Recently, when I started to tell folks that we were pulling out the big guns and doing IVF, someone said to me “you gotta do what you gotta do”. Those words, if they had come from someone who had struggled to have a child, wouldn’t have stung, but because they came from someone who conceived their child with ease, it was heard by my ears as smug dismissal. I’m absolutely sure that wasn’t the intention, but it made me wonder if I’m perceived by those who know what’s going on as a major whiner. And then I began to think “am I making a bigger deal out of this than it really is?” One uttered and forgotten phrase — sends me into a self-doubting, self-deprecating tail spin.
All I know, is that this IVF stuff is a really big deal to me — for a lot of reasons.
The drugs. I’m unhappy about all the drugs I am putting into my system. My body isn’t being allowed to function the way it’s supposed to. Science is making my baby, not me. And while I am grateful for the science that will hopefully allow us to have a family — it’s still really hard to accept that my body has to be manipulated this way.
The money. When all is said and done, this IVF will cost us $7000 (and that doesn’t include the numerous trips back and forth to the clinic for blood, ultrasounds, and of course, the actual IVF). While I know that a lot of people pay a lot more money for IVF (so grateful to have the drugs covered), we don’t have $7000. And so it means taking on more debt and that just feels like a hole that we can’t seem to dig out of. It would be so much easier if this IVF came with a guarantee, but at the end of the day, we could be spending that money and getting nothing. That’s hard to swallow.
The procedure. It just sounds bloody fucking awful. Big needle, swollen ovaries, heavy duty painkillers. Not looking forward to it. Well, a little to the painkillers…
What if it works? We’ll be putting back two embryos if we’re lucking enough to get to that stage. What if both of them grow and we are pregnant with twins. People say ‘oh you could handle it’ — no question — give me four! But I’m not as worried about parenting them as I am about carrying them to the end and delivering healthy babies. So much can go wrong. What if I end up with sick babies? What if my babies die?
What it will be like if it fails. Every time an IUI didn’t work, it was devastating. I’ve never felt emotions that intense before in my life. Some days I questioned the point of continuing to live life if all it had was this kind of pain. I’m afraid of what it will feel like if this IVF fails. How will I handle it? How will I keep functioning?
What it means. With every step along this journey, we move closer to the end. Someone said to me once, and this keeps me going (not sure if I’ve mentioned this before) is that eventually, this will be over. In one way or another, this journey will come to an end and life will go on. When the IUIs failed, we said ‘oh there’s always IVF’. We’re here now. And we won’t get to do this too many times. If this fails, hopefully there will be some embryos to freeze and try again — but sometimes there isn’t. And we just don’t have another $7000 to do this again any time soon. When we exhaust this path, we might try donor sperm. And that means that my child will not be my husband’s biological child — that’s difficult to accept too.
People hear those letters — IVF — and because there is no much media coverage on this, I think people think it must be no big deal. But it’s so much more layered for the individuals facing those three little letters. For me, it’s filled with a million fears and what-ifs. For me, it’s a really big deal.