This was an excellent documentary to watch. I’m about to undergo my first round of IVF and this documentary did an incredibly thorough job showing the process from start to finish. I liked seeing how the embryologists actually chose the eggs and the sperm and match them together with ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection). I think this was the first documentary about IVF in which I actually saw the entire process.
The interviews with the clinic’s staff covered not only their specific duties but also how they felt about the incredible responsibility of potentially creating a pregnancy for infertile couples. It was nice to see a variety of life experiences of the staff. Not to sound ageist, but it was somewhat surprising to see the young twenty-somethings working as embryologists, including the youngest one who was only 24-years-old. But I have to say they were all dedicated, focused, and committed to providing the highest quality of care. All were required to have a minimum of three years of specialized training. There were other seasoned staff, some who were childless by choice, and others with children and grandchildren. They all shared the common goal of giving couples hope, and the peace of mind knowing they tried everything in their power. For each couple their “end point” is different for when they decide to discontinue pursuing assisted reproductive technology.
Different couples were interviewed before, during, and after IVF. Each couple invested everything into the process; physically, financially, and emotionally. It was easy to feel connected to each one, given that I am about to also go through this. Without giving away too many spoilers, sadly the outcome did not prove to be successful for some of the couples. One couple was successful the first try, but for the couples with a failed IVF cycle, their story continues beyond the length of the film. Some chose to continue with another round of IVF and were successful while others chose to take a break. I wish each couple the best of luck with whatever happens with their fertility future. I was rooting for all of them while I watched, and I know you will too if you check out this documentary.
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True to form, my body has to be a pain in the ass. A happy little cyst decided to form in my right ovary, not that abnormal, but it is enough to completely shift my IVF time schedule by a week, or even longer if it persists. According to my doctor, 10-15% of women who develop a cyst on their ovary need to delay their IVF cycle. Lucky me! Flights will need to be changed, our hotel, our work schedules. My mind is a swarm of curse words and to top it off my ovary further spites me by cramping up. Thanks ovary, thanks for nothing!
At the same time I’m dealing with another issue that could potentially throw off my IVF timeline. I spent the evening at urgent care due to what looks like another staph infection developing on me. I just got over my previous staph infection on my leg from a few weeks ago. The doctor tonight prescribed me a topical cream and an antibiotic to take only if it gets worse. I imagine it will get worse due to it quadrupling in size within a single day and the symptoms are nearly identical to what I felt before. I hope to God this cream works. If it gets any worse I’m popping that antibiotic ASAP.
“According to my doctor, 10-15% of women who develop a cyst on their ovary need to delay their IVF cycle.”
So how is it that my staph infection could interfere with my IVF? As you may be aware, whenever you take an antibiotic you are supposed to use backup means of contraception (or abstianance) due to antibiotics reducing the effectiveness of birth control pills. Well I am in the Suppression phase of my IVF which means I am taking birth control pills in order to reduce potential cysts and to help time my cycle for my egg retrieval. I picked the doctors brain about whether he thought taking an antibiotic would affect the size of my cyst. He said, “theoretically speaking, yes, although this hasn’t been proven yet.” Although this new little redness on my leg isn’t full-blown staph, it is concerning so he gave me the cream to try first. If it gets worse then I have no choice but to take the antibiotic. Staph infection is no joke, it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I will gladly pop an antibiotic in order to prevent that terrible pain again. If that means I have to postpone my IVF, well I’d have no choice really because flesh rotting away is more of an immediate priority, wouldn’t you say? My sense of humor gets a little warped when I’m stressed, have you noticed?
So I guess during stressful times I should focus on the positive. Hubby took me out last night which definitely helped me to feel better. We had a yummy meal at Olive Garden and went to Dave & Buster’s. I had my first Long Island Iced Tea. I always thought it was a wimpy drink, just based on the title. But I heard some bars limit the drink to two in a night. I learned it’s insanely strong and like Kurtis calls it the “kitchen sink of drinks.” I haven’t had a drink in a long time. I’m not pregnant and I’m not on the injections yet, so the rare drink for me I think was just fine. There will of course be other women out there who believe they must incorporate only the healthiest of foods into every meal, avoid any and all processed foods, and exercise as if their fertility future depends on it. Well, I am human, and like most women who get pregnant naturally, I don’t follow a strict regimen. I know alcohol is not the healthiest of coping methods but it sure did smooth out those rough edges in my mind. Plus it made me less inhibited at Dave & Buster, and you just cannot be a sad panda at Dave & Buster. I promise to eat more salad tomorrow.
First Long Island Iced Tea. So strong, holy moly!
So as far as the healthy coping methods I did, one was to inundate myself with some good music. I discovered some new bands I liked on YouTube. I’m really digging the band Young the Giant. It felt good to lose myself in new music. I binge-watched about a whole season of Girls, I needed a good laugh. I also listened to my husband’s advice, which always is simplistic yet revelatory. He said, “It is what it is, don’t stress about it.” I don’t know what it is but he always knows how to ground me when my mind takes off. I think it’s his certainty that everything will be okay and the timing of when he tells me. He lets me get things off my chest, listens to me, then summarizes what I need to do in exactly the way I need to hear it. He’s the Yin to my Yang.
“If you are considering what type of work schedule you need to make IVF possible, make it as flexible as possible.”
The other good thing is that my work situation at the moment is quite flexible. I work on-call on the overnight shift, which is perfect for the many doctor appointments I’ve been going to during the day. I’m getting enough on-call hours at the moment to have a full-time income. I have to fly out of state for the egg retrieval and one month after that I fly back for my frozen embryo transfer (FET). I can easily choose which days to work and which not to in order to make my two flights work for me. Having a flexible schedule at work is super important for me right now, so I am pretty happy this is working out. If you are considering what type of work schedule you need to make IVF possible, make it as flexible as possible. Whether that’s doing what I am as an on-call, or overnights, part-time, working from home, saving up a lot of leave time, or saving up money to take time off, whatever works for you financially and what you and your partner agree to. As much as I wanted to be off work completely, it was just not financially doable for us, so I think I’ve managed to adjust my schedule enough to make taking time off stress-free.
Question of the Day:
Did you have to deal with a medical issue, such as a cyst, that delayed your IVF cycle? If so, how long did you have to postpone your IVF cycle?
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I am the type of person who feels better after I am able to talk through my issues to figure out solutions. That’s why I love the idea of this blog because it gives me a place to express myself and get things off my mind. I used to keep a personal blog for years when I was a teenager and in my early twenties but life got busy and it sort of fell by the wayside. It has been just a little over two years since my husband and I have tried to have a baby. I think it might be good for me to take a look back on the lessons I have learned throughout this whole process. Honestly I am really freaked about about sticking myself with needles and I am doing everything I can to stay positive through this. I thought maybe if I take a look back at those moments of growth, maybe it will help me to feel a little stronger. Plus I thought maybe it might help others out there who may be reading this.
1) So many people have experienced what you have, and you are definitely not alone.
Many of us have heard the statistic that 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. After I slowly started opening up about my miscarriages I was shocked to realize the majority of the women in my life have experienced my same loss. Some would bring it up in conversation before I had mentioned anything to them, and this helped me to feel more comfortable to share my story. I have so much respect for those in my life who brought up this topic first and helped me to feel okay about sharing too. I was feeling so disconnected and alone in my struggle. Even if you cannot verbalize your pain to anyone yet, sometimes just reading or participating in online forums about infertility and miscarriages can help you tremendously. I’ve been able to learn a lot from others that helped me with my treatment plan as well. A family member told me about her miscarriages and how it was possibly due to low progesterone levels and suggested I look into getting tested for this. Although it wasn’t my main issue with my losses, my doctor did find that my progesterone level was a little lower and included it into my treatment plan. Had I not had that conversation with my family member I probably would not brought it up with my doctor. There are so many potential reasons why a woman may lose her baby, or why she cannot become pregnant, each person and each pregnancy is different. But why not have those conversations with others who feel comfortable talking about their experience, because it may ultimately help with your treatment plan as well.
2) There are also people who will not understand your struggle, and that’s okay too.
The depth of the pain I felt with my first miscarriage was so debilitating that it threw me into a deep depression. Not only was my first miscarriage the most physically painful out of my four miscarriages it was also the most emotionally painful. My husband was also very sad and probably very scared to see how deeply effected I was. But, as I have learned from others, many husbands/boyfriends have at one time or another have said, “We will just try again” and did not seem as emotional as their partners. This can be confusing and isolating for women. I can’t speak for all women, but I’ve been mentally preparing to become a mother my whole life. It’s the one thing in life I wanted more than anything. And it may not even be a difference between the male versus female perspective that can make your partner not understand. It could be related to something entirely different.
I am very inquisitive by nature and I felt like there was something more to why my husband could easily move on from our loss than I could. What was it that made it easier for him to cope? All of our miscarriages were due to loss early in pregnancy. The main difference between how we coped differently came down to our fundamental beliefs on when a baby develops a soul, or when life begins. I believe that life begins at conception but he believed it started later in the development. His reaction to the miscarriage made so much more sense to me, plus it also made more sense to him why I was feeling so strongly about it. I felt like I understood him better, which helped me to feel closer to him. When I continued to have more miscarriages I could see that he was beginning to understand how hard it was for me, and he was becoming more involved in the process. He would go to more appointments, he too was opening up with family, friends, and coworkers who shared our struggle of infertility, and he was there for me to try to cheer me up.
3) Develop a good Coping Skills Toolbox.
I’m a psych major and I do social services related work so I tend to use different therapeutic terminology, such as Coping Skills Toolbox, in other words, the collection of actions that are healthy and helps someone process a difficult situation. I like trying new methods of coping to mix it up because there are some days where it seems like nothing will make you feel better, unless you try something new. Whether it’s listening to music, exercising, spending time with friends and family, or losing yourself in a good book, find what works for you. Sometimes it feels like the coping skill that normally helps just isn’t working, well try something different. When I was very depressed I would binge-watch funny movies or stand-up shows. I would do that with my husband and we both started feeling good, those feel-good chemicals were going off in our brains and even if I wasn’t laughing at first I started to really get into it. Sometimes a good distraction is a way to pull yourself out of those terrible feelings. I used a combination of coping skills, often at different times depending on which one was working in that specific moment. I decided to go back to college and signed up for an online class, just one, which was just what I needed to get my mind off the depressing thoughts I had. I threw myself into my studies and it felt pretty good. It was something challenging for me that occupied my mind, and that I really enjoyed. The bigger your Coping Skills Toolbox the better, these can be for prevention as well as when you are in the midst of a terrible situation.
4) Sometimes people will say things about your miscarriages/infertility that will make you upset.
I’m sure if you’ve already opened up to people that you already know people can be surprisingly hurtful, and even more surprisingly not even realize it. There are many reasons why certain comments will just really rub us the wrong way and may bother us for a while. I think a combination of things are happening that lead to this issue some including; 1) Sometimes people don’t know what to say because they’ve never had the experience of infertility/pregnancy loss, 2) Our expectations are too high for the empathy or sympathy we would want to receive, 3) People are often misinformed on the topic, or 4) someone’s religious beliefs about the situation may upset you, 5) People can be distracted by their own life to be able to listen to you and to therefore give you proper support.
There are many potential explanations for the off-putting comments we receive when we share our experience. Although it may be cathartic to vent about the rude things people say, we need to limit focusing on this. If all of us gathered up the idiotic comments we received from people and put them together, we would develop a real hatred for humanity. But please remember, almost always people have good intentions, either that or they are a just a dumbass. Remember to smile and tell yourself, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” whether your thinking this in a genuine or sarcastic way, keep telling yourself this. It’s exhausting having to educate every single person about how their comments are hurtful, so just don’t do it. Your focus should be on yourself, not what others think. Who cares what others think? For me at least, my goal in sharing my experience is to find the people who are supportive, and to figure out quickly which ones won’t be. Sometimes you have to wade through the weeds to find those amazing flowers of inspiration and inner beauty who will help you on your journey.
5) You are incredibly stronger than you realize.
Simply put, you have no choice but to be strong. Even when you don’t feel like it, trust me you are. After my fourth loss I began to feel kind of numb. I was able to talk about my experience with someone who had their first loss. She was at the end of her rope. She could not fathom having to go through her experience four times over, like I did. I was able to give her advice as best as I could, but ultimately it was up to her to make healthy choices for herself. Most of my friends have stopped trying to conceive after one loss. I’m kind of surprised how easily people give up, but each person needs to decide for themselves where their limit is. I keep pushing my “limit” further and further each time. I thought my world was coming to an end after my first loss. I told myself I’d stop trying after three. Here I am after my fourth loss and I am trying IVF here in the next few weeks. You have to live moment by moment in a way. Looking too far ahead is just too damn hard, and something you don’t have control over. All you can control is your next decision, even within a single day. Whether it’s a simple task like the blood draw you need to do that day, or the one shot you need to inject for IVF that day, focusing on the one thing you need to do in a day that brings you closer to your goal is the best way to get where you want to be. Bite-sized plans only for today are much more manageable than trying to plan out your entire future family tree, because God could always throw a wrench into your plans anyway. One day at a time will help you to feel more in control and will help you to look back and see you are incredibly stronger than you realize.
I would love to hear the lessons you have learned through your infertility/pregnancy loss experience. What advice would you give your good friend who is just starting on their journey? What are your most helpful coping skills you use that work for you? Thank you for reading.
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So this past week has been pretty eventful. We had our two-year anniversary and April Fools Day. I decided to skip Easter this year, mostly because I wanted a break from cooking and feeling obligated to go to church (invited by multiple friends/family) when I was feeling quite a chasm between God and myself. Honestly it was a good decision, sometimes a break is exactly what you need. But before I get into all of that I wanted to talk about my appointment I had with my fertility specialist. I had read through all of my medical documents they sent me recently and the way the geneticist worded her letter sounded like I did not have testing done yet to look for a balanced translocation. It was worded something to the effect of “The possibility of a balanced translocation was discussed and testing is available for this.” To me, that seemed like I had not been tested yet for that. So I spent way too much time researching what a balanced translocation was, the odds of still having a healthy live birth, learning the odds of success were less for the mother as opposed to the father having this, and the different types of balanced translocations. I felt I had a decent amount of knowledge on the subject, even including research on Youtube. I left a voicemail and played phone tag for about a week with my fertility specialist asking about a balanced translocation test. She was out of town at a conference and would call me when I was sleeping (I work the overnight shift). But when I finally had my appointment with her she said she double checked with the geneticist (who I also could not get a hold of) and said not to worry because I already had that testing done and I did not have a balanced translocation. All that time spent researching and preparing myself mentally to hear “you do have a balanced translocation” come from my doc’s mouth were all for naught.
Waiting in doc’s office for news about our next step.
Amusing magnets in my fertility doc’s office.
This has to be my favorite magnet in her office. lol.
But that’s good news though. I felt a little silly about spending all that time researching, but that’s what happens when you don’t keep yourself busy with other projects. You’ll fall down the rabbit hole of research and rumination. Tomorrow I am getting my eggs counted with a “follicular study.” For some reason every time I say follicular I’m certain I am saying it wrong. FAL-LICK-YOU-LAR…is that right? She also dropped some major news on me that I was expecting but did not want to hear. She said, “I need to stop trying to conceive naturally, because the likelihood of having another miscarriage is high” and for me and it is hard on my body each time I do. Surprisingly, I was only briefly disappointed hearing this news, and I quickly accepted the fact and absorbed as much info as I possibly could in that meeting, which was A LOT. So my best option is IVF with PGS. She wants me to do another SIS to make sure my D&C cleared everything. I think she even said the IVF clinic requires an SIS prior to treatment.
My Mom offered to pay for part of my IVF and to not worry about paying her back, but I definitely plan on paying her back. But I’ll be applying for IVF grants to try to save money. I know the odds of winning one are really low though, but it’s worth a shot. Speaking of shots my Mom seems to have full confidence in me for the whole IVF process and the shots I’ll need to take. She said, “You’ve been through so many harder things in your life I know you can handle this.” She gave me a confidence boost I didn’t know I needed, but it really helped.
I am pretty close with my coworkers and with this last miscarriage (my fourth one) I was open about my pregnancy and my loss. They have all been really supportive. I had a good conversation with one of them the other day. She helped me to have an epiphany. I had always felt like natural conception was aligned with following God’s plan, whereas IVF was aligned with the science side. She believes that it is important to follow the doctor’s advice because they have been “blessed with the medical knowledge and ability to help others heal.” For the first time ever, the idea of science, God, and fertility treatments all aligned for me. Especially since my doc just told me IVF is the best option for me now. Although I was very depressed with this last loss, I felt relief when my doctor told me my baby would have suffered and been in so much pain had it survived, due to the physical and development disabilities it would have had. In a way, I felt better knowing that God had prevented that pain and suffering of my baby. Although I still don’t understand why he allows me to get pregnant with babies that have a Trisomy in the first place. But knowing that my body is able to recognize that something isn’t right, makes me feel a little better. With my third loss my faith was really shook to its core, and it was hanging by a thread, but this fourth one has helped me to shift my perspective and be more open to trusting God a little more.
Anyway, back to what I was saying when I first started writing. My husband and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary. We’ve been together five years total and married for two, I can’t believe how quickly time flies. We had a nice dinner and went to a movie. We went to Texas Roadhouse (yeehaw for steak!). I noticed in the booth behind my husband was a woman with her three children, two young boys and a baby girl. I heard her say to her oldest boy, who looked about five-years old, “stay here, okay?” He said okay sat quietly at the table while she took the other boy and her baby girl probably to the bathroom. I was surprised she left her little boy by himself for a good ten minutes.
I leaned in and whispered to my husband, “She left her son alone.”
He couldn’t hear me at first. “Huh?”
I said a little louder but quietly again, “That woman behind you left her son alone. He looks about four or five years old.”
He looked over his shoulder at the boy behind him and turned back to me.
He gave me a weird look and said, “You want to kidnap him or something?”
I laughed so loud I’m sure the whole restaurant heard me. “No! Oh my god! I was saying it because I think it’s scary she left him by himself since he’s so young.” I was doing a full belly laugh at this point. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time.
He started laughing too and said, “Well the way you said it…sounded like you wanted to kidnap him.”
“Noooo! Although it would save us a ton a money. What do you say Babe? How does a five-year old little boy who is potty trained and seems well behaved sound to you?” I laughed.
I know kidnapping is no laughing matter, but come on now, that’s funny stuff. Two years of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss and dwindling finances will make you enjoy dark humor like this. At least we had a good laugh. We got married the day before April Fools Day. I am usually not very creative when it comes to doing practical jokes. But this year I got my husband good! Now, he recently got a brand new truck. He is always checking for dents and scratches each time we go out and park in a public place. He will even park far away from other cars every chance he gets. So I decided a good joke would be to come home from work (remember I work overnight shift) and tell my husband someone broke into his truck. Last year someone did smash out the back window of our van, but weirdly didn’t take anything. We live in the city and it’s highly likely it could happen again with where we live. So I got home, hit record on my phone, and stealthily recorded my feet as I walked to the bedroom to break the bad news to him. “Babe, someone broke into your truck.” He launched himself off the bed from his deep sleep and was at the front door in his boxers within seconds. “You see it? In the back window?” He peered hard at his truck. “No…” he said. “Right there!” I pointed. I waited a few seconds then put my phone up to capture his reaction when I yelled, “April Fools!” He quickly pivoted around and went back to bed, and locked me out of the bedroom for a few seconds. He laughed about it and said, “Just you wait.” Man I got him good!
He tried scaring me later but it didn’t work. My husband usually wakes me up when I don’t get up from my own alarms, so he came back and woke me up. I lied in bed, I used my phone to check my personal email, my work email, looked at Facebook, and was on my phone a good 15 minutes before I finally dragged my butt out of bed to get ready for work. Mind you this is still April Fools Day. I walked into the living room and I noticed he positioned the blanket and pillows on the couch to make him look like he had pulled the blanket over his head to nap. I pulled the blanket and saw he wasn’t there. I noticed his truck parked outside so I knew he was home, hiding somewhere. I walked into the bathroom, knowing he was probably hiding in the shower. And sure enough he went “baaaaah” as he popped the curtain back. “Nice try babe” I said calmly. Then I realized that he must have been standing in the shower for those 15 minutes. I asked him if that was true and he just laughed, so I knew it was true. That made me laugh even harder knowing he was standing there, in the dark, for 15 minutes and his prank didn’t even work. Good times…haha.
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