Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pouring my heart out....The Desperation of Infertility

I can still recall the exact moment where I thought, "Oh shit, what did we just do?!"

Tim and I were driving back to our hotel room after the embryo transfer for our 3rd IVF and my RE's words were still ringing in my ears, "I would strongly advise you against transferring this many embryos."

However, like many infertile couples, Tim and I were desperate.  This cycle HAD to work because we were financially, emotionally and physically exhausted.

When we decided to move forward with what we hoped would be our last IVF, I cried to Tim, "We have to go for broke this time and do everything in our power to make sure this cycle is successful.  I honestly don't think I can go through this even just one more time."

"Everything in my power" meant subjecting myself to acupuncture, following a Traditional Chinese Medicine diet which meant drinking lots of horrid black tea and other warm foods in order to heal my spleen xi deficiency or some shit like that, trying my best to focus on a positive mind-body-spirit connection even when I wanted to scream at God, and going through a painful oreo withdrawal   because a friend had warned me that there was something in the creamy center that could cause a miscarriage....and so forth and so on.

Conquering infertility was a full-time job.

I spent hours online researching all the possibilities of why an IVF cycle might fail and then I would shoot off an e-mail to my RE asking all kinds of crazy crap like, "If I drive over a pothole after my transfer, is it possible for the embryos to detach from my uterine wall?"

His nurse would often e-mail me back, "Helene, my sweets...while you are very funny, you are not that powerful.  Not even the wildest roller coaster ride could cause an embryo to detach.  Relax, everything will be fine."

Relax?  I don't think so.  Not when we had so much riding on this cycle.  It had to work.

So when the discussion came up over dinner a couple nights before our transfer, I told Tim, "I really think we should transfer as many embryos as we can.  I'd love to transfer four.  What do you think?"

He had nodded his head in agreement.  "I think we have to be aggressive this time, just like you do.  But aren't you scared.  We can't have quadruplets.  Or even triplets.  I don't think we could handle it."

"Sure, we could.  People do it all the time.  Yeah it would suck for a little while in the beginning but we'd find our groove.  We can do this," I assured him.

"Well, let's wait and see what Dr. Sher thinks," he advised.

"Uh-uh,  no way.  I already know he's going to recommend putting only 1 or 2 embryos back in.  The nurses all told me he's very conservative because of the fear of high-order multiples.  But dude isn't the desperate infertile one...WE are."

After a phone call with one of the nurses and hearing her out as she explained that all the embryos were such excellent quality, that we were going to have an extremely difficult time convincing Dr. Sher to agree to transfer 4 embryos, Tim and I ultimately decided on 3.

The day that we had waited for finally arrived.  The day where we would put all our eggs (pun intended) in one basket and deal with the aftermath later.  

After listening to Dr. Sher's explanation on why he felt strongly that transferring only 2 embryos was the wisest, most sane decision, I begged him to let us transfer 3 instead.

With tears in my eyes, I pleaded, "I know you think our decision is reckless.  And I realize it can have a severe impact on my health but you have to understand where we're coming from.  We are tired, we are drained, we don't have it in us like other infertile couples to keep repeating IVF after IVF.  Not only do we not have the money, we don't have what it takes to maintain the drive we have right at this very moment."

He looked at me intently, nodding his head as he listened to my reasoning.

"You know what we went through with our last IVF," I continued.  "I'm finally at a place where I'm excited, even joyous.  I cannot go back to that dark, ugly place where I was a few months ago.  I know I won't survive it, I'm not that strong.  We can handle however many babies we are blessed with from this cycle but what we cannot handle, Dr Sher, is another failure."

After a long, thoughtful pause, he responded, "I completely understand where you're coming from but you also have to know that I'm not comfortable with transferring more than 2.  So, I'll tell you what...I'll agree to transfer 3 if you'll agree to sign a waiver releasing the clinic from liability."

He repeated again why transferring even 3 embryos made him nervous and mentioned...again...the serious ramifications of a triplet pregnancy both for me and the babies.

Suddenly, I felt my first pang of fear.

"Uh, you keep saying you're nervous which is making me nervous," I admitted.

"Do you need some privacy to discuss this?  I'm happy to give you a few minutes if you need it," he suggested.

Tim and I declined to discuss it further but wanted to talk percentages.  Dr. Sher broke it down for us, like this:  80% chance of a pregnancy occuring (resulting in a singleton), 70% chance of twins and 20% chance of triplets.

"Oh, only a 20% chance of triplets?  That's not a big deal," I exclaimed.

Dr. Sher stared at me as if I had lost my mind.  "20% in any IVF cycle IS a big deal," he said.

Ultimately, we signed the medical waiver and he transferred the 3 embryos we wanted.

And then it was on the drive back to our hotel where I had that "oh shit" moment.  Tim and I were both quiet the entire time until we got to our room and I said, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" and he silently nodded his head.

Then we spent the rest of the day trying to convince ourselves that God wouldn't give us more than we could handle.  Or would he?

We were blessed with twins, much to our relief.  Even then, throughout the pregnancy, I found myself wondering about that 3rd embryo and what might have been, knowing that having triplets probably would've been an extreme hardship for Tim and me.

We would've survived it but it wasn't until then that I could see how desperate I had become in my quest to become a mother.  When you're infertile, you will walk the ends of the earth to become a mother...making decisions that later you'll realize might have been irresponsible and even dangerous.

It's at times like this when the heart is leading where the mind doesn't want to go. Registered & Protected


Deputy's Wife said...

I wish I could leave a witty or profound comment, but...I've got nothing! Except questions, since I'm just starting out on the "I wanna get pregnant" journey. So glad the final round was such a blessing for you! I'm a firm beleiver that He won't give us anything we can't handle! :)

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I have a couple of friends w/ triplets through the multiples club I belong to, and they get through.

I'm so happy you got your twins :-) x2!!

Shell said...

I can't really imagine the desperation you were going through, but the way you explain it- I can understand why you'd choose to go with three. xo

Renegades said...

I to can understand why you would want the best shot possible.

Rhiannon said...

youre right God doesnt give us anything we cant handle... and he gave you TWO sets of twins!!
We struggled with not being able to get pregnant and several miscarriages, but in the end it was all in Gods plan

Nezzy said...

You so desperately wanted a baby and God bless you with beautiful twins. 'Just a perfect endin' sweetie.

He must of thought it was pretty funny to give you the second set a'natural! Heeehehehe!

You are blessed with a precious family! :o)

God bless and have an incredible day sweetie!

Lisa said...

I imagine I would have felt the same way. I am so glad it worked out for you.

Shari said...

I've stood in your shoes and you couldn't have described the pain better. It's a physical, gut-wrenching, living thing, isn't it?? We went through 3 IVF cycles - transferring 2 embryos each time before finally conceiving our daughter. We'd even told ourselves that that 3rd try was our last - we couldn't afford it emotionally or financially. Two years later we'd decided to try again on on the first IVF cycle transferring 2 embroyos, we got triplets! God truly doesn't give us more than we can handle, but sometimes I wonder! It's been such a roller coaster and I can so relate to your blog! Thank you for posting this, it's cathartic even now, years later to read this and know I'm not alone.

Sheila said...

I can't begin to imagine the pain & heartache you had to go through before becoming a mother, thankfully you got your twins... both sets X

Jen said...

I can totally relate to this post. We didn't go through IVF but Jeff and I had discussed that 2 mature follicles would be our limit, our hard line in the sand that we wouldn't cross. In a moment of desperation, I upped it to 3 and then went on with the fertilization. The chances were low that all three would get fertilized.

Well, you know how that ended. Triplets. Apparently for us, God knew that triplets was not more than we could handle.

I love these posts. I love reading about your history.

Singedwingangel said...

I cannot imagine going through all of that to conceive. I don't know if I would have the strength to do it. But I can say this to you, blessed you are cause your children are beautiful and so funny.

Eva Gallant said...

I have a niece who has a 3 year old girl and a 10 month old girl through IVF. When the second girl was 4 months old, she discovered she was pregnant again...without VMF! They are expecting a boy within a month of the second girl's first birthday! Her "significant other is a stay at home dad who takes care of the kids, while she works. They too will be busy!

Carol said...

I too am an IVF mom, of course mine was done back in the dinosaur days when IVF was still considered experimental- 1992. We transferred 6 embryos. I was sure I was going to have a litter, but 6 was magic for us, I have one beautiful 18 year old daughter.

Jenny said...

Dr. Sher is a great doctor. Since I'm in St. Louis, we had looked into using him for our infertility. We started with a specialist that I hated. We did 3 IUI's with him. I actually contacted The Sher Institute and got the paperwork started for a consultation. Dave and I talked about IVF, but we just weren't ready to go that route yet. I found a place called PARINTS and we did 2 more IUI's with them. Obviously, the 5th one worked.

I can totally see where you are coming from about the embryos. I would feel the same way. It is so hard to have failed fertility treatments.

On our last IUI, we had several good looking eggs. I was told there could be a chance of triplets. Honestly, I thought nothing of it. At that point, I would just be so happy to have a baby! Looking back though, I'm glad we just had 1. Twins is one thing, but triplets...I just can't imagine!

The Amazing Trips said...

On my first and second cycle, we transferred four embryos, each time. When those two cycles failed, on my third IVF cycle, we transferred SIX embryos.

SIX. As in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ….. 6.

Looking back, I am amazed that my doctor would have ever suggested such a thing. Knowing what I know now, I know it was reckless on his part. Especially when I think of my friends who transferred one or two and ended up with twins (or triplets) because an embryo split. But like you, we were desperate. Emotionally, physically and financially. After 10 years of trying, I didn't know how much longer I could go on and yet, to give up trying would have been worse than death.

Fast forward seven years: I have healthy happy seven-year-old triplets (and a blessed surprise four-year-old!) and my life is better than I dreamed it would be. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Yes indeed … the heart leads us. But I believe it's because there are babies in that heart just waiting to be born.

Sela Toki said...

I'm feeling that oreo withdraw, it's pretty painful. But, wow, that was a great deal you went through and look how it paid off. Joyful results.

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

It IS total desperation...I had to avoid certain aisles in BJs b/c someone was pregnant...I even understood why people steal other people's babies. Scary, right? Other than that, I'm completely rational...I'll just think about stealing your baby. WTH? It's a mindscrew for sure.

Heather said...

You made me laugh out loud with the pothole comment! I was in the same place mentally...thinking any little thing could flush all of the hard work down the drain. When I look back, I can't believe how desperate of a time that was. Isn't it cool that we were both blessed with babies! That time, it paid off to be reckless :)

SoCal Tess said...

Your story is amazing and I love your sense of humor! I'm a new follower from MBC and look fwd to your future posts.

Twinpossible said...

Sweetie, I understand that desperation. I was feeling not so young myself, but my husband, 14 years my senior..come on..WHY AREN'T WE GETTING PREGNANT.

We did NOT go through IVF, though I have had many fiends who have. I was willing to in 1/2 a heartbeat, but I know emotionally, physically, and monetarilly, it's HUGE. I understand wanting to put more in and hope for the best.

With me, we did something more uncontrolled... IUI. With my DD we did 6..YES 6 MATURE EGGS, and had back to back inseminations. I often look back and wipe the sweat off my brow. How could they even let that go further? Had they not, I would have not have had DD.

She was a twin at first, but it could have been SEXTUPLETS?? We were desperate and weren't explained much at all about multiples. When I told my online buddies is when they are like 'WHAT?' I got scared QUICK.

They found a second sac I was SO nervous. Where did that come from? The next week it hadn't grown. I hadn't seen any baby but was in some sense while slightly sad, slightly relieved, because it was our 1st together, I had such hardships with my sick son at the time, and the thought of a complicated MULTIPLE pregnancy after I had things go wrong with single ones, scared the life out of me. Especially the thought of further along losing another child. No way. i couldn't handle that. I was completely at peace with our one, but realized what a bullet we dodged with 6, but NOBODY understands that insane desperation. 4 years of TTC, my head was like 'I'll do anything!!!'

The second time round is funny because dh was fine with things as is. We were doing preseed and natural things like 'if it happens', but 45 months later I wasn't pregnant, until that fateful IUI, I spent a LONG time talking him into.

The month prior I had one great egg. He had a low count that one month. Maybe he had the bird in the hand too much or something? LOL. We agreed on 3 rounds and stop, but I was lying, lol. But we both knew we didn't want to end things in our family risking multiples, and I wanted a baby badly, but would have rather have went through 7 IUI's, even 10, then to do it quicker (that is because it only took 2 sets of IUI, I'm sure I would have grown more desperate with each month.) We'd hope for one great egg, two sounds nice. I mean compared to 6.. what were the odds.

I remember thinking MAYBE 3, but when we talked about selective reduction and all..It was tough. I knew my body would never be able to birth 3 healthy babies, as per my past. I knew I would have to do something I wouldn't be able to easilly handle, not then, not ever, and he knew it to and we opted against 3, if it happened. I'm prolife, but I couldn't lose all my babies. I had a friend who has triplets and a horrid pregnancy. Two children have delays & other issues. I couldn't live with that on my head. The other person I knew, lost two of the three at birth. UGH! TOO SCARY!

Ok, so we were older and wiser nearly 5 years later, but again, hub was fine as is, so I wanted to make sure there was as little chance for even twins as possible. This time it NEVER even crossed my mind.

I had two eggs but on the fertility meds they deemed one completely unviable. Too immature. I was told they were both shrinking down at the time of insemination, and they acted like 'See ya next month.' I didn't think we'd get pregnant with one even.

I'll never forget when I said to the doctor, 'What is the chance of multiples here?' 'Zero.' He walked out of the room.


Twinpossible said...

Whelp, I have proof right here they are totally fraternal and from two separate eggs. HA, HA ON US RIGHT? I spent the pregnancy full of worry. I had even wished it was one for some time, I admit that. No more, but it was in my head. I feel very busy and very tired, but VERY blessed.

My unexpected miracles were worth it, but why oh why didn't God give me twins at 25, LMAO. My back, everything. We have more patience when young. Oh well..there is a purpose to everything.

Infertility definitely sucks, but does make you a stronger person, and better mom, I like to think.


Natalie said...

Wow what an amazing story! Thanks for sharing this with us...and I'm glad you got the family you wanted :)

Adrienne said...

I can't imagine what it must have been like to go through that. What a blessing that you have the twins. I think my mind would often go to that same place though.

championm2000 said...

While I know, no two infertility journeys are the same, there is so much here that resonates with me, takes me back to those emotions, makes me wonder about our "vanishing triplet"...

I don't think I have really ever poured my heart out yet about those dark days. Thank you for pouring out yours, and in the process, helping me put some of my decisions in perspective. said...

--What a powerful post.

Thank you for sharing your heart.

xx Love.

Karen Peterson said...

I'm sure you'll always wonder about that 3rd embryo, but that might have been the 2nd. I bet God was speaking to you and Tim that day because it's entirely possible that the 3rd was Cole or Bella.

Thank you for sharing this, Helene. There's always been something about your story that speaks to me.


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