It’s kind of funny – this whole time I’ve been saying that when we finally got through it all, I was going to sit down and properly write about everything that we’ve been through regarding infertility and going through IVF, and yet sometimes when you’ve been down a road for so long, you look back and can’t even tell where it really started anymore…
Like, literally, I can’t remember when Sara and I even started trying to have a baby at this point! 😕
But it’s definitely been more than just a couple of years … possibly dating back to when Sara graduated from nursing school … in 2009, maybe??? I don’t know – it’s been a long time and I don’t necessarily feel the need to go into all of the nitty-gritty anymore. Suffice to say, she had some issues and then upon further digging, I had some issues to be addressed, too, and over the past years that eventually led us to a local fertility clinic who helped us with some other procedures that ultimately led up to us doing IVF.
…which is why technically our son was first conceived in a test tube a year ago February, but ended up spending six months on ice before he was thawed and put back in with crossed fingers last August…
Anyways, it was a really hard time for us, and I had planned on writing up this big, old blog post about things that could’ve gone much different than they actually did, and the support that we were sometimes lacking, and just the emotional toll that it’s been on the two of us all of these years in general, and then I stumbled across this TED talk by Ash Beckham about ranking our hard against other people’s hard, and I kind of used her video as a stepping stone to get a lot of things that had been bothering me off my chest last fall in that earlier post.
So instead of re-opening those wounds when in these happy times I’m honestly just trying to forget about them, here are a few final thoughts on going through infertility from a number of perspectives that might be worth considering if you’re going through them yourself, or thinking about it, or you know somebody else who is…
If you’re getting ready to start IVF or are thinking about it:
- Figure out what your support system is, earlier rather than later, and keep in mind that it may not necessarily be the people who it normally is in your life. A lot of cities have monthly groups that meet of people going through or have gone through the same thing, and there are all sorts of Facebook groups and forums online where people congregate, too. And what works for you may not work for your spouse due to traditional gender boundaries, but just keep talking.
- IVF is stupid expensive and nobody else can make that financial decision but you. Both people in a relationship need to be on the same page because the bills will haunt you for years. My wife would’ve pulled the trigger far before we could actually afford it, whereas it took me a few years to get our budget to a point where I thought we could handle it. Just keep talking.
- People will say dumb things. Some are trying to be supportive and some are just assholes who don’t know any better. Try to tune them out, even when they’re family or your boss and you really want to run them over with your car.
- Failure sucks, and it will probably happen. We kind of lucked out in that our second IVF cycle worked (a frozen one), yet all signs were green for that first cycle to be perfect. It’s especially hard when you financially can’t just pick up and start again the following month because it’s so goddamned expensive. We did the Attain Refund Program and it was still several thousand dollars out of pocket each cycle for the drugs. FSAs from work help because you can commit to $2,500 in medical expenses and have it available on January 1st, but spread the payments out throughout the entire year.
- Even after conception was scary because we were so paranoid about the risk of miscarriage, it was hard to really enjoy it. We’re “technically pregnant” became a running joke between us. Humor helps … a lot.
- I learned a lot about cellular biology, and I’ve got a picture of my son when he was only 32 cells old that few people can beat!
- Don’t give up on each other, even though the process makes it very easy to become insular. Take time out to do couple things. Have sex on non-optimal conception days. Anyone who’s ever planned out a conception calendar with a grid and everything will get that last one.
- Just keep talking.
If you know somebody else who’s considering or going through IVF:
- Don’t talk, just listen.
- Don’t try to compare some other random challenge you’ve had to what they’re going through. It may sound perfectly relevant in your head, and you’re just trying to be supportive, but it doesn’t work that way.
- Don’t not include them in things because babies or little kids will be around, but don’t be hurt if they don’t want to attend, either.
- Don’t try to make their struggles about anything other than them.
- If you have $50,000 just laying around, consider giving it to the couple as a gift. IVF is very expensive.
- Like with most struggles that people go through in life, just being there is far more valuable than actually trying to solve their problems. Besides, you’re not a doctor and they’ve already committed lots and lots of money to obtain properly vetted medical advice.
- For fuck’s sake, don’t make the joke about how “All you need to do is get her drunk” because “that’s what works for everybody else!” Seriously, IVF costs so much more than a $0.99 draft beer … this joke makes us want to punch you in the face, even if we’re in a conference room at work and you’re technically two levels above our pay grade.
- Just keep listening.
I don’t think anybody ever really expects to deal with infertility when they’re finally ready to have kids … it was a big enough decision for me just to get to that point, so to start trying and then find that it wasn’t working was just unfathomable. It was tough at first when all signs and fingers pointed to problems on my wife’s side, and it was both relieving and even more aggravating when some of my own issues surfaced to help equalize the blame, too. Like I said, it’s weird to even look back at all of the time that’s passed now because it just seems like a blur … and I don’t just say that because I’m already sleep deprived running around for this kid now that he’s out!
And of course, there are other options besides IVF if you want to have children but can’t. My sister is a proud proponent of adoption because she’s an adopted kid and I suppose ultimately that turned out ok 😉 , but at this point in our lives Sara still wanted to be able to experience childbirth if at all possible so that’s why we went the route that we did. I think whatever you choose is going to be very taxing and very expensive and you need to be in it for the long haul … you have to really want it. Which most prospective mothers I’m sure have no problem committing to, but both people have to want it … not necessarily equally all of the time … but it will wear on you and when you hit a wall like our fourth try didn’t work or we need to save for two years before we can try again, you’re going to need that willpower to help pick you up off the ground so that you can move on…
I mean, even now I still worry a little in the back of my head – when are we going to get to bring Christopher home and what are we going to hear that might be bad from the next status update???
I’d like to think that the hard part is over, and there’s a part of me that keeps saying the hard part is just beginning. That seems pessimistic even for me, so maybe instead we just say that one of the hard parts is over, and I’m sure there will be more hard parts to come because life is like that most of the time.
Still, it’s pretty amazing that science was able to take two messed up adults and somehow still manage to breed a baby out of us, and that’s pretty cool.
IVF was a huge challenge for us, and for those just starting, there is hope on the other side, even if it’s not necessarily the path that you had planned. Worst case scenario, you can always just steal a baby.
No – don’t do that!
Remember that sense of humor that I was talking about?! Sometimes you think about stealing babies … that’s how tough infertility can be! But then sometimes everything ends up working out, and you don’t have to steal a baby … even though it definitely would’ve been cheaper than going the IVF route. But everything’s like that, really – everything is more expensive when you do it legally.
Now that’s the sleep deprivation talking…
Keep your head up, try not to go bankrupt or insane, and with any luck hopefully one day you can be sleep deprived and delirious, too. 😉