To be honest, I was never going to write this post until Monday came around. With this week being National Infertility Awareness week, my situation just hit me hard again and I was reminded that for me, being open and sharing my truth and struggles is something that not only helps me personally but hopefully helps others too. This Covid-19 world has become a super shitty time for so many people. Before I go into everything. Let me rewind.
Many of you know that we struggled for a long time to bring Otis into the world. You can read all about our infertility and multiple rounds of IVF as I wrote a lot of pretty detailed posts throughout the process. After settling into life as a new mom, Blake and I both started to think about expanding our family. We have 3 frozen embryos that have been genetically tested and our plan moving forward was to do a FET (frozen embryo transfer) to expand our family. We made the decision not to try naturally based on my own anxieties about my egg quality being poor. Plus, to have these little miracle embryos is such a blessing. We worked so hard to get them and we wanted to give them a fighting chance. Sharing the start of our cycle and what ended up happening. I had started a FET diary on my computer to document what I was feeling and going through so tapping into that in the paragraphs below.
STARTING MY FROZEN EMBRYO TRANSFER CYCLE
We decided to prep for a transfer at the end of March so that meant starting our treatment at the beginning of February. The first piece of the puzzle was doing a Hysteroscopy to take a look inside my uterus with a camera to make sure everything looked good to prep for a transfer. I remember the day I had the blood drawl in preparation for the procedure. It’s funny how quickly you fall back into these same routines of what now has seemed like a distant time away. After finally being in my own skin for about 2 months, here we were again. In my own skin meaning no breastfeeding and finally for once having my body literally to myself. The wildest thing after years of treatment and then being pregnant. Have to say, those 2 months were an incredible time to honor my own body and mind just being my own. Staring into a future of needles, meds, mood swings and anxiety had me on the edge of my seat. Maybe its PTSD from the years of treatments. It’s wild because it’s such a strange emotion. I am both calm and anxious at once. Is that even a thing?!? After going through this process before, there is a sense of calm in knowing what to expect. I also know that this really can work. Otis is sheer proof that the miracle possibility is something that is so real I can literally wrap my arms around him this second and hug him so hard and close. On the flip side, it’s heavy to know the journey that lies ahead and the obstacles ahead of us as well. So it’s this wild mix of emotions as I know those evil estrogen pills are on their way to my pharmacy and the countless needles that lie in my future. For a split second, I think about how much easier it would be if we could just be normal and conceive without all this baggage. But then I snap out of it. All the blood, sweat, tears and love we put into this process. All the work. Our precious embryos sitting frozen at the embryo bank. My mind instantly switches gears. It’s a privilege I get to look this battle in the eye again. And you know what? I’m a hell of a lot stronger than when I first started this journey and you bet the fight left in me is strong.
FIRST DAY OF INJECTIONS
I hoisted the giant cardboard box of medications onto our kitchen island. I took a deep breath because I knew what was ahead of me. The first shot of many and the first opportunity to prep for baby number 2. So exciting. Nerve wracking. Emotional. All the feelings. I decided that I was going to do it. Blake was next to me reading my protocol papers and telling me my dosage. I was starting my lupron injections. The lupron basically turns off your own hormones so you can sync everything with the hormones I will be taking soon. The injection is telling my body not to ovulate etc. It’s wild what these meds can do to help prepare for an embryo transfer. Wild. I pulled out the bag of orange insulin syringes. Funny that something so distant was feeling all too familiar. I pulled back the syringe to the 20 mark and I was ready to inject. I stood there for a second. Anticipating how it would feel again, psyching myself up. And BAM. I did it. And just like that, we were “IN IT” again. Holy crap guys. We were really in it.
LEADING UP TO EMBRYO TRANSFER
Everything was on track. Everything was going, dare I say, GREAT. Time was flying by and really before I knew it I was taking my estrogen pills and estrogen patches headed into the doctor’s office for scans to check my lining. I remember Dr. M saying how surprised she was that my lining was looking so good toward the beginning to the point I thought something might be wrong! Maybe things were just finally playing out without a struggle. Maybe things were finally syncing up perfectly with the universe. There was an odd sense of calm and peace and everything was shaping up to look great.
RUMBLINGS OF COVID-19
Covid-19 was starting to slowly creep into every part of daily life and I we quickly felt like we were on a race against the clock. What was really happening in the world? How was it going to trickle to us? It started to quickly become scarier by the day and it was always in the back of my mind that our fertility center might close. I was talking to a girlfriend on the East Coast who let me know at some point that her fertility clinic was closing and my heart instantly sunk. Was this all really happening?!
COVID-19 I HATE YOU
It was March 16th that would darken this FET cycle for us. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, it became clear that this was going to possibly affect my treatments. I feel like each day leading up to this started to become increasingly scary and left me feeling such fear looking into the unknown of what each new day would bring. The virus was spreading more quickly than ever and slowly but surely everything was starting to close. Of course like so many people out there I was glued to my phone. Waiting for updates from businesses, brands, and most importantly my fertility clinic and the CCRM. The CCRM is the facility that not only stores my embryos but performs the surgical and non surgical procedures of egg retrievals, iuis, and embryo transfers. The day before my doctor’s appointment, I was scrolling instagram and saw an update from the CCRM. My heart sank. It stated that at this time, they were still performing egg retrievals but had put a pause on all embryo transfers and iuis. The tears started to flow down my face. Of all reasons to have my cycle cancelled, it wasn’t my body’s fault, it was totally out of our control. This stupid virus was fucking up my whole treatment plan. After months of prep, and a month and half of medications, I was literally a week away from my transfer and it was cancelled in an instant. I sent the text to a close friend of mine. Blake was on a conference call, and I was mid convo with my friend. She called me immediately to say how sorry she was. And we both started crying. I just knew it. I was going to get cancelled and I had found out by casually scrolling my instagram. Brutal. Absolutely brutal. I still held on to a glimmer of hope for when I immediately called my doctors office. They were still waiting on feedback from our specific CCRM center and I would have to wait till the morning for a final word on whether I was getting cancelled.
I woke up, showered, and got our whole family ready. Otis included! And packed us all into the car to head to the doctors. Keep in mind, we were in the middle of a quarantine to stop the spread of Covid-19 and didn’t have our nanny with us so Otis was coming with us to my appointment. We got 5 minutes down the road and I called my clinic. I let them know there was no way I was coming into the office if my cycle was getting cancelled. They placed me on hold and the receptionist said I was being cancelled. So we turned around and awaited a call from my doctor. I talked to my doctor later that day. In a way, I kind of felt awful for her too. Having to make all of these gut wrenching calls to tell patients why their cycles needed to be cancelled. I think in that moment, things shifted as I know the weight of all of this falls on so many people. She explained that since the effects of covid-19 on early pregnancy are so unknown, she was not comfortable compromising my healthy and strong embryo to these unknown circumstances. We talked for a bit and while it was a bitter pill to swallow, I agreed with her. It was better to put everything on hold until the world was in a more stable position and we had more information to implant an embryo for best chances of success. Also treatment and monitoring might become increasingly difficult to knowingly put myself at risk if I had any complications would just not be the right thing to do.
The honest answer is that we wait. We wait till the world starts to recover. We wait till our health care systems are not being overloaded. And we wait until our doctors office comes up with a plan to start treatment cycles again.
Dealing with the repercussions of this pandemic world have left us all in a state of mourning. Mourning our past social lives, routines, and interactions. Not only was I mourning the state of the world, but I was mourning our cancelled cycle. While I am lucky to have doctors and a medical team that is putting my health and my future babies health first, the sting of being one week away from our transfer date is still fresh. It makes my heart ache knowing that others are going through the same and the worst of it, you can’t go to your girlfriends house to just get that hug you need right now. The solitude of quarantine kind of makes it an extra lonely time.
But before it sounds like a doom and gloom story, I wake up everyday, looking at Otis and smiling. Every day I am lucky enough to spend with him and our family staying home and spending this time together. The advantage of being through this before is that I have seen first hand how all the emotional and physical drains of treatment can be worth it. I know for a fact that I am strong and that I can stare infertility in the eye and kick its fucking ass. Excuse my language (sorry Mom I know you are reading this!) but you know what, I did this before and I WILL do it again.
To all my warriors out there that are feeling alone, scared, and hopeless I want you to know you have an army of women (and men!) behind you. The hardest thing to have through this process is hope but hope is what saw me through this the first time. Please know my heart is with you and whether you have shared your own journey with anyone else, I am here to support you. DM me. Email me. It might take me time to respond but if you need a friend, I am here. Don’t ever give up. Everyday I get to hear Otis’ laugh makes me so thankful I never gave up. Stay strong friends.
A note about this old photo from before quarantine. I was struggling to find a photo that was appropriate for this subject. This specific photo always reminds me that there is such beauty in the world meant to be enjoyed with your loved ones. And I know one day, we will be looking at this same sunset together as a family of four.