By Sonya Brown
When we decided we would try IVF, I was only aware (at the time) of one other person who had gone through it. After one try, they were blessed with a handsome, healthy baby boy. I was positive (and well, didn’t know any better) that we were going to have a similar experi- ence.
Preparing for our first IVF was not easy. Prior to our egg retrieval date, we had to spend two and a half weeks in Calgary. My days were spent taking 9-12 injections to stimulate egg growth, checking in with the fertility clinic, ultrasounds, blood work, touring around Calgary and REST… lots of rest. Two days prior to our egg retrieval date, I went in for my final ultrasound. I remember being in a lot of pain and discomfort, and counting down the hours until the doctor would relieve my ovaries of all the eggs I was carrying (36 to be exact). Following my ultrasound, we were told that I was suffering from Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). OHSS can be caused from too much hormone medication causing the ovaries to become swollen and painful. Since my body was undergoing a lot of stress at the time, we were told we would not be conducting a fresh cycle, and immediately following my egg retrieval my eggs would be sent to the freezer. I would then go back home, allow my body to heal and rid itself of all the extra hormone medication, then come back in a few months to undergo the embryo transfer. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement. At the time it seemed like the biggest roadblock, looking back now it was merely a slight bump in the road.
The egg retrieval process was not a pleasant experience. In addition to being in pain throughout the entire retrieval, I also reacted to the pain medication that was given to me. As I lay in the re- covery room, puke tray resting on my chest, I remember thinking this was not the way I imagined it happening. I suppose nothing in life prepares you for this experience, but in that moment I still had the hope and optimism needed to get through.
After waiting a few months, it was finally time to go back to Calgary to undergo our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). Out of the 36 eggs that were extracted during the retrieval process, we had 18 that survived and would be available for us to use. I remember thinking at the time that 18 eggs was a lot, and would be more than enough to give me all the babies I dreamed of having. Boy was I wrong!
The actual transfer was easy peasy. Although I would of rather not gone through IVF, it was a pretty amazing experience getting to witness on the ultrasound screen, two of my embryos getting transferred into the lining of my uterine cavity. I remember laying there immediately following the transfer, Drew holding my hand telling me this is going to work and we will have our little miracle soon, and feeling content and hopeful. Before I was released from the clinic I was left with some strict instructions. No physical activity of any kind – including vacuuming (which I definitely was not sad about), do not allow my body to over-tire, get plenty of rest, and under no circumstances do not take a pregnancy test. I was about to enter the dreaded 2 week wait (2ww). The next two weeks were spent over analyzing every ache I experienced, being scared to go to the washroom in case there was spotting, trying not to Google my symptoms or read infertility blogs, and trying to rest as much as I could. Those two weeks were harder than I ever imagined. The one thing that I loved so much and used as a stress relief (CrossFit), I could not do. I didn’t leave the house often, and tried to keep my mind occupied on other things.
The 2ww was finally over. I headed over to the lab to get my blood drawn, and the results would be sent to my Doctor. I received the call at 2:12pm on a Thursday afternoon while I was at work. When I saw the Regional Fertility Clinic show up on my caller ID, I closed my office door, took a deep breath and said hello. As I’m sure you can guess, I was told I was not pregnant. Reflecting back on that conversation I can still feel the pain in my heart. I remember my Doctor apologizing and telling me that I have left over embryos so we can try again in a few months. I just wanted her to stop talking so I could hang up the phone and leave my office. I grabbed my purse, left what- ever I was working on my computer open, and got in my car. At this point, the news had not hit me. I called Drew, and you could tell he knew the answer to my news right away by the tone of my voice. I can’t remember everything he said to me in that moment, but I do remember him saying he was leaving work and would meet me at home. It wasn’t until I walked into my house that it hit me. I wasn’t pregnant…it didn’t work…and I was back at square one. I tried to walk up my stairs to get to my bed, and my body just collapsed. All the emotions I was holding in the last few months were released instantly. I felt defeated, broken, confused, and sad. There’s nothing that anyone could say to me in that moment to make me feel better. I just needed time.
I allowed myself one day (or evening I suppose) to be sad…to lay in my bed, cry when I needed to, and hide from the world. The next morning (still equally as sad), I told myself I needed to get into the shower, go to work, head to the gym and get back to my daily routine that I was used to. Although this moment seemed like the end of the world, I knew it wasn’t and in a few months I would have the opportunity to try again and perhaps the outcome would be different.
I’ve always been told God will never give you more than what you can handle. In that moment, I thought recovering from OHSS, surviving a failed FET, and preparing for our second transfer would be all God thought I could handle – once again I was wrong. I’m starting to the think the man upstairs is giving me wayyy too much credit.