Two Transferred

Six frozen.

This second cycle was entirely different from the first. Despite having more than twice as many fertilized eggs, out of the same number of mature eggs, I was dreading my transfer. I cried to Jake, that this was the beginning of the end. Once I entered that doctor’s office, (#alonecuzcovid), I’d learn the number of blastocysts and all hope would be lost. I’d transfer one or two if I could, but would surely not be pregnant and would have few, if any, frozen. If the changes we made didn’t yield different results, there was little to no hope that any others would and we’d be looking at likely pointless, undoubtedly financially, physically, and emotionally exhausting reattempts. Ultimately the limited, seemingly impossible remaining options to have a family would be all that was left to us and it would all begin with that fresh transfer. What can I say? 2020 has left me a little defeated.

When I went in yesterday morning, however, the doctor informed me that he felt like he knew what had gone wrong in the first cycle, as we had much better results this time around, with five blastocysts on day five. My progesterone also measured three times higher, since we’d been doing 1.5 units, because it was fairly low on day five, last time. Jake and I had planned to transfer two embryos, in the hopes of increasing our chances, and while I was torn when the doctor told me he didn’t think it was necessary, I couldn’t actually consult with my husband, so I stuck to our mutual decision. We transferred two embryos and froze the other three. Today, the clinic called to tell me that an additional three had made it to the blastocyst stage on day six and that they all rated BB. A full half of our mature eggs and over half of our fertilized eggs, had made it to freezing quality. So, no matter what happens in the next ten days, we have six frozen embryos to use in the future.

I’m not sure what we’ll do, if I’m not pregnant. We’ve discussed perhaps waiting until July, when we’ve paid off a significant portion of the zero interest credit cards we’ve used for this cycle and our health savings accounts are again available from work, to start another cycle. Frozen transfers cost around $3,500 and if we don’t get pregnant until one of our last embryos, or at all, we’d be looking at doing another cycle as early as 35 with no pregnancy or as late as 37 with a successful attempt on one of our last embryos. While we once discussed having three or four children, at this point, we’d be thrilled with two and even happy with one, though we’d prefer our children have siblings. If we wait to do any additional transfers, and instead do another full cycle, we could get that many more healthy embryos, while I’m 33 and potentially be able to have the preferred minimum of two children that we want. While an additional IVF cycle doesn’t sound like much fun, going through it in a different pandemic climate, knowing that we’ve isolated the problem, would make it much easier.

Naturally, I hope this transfer worked and that Jake and I can rejoice over a summer baby, but after the last cycle’s devastating conclusion, I’m trying to prepare myself and formulate a plan for a similar outcome. I feel better this time, both physically and mentally. I attribute that largely to the medication I was prescribed to prevent OHSS, the fact that we’ve seen that we can have better results, so if we do have to try again, we’re looking at better odds, and my overall avoidance of Reddit. The doctor seemed more confident, though of course he won’t give me any kind of concrete percentages. I’m paranoid that I’ll personally do something to prevent implantation and the words “can I poop after embryo transfer” are officially in my search history. Maybe it will work or maybe I’ll find myself in bed for two solid days next week… but if it’s the latter, I’ll have a plan.

22 Eggs

Well, I did it. I made it through a second pandemic retrieval, on election day no less, just after an historic ice storm that caused the largest power outage in the history of the electric company. My power didn’t go out, risking my medication or the secrecy of my cycle, if we had to stay with family. I didn’t get Covid-19, nor did my husband, nor did any of the clinic staff, ultimately leading to the cancellation of the entire cycle. The most precarious part is over… and I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. I don’t recall this being so painful last time, but I had a meltdown, after coming out of anesthesia, because it hurt so much. It didn’t help, of course, that I had to go through all of this alone, with Jake waiting in the car. I cried for the hole in my vaginal wall, my engorged ovaries, and my overly stretched perineum, but I also cried because pandemic IVF sucks. However bad I thought this process would be, and I’ve considered it a literal worst nightmare for most of my life, I should have doubled it. Considering the global pandemic, it would have been more accurate to quadruple it. At least if we have to go through it again, it’ll be in July of 2021 and the Covid-19 situation might be a little better. As for this time, however, out of 30 or so follicles, they retrieved 22 eggs, they’re really worried about OHSS, and I’ve vomited twice. That’s all I know, for now.

I’m Miserable

Jake gave me my trigger shot last night and I feel awful. If Future Belle is reading this, as she prepares for another IVF Cycle, she probably doesn’t remember the intense discomfort of ovaries the size of clementines. “Discomfort” is the favorite word of all doctors, apparently, when I’d be more inclined to declare it “pain.” My entire mid-section feels swollen and my belly is bruised from three shots a day, sometimes four. I have over 30 follicles and look like a honeycomb on the ultrasounds. Sitting upright hurts. They put me on pills to avoid OHSS, because my estrogen is so high, so hopefully, after tomorrow’s retrieval, the pain will subside, but the primary side effect of said prescription is dizziness. The worst part, of course, is that this could all be for nothing… again. I’d do it a dozen times, were I guaranteed a family, but alas, there are no guarantees with IVF… one of the many joys of fertility struggles.

Our Secret Cycle

This cycle has been so different in so many ways… primarily the fact that we’ve told no one, other than my immediate supervisor, so I could arrange for the necessary time off. My branch manager is a dear, but she’s not great with confidentiality or privacy and I’d prefer no one at work know. As for everyone else… well, if things go as they did last time and this is a total bust, I’d just rather grieve alone, with no obligation to report to anyone else or manage their feelings.

I was considering not even recording my experience this time, as it’s been so wildly different, I can’t imagine it actually being relevant next time, but who knows what Future Belle will wish I’d tracked. Although the medication hasn’t changed and the dosages are similar, I’ve had a near opposite experience this time. Instead of energizing me to the point of wired exhaustion, I’ve just been completely and utterly drained, both physically and emotionally. I’ve had my lows, sure, but mostly, I’ve been unable to muster up any feeling at all. It is what it is and we may never be parents. Perhaps if I let myself truly acknowledge that, I won’t be able to go on with this process, because it sucks.

I trigger tonight, with my retrieval scheduled for November 3rd… election day. Zetus lapetus, this has been a terrible year. An historic ice storm hit last week, just after we started medications which must be refrigerated. The library was closed for four days and I spent every moment of them praying we’d keep power, and therefore water, because if we had to go stay with someone, we’d have to share that we were in the middle of another cycle. We were lucky. While the power flickered, we never lost it. Many people have been without for a week. Politically, this year is far more divisive than 2016 and I didn’t think that would be possible. As the pandemic hits new highs, tensions rise, along with our Covid-19 cases. We just broke our daily record, with well over 2,000. If there was ever a worst time to be going through IVF, this is it.

Well, for better or for worse, we’ve switched things up a bit, this cycle, and it’ll all be over soon.

Perks and Deficits

Perks to Going Through IVF During a Pandemic

I don’t see children. I don’t see moms come in with little ones and babies for story time, because we’re not open to the public. I don’t see my nieces or cousins’ kids. I can largely avoid the longing that these encounters bring.

I don’t have to go to baby showers or weddings, where people will inevitably ask me when we’re having kids and I’ll shut it down in a way that makes them equally uncomfortable, but gets Belle talked about for the next five years.

I’m not spending my money on much, since there’s nothing to do, so I can make larger payments on the tens of thousands of dollars multiple rounds of IVF will cost.

Everyone is getting fat, so no one has noticed the bloating and larger breasts caused by the copious amounts of fertility drugs. We’re all wearing frumpy clothes, so no one has picked up on the depression.

I’m working from home about half the time, so I don’t have to pretend with my coworkers as much. I don’t have to answer as many questions when I am out. When the test is negative, it won’t be as noticeable when I’m gone for three days.

I don’t have to see Jake’s or my family. I don’t have to see the looks of sympathy or answer questions. I don’t have to hear more installments on why this is hurting Jake’s mom and sister. I don’t have to wonder if Jake’s aunt knows.

Deficits to Going Through IVF During a Pandemic

I don’t have enough to keep my mind occupied. I’m at work right now, with literally nothing to do. I have no programs to work on or outreach to brainstorm. I have no community connections to build. I can’t concentrate enough to read or listen to audiobooks most days. I sit and I think about the test being negative, whether or not I’m willing to try this again, for the cost, the emotional and physical toll, the fact that Jake is apparently incapable of following through with an agreement to keep his mouth shut about our test date. I slip and imagine a positive for a moment and I think about how much more devastating it will be when there’s only one line.

I have to avoid everything. I can’t watch movies and shows with babies and kids, which is basically all of them these days. I can’t watch kids’ movies or escape with Harry Potter, or I’ll start to cry because I won’t be able to share them with my own children, as I’d always planned. I have all the time in the world and very little I can do with it, for fear of triggering a prayer-filled crying jag.

I have to assume I’m pregnant, despite my fight to assume I’m not so I won’t be disappointed. I can’t drink more than one cup of coffee or get drive-through soda. I can’t have a drink to calm my nerves or take medical marijuana to sleep or calm my anxiety. I can’t go for long walks, because I might overheat. I can’t go shopping or out to eat or see the limited family and friends I might want to see, because I can’t get Covid-19 even more than if I’m not pregnant. I can’t do these things when the test is negative, because while I don’t know what or when the next step will be, I can’t risk delaying it over an extended illness or the hospital bills that accompany it.

My tolerance level is at zero. I cannot deal with the coworker who won’t back off or the book snob on Reddit. Both political parties tick me off and stress me out, but it’s an election year. I’m already beyond stressed, but oh yeah, we’re in a global pandemic. Everything my husband says and does is wrong or cruel.


2020. Covid-19. Infertility.

Bad News Pending

I’m in this awful place right now, where I’m just dreading testing. I feel like it’ll be the final nail in the coffin. This will all be over and all of our money will be gone. Not only will that be devastating, but then I’ll have to inform the few people who knew what was going on, that it didn’t work. They’ll either be horribly disappointed on their own behalf, with secondary consideration for Jake and me, or I’ll become the IVF Failure story they tell anecdotally.

I’m so angry at Jake right now. I didn’t even tell my Gramma that the pregnancy test was next week. I told her that she’ll find out when I want to share, one way or another. Jake, after agreeing not to give his parents this detail, told his mother last week. Now his parents, substantial investors in our fertility, will be waiting for an update… as I’m sure will his sister, since his mother tells her everything. When the test is negative, Jake will have to tell them all right away, because they’ll otherwise assume it’s positive. I won’t even have a week to grieve and process, before everyone wants an update on our next steps or feels they should share input for how this effects them. That is everyone’s favorite topic, of course: how our infertility impacts their lives.


I don’t particularly want to consider that the test might be positive, but if it is, then Jake’s parents will assume as much, because he won’t tell them otherwise. Regardless, they’d demand to know, since they paid for over half of the treatment. His parents have no idea how this process works. His mother spelled S-E-X a few weeks ago. There was no reason to tell them we’d know so soon. He could have bought us a minimum of six weeks and now there’s even more pressure on me than I already felt. If we lose all of this money, it’s because my body let us down. When we lose our babies, it’s because failed. All I wanted was a few weeks to process this before having to tell everyone and he took that from me. At this point, I’m just ready for this whole thing to be over.


I simultaneously feel like I’ve completely given up hope, but also that I’ll be absolutely devastated when this cycle is a confirmed failure. Everything I’ve read says we should have frozen our embryos, though our doctor seemed to think that wouldn’t change our chances in any notable way. He is a professor at a competitive medical school, so maybe there’s some merit? Regardless, everything online says it never happens the first time. I assumed we’d have a few frozen trials at least, but if we are indeed not pregnant, our only option is to start over in a couple of months.

This has been so much harder on me than I thought it would be… and as you can see, from my other posts, I never thought it would be easy. I used to watch A Baby Story on TLC, as a television addicted teenager. Then I’d watch John and Kate Plus Eight. The stars of these shows would occasionally give an overview of their fertility issues and ever since, it has literally been one of my worst nightmares to go through this. I did not have high hopes. Still, I’ve been in some level of pain and discomfort since the egg retrieval over a week ago. My ovaries are swollen and the progesterone shots leave my lower back perpetually sore. I’ve been nauseous and dizzy and I think I might have a very mild case of OHSS… or it’s just the side effects from all the drugs. It’s a delightful mystery.

All of this is to say nothing of the emotional trauma of feeling like my body is killing my only surviving embryos, like I’m going to let everyone down, like it’s never going to happen. It’s also to say nothing of the cost. Jake is determined to try again, but I’m not entirely sure where he’s going to get those funds. The plan is to put down another thousand dollars on a new date, after we get an official negative, and then… figure it out. We’ll likely be starting a new cycle around the holidays. Zetus lapetus, 2020 is the worst year.

I’ve tried to stay out of the online infertility community. It’s bleak, at best. But I do know that there are many women who spend their two week wait pretending that they’re pregnant and refer to it as “Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.” I don’t know why anyone would get their hopes up like that. I’m already planning next steps and I’m a week away from my pregnancy test. I’m dreading the news, so much. Jake will have to tell his parents that the $8,000 they gave us was completely wasted. I’ll have to tell my Gramma that there won’t be any babies any time soon. I won’t be able to get out of bed for several days. The depression is the worst. It wastes so much time. At least, once it’s a confirmed failure, I can take as much medical marijuana as I like, to dull the pain. All my life, I’ve yearned for parents, like everyone else has, and never gotten them. Now, I get to yearn for children, like everyone else has, and never get them.

I’ve looked into other options, like sperm donors and private adoption. Jake’s not ready for donor sperm, though, and private adoption costs more than trying this two more times… so I guess that’s what we’ll do. I’ll continue to drag my feet through this process, entirely expecting heartbreak, only to be knocked off those feet anyway, when it happens. Next time, we’ll freeze all.

Day 5: Day of Transfer

Before Transfer

I’ve been crying on and off all weekend, petrified that something happened to our embryos over the last two days, torn between a single embryo transfer and a double embryo transfer, devastated at the thought of the embryos not taking and my body killing our children. Morally, ethically, and scientifically they’re alive to me. I’d have all seven of them over time, if I could. It’s not up to me, though. Whether or not the transfer takes is entirely out of my control. I can eat healthier and drink more water and cut the caffeine. I can pray exhaustively, until I’m in tears. That’s… pretty much it. Whatever will be, will be, and I have it on good authority that these things rarely happen on the first try.


Also, if my husband tells me one more time that I shouldn’t stress out, because it’s really bad when trying to breed cattle, I’m going to punch him in his useless testicles.

After Transer

It’s over. The process was… quick, to say the least. I thought I’d get the chance to sit down with my doctor and discuss our embryos, but I didn’t see him until I was naked from the waist down. It turns out, only two of the seven made it to Day 5 blastocysts, one in excellent condition and the other in good condition. Since we thought we’d have some to freeze, we’d already decided on transferring two, and since Jake was in the car, we didn’t get the opportunity to reevaluate together. My knee jerk reaction was to go with what we’d already agreed upon. Going through all of this without Jake is so awful, every step of the way.

The procedure itself was awkward and painful. Women talk about how it was enjoyable, but my ovaries were so swollen, I found it to be anything but, especially with five people looking at my vagina. I tried to show Jake the ultrasound on video call, but he couldn’t really make anything out. For that matter, I could only tell that the little white dots were embryos when the nurse pointed them out to me. They gave me photos of the embryos, but I immediately asked them to put them in an envelope, since I don’t want to look at them unless I know if they’ve survived to pregnancy. Everything felt rushed and uncomfortable and then… it was over. I’ll either be pregnant or I won’t and there’s nothing I can do about it, other than to plan financially for a second cycle. I’ve agreed to do another, if Jake can fund it. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him and it’s not like I have an abundance of choices. Now, we wait.