The Dreaded Psych Appointment…

After 9 months of fertility and medical testing, then 8 months of active fertility treatments, and an empty wallet & uterus, I was at my breaking point.  It was clearly demonstrated by my constant sobbing for over a week without even knowing if the latest transfer worked.  Our RE essentially told us that we (me!) had to go see the in-house psych doc before starting us on another cycle.

After finding out the bad news yesterday that our FET didn’t work, I was actually feeling a lot better.  Not knowing if it was going to be bad news yet again was the worst part.  Dan and I got ready to head into see the doc.  I really just wanted to wear pjs and not shower… but assuming he would be reading into every aspect of the visit, I dragged by butt up and into the shower.  Trust me… this was an accomplishment.

At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with depression, which was later diagnosed as chronic depression.  This meant that I stay on anti-depressants all the time, forever.  Up until now, I had never had any issues- my mood was great, my appetite better than good, I loved taking part in activities and keeping up with friends.

In the last couple months, I had slowly been transformed back into the me that I didn’t want to remember.  The me where I would much rather curl up in bed and never leave.  The me where some small miniscule thing not going perfect was enough to derail me completely.  Let me paint a picture of how my thought process worked.  I use the simplest of simple of examples: Stubbing my toe.  Now stubbing my toe on a normal, non-fertility time in my life would simply hurt.  Now, there might be a chance of a foot hop with a not so proper swear word, but that would be it.

Stubbing my toe while depressed: Stubbing my toe would turn into me being pissed because I ruined my pedicure… which would make me so upset because the money we were spending on fertility meant that I couldn’t actually get a pedicure… which would make me devastated because I would start counting the money we have spent and focus on the absolutely nothing we had to show for it but bad memories and wasted time… which would devastate me because I would think about all of the physical and mental pain going through fertility cycles… which would push me over the edge because I’m not pregnant and would need to do another cycle to try again…. which was hopeless because with these cycles even the simplest things didn’t go as planned…. oh not going to plan, that pretty much sums up everything that is going on with my life.  Cue me sobbing uncontrollably and staying in bed inconsolable for hours on end…. especially when Dan wasn’t as upset as me.  Doesn’t he get that our lives are ruined and never going to get any better?

You get the point… not pretty.

Well off we go to the psych appointment at the fertility clinic.  I had heard good things about the doctor, however, I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to work.  I had been to my share of doctors re: depression, however, what did it mean to go to a doctor re: depression when I was already on anti-depressants?

We got called into the back room with this little old man.  He introduced himself and said he’d had an opportunity to talk to our RE regarding our unusually difficult cycles.  He sat us down and started to ask questions.  Me, being me, basically got right down to it.  I told him I know exactly what was wrong.  He stopped and asked me to explain.

I told him I’m a Type-A personality.  I love plans.  In fact, I take extreme pleasure in making to-do lists and short and long term plans.  Oh, and I generally get what I want.  I work my ass off and make sure that my plan works out.  I’m dedicated, passionate, hard working, and love having control.  That would be the issue.  I have zero control of fertility.  Nothing is working how it is supposed to.  The nice little 28-day cycle diagrams on the walls in the clinic didn’t mean anything to me as by day 28, I’d just be getting into the swing of things- not finding out if the cycle was successful or not.  Worse yet, the doctors didn’t even have control!  They had no ideas about what was going on and why I didn’t react to the drugs.

So take a control freak and put them in an incredibly stressful situation where they have no control, at all.  That equaled me.  An emotionally devastated 26 year old woman who could think of nothing else but the feel of an empty uterus.

The doc smiled and we chatted about life- how and where I grew up, school, work, our marriage.  You name it, it was on the list.  At the end of the session he basically said what we already knew- we had a great and supportive marriage, great relationships with family and friends plus lots of support.  However, I wasn’t dealing well with not having control.  He suggested that I already seemed to have recovered well from what our RE had described my emotional state yesterday, and he gave us the go-ahead to move on with a new cycle when we felt we were ready.  This time, however, we’d have to go back and continue to chat with him.

Sounded easy enough to me.  We walked out of the room and through the fertility halls.  I turned to Dan and said, let’s do this.  He wasn’t sure what I meant… I walked up to the IVF nurse and asked her what day I could start another FET cycle.  We had two embryos left.  My plan consisted of us getting pregnant ASAP and get this part of our lives over with.  I wasn’t going to wait.  I didn’t have control about much in this process, however I could have control over my start times.

The good news here was that because my body is so messed, I don’t have cycles.  Because I don’t have cycles, I do random starts.  So against Dan questioning me if I was ready, I booked my first monitoring appointment to get this show on the road.

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Failed cycles behind me, and a new Frozen Embryo Transfer to come.  I’m getting pregnant damn it. :S

Our WTF Appointment

I believe the official medical terminology for this type of appointment is called a ‘follow-up’.  However, the fertility community endearingly refers to the appointment right after a failed IVF cycle as a WTF appointment.  For good reason.

Dan and I, after over 2.5 months of one IVF cycle, just got the devastating news that we aren’t pregnant.  It didn’t work.

After the initial shock of the phone call, I started into a cycle of complete disbelief.  I really really thought this one would work.  We did everything right.  I obeyed every recommendation of the doctors.  We endured physical and emotional hell… it was supposed to work.  We had fabulous embryos.  They were perfect quality.  They were doing great.  There was TWO of them… double the chance of success.  My lining was thick.  I took every suppository at the exact correct timing- several times a day.  I didn’t drink caffeine, didn’t drink alcohol, didn’t smoke, tried my best to stay stress free.  Did I go back to work too soon?  Was I under too much stress because of the move?  Did the stress from the terrible egg retrieval cause something not to work?  We must have done something wrong, right?

We had our wtf appointment just 3 days after we found out the bad news.  I walked into the appointment with so many questions-  I have actually typed out the list as it’s impossible to remember everything once you sit down. Our RE wasn’t surprised at my typed list and with a half smile said, “Ok Adele, what have you got?”.

The easiest question was what went wrong?  This was also the hardest answer.  The RE explained that we could track and evaluate everything throughout the entire process until you actually put the embryos into my body.  After that, we can only hope and guess.  He said there could have been a problem with the embryos, there could have been a problem with my lining, my body may have just rejected them for unknown reasons… or maybe there was nothing wrong at all and it was just terrible luck.

After all the money we spent and all the degrees behind his name, the best answer we could get was… ‘well, we don’t know.’  REALLY?

All of my list of questions went out the window.  The answer to basically all of them was ‘I don’t know’.  Our doc told us there was no medical reason why were currently weren’t pregnant.  Even though we had numerous issues throughout the process, none of the them should have affected the final outcome.

Greaaaat.  So what now?

The first thing the doc told us was that my body desperately needed a break.  After over 6 months of injecting incredible amounts of medications into my body, it had had enough.  We needed a break.  The RE suggested we give it 8 weeks to get all of the chemicals etc out of my body.  I’m not the best at waiting so I suggested a counter offer of 4 weeks.  He laughed at me and shook his head- apparently patients don’t generally bargain with their doctors.  The final word was he would meet me in the middle at 6 weeks.  However, the deal was that I would have to come in at 6 weeks and have my blood work and a transvaginal ultrasound done.  If everything was back to where my baseline numbers should be, then he would give the okay to get going again.

But what did get going again mean?

We were about to go into a new round of treatment, again.  This time it is called a “Frozen Embryo Transfer” (FET).  The theory here was that we were able to extract 6 good eggs and fertilize them.  We grew all six embryos for 3 days then implanted the two fresh embryos into me.  However, we still had 4 embryos left.  We opted to freeze the other four.  We were now going to thaw out another two embryos, and hope they survive the thaw.  If they did, then we’d implant them into me again.

Now, just wait six weeks and pray my body goes back to normal.  … six weeks….  A long time when you want to be pregnant yesterday.  However, it was also six weeks for us to try and save up what money we could for further treatments.  Patience… not my strong suit.

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My life in a nut shell.

(In)fertility from a Guy’s Perspective

For those of who who know me, you know that Dan and I are polar opposites. I’m loud, energetic, talkative, very opinionated, and cannot relax.  Dan is quiet- bordering on shy, calm, and avoids conflict like the plague.  Sometimes I laugh when I think about different we are.  However, in the grand scheme of things, I believe that is part of why we have such an amazing marriage.

Dan has an amazing ability to clam me down, rationalize another perspective, and keep me grounded.  I like to think that I help bring his other traits out too.

Fertility has this amazing way of making you feel utterly alone.  The medical issues that are preventing us from conceiving are all on me.  Dan says ‘we’, but frankly it’s semantics. I have the issues.  Regardless of who has the issues, the women is most often put through the ringer to get to that seemingly impossible end of the road- a baby.  It’s the woman who has to do cycle monitoring, take injections, have tests, and take the brunt of the procedures.  If my end of the bargain was to jerk off into a cup, hey, sign me up!

While it doesn’t seem fair that the bulk of the work is on my side, that’s how it works.  More than once I’ve had the ‘woe is me’ pity party about how much it sucks and how I just wish Dan had to do something too.  It seems odd in retrospect, I’m not sure why I’d want anyone to endure what I have had to- especially not Dan.  But in the moment, I just wanted to break… but also to keep going forward through fertility.  Again- two polar opposite things.

Dan stood beside me every step of the way.  He attended appointments, assisted with injections, catered to my every whim when I was sicker than I ever have been, but it didn’t seem to matter.  I felt alone. 

We were experiencing two completely different things, yet walking down the same journey.  I felt depressed, useless, and angry with myself and my body from failing to do the most simple ‘womanly’ task.  In these moments, I felt bitter that Dan got to continue with life.  He got to go to work and take his mind off things.  I had to schedule my work around my appointments, medications, and illness.  It was absolutely impossible for me to do anything without fertility coming into play.  I felt like he got a free ride sometimes.

I was pissed and pitiful.  This wasn’t fair.  It wasn’t fair that we had to do this.  It wasn’t fair that my body was broken.  It wasn’t fair that I had to do everything.

And poor Dan, I let him know it.  It took me, in one of my not-so-glorious moments fueled with excessive hormones, to get that even though Dan wasn’t going through the same exact thing as me, he was going through it in his own way.  He was trying not to get down he explained, because he felt that I needed him to be strong to keep me going.  My anger towards him because he was smiling and was talking about his day was because I felt like he could just turn off fertility and have a lovely afternoon.  To him, he was trying to take my mind of things and keep my positive.  He truly felt like this was a ‘we’ situation.

One evening in bed after yet another day of bad news, I remember telling him it was ok for him to leave me.  I’d be devastated, but I know having a family was important to him.  If I wasn’t going to be able to do that for us, perhaps her could fulfill that dream with someone else.  He looked me straight in the eye and told me that having a family with me was his dream.  And no matter what happened, we would have a family.  We just didn’t know exactly how we’d get there yet.

 

Throughout this journey, I’ve continued to have moments when I felt as if I’m completely alone.  However, when I started to get down, I always think back to what he told me that night as he held me through my sobbing.  We are in this together- and we make an awesome team.

 

Dan isn’t a talker, never mind a writer.  I asked (read: forced) him into answering a couple directed questions about fertility.  Here were his answers:

What is the hardest part of fertility?

Dan: Watching Adele get disappointed over and over again. I can deal with my disappointments but I wish I knew how cheer her up after we get bad news.

 

What was a lighter moment you remember?

Dan: I tried to lighten up the mood when I could so when Adele would moan “ohhhh” because she was cramping up, I would finish with ….”Varies”.  (‘Ovaries’) Then we would laugh.

 

Do you think you would feel differently about fertility if the medical issues were your medical issues?

Dan: Adele is a stronger person than me, so if the medical issues were mine and I had to give my self needles and medication as much as she is, I would cry a lot!  As far as the issue of fertility as a whole, it is something we both have to go through so we are doing this together.

 

How do you feel about telling people about our story?

Dan: Not unlike myself before we started, a lot of people are ignorant to what fertility treatment is actually like.  Adele telling our story, not only educates those who want to know more about what we are going though, but also gives those who are going through similar circumstances something to relate with.  Adele found a lot of strength in finding groups online where she could read stories and share our day-to-day status. 

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