Monday, March 18, 2013

The worst and the best of it.

People ask: what's the worst thing about IVF? Well...
  1. The cost. I already complained about this one. Holy CRAP, the cost. It's absolutely debilitating. Enough said.
  2. The side effects. If I was one to post photos of my stomach online, I could show you. I'd show you the span of bruises, a range of sizes and colors, ringing my entire abdomen. I'd show you how pregnant I look before an egg retrieval, belly as full and round as I imagine it might look in happier times. Baseball-size ovaries feel just like you think they would, actually. And the fatigue is a new level of fatigue, of a body doing things it's not meant to and continually asking you why. Everything hurts... a lot. 
  3. The alienation. An IVF cycle takes over your life. There's really no other way to put it. You can't leave town. You have to show up to the clinic nearly every day. You have to stay off your feet and can't do anything remotely active at all. You are an incubator, plain and simple. The only way to feel more normal through it all is to try and pretend that it's not taking over your life, pretend to be normal. And so you try to be normal with people who don't understand what's happening and you fail miserably. Faking normality is painful. And then you just give in and let it take over your life for real. You become a hermit.
  4. The reaction. Is there a worse feeling than trying desperately to be happy for someone else's good fortune, but failing? IVF girls know what I mean here, and it's heartbreaking. Feeling like a bad friend is the worst feeling of all. I'm so very happy for your pregnancy conceived after one month of trying... now please let me shut myself away for the next three days. It only gets harder over time.
  5. The "What If?" What if we go through all of this again, and it still doesn't work? How many times can we try? How old will I be then? How broke? When do we switch to Plan B? What is Plan B?

And now, let's do something that used to come much more naturally to me. What's the best thing about IVF?

  1. The science. Without a doubt, the science of IVF is some cool shit. I'm not a science girl, either, and this stuff amazes me. Our bodies are amazing on their own. But the ways brilliant people have devised to help biology along? Astounding. Growing dozens more eggs at a time than our bodies normally produce in a cycle is painful as hell, but the fact that we can even do that at all, then mate them in a lab and insert them back into the right environment, all of it manipulated precisely? It's crazy. For the first time ever, I can honestly say I think it'd be cool if my kids became scientists.
  2. The ownership. One thing I've learned waiting in countless morning monitoring lines is this: IVF gives women choices. Nothing makes me happier for my gender than choice. I've been in line with women freezing just in case, women starting a family with their wives, women with a second chance on life and love... all kinds of women. IVF is a tool that gives all of us dramatically better chances than we've ever had before, and we make all the decisions - whether to go through this at all, how to go through it, how many embryos to implant, how many to freeze, whether to use or destroy them. We choose. That's a beautiful thing.
  3. The hope. Few jump into IVF first - our roads there are usually long and littered with frustration and grief and even tragedy. With other assisted reproduction techniques, insurance typically covers several procedures, so there's not as much risk or sacrifice involved. With IVF, we put everything on the line because it's the end of the road, because we believe, and that kind of hope is intoxicating. It makes the failures all the more heartbreaking - oh god the heartbreak - but I think it might make the successes more exhilarating, too.
One other note, in case someone you love is going through IVF. You might feel weird sometimes, and that's okay - we feel weird, too. Being there is all you need to do - you don't need to know the right questions to ask or anything at all about this crazy-science-magic. You just need to keep knowing us, and that's enough. With any luck (and some of that hot science, too), one day it won't be so weird anymore.

"Hey handsome... what do you say we slip out of here and inject a trigger shot in that fancy hotel bathroom we passed?"


  1. Just wanted to let you know I'm sending good thoughts your way <3

  2. what a fantastic post... thank you for being so candid about your journey. this is why I love the blogging world--the honesty. I love it. lots of love and prayers to you on this path!!!

  3. Could you be any more beautiful? Inside and out?

  4. I was just thinking the exact same thing as Katie. Maggie, no matter when and how it happens, you and T will be the most amazing parents. Love you bunches

  5. Thanks for sharing. I've been reading your blog for awhile but never comment (sorry!) and wondering how this was going for you (creeper alert???) as I am going through similar issues.

  6. Thank you for this. My close friend is just starting this journey and I'm trying to be there for her as much as possible. Reading other experiences definitely helps.

    Sending all my good vibes and wishes to you.

  7. Wonderful post. No, you're right - it doesn't get easier and feeling like a bad friend (and a bad person in general) is HARD. We didn't make it all the way to IVF, but we had our fair share of needles and drugs and invasive ultrasounds and side effects. And it doesn't get easier. But there is that glimmer of hope and when/if it does happen, it'll all be worth it a million times over. Love you and praying for you.

  8. Thank you for your honesty in this! A few dear friends of mine have walked this road (all with happy endings, thankfully), and it's difficult to know how to help. (I'm not good with shots, so I can't exactly volunteer there...) I appreciate your openness and I'll be thinking of you! Sending lots of love and hoping you'll get the news you've been praying for VERY soon.

  9. My husband and I went through an IVF cycle a few years ago - it is everything you describe and more. And we were so sure that it had worked (since everything up to and including the transfer was textbook perfect). It was heartbreaking to find out (at work, of all places) that I wasn't pregnant. Heartbreaking because it should have, and heartbreaking because insurance only covered one try and we couldn't afford to try it again. Heartbreaking because it destroyed all hopes we ever had of being biological parents. We later found out I had a blood clotting disorder that would make it darn near impossible to carry a pregnancy to term without being on blood thinners the whole time, but it didn't lessen the magnitude of emotions we felt during those two months. I'm hoping that your story has a different ending than ours, but just know that there is someone reading who completely understands what you're feeling right now. Thinking baby thoughts for you, and hoping you'll see the + you're waiting for. :)

  10. Thank you for writing this, Maggie. Sending you so much love and hope.

  11. Maggie, just want you to know I'm reading and thinking of you. You have a way with words. I hope you know that!

    I am praying and thinking happy baby thoughts for you.

  12. I stumbled across your blog several months ago and little did I know that I would be in a similar situation now. We are just beginning this crazy infertility journey and were told by my OBGYN that IVF will likely be our only option (tubal factor). My first consultation is in like 2 1/2 weeks and I'm gonna be perfectly honest, I'm scared shitless!

    This post was just what I needed! Thank you.

  13. Love your brave honesty and, despite feeling emotionally and physically tapped, finding the energy to be positive. You rock, Maggie. Hang in there.


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