I was certain that in vitro fertilization would work for me.
For one thing, I already have a daughter conceived
naturally. So I knew I wasn’t infertile in the clinical sense. Yet when it came to having a second baby, I
didn’t have a lot of patience for Mother Nature. At 41, I knew my biological clock could run
out of batteries at any moment. So after
trying the old-fashioned way for 6 months, we made an appointment with a
Success rates for IVF at my age weren’t super high, but I
was certain—absolutely certain—that we would beat the odds. Here were just a few of my legal arguments in
the nonexistent court of I Know I Will Get Pregnant:
We live in a major metropolitan area with some
of the best doctors in the country. Surely our odds are better here.
Our doctors offer special pricing: if the first
two rounds of IVF don’t work, the third try is free. If they are that confident, then surely I will
have a baby.
I’m healthy and reasonably fit—no genetic
issues, no celiac disease. I’m open and
ready for business!
I look young for my age. Maybe my ovaries are young for their age, too.
About a third of the babies in my mommy & me
class were IVF babies, so success rates must actually be really high! (Never mind that the failed attempts don’t
make it to mommy & me class—all I saw was a lot of beautiful babies,
courtesy of science.)
Based on all of these closely held and totally made-up
beliefs, I was optimistic and fully committed to IVF.
I was sobbing during the final post-mortem with our doctor.
Each night for the better part of 6 months, I stood over
my dining room table mixing medications and injecting them into my stomach,
which was polka-dotted black and blue. I
traveled to the doctor 90 minutes round trip, three to four times per week for ultrasounds
and blood tests, always with my toddler—who is not a fan of the car. I made dozens of last-minute trips to the
specialty pharmacist as the doctors fine-tuned my medications. The drugs made me dizzy, weepy and more than
a little crazy.
Three times I went under anesthesia so that my eggs could be
harvested. Three times I went on bed
rest after fertilized embryos were transferred back to my uterus. Three times I cobbled together child care to
cover me. Three times I endured the
famous “two-week wait,” during which I interpreted every twinge as a pregnancy
symptom, which in turn led to a flurry of unhealthy late-night Googling. Countless times I peed on sticks, and every single damn one of them came up
So what happened?
Who knows? Nothing
went horribly wrong. Each cycle, I ended
up with three to four fertilized embryos, some of which were considered high quality, all
of which were transferred directly into my uterus in the hope that at least one
would implant and start growing. It
never happened. Not even once.
I was sobbing during the final post-mortem with our
doctor. He offered up a feeble, “If you
want to go again, I won’t stop you.” I
interpreted that as, “I don’t think it will work, but I’ll take your money if
it will make you stop crying.”