Our Personal Journey with IVF
The Ultimate Question: Adoption or IVF?
Are you struggling with infertility? When my husband, and I, found out that we could not have children naturally, we were unprepared for the opposite views that we held. Being catholic, before marriage, we had to take classes, which prepared us for financial difficulties, whether or not we wanted children, parenting ideals, and many other matters. The one thing that these classes did not cover was what we would do if we found out we could not have children after we got married. Some catholic priests will not marry couples if one of the people knows that he/she cannot have children, or consummate the marriage. At the time of our classes in 2004, we had no knowledge of any infertility. We were not prepared for what was ahead of us.
In 2007, we found out we could not have children naturally. We were devastated. Since before we got married, we had discussed starting a future family when we would be married. We both desired to have children, and now that dream was crushed. I immediately said, "Let's adopt," but my husband was unsure of that idea at the time. He had seen some negative outcomes of adoption in his lifetime, and had seen many positive outcomes of adoption. Therefore, my husband's immediate suggestion was "Let's do IVF," or in-vitro fertilization. Many might think this was a great suggestion, but I knew what it entailed…a lot of shots, a lot of money, and no guarantee of a child in the end. My response to him was that I had no interest in being "poked and prodded." Eventually, I agreed to research IVF, and then discuss it with my husband again.
After conducting lengthy research on IVF, I found that I could control how many embryos were made if we completed IVF with ICSI (which is what the doctors recommended for us anyway), to prevent discarding of embryos. My husband and I had another conversation about the adoption versus IVF issue. Eventually, we came to the decision that we would attempt IVF twice, and if it did not work, then we would move onto adoption. I had also researched some reputable clinics in the United States, and I chose the one that I preferred. We, then, began our relatively unsuccessful IVF journey in 2008.
The first step to this journey was to do a "one-day workup." This "one-day workup," consisted of thousands of dollars worth of tests, few of which our insurance covered. We had saved up money to pay for these tests, and spent almost all of it in one day. We returned home from the clinic, and several months later, we began the actual procedure of IVF:
First, I went through about one-two months of shots. Then, my husband and I flew to our clinic. The clinic completed blood work, and ultrasounds, almost daily. After these exams were conducted, an "egg retrieval," was scheduled. I was completely under anesthesia for the entire egg retrieval. They only retrieved six eggs, which is a low number, and out of the six embryos that the clinic tried to create, only one fertilized. Our doctor implanted this embryo, which resulted in a biochemical pregnancy, which was explained to me as a "very early loss." The emotional struggle of this loss was very difficult. After some discussion, we decided that we wanted to try again as soon as possible, which brings us to a few months later.
At first, "Round Two" was a complete disaster. We arrived to our clinic, hoping to have a "fresh transfer," meaning that the implanted embryo would not be frozen, but this did not happen. Because my blood pressure and estradiol, levels were high, the doctors made us do a "freeze all," which means they made us freeze all of our embryos, and return home. We would have to return to the clinic in about a month or two for the implantation, or "transfer." The doctors also required that I begin taking blood pressure medication before continuing with this cycle of IVF, and we ended up spending twice as much on other medication than we did during "Round One." We had to return home, and purchase another plane ticket to return a month, or two, later. I just kept telling myself that maybe all of the negative events would lead to a positive outcome, and for a short period of time, I thought I was right.
When we returned to our clinic to complete "Round Two," the doctor implanted one frozen embryo, and the only other two surviving embryos remained frozen for a future transfer. About one week after returning home, we found out that I was pregnant. We were ecstatic! For a while, everything was going well. The ultrasound technician found a heartbeat at six weeks. At eight weeks, I was at work, and I had a tremendous, sharp pain in my abdomen, right where the baby was located. My motherly instinct knew what was happening. I called my local doctor, and the fertility clinic, and because I was not "bleeding," nothing was done. A few weeks later, we went to our 11-week appointment, and the doctor could not find a heartbeat. We were sent immediately for an ultrasound: the baby was there, but there was no heartbeat. The baby only measured about eight weeks and a few days, so I began doing the math: the day I had that sharp pain was right about that time. My husband, and I, were distraught, sad, and angry (I felt that my concerns had been ignored). Our miracle baby had died.
After the devastation of two miscarriages after two rounds of IVF with ICSI, I was not sure what I thought about going for a third round. After all, we were part of a program that allowed us to attempt up to three fresh and three frozen cycles, however, the emotional toll that I had already gone through was very difficult. Eventually, when all of our embryos had already been used, I could not go through the emotional toll of trying again. After a while, this led us to a lengthy and difficult process of adoption. Follow my articles to read more about the updates.
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