TTC (trying to conceive) is a waiting game. First you wait until you are ready to have a baby. That’s not always a bad wait. I certainly enjoyed this time, that was exactly why I was waiting. I had other things to do before having children. I didn’t want to be one of those women who look back and say “I wish I had….. before I had children.” Not me. My friends were getting married and having children, I was travelling the world. I was living on a tropical island. I was scuba diving with turtles and sharks. I was dancing on a beach until daylight (not every night, obviously). I was making friends from all over the world. I was living!
Then I was ready. Then the hard waiting began. My then-boyfriend (now husband) wasn’t read, so I waited. We were both ready but we had just moved to Canada and I had no healthcare entitlement and no insurance, so I waited. Then we finally started actually trying. I remember the excitement of the first time I EVER had unprotected sex! Even though I knew it was too early in the cycle to be ‘the time’, it was still a huge thing. Back then I didn’t know about charting, or any of the fertility signs. Back then I just waited and had sex quite often. I waited a whole 5 weeks before testing and saw my second ever BFN (I had a delayed period a few years before and tested just to be sure). I waited another week for my period to arrive. A couple of months later I learned how to chart my cycles. That stepped up the waiting as I waited for my fertile period, then waited for my temperature to rise to confirm ovulation, then the dreaded TWW (two week wait) for my period or maybe, just maybe, that elusive BFP. It never came. Then I waited for doctors appointments, for procedures, for test results, for the referral to the Fertility Clinic, for more test results, for IUIs and more failed cycles. It seemed never-ending. Finally for IVF.
I waited a whole extra month to start my IVF cycle. It may not seem like a lot but it feels like forever in the moment. The first part of the cycle when relatively quickly. Injections, blood tests but I escaped with only a couple of tiny bruises on my abdomen and one large one on my arm.
Retrieval day felt like an eternity. We had to travel and stay over night so we stayed with my perfect, pregnant sister-in-law and brother-in-law. I didn’t want them to know we were there – I wanted to get a hotel. My husband thought that was a waste of money. He’s not wrong, but I would have preferred them not to know. They’re both so supportive but that doesn’t help me. The feelings of failure and inadequacy are just magnified around them. I also had that (probably ridiculous) fantasy of at least partially surprising them with our pregnancy announcement. If we fail, I was hoping to do it quietly so that at least I don’t have to deal with the pity. Pride and pity are just not compatible and I would really like to hang on to the former. It sometimes feels like that’s all I have (and I don’t always have that).
We had a horrible journey there. It’s about 3 1/2 hours drive. When my husband is stressed, he disappears into himself and there is nothing I can do to help. He hates giving his ‘sample’. I get that. It can’t be pleasant. Probably embarrassing. But COME ON! I just spend the last 12 days repeatedly sticking needles into my belly, having blood taken and probes put up my lady-parts. My ovaries were swollen, I was extremely uncomfortable and I was really scared about the procedure I was about to have. Up until then I had made a point of not complaining. I like a good complain – I think that’s an English thing, but I didn’t say one bad thing about the whole stims section. I only showed him my arm bruise at the very end and I hid my stomach for almost the whole two weeks. Anyway, his stress lead him to say I forced him into this and I ended up crying for a large chunk of the drive. I really needed some support. (Thank you to my online sisters who were there for me).
Fast-forward to the retrieval. We get to the clinic and had to wait in the waiting room. It was less than half an hour, but time drags. Then we were taken to the little room with a comfy reclining chair for me and a plastic chair for him. We waited some more. He left to give his sample and came back a changed person! Stress was all gone and support was there. I had an IV attached and some Tylenol (paracetamol) tablets, and a little anti-stress table which melted under my tongue. More waiting.
Finally they wheeled me into the retrieval room. I was given Fentanol and I don’t remember what else. The retrieval was painful. Not unbearable, but I was glad to have my husband’s hand to hold. We went back to the little room and I slept for a while in the comfy chair. They told us they had got 15 eggs!
I had to wait until the next day to find out how many of those 15 were mature and how many had fertilised. 12 were mature, 11 of those fertilised! That’s great numbers!
Two more days brings us to this morning. Day 3. I expected that we would lose some of the embryos. It’s normal. I prepared myself. My phone wasn’t further than 2 metres from me the whole morning. Finally the phone call came.
We still have 11!!!!!
I asked for grades. If you don’t know, embryos are given a grade, similar to in school. I was told they don’t see grade A’s at this stage so B is the best, C is average. I have 8 B’s and 3 C’s! I cried. I wanted to run into the street and tell everyone. I didn’t (of course). But I did tell all those who were waiting to hear. My husband, the fertility clinic, my online friends, one of my new friends from the infertility support group I go to.
So now I am waiting again. For Sunday afternoon. To hear how many make it to day 5, to be tested and frozen and hopefully come back and become my baby. I’ve heard of people loosing all by day 5, but I’m choosing to believe they didn’t have 8 super-embryos and 3 good embryos (I’m also choosing to believe the super-embryos part!)
Right now I have 11 children. I doubt many would agree with that statement, but I’m not asking for validation. In the situation I am in, with the lot I am dealt, I am lucky.
I am lucky.
And I am grateful.