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I got pregnant four times the old-fashioned way, and suffered one tragic miscarriage, before turning to IVF. And I can tell you which way is easier. (Hint: the one that doesn't involve sticking needles in your own rear end – for months.)
Now that we're contemplating having another baby, I have to decide whether to try to use the frozen embryos that were produced after my first egg retrieval. Although I'm months away from a possible embryo transfer, the process requires that I commit with plenty of lead time. I'll also need to have a saline sonogram and blood work (among other tests) to determine if I'm a good candidate for another transfer.
But with a potential pregnancy calendar pages away, there's ample time to think, overthink, and second-guess myself. And to remember (all too vividly) how intimidating it is to brave a cycle of the IVF process:
- The seemingly endless battery of shots.
- The hormonal mood swings.
- Waiting for results.
- Investing your heart and body in a medical odyssey with unimaginably high stakes. Here's what I know: Deciding to do IVF requires you to listen deeply to your heart, to accept that there will be uncertainty. And having doubts is normal.
Because the journey as a whole is so overwhelming, I'm working through each hesitation one at a time. Here are the questions I'm asking myself:
- Is this the right time? Is it ever the "right" time to have a baby? Not if you ask me! So I press on.
- Can this work again? A pregnancy is not guaranteed, even if IVF worked before. That's a hard reality to accept when you're putting your body through so much.
- Am I taking on too much? IVF toys with your emotions, and I already have four kids to care for. How I will handle it all? Ugh, each question leads to another one.
- Do I really want to put myself through this? Answer: No. No one in their right mind would "want" to go through IVF. But what you stand to gain is huge, and life-altering. I know the pain is worth it.
- Should I spend all this money to have another baby? IVF is expensive. The costs are prohibitive for many, and intimating for almost everyone. The truth is, I don't know if I can justify spending money on another cycle, unless it works. But, see question #2 …
- Is it normal to not know what you want? Can I get some help over here?
The hardest part is not having anyone to talk to about what I'm going through. So many IVF and other fertility-treatment stories are still shrouded in secrecy. With so much mystery and fear around committing to such a grueling and emotional process, wouldn't it be amazing if more women opened up about how they made the decision to move forward? How they knew it was right for them? If they had doubts? How they worked through each misgiving …
In the meantime, I'll be over here trying to figure out how to proceed, and wishing I could just have one too many margaritas and "see what happens!"
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.