A First Hand Look At IVF

I have had a lot of positive feedback from friends and strangers about me sharing my postpartum journey so I wanted to share other journeys. A very close friend of mine and her husband went through IVF to have their three beautiful children. We both agreed it was something not talked about and it needed someone to be completely honest and open about it.

I didn’t know very much about the IVF process, I wanted to know her story and the advice she had for others going through this process, as well as her husband’s thoughts on the whole thing. So I sat down with each of them and got down to the nitty-gritty. They opened their hearts and lives to me, and you. ❤

What was your experience trying to get pregnant before you started IVF?

Tiffany told me, with a smile, “it was fun and frustrating.” She did mention it was expensive to buy all the ovulation tests and pregnancy tests every month, which makes it more frustrating. I think most anyone trying to get pregnant can agree that you almost get obsessive over it; when to have sex, when to take the tests, etc. Tiffany and her husband Billy tried for almost a year before they made the decision to start the IVF process. When they initially went to the doctor he told them IUI (Intrauterine insemination) wouldn’t work because she was too small; Tiffany is 5’1″. She physically cannot carry 3-5 kids at one time. IVF is more controlled and you can decide how many fertilized eggs you put in each time. Unfortunately, after the tests they went through the doctors said there was nothing wrong with Tiffany or Billy. It was undetermined why they couldn’t get pregnant, which you can imagine would be incredibly frustrating.

What prompted you to start investigating the IVF option? Can you tell me about what you did before choosing IVF?

Tiffany said her boss encouraged her, “she knew I was frustrated and gave me the name of a doctor. She told me not to waste any more time and just go see someone.” So they made an appointment and started the process of talking to a doctor about getting help.

Before choosing IVF Tiffany took Chlomed for 2 cycles but because of how crazy it made her feel she stopped. She said she could see the words coming out of her mouth to Bill and she didn’t care what she was saying. She would feel terrible after and she knew she was ‘crazy’ but she just couldn’t stop the words at the time. She laughed at the memory as she was telling me this, and because we are close friends I could picture these events happening. I’m sure it was incredibly hard, for both of them, to deal with at the time, however, now that so much time has passed they can both joke and laugh about it now. She did make the comment “It’s insane how much your hormones affect your moods, your words, your reactions, how you deal with people, etc.” and I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

Can you tell me about the process as you started IVF? What are the steps you have to take, tests you have to take, etc?

“You get excited to start, but you have to wait until you start your period. Then you have to go on the pill for a month so you can get regulated. After that month you start the hormone therapies which includes shots every day. You start with shots in the stomach (those don’t hurt) and then move to shots in your upper glute (those hurt really really bad). You have to take these shots for an entire menstrual cycle.”

Tiffany let me know it’s a lot more than just shots. While you’re going through these shots you get a schedule from your doctor’s office that lets you know you have blood tests on certain days and vaginal ultrasounds to check follicles and if you are growing eggs. When they say it’s ready you go in, they put you under general anesthesia, and extract the eggs. Once all of this is done your husband gives a sample and they fertilize each egg individually.

In their situation, she had 17 eggs extracted and then had to wait 5 days to see if any become fertilized. Out of those 17, she had 6 eggs that fertilized. She had 2 of the 6 embryos inserted and froze the other 4 in 2007.

Unfortunately, Tiffany got pregnant and then miscarried a few weeks in. “Once you get that positive and you’ve been doing this all you can think about is that you are finally pregnant and it’s absolutely mortifying if you lose that child/children.” They decided to let a few months go by and then did what is called a frozen cycle. They defrosted 2 of the 4 remaining embryos and transferred them, but they didn’t take at all.

Keep in mind, all of this is being paid for out of pocket. They decided to do a fresh cycle (not frozen embryos) because her medical insurance changed their policy and allotted $30,000 per employee for infertility expenses. Doing a fresh cycle meant they had to start all over again with the cycle on the pill, the cycle with the shots, and all the appointments. This time around they only got 2 embryos, transferred them both, and got pregnant with their son, Preston. Preston was born on October 16, 2009, with Tiffany was 33. Because of the insurance kick in she calls Preston her “free baby.”

Tiffany always had in the back of her mind that she had the 2 frozen embryos still from back in 2007. Billy would joke about selling them or donating them, but she didn’t like either of those options. A few years after they had Preston they decided to put them in. Tiffany didn’t think they would work anyway, but low and behold she became pregnant with her twin daughters, Sydney and Sloan. They were born on December 13, 2013.

Tiffany gave me a slight mind fuck when she informed me that technically Sydney and Sloan are older than Preston because they were the frozen embryos from 2007 and Preston was a fresh embryo from 2009. ***Mind Blown***

How was the first time different than the second time? Or was it any different?

Per Tiffany, “It’s all miserable. You’re full of hope and the letdown is incredible. However, once you finally have your baby, if you’re doing it again you have the comfort in knowing you have one.”

When I was pregnant one of the first things I asked was how many heartbeats and had some hopes and let downs regarding the sex. So, I had to know how she felt about being pregnant with twins and then finding out they were both girls. When she had her ultrasound and found out they were having twins she sat up, looked at Billy and said “shit.” They went to lunch after the ultrasound where she had a glass of wine and Billy had a bottle of wine, which sounds about what I would do.

When she found out they were having twin girls her response was, “fuck.” Tiffany said the nurse was looking at her like she was insane. She deals with people all the time that are getting the bad news that they aren’t pregnant and here’s Tiffany saying fuck. I was literally laughing out loud as we discussed this because it fits with Tiffany’s personality and I think I would react the same way.

What are pros of IVF?

“Other than the pros of having a child you get hope. That’s it.” She did say that going through it as a couple definitely makes you stronger. “It’s no walk in the park.”

What are the cons of IVF?

“IVF,” she says as she laughs. She said she was very frustrated about being undiagnosed, which is completely understandable, and the hormones you’re injecting into your body affects you, but it’s all worth it. She also said the financial impact is insane if your insurance doesn’t cover it. Which made me wonder how much an average cycle cost so I looked it up. Per Google, “nationally, a “fresh” IVF cycle costs $12,000, before medications, which typically run another $3,000 to $5,000.” I don’t know many people that could just shell out $15,000 to $17,000 or more for IVF without some sort of help.

How did going through this process affect your mental state?

Other than the pregnancy part: it fucks with you. You’re obsessed. Constantly looking at the schedule to see what you need to do tomorrow, what medicine you’re supposed to take today.
How am I going to do a shot at the time I’m supposed to do it on the airplane? It’s all-consuming. It’s your world.”

Anyone that has had difficulties, even just for a few months, trying to have a baby feels a small part of this. Honestly, anyone who’s ever been pregnant feels a part of this, trying to have a child and being pregnant is consuming. I can’t even imagine how stressful this whole process is and I commend anyone who goes through this and comes out with some sort of sanity intact.

I know having a difficult time getting pregnant can put a strain on even strong relationships. Did going through the IVF process put a strain on your relationship with Billy?

Tiffany feels it did put a strain on their relationship but it made them stronger in the end. She recalls a moment after she miscarried where she was in tears, looked at him and asked “What if I can’t have children? [She says that’s always going through your mind.] Are you going to leave me because I can’t have babies and you want one?” Of course, he said no, but she says there are always constant worries.

She did tell me that you must have a good sense of humor throughout the whole thing if you’re going to make it out alive!

Would you ever do it again?

Her immediate response when I asked this questions was “Fuck no.” Her honesty is one of the things I absolutely love about her! She did clarify what she meant, though. If she knew then what she knows now she would still do it. She would do it to get her three babies. She will never do it again now that she has her kids though.

What is something you would say to women who are contemplating going through the IVF process or are currently in the IVF process?

“Talk to other women about it. Talk to other women who have gone through it. Talk to other couples who have gone through it because you need that support system. You can feel very alone because everyone else is having “free” babies and not going through this extra stress and just knowing you aren’t alone is very helpful.”

Tiffany talked to someone who had experienced it while she was in this process and she also had a therapist. I asked how she found her therapist or if it was someone she was already seeing and she said her doctor’s office recommended therapists who dealt with the topic.

Another big piece of advice she had for anyone reading this is to not discount what your spouse is going through. She made this mistake and can see that now.

What did Billy go through?

He’s glad they did it, they are more than grateful to have their family, but in that moment, she felt it was all about her. When she miscarried, it was her loss and her failure. Not even thinking about the fact that when she was crying he was crying but not showing her. She felt most guilty about that after everything was said and done.

Did you ever consider adoption?
She said they never got to that point. Their journey wasn’t done when it came to their trying but she would have if it came to that. They thought about what if this process didn’t work out in the end, and they would have adopted if that were the case. To them, adoption was more hypothetical and it wasn’t a serious conversation yet.

And if you didn’t catch on already, today is Preston’s 8th birthday! So happy birthday Bubba!! I’m so lucky to have met you and your family! ❤

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