I have wanted to write a post on this subject for months now, but I have been too scared to publish it for two reasons: 1) I am a beauty blogger so I wasn’t sure how my readers would feel about a post like this and 2) it is so personal and I am a very private person. However, I find myself frantically searching for other women’s accounts of this process, so I thought it was time that I contribute my story. If you’re here for the beauty posts, then skip this one and come back in a few days 🙂
I naively thought getting pregnant wouldn’t be hard. I started taking birth control when I was 18 because I knew getting pregnant early would make my goals of going to college and getting my PhD much more difficult. Plus, you hear all the time about people accidentally getting pregnant. Therefore, how hard could it be?
We got married in the summer of 2014 and at that time we weren’t ready- I was working on my PhD and my husband was working long hours in the hospital training to become a surgeon. In January 2016, we decided we would start trying. I was 5 months out from finishing my PhD, so we figured I would be a few months pregnant when I walked on that stage to get my diploma. I could even picture how cute my baby bump would look under the black robe.
Fast forward 21 months, countless ultrasounds and blood workups, 6 rounds of clomid, 2 rounds of letrazole and 5 failed IUIs, and we are still trying. I’ve realized for some people, it is easy, but for so many more, it is a hard and emotional journey. Every month, I settle in for what I hope will be positive results only to be disappointed time and time again when I get a negative pregnancy test. I start to feel bad and mad at my body for letting me down-why is this happening? why is my body doing this to me? I’m generally a glass-half-full type of girl, but month after month of this disappointment is hard for even the most positive of people.
After about a year of trying, the doctors gave me the diagnosis of unexplained infertility, which is a nice way of saying the doctors didn’t know what was wrong- all of my bloodwork and testing (including the dreaded HSG and saline sonograms, which weren’t nearly as bad as I was expecting) as well as my husband’s came back normal. And if I’ve learned anything in my 15 years as a scientist (I just aged myself…but in reality I started doing scientific research when I was still in high school!), it’s that you can’t find a solution if you don’t know the problem. Given that on paper we look amazing, but that something biologically just wasn’t clicking, we knew we had to stop wasting our time and money and move forward. So two months ago, after our 5th IUI failed, we knew it was time to move onto IVF.
The IVF process is a very intense time, consisting of the stimulation phase, egg retrieval and embryo transfer. The stimulation phase consists of 10-14 days during which you get daily injections of hormones meant to put your ovaries into over drive- every month you produce one follicle, with these medications you could produce upwards of 30 (I have 3 dozen!). In addition, you need constant monitoring at the fertility clinic in the form of ultrasounds and blood work. After this is the egg retrieval during which you’re sedated and the eggs are removed from the ovaries with a catheter. These eggs are then fertilized with the sperm, grown in a petri dish for 3-5 days and then an embryo is transferred to the uterus. I have just finished my first IVF cycle and am now in the fun waiting stage.
I won’t lie and say this has been an easy process. In fact, these past few weeks have been extremely emotionally and physically difficult. I cry often, am too bloated to fit in my normal clothes, and wonder how I can physically continue on this journey. But despite all this, I am remaining optimistic and hopeful that we will get the baby we so desperately want.
If any of you are going through something similar, don’t hesitate to reach out. I love connecting with others who understand this process. I am also more than happy to give insight, tips & tricks to anyone who is just starting the process.