The Beginning: An IVF Journey
Since I became a Community Advocate, I have wanted to write about my experience with IVF. However, I’ve put it off because of a few reasons.
1) This entire process started in 2019 and my memory is foggy, 2) It’s a complicated medical procedure and I was afraid I would get the details wrong.
I ultimately decided to write about it because I want this to be a helpful article for families who are currently pursuing or thinking about pursuing this option, particularly if you are a CF family like we are. Turns out I have a LOT to say, so this will actually be a series of articles. I’ll include my personal experiences and leave out specific details, such as the drugs I took and how many eggs were retrieved. Everyone’s experience is so different, and I only want to tell you about my journey.
Deciding to try IVF
In some ways, IVF seems like a long time ago. I think that’s due to the fact that we started the process in March 2019 and since then have gone through the experience, been pregnant, and now our baby girl is a toddler! In other ways, it feels like it just happened. When talking to friends who are currently undergoing it or exploring it, I pick right back up with the familiar terminology and remember the tips that got me through the physical side effects of the many drugs.
After having Margo, my husband and I knew we wanted more children. We looked at our two options: roll the dice and try to conceive naturally. Margo was conceived naturally and this took longer than we originally expected—just over a year. As I was in my late 30s, time was not on our side. And of course the inherent risk of having another child with CF. We decided that for our family, the best decision was to try IVF with the idea of being open to conceiving naturally if for some reason IVF didn’t work for us.
Exploring our options
Our IVF journey began in spring 2019 by visiting a local reproductive clinic and meeting with a doctor there. This first meeting was critical for us as far as information gathering and learning about our options. We learned so much in that initial meeting. We knew next to nothing about the process and she took time to break down an extremely complicated process, complete with hand-drawn diagrams and a thorough explanation of how IVF and genetic testing works. She answered all our questions and gave us a road map of what to expect.
During this meeting, we also met with a person from finance so we knew how much we should expect to pay and what, if anything, our insurance would cover. We left the meeting informed but also knowing that we wanted a bit more time before we started the first step in the process. It didn’t feel like the right time us—we wanted to be a family of three for a little bit longer, especially since Margo was not even two at that point.
The first step: birth control
We decided to begin IVF in the fall of 2019. The first step was to begin birth control to regulate my cycle and prepare my ovaries for stimulation. Because I had purposely gone off of birth control two years prior, being back on hormones was a huge shock to my system. I experienced very intense anxiety from the birth control. It wasn’t until talking to a friend of mine who had undergone IVF previously that that I realized how intense the hormones in the birth control were and how much they were affecting me. This realization actually calmed me down because I realized that it was A) not just me being crazy and B) temporary.
Time is of the essence
I often tell people that one of the hardest parts of IVF is the time involved. Because you have a specific length of time each month to get pregnant, any delay essentially adds a month onto the process—you can’t just start again the following day or week. That reality contributed a lot of disappointment and stress, and it took a huge mental toll on both of us. We faced several obstacles along the way that literally set us back months.
Find out about the rest of our IVF journey, including our experience with genetic testing, in my next article!
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