they can see better on the ultrasound, and like 20 people are staring at your business, it was still pretty cool. The operating room is connected to the lab with a drive up window kind of thing and its really hot because all of the embryos have to be kept at body temperature. So there's like 4 people in the lab that can see everything and the doctor and the ultrasound tech and like 5 nurses and Jared all looking at you in stirrups, but its ok. They carefully pass the embryos in a syringe through the drive up window to the doctor who squirts it into a catheter placed in your uterus and you can see everything on a monitor. Its so cool!! We could see them take the embryos from the lab into the syringe into the catheter, and into the uterus!! It was the closest thing I had ever been to being pregnant. It was a miracle!!
Then comes the not fun part...the progesterone shots and the two week wait. The progesterone needle is 1 1/2" long. And thick. And the progesterone oil is thick. It gets shot right into the buttocks. YOOOWCH! My poor husband had the task of giving me these shots. The second day found him feeling more confident, maybe a little too confident, and he hit a bone! That's right, a bone!! He felt so bad, and so did I. Here were the expressions of my family after hearing this news:
(Sorry for the crack, and I look like Garth here, but it adds to the effect)
It was pretty bad. I went to my mom's office and had one of the doctors put a circle on my bum for the next nights shots. We also got smaller needles. That helped a lot!! You are supposed to take it easy the first couple of days, and not do anything to strenuous until you get your pregnancy results.
The ten day wait was a tough one. My scheduled blood test was for December 23, two days before Christmas. Also, Jared's sweet little grandmother had past away unexpectedly during those 10 days, which was devastating, so we were really hoping for some good news. On December 23, I got the call I was waiting for and it was my doctor's voice on the line. I knew that was not good news. The embryos did not survive, and I was not pregnant.
On Christmas day, someone showed up in red, but it sure as hell was not Santa. It was that RHBFTS again. Merry Effing Christmas. I know I don't usually cuss, but damn it, I had to. All this build up, all this joy preparing room in my heart for one or even two little ones. Going crazy pinning ideas for a nursery, cloth diapers, homemade baby food, DIY maternity clothes, to my secret baby pinterest board. Loving those little embryos as if they were already my babies. All the hard work I put my body, my mind, my heart, my husband through. Dashed. It hurt so much more than I expected. And it didn't help that those progesterone shots make your body think that its pregnant, I was even nauseous and had food aversions. You can't even trust your own body. You relinquish your whole being to these doctors so that they can help you make a miracle. I was devastated. I felt broken. I did not expect this at all. I kept telling myself," I can handle this. If it doesn't work, it wasn't meant to be." I still believe that, but at the time, nothing could have prepared me for those emotions. I contemplated not doing IVF again.
I went back and forth about right up until our second round.
Unfortunately, because of my genetic makeup, my body responded very aggressively to the hormones. Endometriosis is fueled by estrogen, and my body can't handle it. I found out that's also why I had the breast tumors in the past. When I have a lot of estrogen, my body thinks it needs to produce more tissue, which is why I also get a crazy amount of uterine polyps and fibroid tumors. I've had to have those removed in surgery three times in the past year. After IVF, I was in horrible pain for 3 months until we tried it again. I relied on pain meds to get me through the day. ,I had to have a couple of procedures done to make sure that it was the endometriosis causing the pain. One of those happened to be my third colonoscopy for which they were unable to get me to sleep completely and I woke up during the procedure in excruciating pain, only to be followed by a barium enema Xray so they could get their results. Easily the worst day of my life.
Everything came out okay, though, and the end result was that my endometriosis is just so aggressive, the only way to fix the pain is through hysterectomy which would cause everything to die off. That would only be done after we had finished having our family.
So on to round 2 of IVF. We were a pro at the shots by now. The only hold up was that the insurance had mis-coded something and was trying to tell me that one of my drugs was $3000. Just one, the others were close to $1000 a piece and our total was gonna be $6000. I don't think so. They waited until the last possible day to get it straightened out and I had to have everything over nighted. I am so thankful for the lady that stood up for me and fought these people in charge to prove that my drugs were covered. I really am truly grateful that we have insurance that has made it possible to even try this route. Our doctor changed up the drug protocol this time in attempt to get better quality eggs. My eggs were low quality because the endometriosis attacks them on a cellular level that they still cant quite explain. I started off as a very slow responder this time, so they increased my drugs by triple. It took a little over two weeks this time before egg retrieval. We did go to a concert to try and take our minds off of everything this time, which was nice. It was in St. Louis, so we had to take our shots with us on ice and do them in the hotel room before we left.
I was cautiously optimistic this time. My heart was guarded, but welcoming. I wanted this to work, but knew our chances were not very good. The first go around, we thought it would work for sure, because we were bypassing the problems (the blocked fallopian tubes), we didn't realize until after that it was the egg quality, as well, that caused the problem. We went in for egg retrieval the Saturday before Mother's Day. They retrieved 14 eggs, 11 were mature. Mother's day can be a hard day for someone battling infertility, just as its hard for someone who has lost their mother. Social media is best avoided. It is a wonderful day to celebrate the wonderful being that is your mother, but its also a reminder of how badly you long to share those innate motherly tendencies with a child of your own.
Everyday after egg retrieval the embryologist calls to update you on how they are doing. He would call every day around 1pm with an update, so I was expecting his call on Mother's Day. It was my doctor's voice again, however, on the line this time. He said it was not good. All of my eggs except for 1 had disintegrated over night. The one that fertilized had double genetics and would not survive the day. This was a blow to my whole being. Jared and I had previously agreed that this was our last round. My body could not handle any more. The doctors words were the same. He said my endometriosis was far too aggressive, and it was the worst case he had ever seen. I wouldn't have been able to go through with another round of IVF without damaging my other organs, especially my bowels. Using a donor egg was not an option for us, and even so, my body would not have been able to handle the hormones needed to carry it. I would need a radical hysterectomy to put an end to all of the damage that was occurring within my body, very quickly, within the month.
My mother in law was over when I got the news. I felt horrible having to tell her and my mom the bad news on their special day. I felt horrible because I know they would've loved to have another grandchild for my parents, and the chance to be a grandma for my mother in law. I felt that my husband is being cheated of being a father because of my body. I felt sorry for myself because I feel like after all that we have toughed through, this would have been our reward. The most basic of human abilities, to procreate. And I can't do it. This is so FINAL. I try to share my love, and not judge people, and do good things for others and the planet, but I'm not allowed to procreate. Then I start judging people. Why do people who don't even want children, pop out babies like rabbits??
That was my human reaction. Because, whether I like it or not, I am human. The thing is...I can feel that stuff...I mean REALLY feel it. Let it envelop me and wash over me, and be sad, and grieve, because this is a huge loss. Its the loss of how I had my life planned in my mind. Its the loss of a love that I will never know. It is a deep loss.
Then I get tired of feeling that way, and the spiritual being that is me takes over. Its always there, right along with the human in me, but sometimes it hides so I can have these human experiences, to learn from and to build empathy from. They are a necessity. But when that spiritual being starts taking over...I just let go. I let go of the hurt, and the bitterness, because it doesn't serve me. Judging does not make me feel better, it makes me feel worse. Anger is the same, it serves me no purpose. I want to be purposeful and intentional with my life. I know that I will not know the love that exists between a mother and child, but I also think that the love between my husband and I is so special, that a lot of people won't ever know a love like that, and that's okay. There are so many kinds of love in this world, and each person is given a different mix. Its like a special formula that is just right for each and every person.
I had my hysterectomy on June 17th, and am healing up very well. I am so grateful to be out of the limbo that we have been in for years, wondering whether or not we would be parents. I am looking forward to using my innate motherly instincts and love for other things in this world that need me. I am excited to be the awesome aunt that does super fun stuff with her nephew. I'm ready to get back to my yoga practice, and gardening, and selling what we've grown with our own hands to local people at the market. I can' wait to see what is in store for this married, healthy, mother of 5 furry babies. The possibilities are endless, and I know its going to be great!! I've got a new haircut and a new outlook on life. (And, also, some hot flashes. I'll take them gladly :)
If you look back through this story, you will find many miracles that happened. They may seem small, or even unnoticeable to some, but they add up to something very big. I will share what I consider to be the many little miracles from this story in the new addition to my blog called, "Miracle Mondays." I think the more we start noticing little miracles, the more they happen. And in an unpredictable world, its very comforting in hard times to know we've got someone on our side making miracles happen.