After successfully getting pregnant via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and giving birth to my first child, many well-meaning friends and family members would attempt to reassure me with platitudes like, “Now your body knows exactly what to do. It’ll be easier to get pregnant in the future,” or “Watch out — you’ll get preggo in a snap with baby number two!” — Nope.
While some couples who’ve previously undergone infertility treatments end up delightfully surprised to conceive “the old fashioned way” the second time around but that simply hasn’t been the case for us. So, here we are…ready to expand our family and finding ourselves back at the fertility clinic. My “unexplained infertility” diagnosis remains unchanged, yet we do know the cure: IVF. Thanks to the miracle of science, our embryos from 3 years ago have been cryogenically stored and we are ready to thaw one out and begin the prep for transplantation.
Going back through IVF for our second child is a whole new ball game but, still in many ways, it’s the same ol’ rigamarole:
Same: The Testing.
So. many. tests. At the very beginning, the constant poking and prodding started with basic blood tests, continual monitoring of hormone levels, iodine squirted into my fallopian tubes to check for blockages, saline ultrasounds to monitor ovulation, peeing in a cup to check for pregnancy, etc. This time around, we had to repeat some of those first blood tests, but at least most of that initial rigorous diagnostic testing is already complete. After all those friggin’ tests, they didn’t (and still don’t) know what my problem is but we’ve seen IVF work and are skipping straight to that for baby #2. After careful consideration, my husband and I are voluntarily signing up more even more tests that we declined during the first go ’round: comprehensive genetic carrier screenings for ourselves and biopsying the embryos for chromosomal abnormalities.
Different: The Cost.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the cost of infertility treatment. In short: it is crazy expensive. Amazingly, astoundingly, somehow, even to the surprise of the customer service agent from our own medical insurance company, we had almost complete coverage the first time around. This time, not so much. Zero. Zilch. Nada. — At least we got the most expensive part (egg-retrieval) out-of-the-way, right? We saved up and were ready for the cost of the “Premium Frozen Embryo Transfer” procedure but man, we just basically bought a (compact) car in all-cash, up-front.
Same: The Time.
The first time around, I was under the care of a reproductive endocrinologist for an entire year before finally becoming pregnant. It took that long because they start with the least invasive and most cost-effective treatments, progressing from there. For me, it was 3-to-4 months on Clomid and monitoring my ovaries to see how they would respond, checking if any follicles were bursting with eggs. Then, it was 3 months of IUI (Intra-Uterine Insemination) attempts, never resulting in a pregnancy. Then, we lost a month when my clinic moved into their fancy new offices. There was a month lost when my husband was away on a work trip. Then, there was a short grey period before we decided to go for IVF. Once that decision was made, an extended period ensued of special meds and injections, followed by egg retrieval surgery. All-in-all, it took a full year.
Thankfully this time, it won’t be that long. Unfortunately for us, we have a little less patience this go ’round because we’re not just going in blind, hoping for a miracle like before. Going back, we thought it would be a much quicker process — like completed in as little as 6 weeks — but the logistical delays and scheduling roadblocks are still there, reminding us that this process isn’t simple and it still takes time.
Different: My Confidence.
As we reengage the steps toward IVF, I’m way more confident back in the saddle. We trust in the same team of doctors and nurses helping us along the way. I did feel an unexpected rush of emotional jitters during that first visit back in the office…it was a routine saline ultrasound to check my uterus. I suddenly got quiet and diverted my eyes downward…my husband could tell I was nervous. It was a flash of emotional insecurity…something I had buried away so deep it feels like it was lived in a past life. All those tears and anxiety were virtually forgotten with the birth of our daughter. Thankfully, the pain of infertility doesn’t reign any longer. No, this time, my confidence shines strong.