Thursday, March 05, 2015

Hope and the IVF patient - a first person account

I learn so much from my patients ! Here's a guest post from one of them about how hope has helped her during her IVF journey.

What happens to the hope inside the heart of a 34-year old eternal optimist- when put through 3 years of fertility treatments comprising of 3 IUIs and 2 IVFs- 9 blastocysts and a twin miscarriage? I write this post on day 1 of my 2ww with embryo 7 and 8 firmly attempting to unite with my uterine lining.

The journey of hope has been a roller coaster ride. Brimming with it on day one and devoid of any at the end of the month. At every stage the blood tests, sperm count, lining, eggs, even embryos have been rated A+, but to this date I have no baby to show to for it. Since we were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, I even imagined that we could do this without a clinic after several failures. Maybe this month… was the mantra after each cycle which was promptly 30 days long.

Being an achiever in almost every aspect of my life- this initially felt like a hurdle that needed to be overcome. After no luck of trying on our own over 18 months and hearing several clinical success stories, we decided to speed things up by heading to a fertility clinic. After 3 IUIs, this started feeling like a failure that I seem ill equipped to handle. But relentlessly, we gave the next step IVF a try- pretty sure this would work for us.
One statement I heard repeatedly from those who knew what I was going through was, “You are so strong”. My response to that has always been “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have”. And I needed every iota of that strength as I suffered through the no heartbeat on that monitor on week 6 and 8. That is when I left the US and decided to come home for the next IVF cycle with Dr. Malpani.

Each cycle however, I try to approach as a new one- let go of my doubts and let this light within me grow and bloom. This is most difficult during the two-week wait period- the time where you need optimism the most, when past fears assail you and courage is so hard to find. I bury myself in work and prayer- each time hoping for the best, prepared for the worst. Optimistic but still trying to be realistic with my chances.

On gratitude- To re-instate faith I remind myself of how lucky I am- to have the love and support of my husband, my doting parents and in-laws who are pillars of strength and wonderful friends who are ready ears for me whenever and wherever needed. How blessed I am to have endured all this and not faced the side effects of treatments that many undergo- no skin breakouts, no weight gain, nothing. How fortunate that we live in times where technology is available to assist and my financial ability and insurance would cover my treatment.

On growth- I have truly started believing that this too shall happen and the key is truly just persistence. I no longer frown at every pregnant belly or every adorable baby. I no longer question “why me?” I have come to accept that is my unique journey and our unique story- everyone has theirs- fraught with perils and obstacles and this one is ours to overcome.

On humor-The hardest but most important part has been keeping the sense of humor alive within both of us. After all tragedy + time = comedy- right? We make jokes on the situation, on each other and laugh through these times, times that someday will make sense as events normally do in retrospect. 

On hope-Dr. Malpani told me- I guarantee you this will work- I don’t know when or if it will work this cycle but if you persist, I can tell you that the odds are stacked in your favor. It helps knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel but it is frightening all the same not knowing how long this tunnel really is… And so, here I am again- playing the odds and hoping for a big win- here I am wondering about the role of ‘hope’ in trying to conceive.

What is the reason I keep coming back again and again? It is in the hope of that end goal that brings me back- the expectation that someday I will hold this baby in my thirsty arms- the one that even before it was born taught me so much about persistence, strength, endurance, gratitude and hope.

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