The aftermath. A lot of prospective parents going through the IVF process are curious to know what goes on after the process has ended. I can speak to what happens when you have a successful transfer. As far as what happens when the procedures do not work, all I know is that some continue, some turn to adoption, and others stop trying. The reasons of each patient who struggles with infertility is their own.
After the process, you wait, just like you would with an IUI and pray your ass off until you can take a pregnancy test. You bet, I was as normal as any other prospective mother and took a couple urine tests on my own first. They both came out super light, so I was preparing for bad news. It breaks your heart, and the only thing to do for it is to decide next steps.
When I went in to the doctor’s office for my official pregnancy test, I had already started planning what I was going to do for another round of IVF. It included putting away my tax return to afford more donor sperm. And, figuring out how I can scrape together another $2,500 to put down on genetic testing, so I didn’t have a miscarriage from another abnormal embryo. It was how I shielded myself from the resounding sounds of a ticking clock and disappointment.
The nurse called me at work, and I braced myself for the news. Normally I take the day, because I didn’t want my coworkers having to deal with me being emotional, in the event I couldn’t manage to tamp down my feelings until I got home. This isn’t an easy thing to do, considering how much it means. Yet, the nurse had nothing but good news.
If you’ve been through this for a year or more, you’ll understand how surreal a positive from a frozen transfer of a normal embryo can feel. Thus, your emotions don’t know where to fall, and you just sit there staring. You wonder, if you should be shouting. Absolutely, you should, but also understand that all the disappointments that came before feed into the fears. Keep in mind, I was positive with a pregnancy at that time the year previous. I lost the pregnancy due to it being a blighted ovum. After three retrievals, I had only one embryo that was genetically viable for transfer, that the doctors WOULD transfer. ONE. And, my little one stuck. Breathless and shocked was how I felt.
The panic will set in. Did I really really want this? Hell yes, I did. But, can I do this? I had no idea. I still do not. I hope to whatever powers that be that I can. And that also leaves you far from shouting from the rooftops.
So now, you’re balancing your excitement against the fear it will only cheer-lead your disappointment into reality. Then, you don’t tell anyone, and you wait. Each appointment after, you watch the embryo grow, and you hope they have only good things to say. When they release you from the fertility center to go back to your regular obstetrician, you’re thrust into a whole other world. The scans are fewer. And the information about coming child rearing is overwhelming. You’re not even showing yet.
Is that baby seriously in there? Until about week 18 (although I felt some movement back at 16) or even up to week 22, you haven’t got the surety you’d like. This is the stage where their movements can be felt. They call it the quickening (a very old term). I’ve gone through multiple scans because of the placenta previa (common, by the way, in IVF babies), and I still hardly believe this is happening. It took a lot to get here, and the disappointment prior to her development really stuck to my thoughts. Disappointment, in fact, is something I deal with in a lot of aspects of my life. Therefore, I face most things with restraint. Some call it stoicism.
If you don’t cry about the happy news, you’re not bereft of feeling. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Each of us faces life changing news in our life differently. That’s because each of us experiences life differently.
Crossing into the third trimester was a relief after capping my emotions since November. The sense that I could be more openly excited finally came to me. The dates of viability brought confidence. In that, you can see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even with previa, there is time to celebrate and be happy about your pregnancy. Still, because of the previa, I am reserved about showing that excitement.
Let yourself face the post IVF however you need to accommodate your feelings and fears. If you have anxiety, don’t expect things to be smooth emotionally. There are so many questions, and most of what is happening and will happen is out of your control. Relinquishing control is hard, but you learn to do so. Having a baby will ensure that most things are now out of your control, and you have to live with it. I cope by rocking back on my easy going nature and saying, okay. Shrug my shoulders and get on with things.
Things you have to look forward to when you get the positive and the pregnancy continues to 24 weeks and beyond: setting up the nursery, picking names, feeling the baby move, realizing you’ve accomplished your goal of having a child, planning your maternity leave, learning about breast and bottle, dealing with all that well-meaning advice and the not so well-meaning snipes…
It’s a whole new journey from here. I wish you well, whether you’ve gotten a positive, chosen to adopt, or are moving on.