Trying to conceive for an extended period of time is brutal. It can change a couple, leading to all sorts of strong and unexpected emotions including envy, anger and lust (or, more accurately, lack of it, but with plenty of sex).
I have seen strangers, friends, acquaintances overcome their infertility. My own journey with TTC (on infertility message boards, that’s shorthand for “trying to conceive”) is still going on. It began in 2011, just a few months after our 1 year anniversary. As two healthy adults with steady jobs and a decent nest egg, my husband and I were fully prepared for me to be pregnant after a few tries. But as the months passed, we watched as seemingly everyone around us was announcing their pregnancies, showing off baby bumps and giving birth, while I was still pointlessly peeing on sticks and meeting with a fertility specialist.
But this story isn’t about the blood tests or semen analyses or egg reserves. It’s about the feelings that many couples experience when their attempts to conceive take longer than expected. These feelings may not make us proud, but they make us human. I call it the seven cardinal sins of infertility.
Envy. Whether you’ve been trying to conceive for a few months or a few years, envy is an emotion you’ve probably experienced more than you care to admit. Thanks to our tendency to overshare, most couples of child-bearing age are all too familiar with the constant barrage of Facebook pregnancy announcements, bump updates and newborn portraits. The jealousy and guilty feelings that such news provoke are enough to make anyone want to deactivate her account.
Greed. If envy is wanting something you don’t have, greed is wanting more of something you do have — and TTC couples are always hungry for more information. I have found that it’s dangerously easy to fall into a nightly rabbit hole of Web forums and scientific studies and articles focused on infertility. We greedily cling to stats and figures that give us hope during a time when it feels like that’s all we’ve got. And it can be exhausting.
Wrath. Infertility can make you feel extra sensitive. And that can result in a bit of rage when someone — a partner or an unsuspecting friend, perhaps — says the wrong thing. It could be anything from the well-meaning “Just relax and it will happen!” to the flippant “Maybe you were just meant to adopt” and the oh-so-hilarious “Are you sure you’re doing it correctly?” I’ve managed to keep from snapping at insensitive comments — I know they aren’t intended the way they feel to me — but that doesn’t mean I’m not carrying around a grudge or two.
Gluttony. Every couple trying to conceive spends two weeks of every month waiting. This wait between ovulation and the start of the woman’s period (or, if she’s lucky, a positive pregnancy test) can be torturous — especially if she has given up caffeine, alcohol and other vices just in case she has finally become pregnant. That’s half of every month abstaining from fun and fantasizing about a baby that could be developing, only to have all hopes shattered at those first few drops of blood. And, if you’re like many, that monthly devastation is often mollified by a few days of overindulgence. So go ahead and drink that bottle of champagne and slurp a few dozen sushi rolls (my own favorite let-down treat). Can your pregnant friends do that?
Lust. Lust and sex go hand in hand — unless you’re trying to make a baby and it’s just not happening. In that case, sex tends to be more associated with ovulation predictor kits, basal body temperature and cervical mucus than any real desire to get it on. The fact is, having sex because you have to just isn’t as much fun as having sex because you want to.
Sloth. Trying to conceive can be an isolating, lonely experience. Even though it consumes much of our daily thoughts, we often keep our struggles to ourselves for a number of reasons: It’s hard to talk about. It’s scary to share something so personal. The reaction of friends and family can make you feel worse. (See “wrath” above.) And there’s also this lurking sense of shame when you feel as if something’s wrong with you. It’s not uncommon for these feelings to cause you to pull away from friends and family members — and even your partner — choosing instead to spend your time alone on the couch with your buddies Ben and Jerry.
Pride. It’s okay to keep your struggles with infertility private, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone or feel embarrassed about what you’re going through. It’s easy to forget that for every baby shower invitation and bump update you receive, there’s another couple out there playing the trying game. It may not make it any easier, but it helps to connect with others who are experiencing the same thing you are. For my husband and I, that reminder was sometimes the only thing that kept us from going to a dark place. Don’t feel too proud to reach out for support, whether it’s a friend who’s been through the same thing, a counselor or a local infertility support group.
Yeah. I had never heard of Intralipid Therapy/Infusions either.
That is one thing I love about our new fertility clinic. Dr. Acacio is super cutting edge with his treatments and medication protocols. At our consultation he mentioned that IVF fails sometimes because of undiagnosed autoimmune disorders in the woman. In short, Your body attacks its own reproductive system. This can cause reoccurring miscarriage and failed implantation. Treatment for this, is an infusion of Intralipids (basically a ton of fat is shot into you and it works to help with pregnancy and I don’t really know how) is administered before embryo transfer and in first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Intralipids is a cutting edge treatment beneficial to couples who are preparing to undergo infertility treatments such as IVF, who have immune disorders, repeated IVF failure, or recurrent miscarriage. Some types of infertility may be caused by a slightly overactive immune system. When this occurs the immune system can attack egg, sperm, embryo and even a developing fetus. This can result in difficulty achieving pregnancy, maintaining the pregnancy, or repeated miscarriages. It is a highly calorific mixture of natural fats containing a mixture of 20% Soybean Oil, 1.2% Egg Yolk Phospholipids, 2.25% Glycerin, and Water. It is given intravenously mixed with saline for about an hour. Intralipids have been shown to lower the activity of the natural killer cells component of our immune system.
Researchers and trial studies conducted both in and outside of the U.S. are showing raving results. A lot of studies will target women who suffered from immune disorders and recurrent miscarriages and/or failed IVF cycles and more likely than not achieve a successful live birth after undergoing these Intralipid infusions. A recent trial done by British researchers involving IVF and Intralipids…
“Research on Intralipid involved 96 women – average age 37 – all of whom experienced at least 6 previous failed IVF attempts. Fifty of the women in the group received infusions of the soy-based oil, given by intravenous drip about a week before their IVF was to begin. Forty six of the women received no treatment. All the women subsequently underwent an IVF procedure, which included removing their eggs, combining them with sperm in a laboratory dish, and then implanting the resulting embryo into the woman’s uterus. Fifty percent of the women who received the Intralipid infusions achieved successful pregnancies, compared to just 9 percent of those not treated. In terms of miscarriage, just two women who received Intralipid miscarried (about 8 percent) compared to seven miscarriages in the group who did not receive the infusions (about 64 percent).” WOW.
The only downside is that insurance does not cover the cost of treatment for Intralipids because it is a newer treatment and is still a bit experimental. So at a whopping $600 for each infusion, I am praying this is the magic potion to keeping these little embies to stick this time around. But let’s be honest… I would pay $600 a minute for an hour if it meant seeing two lines on a pee stick.
I had my infusion this past Monday and our transfer is scheduled for Tuesday March 29! I feel like this has been the longest month of my life. I am getting nervous, but trying to keep my excitement and positivity up. YAY for FAT!
Hiiiiii Mid Cycle FET! If you unfamiliar FET stands for FROZEN EMBRYO TRANSER, and I happen to be in the midst of mine!
For all you geeks out there that are not familiar with some of this verbiage let me educate you :: A Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) is a cycle in which the frozen embryos from a previous fresh IVF cycle are thawed and then transferred back into the woman’s uterus. An Embryo is an unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development. ::
Last time I posted, I was at the end of my egg retrieval cycle. Hubs and I were deciding if we were going to do another egg retrieval to bank more eggs or move forward with an embryo transfer. Because we have a decent number of healthy frozen embryo babies this time we were presented with a couple more options on how to proceed with this IVF cycle… We decided to move forward with a transfer!
A few reasons we decided to move forward are 1. I wouldn’t have to put my body through all those nasty stimulating meds again. Affordability and health wise I think this was a smart decision. 2. We still have our second egg retrieval as insurance if we are unsuccessful at getting pregnant with any of our frozen embryos we have now. Win. Win. 3. We thought we would have gotten 5 eggs total with two egg retrieval’s based on the poor results we had last year with our first IVF cycle. Again, whatever this doctor is doing is a miracle and my body responded 1,000,00o times better than last time. We consulted with our doctor and asked what he suggested as far as doing another retrieval or going straight to a transfer. He said lets do the transfer! 3. We prayed and talked about it a lot and we both felt like this was the time. I am feeling excited, scared, anxious, calm, confident, all in one… is that even possible?
I have to say a FET cycle is kind of boring and calm and easy peasy so far. Going from 4 shots a day to just 1 a day and 2 every other day is cake. I am trying to focus on getting my body (aka baby palace) ready for this transfer. I am feeling so incredibly calm so far, my family is actually in shock, which is hard to do. Getting the healthy embryo’s seemed like the hard part and now that, that is over I really just need to focus on my mind/body health so that when these little babes are implanted back in me they want to stick around for a while… 9 months to be exact. I say “they” because we have decided to transfer two embryo’s. Our solo boy and one of the girls. Transferring two increases your chance of pregnancy. Yes we could have twins, we actually have a chance for triplets and quads if any of the embryo’s decide to split, but those stats are extremely low. Bring it on at this point I guess! My transfer will be sometime between the last week of March and the first week of April.
For now I am keeping calm and carrying on by doing almost daily yoga, meditation, and prayer. Lots of prayer. I am living in the now and not thinking about the future or what could or could not happen. I have so much faith in our doctor, in our embryologist, in the timing, in God, in the process. I know how hard this process is and sometimes it is easy to get lost in it. Lately I have been embracing the process. I have been leaning into the tension, the areas that may be a little uncomfortable and I have found the strength and calm on the other side. (duh I got that last part from yoga… such a yogi nowwww).