This is by far the most bizarre fertility cycle we have done. First, I rushed to stop breastfeeding/pumping in a hurry so we could begin our cycle and experienced some depression from the change in hormones. Then Covid happened, and we had anxiety about getting pregnant because nobody knew exactly what was going on and if it was something we should be concerned about or not. Then, after we decided to proceed with the cycle, the medical board canceled all cycles and we had to play it by ear and wait to find out when they were resuming cycles again. Now we are in the middle of the cycle and there is a historic social movement occurring. Oh, and did I mention the murder hornets and the fact that our government finally admitted UFOs are real?! I guess that’s what we get for trying to get pregnant in an election year.
But in all seriousness, this is definitely the most eventful cycle we’ve been through. I’m honestly glad we already have Enzo, because if we were still trying for our first one I think the stress would be overwhelming. I’m a highly sensitive person and extremely introverted; things affect me tremendously and I internalize everything, even if I don’t show it. With everything that’s been going on over the last five months or so, I’ve found the best way to escape is to ignore the news and to not scroll or watch people’s stories on social media. It’s so easy to become consumed by what you see every minute of the day, and it just becomes counterproductive.
We are currently on day two of three days of bedrest after the frozen embryo transfer yesterday. What does that mean exactly? The process leading up to the embryo transfer entailed three weeks of hormone injections, oral medications, and weekly ultrasounds. The procedure yesterday was relatively simple. I arrived early for acupuncture, which really relaxes me. Then the embryologist gave me a picture of our little embryo that was being transferred. Our IVF doctor then used a catheter to transfer the embryo into my uterus. The acupuncturist came back and did another round of acupuncture and I relaxed for another thirty minutes or so, then was released to go home for bedrest.
Now comes the most dreaded part of any fertility cycle: the two-week-wait. I say “most dreaded” because you have to wait two weeks to find out if you’re pregnant or not. But it’s not just that… the two-week-wait means more waiting to find out if all the steps you’ve taken over the last three weeks were successful, if all the expectations you’ve accrued are justified, and possibly the worst being waiting to find out if you’ll have to start over and go through it all again. With this being our seventh fertility cycle with a two-week-wait, I feel I’ve mastered how to best utilize this time. I spent the two-week-wait after our first IVF cycle Googling EVERYTHING. Reading discussion boards about other women’s experiences, which made me neurotic and led me to start taking pregnancy tests at five days post transfer. Not something I would advise.
Nowadays, I’ve found the key to making it through the two-week-wait is to just forget about it entirely. Like literally, completely put it out of your mind that any procedure was done. Since we’ve had a successful embryo transfer previously, I also discovered a new aspect of excitement and expectation during this cycle because obviously, you expect it to work again. That too, must be pushed to the back of the mind. Something I’ve found that helps me tremendously is to read and contemplate on Buddhist parables. My mantra for this cycle is one by Thich Nhat Hanh: “Many people think excitement is happiness. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.” The two-week-wait is no longer something I dread, and has become just another two weeks like any other I have lived before.
Since we had a couple months where we weren’t able to start our IVF cycle and didn’t know when we would be able to start, we figured it couldn’t help to try to get pregnant naturally. We tried for one month and to be honest, I must say that I have come to prefer going the IVF route. Not that the old fashioned way isn’t more fun, but there are many other factors that only someone who has struggled with infertility would understand. The old feelings of déjà vu come back—the expectations, the all-or-nothing mindset, and the waiting. And of course my period was 10 days late that month, but to no avail, the pregnancy tests were negative. Could have definitely done without the unnecessary excitement.
Additionally, doing IVF eliminates the majority of stress about having a healthy baby due to the PGS genetic testing they perform on all embryos. When they transfer the embryo, you know it’s been cleared of having any chromosomal abnormalities. Lastly, there’s something very magical about going through the process and build up of having an embryo transferred… which frankly, leaves the thought of getting pregnant naturally, well, rather anticlimactic. Believe it or not, I’ve come to love the familiarity of the injections, pills, doctor appointments, ultrasounds, blood tests, and bedrest.
And beyond that, once you’re determined to be pregnant, you continue the estrogen and progesterone shots until the end of the first trimester, and you get to continue weekly monitoring ultrasounds at the doctors office. This is significant because the estrogen and progesterone shots help maintain the pregnancy until the placenta starts making its own hormones at twelve weeks, and the continued doctors appointments are significant because most Obstetricians won’t even see you until after your first trimester. We get to see the heartbeat at SIX WEEKS! Most couples don’t get to see it until their first OB visit well into the first trimester or even at the beginning of the second. I can’t imagine waiting that long and not being able to see how the embryo is growing week by week.
Overall, the IVF process has become a positive experience for us. And mostly thanks to our phenomenal doctor. He’s the third doctor we went to and we are thankful every day for his expertise. I’ve put his information below for anybody who may be interested.
Southern California Center for Reproductive Medicine
Dr. Robert Anderson
361 Hospital Road, Suite #333
Newport Beach, CA 92663
More updates to come soon!