IVF Post Mortem

Over the last few days, I’ve experienced many emotions in processing the information that despite all the things that went right with my IVF cycle, ultimately it was not successful.

Going into the IVF, I felt I was realistic about our chances of this working. Unlike some women, I was very aware that there was a good chance the first IVF would not work. In fact, I felt like I would be one of the lucky ones if I only had to do IVF once. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t think anyone who has to do IVF even once is lucky in the grand scheme of baby making. Of all the ways one can end up with a pregnant belly, it is by far the most invasive and stressful (not to mention expensive) one.

Nobody wakes up one morning, decides it is time to have a baby, and says to their husband “Honey, let’s go buy a pharmacy aisle’s worth of medication for me to ingest and inject over the next month, so my ovaries can grow to gargantuan proportions and the Dr. can extract a crap ton of eggs and introduce them to your sperm in a dish. That sounds like way more fun than popping in the Marvin Gaye CD and having sex all month long.”

Some people jump to IVF sooner in their conception quest (possibly even very early on), because it is the only way they can hope to get pregnant, or because they are getting older and want to ensure they pulled out all the stops before time runs out; while others eventually get there after years of exhausting other more palatable options. Either way, the IVF process is not an easy one, and there is a lot invested in the outcome.

As I mentioned above, I went in to this cycle with eyes wide open that one try may not be enough. Over the last year (and especially over the last four months when I was actually doing IVF myself), I have read of many other women’s IVF experiences on the online infertility support forums that I belong to. I always cringed when I would read about women going through their first cycle planning their maternity shopping trips a few months out, or deciding when they would have their baby shower before they even knew the IVF was a success. Even though I was also just going through my first IVF, I felt like the jaded veterans with multiple IVF failures behind them when I read these posts; amazed at these women’s naivety that IVF was a sure thing.

While a small, ugly part of me wanted to see how these women would react when they got a negative result (something about their ignorance of the process and the lack of awareness that success rates are not 100% really bothered me), for the most part, I held my breath and hoped really hard for them that their cycle would turn out the only way they imagined it could and they would in fact be buying maternity clothes sooner rather than later.

In some cases, they got lucky and ended up pregnant (perhaps never even realizing how lucky they were to have ended up on the right side of the statistics), but in many cases, I watched these women try to pick themselves up after a failed cycle, and as you can imagine it was not pretty.

So I tried to stay realistic, and prepare myself for the possibility that my cycle would not be successful. However, even knowing all this, I was still blindsided by the profound sense of loss I feel knowing that things did not work out. I am normally an even keel sort of person, and not prone to riding the emotional rollercoaster, but even for me, there is no middle ground with IVF. Instead, there are only two possible extremes of emotion: the ecstatic feeling of having won the lottery, or the deep sense of despair that the best that modern science has to offer was not enough.