It has been a strange couple of months in the Anderson household since I last posted an update on our struggle with infertility. Learning of our failed IVF cycle was difficult for us as individuals and as a couple. I, personally, had to deal with my own feelings of failure. We had one “perfect” egg as my doctor described it, and it wasn’t until it was returned to my body that it failed. Couple this with withdrawing from the abundance of hormones being injected into my body, and it was really easy to fall back into the anger and sadness that can plague the mind of anyone facing this battle.
As a couple, we faced the question of, “what comes next”? IVF gives couples the highest chances of pregnancy success, and once again, we have failed. We have now spent money, time, and a LOT of emotion towards this, and we came out of the other side feeling more broken and defeated than we ever have before. I really questioned whether IVF was something that we should consider pursuing, as the physical and emotional toll is not something that should be taken lightly.
I remember walking in to our follow up appointment at the beginning of January really just put off. I had a really hard time pulling back into the parking lot of this place that I had continually been poked and probed at for the last month. The smell of the office and the all too familiar decor just brought me right back to the roller coaster of the experience of the first cycle.
I sat with Aaron as our doctor explained to us that the results of our first cycle were pretty indicative that my cancer treatments that I received as a kid were to blame for our infertility. Finally, at least a reason! After two years of nothing, we finally received some sort of explanation instead of just presumptions. As relief passed over me to have a reason, I also had a moment of terror. Maybe this isn’t going to happen for us. Maybe this fight was lost, long before it was even started.
Our doctor went on to explain that if we wanted to continue with another cycle, first I would need to be emotionally ready to do so. He could sense my defeat from behind his desk. And, if and when we continued, we were going to change up the protocol. We would add in another injection, and max out the dosages of the others to really kick my ovaries in to production. This is not something that is normally done with a second cycle, but with our situation, he felt as if it was the route that needed to be taken.
We left the office telling him that we would take a couple of months to get ourselves together, and would call in when we were ready to start again. I lasted about two days in this limbo. I decided I would rather start prepping myself and my mind to go again instead of wallowing in the sadness and anger from the failure.
The funny thing about infertility is there are a lot of little waits inside of the really big waiting, and waiting is hard! As soon as I decided to move on, there was a waiting period between that moment and starting a period. From there it was waiting for my new IVF schedule to be made, and then waiting for prescriptions to clear through insurance. Waiting for medications to be delivered, and all that while, waiting to get past the down regulation of the cycle and move on from birth control. You have to find things to occupy your mind during these little waits, or you will go crazy.
I started two things during all of these little waiting periods that really helped to get me centered and ready. First, I started rock climbing/bouldering again, which is a physical activity that I was really into a few years back but kind of stopped pursuing due to the long commute to the climbing gym. Now that we have moved, the gym is on our way in to town! It’s a sport that really connects mind and body, and an activity that you have to learn to trust your body to do what you need it to do. It’s exactly what I needed, as trust in my body is something I have lost through this process.
I also started a bible reading plan, and I had a extraordinary moment of peace through this practice. It starts with a study of Genesis, and right there in the beginning, there are three stories of infertility. THREE stories of infertility before you even get out of the book of Genesis. And it turns out, dozens more throughout the Bible. And the reason they are there and important is because God uses infertility for his story. And each time, he hears the pain of those that are involved. What a beautiful reminder of why I am not in charge and He is. I can’t really describe the peace that this has given me, but I hope that if you are going through something similar, you can find some comfort in that as well.
I had one more big, emotional moment before I catch you all up to where we have landed today. Med prep day! Kind of like meal prepping but way less fun.
This was a big moment in my first cycle, and I think maybe even more daunting this time. I take all my meds out of the multitude of boxes they are shipped in and organize them into this nifty little container that I like to call my Box of Emotions. This is how much I will be injecting and taking in just 2 short weeks. It’s a complete overhaul of my body’s own system, and it really just shocks me to look at it before starting. For a situation that is becoming very normal for us, this is a moment of reminder that it is not normal at all, and that even when I am not suffering from headaches, night sweats, and hot flashes, my body does not belong to itself for the duration of an IVF cycle. It is a moment that brought me to tears the first time, and did again this time. I am doing something completely unnatural, with no guarantee that I will have anything to show for it at the end.
You, in that moment, have to decide that this is worth the dream of holding a baby in your arms. That the money, and pain, and emotion that are contained in that plastic box are going to make miracles happen. It’s a big deal, and I am making that choice for a second time.
So here we are, caught up to today. Our first appointment was this morning after starting our stimulation injections over the weekend (this time 4-5 shots a day instead of 2). This was the appointment in our first cycle that we were told things may not be going as planned, so I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it. All of the “what ifs” floating around in my head that I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for. My blood was drawn, and I had my date with “Wanda” aka the ultrasound probe (wand), and Hallelujah! There are some follicles growing! Obviously more than our first check last time!! The nurse said she was happy with the results and now we are on our way. Appointments every other day from here on out until things get closer and then we will transition to every day until the retrieval!
Our one beautiful embryo from our first cycle remains displayed on our refrigerator right next to a picture of those closest to us praying over our marriage. It is a reminder to me every single day that there is hope in this situation, and we have family, friends, and God on our side. We made something great before, and we can do it again.
Here we go again!