Monday, September 25, 2017

Our IVF Journey

I can't believe I'm finally writing this post. I've been sharing bits and pieces of our infertility journey along the way (read more here and here), but this post is extra special because we are hoping our infertility journey is coming to an end very soon! But before I get to that, I want to share a little about the IVF process and our personal experience.

If I'm being honest, I was scared to death to start IVF. I was afraid of it failing and it being the "end of the road." Not to mention the money, the time, and all the shots! It just always sounded so overwhelming to me. For us, we just couldn't believe it had finally come to that point. We have unexplained infertility, so making the decision to move forward with something as intensive as IVF was super hard. For some couples, it's a no brainer because of PCOS and other conditions that make it harder to get pregnant naturally. For us, doctors were literally scratching their heads. For almost four years (and still today after going through IVF), there is no explanation as to why a natural pregnancy hasn't happened for us.

So that leads me to this -  I didn't want to feel like I was trying to "play God" and rush His plan. So many prayers went in to the decision to start IVF, and now looking back, I know God had us begin the journey right when we needed to. The reason I say that is because I think you really need to be prepared for the IVF process - spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Spiritually - you have to understand that while the medicine, technology, test tubes, and doctors are all so great (and will definitely increase your chances of pregnancy), that God is the only one who can truly make it happen. I believe that God has His hand guiding the IVF process - after all, He's the one dividing those cells in the early stages of embryology, the one creating the genetic makeup, and once that little embryo is transferred, He is the one who controls the implantation and growth of the baby from there. So while I had a lot of faith in the IVF process, I knew the true fate of us having a baby was all in God's hands.

Physically - you want to be prepared for the time commitment, as well as getting your body ready to take on what it's about to go through. I'll be honest, it's pretty exhausting - your whole day revolves on medication and shots, all of which leave you feeling even more emotional because of all the hormones you're injecting into your body. With that being said, the shots weren't near as bad as I had expected! I suggest doing acupuncture leading up to and during IVF - it really helped me relax and it's great to help with blood flow as you prepare your uterus for implantation.

Emotionally - goodness where do I even begin. I can't explain how many emotions you and your partner will go through. It is truly a roller coaster of tears, hope, pain, anger, frustration, joy, and so much more. If I had started IVF a year ago, I honestly don't think I could have handled the emotions of it. Infertility makes you stronger, in more ways than I can count, and I needed that time to become stronger and ready to take on these emotions that come along with IVF. Your partner needs to be ready, too. You'll need emotional support like never before!

After many discussions and many prayers, Chris and I finally felt ready to take on IVF - spiritually, physically, and emotionally. The only problem was, we needed a doctor! To me, one of the most important things was finding a doctor we were comfortable with. We had been seeing a fertility doctor here in Nashville, and I just couldn't see us going down the road of IVF with that particular doctor. I say that in the nicest way possible, because I know he meant well, and I appreciate all doctors, but IVF is such an emotional journey that I wanted a doctor that I really connected with.

I know it's hard for doctors to be super invested in your personal situation, but infertility is just a very personal situation, and I wanted a doctor that got that. I wanted someone who knew how bad we longed to be parents and one that I could share those emotions with. There are also a lot of decisions that have to be made before even starting IVF - lots of papers to sign with decisions on what to do with embryos if certain situations were to arise. It was important to us to have a doctor that didn't push us toward one decision or another.

We visited with three different doctors, and the moment we met with our now doctor, I knew that is where God wanted us. She was just the person I was looking for, and I know God placed us there for a reason. The funny thing is, she is all the way in Louisville, KY - almost three hours away from Nashville! We ended up searching for doctors in that area because Chris travels there a lot for work. We hadn't found a doctor in Nashville, so we were open to traveling - if it meant finding someone who we were truly comfortable with.

So long story short, we have been traveling back and forth from Nashville to Louisville over the last few months (for ultra sounds, blood work, procedures, etc.). While that has definitely put more strain on the IVF process, I wouldn't change it for the world because the clinic we are at is totally worth the drive! I love all of the staff, and my doctor has been incredible!

Once we found our doctor, we dove head first into the process! We started the nightly injections and weekly doctor visits for blood work and ultrasounds. It was all a whirlwind! For time's sake, we'll fast forward to after my egg retrieval, when we were so excited to learn that we had 5 embryos to freeze. However, we later found out through preimplantation genetic screening that only 1 embryo was healthy enough to transfer.

We took this news pretty hard. At first, we looked at it as our chances of a successful transfer dropping from 5 to 1, but as time went on, God kept reminding us that we have one, and that's all we need. Instead of focusing on what we lost, we decided to focus on what we were given. Since then, we've been calling our 1 special embryo "the little embryo that could" and our "little fighter."

So that's where we are today. We have our one little embryo that we are so hopeful will soon be our baby. We had the transfer last week, and the waiting period to find out if we are pregnant has been so hard. We have spent a lot of time in prayer, asking boldly for this blessing, but also trying to remember that it is completely in God's hands. And even though infertility and IVF are the hardest things we've ever gone through, we are thankful because it's made us stronger - both in our marriage and in our faith.

I'm not sure when I will share the outcome of our transfer on this little space of mine, but please know that I am forever thankful for all the sweet messages and uplifting thoughts I've gotten from you guys along the way. Chris and I will just need time to process the news together, whether good or bad, before we start sharing with everyone. But don't worry, I will eventually share and catch you all up to date! For now, I wanted to reflect on our journey and what led us here, to our special little embryo - that's hopefully made him or herself at home in my uterus by now! Ha ha

This is a picture I'll cherish forever. This is the closet we've ever come to looking at our baby in my womb. And although it's just a tiny little embryo in this picture, it means all the world to us!

Thank you for following along with me on this journey. I appreciate it more than you know, and I hope to be sharing good news with you soon. Much love!