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I Never Thought I'd Miss IVF

It’s funny what we consider to be a normal part of our lives. I can remember our first appointment at the fertility clinic being surreal. I didn’t belong there. I was out of my element. It was uncomfortable sitting there behind the big wooden desk of the doctor telling him about our personal lives, sharing with him that the first three rounds of Clomid I got from my OBGYN hadn’t worked.

When we started cycling for the first IVF, everything I experienced was new: the four to five daily injections in my stomach, the monitoring visits that occurred every few days, and the excitement that we may become pregnant in a few months.

As time went on and we became veterans of infertility, my husband eagerly spoke to our friends and family about follicle counts, ovulation cycles, and which specialty pharmacy offered the best deals on certain IVF meds. He would patiently explain the difference between a FET and a fresh IVF transfer to his friends while playing video games. I was quick to correct those who would tell me that a certain person from Hollywood had an embryo implantation recently.

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“Transfer,” I’d lecture, “Embryo transfer. Embryos have to implant on their own after they’re transferred.”

It was normal dinner conversation to discuss that day’s ultrasound and how big my follicles were getting.

“So they’re going to increase my Follistim and Menopur because I have an 8 & 11 on my right and only 5 small on the left,” I’d explain at the table while cutting up my chicken. My husband would nod in total understanding and reply, “So are they thinking another few days before triggering?”

We settled into a routine and for eighteen months our lives consisted of doctor appointments, medications, procedures, and thinking about the money to pay for it all.

And then it was over. The third cycle of IVF failed and we were trying to plan our next steps of egg donation. You want to hear something crazy? I miss it. I miss doing all those injections, of going to appointments to monitor how my follicles were growing. I miss being under anesthesia for egg retrievals where I could wake up and say whatever came out of my mouth in a drug-induced fog. I miss being in the IVF suite, covered only with a drape surrounded by an entire team of nurses, doctors, and lab techs awaiting to transfer the embryo that we all had a hand in creating.

I never expected that I would be grieving the end of my own IVF cycles.

I had an ultrasound last week to make sure my uterus was nice and quiet at the start of a new cycle. It was required for the fertility clinic in Texas for the donor egg program, and the result would be faxed to the doctor there. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel nostalgic.

They know me there now. The receptionist gives me a smile when I come in. “You’re all checked in Risa.”

The tech who brought me back told me it was nice to see me again. When I sat in the room with a sheet over me waiting for her to return with a nurse to start the ultrasound, I felt this rush of familiarity. I knew what to expect and felt comfortable being there. I know. It’s so messed up.

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See, I’ve been through so many losses. There was the loss that came with surrendering myself to a doctor to get me knocked up instead of throwing back a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir and jumping into bed with my husband.

There was the loss I experienced when I became pregnant for the first and only time, only to have him taken away in a sterile term called, “chemical pregnancy.”

I had to grieve the loss of my own fertility, of my own eggs that aren’t good enough for making a baby.

But I never expected to feel this loss.

I never expected that I would be grieving the end of my own IVF cycles. That I would miss the pain of daily self-injections. That I would miss going into numerous appointments and missing a ton of work.

But I do. I want the comfort back, the routine. Waiting for a donor cycle, hell, having to choose another woman to use her eggs, having to coordinate sending results to a clinic across the country, it may bring me closer to a baby, but it’s not familiar to me.

Back a year and a half ago, I couldn’t wait to be done with it all and have a child. I couldn’t wait to put it behind me. I was angry at my body, frustrated we needed medical intervention.

I never thought I would miss it.

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