Working through IVF...as a COUPLE
I’ll be honest: when my husband and I first talked about expanding our family in the summer of 2017, neither of us expected to be here today in 2019.
We tried to conceive all summer in hopes that whatever unexplained infertility I had years ago was gone. In the back of my mind, I intuitively knew we would end up having to get some kind of fertility help. This scared us both as we had already been through so much with the twins, including having to abort one when they were triplets. I knew this was going to be hard, but I had no idea just how difficult it would be.
“Lets just meet with the doctors and go from there,” we agreed. That was my way of at least getting Nick into the fertility center to see what our next steps would be.
When we went, I could tell he was overwhelmed and a little checked out. This was a bit to be expected as he was trying to raise his series A for his business. Nonetheless, we got our answers and our potential calendar to start IVF. Oh, and the bill.
We talked about it for a few weeks, and while we both really wanted that third baby we were definitely afraid. He was more nervous from a financial standpoint and I was more nervous because of all of the time and effort it would require from me, thus taking me away from my girls and my life.
Flash forward to 10 months later and we had tried two full rounds of IVF and one IUI and they ALL failed. I was heartbroken and sick to my stomach thinking of all we had gone through physically, emotionally, and mentally (individually and as a couple), not to mention financially. I suddenly felt lost.
I remember we were in Hawaii and went for a walk while the girls were in the Aulanii kids club (I had started bleeding the first day we were there, hence my failed IUI).
“I think we should take a break from IVF,” Nick stated. His words crushed me.
You see, getting on the IVF wagon is hard. It’s a big commitment, and its actually life-altering. But once you’re on it, its hard to get off. So I sobbed. I really wanted (and still want) this baby and I felt like taking a break was going to prolong things by so much! But Nick insisted. We fought, we argued, and I was so mad at him for a few hours. Deep down thought, I knew I needed a break, a break from hormones, from being depressed, from so many ups and downs and from talking about it every single day.
We agreed on a three-month break (essentially, the summer). I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I still wanted a baby, but I also needed my life back for a bit. I felt so guilty wanting to continue with treatments but I also felt guilty not taking a break. It’s such a mind game. I agreed to this break… maybe for Nick, for us, for my girls… for all of us, I guess.
It turned out taking that break was exactly what we all needed. We argued a lot during our first year of IVF. Maybe it was because we didn’t fully understand what was going on. Perhaps it was because we had so many losses. Or maybe it was because neither of us had any kind of control over the situation. Whatever it was, it was tough. The summer and time off of IVF helped in a lot of ways. It helped Nick realize how much he wanted this baby and that in turn lifted my spirits and helped me get by. We even ended up doing some research and switching doctors (VERY glad we did!) We were back on the same page, and actually in an even stronger place. I finally felt like he was all in, emotionally and even physically (he came to a lot more appointments than the first year of IVF).
That December, after the long break and after another cycle of IVF, we got pregnant. We were elated and clearly that break had helped! (He will love reading this) Nick was right!
Unfortunately a few weeks, we miscarried. At that moment nothing else mattered. I didn’t need to see anyone or hear anything else, butt I needed Nick more than ever. I didn’t know it while it was happening but I did, and I’m so thankful he was there. I remember the brown shirt he was wearing and how he let me cling to it when we heard the baby had stopped growing. I remember seeing tears in his eyes (which I always try to look for once in a while and literally never see). I remember screaming and crying and I know he wanted to also, but all I heard was “its okay, baby. It’s going to be okay...”
I obviously didn’t believe him at the time, but he insisted. He wiped his tears and helped me get dressed. He walked me out and just held me. After that he came to all of my appointments because I knew (and he knew) that I couldn’t face that space alone, at least not right away. We faced a lot more difficult appointments and results (HCG numbers weren’t dropping, needed a D&C) but Nick was there through it all, walking me out through the back door because I was still not able to face the fact that we weren’t pregnant anymore.
Eventually things turned around. We had a couple more failed transfers and then we decided to do another cycle. Nick was actually the one encouraging me to do so. He was positive we could get a good number of healthy PGS tested embryos, and guess what, we did! We ended up with three completely normal embryos, the most we had ever gotten. So we proceeded and tried to transfer one of them in August 2019. Unfortunately, it failed.
After this last failed attempt in August, I was ready to quit. I still wanted that baby just as much as before, but I honestly didn’t think my heart could handle another loss. Going from thinking you’re pregnant to then not being pregnant is such a mind f^*k and I felt like I needed to stop.
But Nick knows me, and picked me up and sat me down.
“I’ll support whatever decision you want to make, but I don’t think you’re ready to quit. We have two healthy embryos and I know this will happen for us. Let’s get some testing done and see what we can find out.”
Thank God for his sanity because clearly my brain was not functioning. He was right, AGAIN (happy Nick? This might be the only time I say that he was right two times in a row). So here we are, fixing my uterus, and praying that we are on our way to that rainbow baby.
So why am I telling you all this? Obviously your partner should be there for you, right? Yes, your partner should be there for you, but sometimes things get complicated. I’m not going to lie; there were many fights throughout the past two years. It’s not easy to carry the stress of regular life, finances, our girls, and a thriving business and then have to deal with so much loss, the ups and downs of IVF, and the financial burden of this journey. It is a HUGE added stress. You see so many cute pictures and stories of couples going through this but the truth is that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. In fact, I don’t think I could associate any rainbows or butterflies with this process (yet).
What I have learned and if I can offer any kind of advice is that we are BOTH going through this. Yes, I understand that I’m the one taking shots every day, going through surgeries, hormonal changes, feeling ill, and going to those daily doctor appointments. But I guarantee, if you have a partner that loves you like mine does, they’re going through it, too. The pain I see in Nick’s eyes when we have BFN or bad news kills me even more. I feel like I failed him and all I want to say is sorry, but in that moment I crumble and literally fall to the floor. And yet Nick’s somehow always there to hold me and console me. Sometimes I push him away, but I know he’s there if I need him. That’s the kind of partner I have – he just gets me.
I’ve learned to ask him how he’s feeling (even though he always says “well I just want you to be happy”) in hopes that at least he knows I care about his feelings. I’ve learned to be really open with my emotions and express to him the pain and stress I feel daily with all this. In fact, he’s the one that reads all of my blogs and says he learns a lot about me through them! So yes, it has been tough. But I know it would not even be possible without him and his support and love (especially when my moods are changing left and right!)
I guess at the end of the day, I know we were meant to go through this for a reason. We joke that while we are so blessed and so thankful for everything we have, NOTHING has come easy to us. Most people don’t know that about us but we have always had to fight hard for what we want, including having a family. So today we are stronger than we’ve ever been before. We care so deeply about each other, our family, and our happiness, and we have survived some of the worst things a couple could go through. Not only did we survive, but we came out on the other side stronger together with a kind of relationship that no one will ever understand unless they’ve gone through something like this.
So I guess my advice is to let your partner be there for you. Cry together, listen to each other, and take each other’s advice. Sometimes a piece of advice is not necessarily meant for just one of you, but for the both of you. Sometimes what one person is trying to say is actually something that you might already know to be true in your heart but need the person who knows you the best to say out loud.