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Review of “Baby Makers: The Fertility Clinic (IVF Documentary)”

“Baby Makers: The Fertility Clinic (IVF Documentary)”

Found on YouTube from the Nurture series

Length 58 min

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

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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One Step at a Time / Suppression Check: Take Three

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So many appointments lately.

 

Yep, hopefully third time will be a charm with these damn suppression checks. I finished my second one on Wednesday and scheduled my third one for this next Wednesday.

 

The cyst persists,

Please cease and desist,

I just couldn’t resist.

 

I’ve already cried, all I can do now is just laugh at the whole thing, hence my stupid poem above. This cyst has me paying for flight change fees, rearranging hotel reservations, and needing to take more leave time from work. There’s probably no definitive way to know if the antibiotics interfered with the birth control pills, which in turn could have influenced the hormones, ultimately affecting my ovaries. But I have a sneaking suspicion that had I not got this staph infection and needed antibiotics, I would not be rearranging my entire fertility timeline, every…single…week.

 

So rather than crying in a ball in a dark room, like I am normally inclined to do (kidding, kind of), I am in full force Distraction Mode. I’m trying to do anything and everything to distract myself from thinking about it. When my infection was full blown I was reclined on the couch, binge watching Lena Dunham’s “Girls” and laughing my ass off. Now that I’m on the mend I was able to go for a walk today with my husband and our puppy. I played Mario Kart on the new Wii-U my husband just bought me. I love me some Mario Kart! And I tried the “Just Dance” game, it was so much fun. When I was a teenager I was insanely into DDR (Dance Dance Revolution), I looked cracked out my mind while I furiously stomped on the dance pad like my life depended on it. Think Jennifer Beals from “Flash Dance” when she’s practically creating a fire underneath her feet from how fast she dances to the song “Maniac.” That’s pretty much what I looked like, but instead add 50 pounds and much paler skin. Those were the days. It was nice to get back into a dancing game. I’m terrible at it, but hey it’s fun and it’s keeping my mind occupied.

 

“The mantra, “One step at a time, one appointment at a time” helped me to cope way better than I imagined I would.”

 

I used to get really annoyed when people suggested I needed to distract myself from my crappy feelings. I would say, “But you can only distract yourself for so long” or “distractions are like band-aids, the wound is still there underneath.” But I’m learning now the more I focus on things other than my fertility, I start to feel happier. I’ve managed to live 31 years of my life childless, I can endure a few more months (hopefully months and not years).

 

I confirmed with my doctor via phone at the sonogram office that my body is not quite ready for IVF. I managed to hold it together as I left, didn’t even tear up this time. “What do I have control over in all of this?” I asked myself. I thought about it as I got into my car and started down the road. I began thinking of the mantra, “One day at a time,” it’s a nice sentiment, but in that moment it’s too vague for my taste. I needed something more specific to inspire me. As I drove on I told myself, “one step at a time, one appointment at a time.” Voila! For me, telling myself this over and over again the whole drive home comforted me.

 

The next step could mean different things for different people. For me, it means taking my fertility medicine that evening, returning a phone call from my doctor, paying a medical bill, getting my blood drawn, or whatever the next time-sensitive step is to get me closer to my goal of having a baby. I also feel in control with each appointment I go to because it is a tangible step in the right direction, no matter what the current status of my womb is, I am that much closer to my dream every time I show up to the many appointments I have. The mantra, “One step at a time, one appointment at a time” helped me to cope way better than I imagined I would.

 

“. . . no matter what the current status of my womb is, I am that much closer to my dream every time I show up to the many appointments I have.” 

 

One last thing before I sign off for the night, or I should say morning now. My husband has been open about talking with his friends, family, and coworkers about our infertility, as have I. While we stood in line at the movie theater he showed me a text that his coworker sent saying his wife was willing to be our surrogate. That totally blew me away! I began to tear up in the line for popcorn. That is so beautiful and amazing that someone I have not even met would make such an offer, all because our husbands were open enough with each other to talk about this and try to come up with solutions. At the moment there is nothing physically wrong with me, my uterus is not inverted and I no longer have scar tissue blocking potential implantation. My egg count is low and that could be a problem. Perhaps we could use donor eggs and my husband’s DNA and implant the embryo into me if none of my eggs are good after multiple IVF attempts. I still want that experience of giving birth. But I think surrogacy would be the final attempt, and I’m still at the starting line. But such an amazing offer! I’ll definitely keep her in mind for the future.

 

“Once you are able to pull back the veil of grief and privacy, it becomes so liberating.”

 

Every day I am feeling more and more connected to people because of how open I’ve become about my fertility issues. When I was ready to start opening up with people I told my husband he could do the same if he wanted. It’s incredible how encouraging people are. Once you are able to pull back the veil of grief and privacy, it becomes so liberating.

 

 

 

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Oh S**t, A Cyst!

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.

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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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New Perspectives & A Little Levity

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Hubby got me roses for our two-year anniversary.

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.

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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