I am most thankful this year for getting pregnant. In the season of Thanksgiving and gratitude, I thought it was time to share my IVF journey. This is my story.
It’s been three years since I got off birth control. Scott and I went to Zimbabwe in November 2012 and started trying after I got off malaria medicine. We took a pretty laid back approach. I had friends who charted their temperatures, took ovulation tests, and stressed out every month. I had no interest in becoming consumed with getting pregnant. I thought it would happen naturally. It didn’t.
Six months later at my annual, I mentioned to my Ob/Gyn we were trying to get pregnant. She usually recommends a fertility work up after six months. Since we hadn’t been taking it too seriously, she advised to take ovulation tests (Clearblue Easy is the best!) for three months first. I never got a smiley face and so began nearly two years of bloodwork, shots, and treatments.
One of the tests in the fertility work up is a Hysterosalpingography or HSG. This was the most painful experience of my life and I wish someone had warned me. The nurse told me after that some people don’t feel a thing and some pass out. I was the latter. The test immediately showed that my left tube was blocked. Come to find out many months later that so was the right.
My Ob/Gyn recommended Houston IVF and I’m so thankful she did! Everything is done in-house – nothing leaves their facility so they have complete control over the whole process. While I had a primary physician, I saw each of the doctors during the course of my treatments and highly recommend all. For the next six months, I did several rounds of chlomid. I had ovarian cysts a couple times so we skipped months here and there. The effectiveness of chlomid decreases after so many attempts so we then moved on to intrauterine insemination (IUI). After four failed IUI’s, the doctor concluded my other tube had blockage too.
Throughout the many months of blood tests, pills, shots, ultrasounds, and procedures, I was generally in good spirits. I had a practical attitude. Part was a self defense mechanism to stay emotionally detached (in the event it didn’t work) and the other part was I knew it was out of my hands. Of course there were days when I was sad and depressed. It was especially hard every time a friend announced a second or third pregnancy. I also didn’t feel the need to talk to someone else who had gone thru infertility. The idea listening to their success stories didn’t sound comforting since nothing had worked for me. I did talk openly to my close friends & family about it and was comforted knowing I had a prayer team.
My IVF cycle began in April 2015. I didn’t realize that it’s more of a two month process. I started with a cycle of birth control pills. Then came the shots. This was the part I feared most – for the pain and for the complexity of the medication. Our bathroom looked like a drug dealer’s there were so many vials and needles. It was a lot of pressure to make sure I mixed the vials appropriately and gave myself the correct dosage which changed throughout the month. I taped my medication calendar to the bathroom mirror and would check off each dosage every morning and night. I started with one shot a day building up to three. The ones at night were painful and I dreaded them. Funny, I actually looked forward to giving myself the morning shots once the evening shots began. In comparison, the actual egg retrieval and implantation procedures were relatively painless (and quick!). Although, they do put you under for the retrieval.
A friend who went thru IVF numerous times (and now has two children) shared this advice with me and it helped me immensely thru my journey.
1. Repeat I Samuel 1:27, “For This Child I Have Prayed”. I can’t count the number of times I’ve repeated this verse. It got me thru every blood test and every shot.
2. Eat pineapple. I ate pineapple for days before and after each treatment. It contains an enzyme which helps with implantation. (My doctor said it was an old wives tale but I’m pregnant!)
3. Do Fertility Acupuncture. Houston IVF offers acupuncture in partnership with Eastern Harmony. I went once a week for a long time and then immediately before and after my implantation procedure.
Some people have a “babymoon”, we had a post-IVF moon. We went to the Bahamas for a week as soon as it was safe to travel. It was an
extremely relaxing vacation and we came home the day before I would take
the pregnancy blood test. The nurse called a few hours after my lab work with the sweetest news that I was indeed pregnant. I literally screamed in my office. I was in shock. Neither of us were expecting IVF to work the first time. Fast forward 28 weeks later and we are joyfully awaiting the arrival of our baby boy. Scott and I couldn’t be more excited or thankful!