We drew a hard line at the stim phase of IVF. It seemed too arduous a process and a natural place to stop. We would get whatever embryos we could and if none of them worked, we would be done.
We started with 18 eggs and after fertilization and testing ended up with three embryos, which was a number I was comfortable with. It would keep us from feeling like we had to do a bajillion rounds as we likely wouldn’t have embryos left over. They are hard to leave behind – they are your babies. I miscarried one at almost 8 weeks, one didn’t make it through the thaw and one didn’t take at all.
We are out of embryos. But, we decided to do one last round. That means another stim round as well.
I had to really think about this. I had to make sure I wasn’t whoring out my womb against my better judgement, that I wasn’t doing it just because I thought we “should,” or because everyone else did too. I had to make sure we weren’t continuing on this path only because it is what we’ve known for 6 years. I had to make sure our dreams hadn’t changed.
And finally, I had to make sure we could emotionally handle it. The potential loss is one thing, but no one talks about the stress and burden of getting everything set up at the clinic, ordering meds in time, staying on the med schedule (because one slip up could render it all useless), being monitored by blood tests and ultrasounds daily, the roller coaster of the hormones, and the fear of future health repercussions from all the meds.
I am sure. Here is why…
On my worst days, I respect my path; on my best I’m even grateful for it and the way it has shaped me, our marriage and by extension my life. I wouldn’t have chosen it and if given the option, I’d likely go back and choose differently, but luckily for me these are not the kind of opportunities we are given. I got infertility. I got loss. I got extreme heartache. But, I also got grace, compassion, joy and courage. I’ve fully embraced this path, taken charge of it and planted my flag. This is me. I am here.
So, we are making a choice based on a risk we think is worthy and the closure we need rather than the fear of an outcome. We will say good bye to the baby making lifestyle we’ve been living for our lives will change profoundly after this round. Whether I am adding another star to my ankle or we are carrying a baby in our arms, we will be done. And if the pain is to come, we will not ignore it or try to wash it away, not because we can handle it like martyrs, but because it isn’t to be handled, it is to be experienced. We will let the pain run through us, feeling all of its prickly bits as it hits the top of our heads and feel it fully until it releases through the tips of our toes, no doubt leaving a few pieces behind. We will allow it to expose us, to make us more vulnerable and useful.
And to our friends and family: If the pain comes…If we do not have a baby with Jason’s nose and my eyes… Don’t ignore it or try to wash it away. It’s ours. We need it. It’s going to do great things for us. Just sit with us and hold our hands while it stings.