I was surprised that during my first visit with an infertility doctor, IVF came up right away. Honestly, I didn’t know much about it other than it was extremely expensive and that I had some friends who tried it. I never thought we’d have to go down that road, and frankly, I was surprised when it was thrown out as an option. But tbh, I didn’t know much about fertility treatment. I didn’t do a ton of reading or research. So far, I’ve been pretty hands off, fearing that I’d stress myself out more or get more disheartened if I started reading about everything I could have wrong with me or could be doing differently. I go to the doctor, do the tests, and follow the treatment plan. I sort of thought the first treatment would work and we’d be done with this and laugh at how silly we were to stress over it. And frankly, I haven’t had much time to do more. The fertility treatments take up so much time, and I’m trying to figure out how to raise a toddler (which seems to require reading a new book every day) while balancing a big and demanding job and a growing side hustle.
But now that we’re a few months into fertility treatments without results, I’ve vasilitated between feeling desperate to get pregnant ASAP and wanting to just skip to IVF and thinking that maybe I just need to trust the timing of my life and that it will happen for us. But recently, I’ve felt so frustrated and with IVF becoming an increasingly likely option, I felt like I wasn’t even sure I trusted my doctor, or any doctor. (It’s hard not to wonder if they’re just pushing IVF because the success rate is greater than with IUIs and the other treatments and well, it’s a lot of money, which I’m sure the hospitals don’t mind.) That’s the weird thing about infertility, it makes you start questioning everything, even the doctors you’re supposed to trust, and of course, your body, which you feel like you can no longer ever trust.
So I started to go down the rabbit hole of Amazon books on fertility. The first book I read, Making Babies, has been making me rethink our approach to fertility treatments. Technically we haven’t been trying for a full year yet (though in a few weeks it will be), so maybe I just need to be more patient. Especially because according to this book, it really hasn’t been a full year, as I didn’t get my period since having James until a couple months after his first birthday (and I had to take hormones to jumpstart it). According to the book, for some people, it can take a year to 18 months, especially as we get older, to conceive. So freaking out that I’m infertile because I haven’t gotten pregnant yet might be premature. It is true that when we want something, we want it now, and it can be hard to be patient. I think part of the worry is that we’re flooded with so many stories of women struggling to get pregnant that we fear if we aren’t right away, something is wrong. There’s just so much uncertainty and misinformation around fertility and getting pregnant. One thing the book reminds you of that I really liked: look around you, everyone is pregnant (doesn’t it feel that way when you’re trying and it can feel heartbreaking, but I like how the book turned it into a positive) — if everyone is pregnant, chances are you can be too.
The book also addresses how our approach to treating so-called infertility is to pump women with hormones to get pregnant and then jump into IVF if that doesn’t work. Many doctors, like mine, aren’t very concerned with the whys of infertility but with the end result — getting the patient pregnant. I thought that sounded good at first. After all, what do I care as long as the end result is a healthy baby? But recently, I’ve been starting to think I do care about the why. After all, IVF isn’t as effective as it should be for what it costs. The success rate for a single attempt is under 50%, so a year of college tuition is a lot to gamble on that. Maybe it’ll work but what if I didn’t need it? Compared to other treatments, which are 10-25%, though, it’s tempting to go for IVF, especially when you’re so sad and desperate for a baby. As my husband said, Clomid and IUIs are good “gateway drugs” — when they don’t work, you’ve gotten your hopes up and crushed so many times, you’re convinced that they just don’t work and ready to move on to IVF, no matter the cost.
This book though made me question our approach. Maybe I have PCOS that’s gone undiagnosed, for example. Maybe there’s something else we missed. Or maybe I need to be more patient. It’s hard when you are getting older and with each month, you lose more eggs and less of a chance to have that big family you want. It’s also hard when you keep seeing other people pregnant and wishing it was you, and feeling like you can’t wait another month or six months or whatever it could take. But something in me is pushing against IVF. I signed up for a class, and ended up pushing it back. I just don’t feel like that’s going to be my path. I don’t know if that’s fear or naivate or if I”m just being lazy. I don’t even know that it’s me being hopeful. This time, I’m already talking about what we’ll do when it fails. I just think I”m conditioned at this point to think that this is going to be what is, but I still don’t know that IVF is my route. I don’t know. I fear now that I will write in a few months a post about how we’re trying IVF between tears, but something is keeping me hopeful. If basically everyone I see is pregnant, I can be too. I can be too.