"...Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."
Romans 8:24b-25

31 May 2011

IVF Unknowns

Life is full of unknowns.  We live with them on a minute to minute basis.  They're such an integral part of our existence that it's almost surprising when we become overwhelmed or concerned about the unknown.

When my husband and I embarked on this journey toward In Vitro Fertilization, there was very little about it that I knew.  
  • I knew it was expensive
  • I knew it was invasive
  • I knew it involved a lot of shots, medications, clinic visits, and sonograms
  • I knew it was our best shot at getting pregnant (since nothing else had worked)
  • I knew there were no guarantees

Enter the Unknowns.

True to human form, I like knowing that if I put money toward something then I will receive something expected in return.  (If I give the grocer money, I get groceries; If I give a real estate agent money, I get a house...you get the idea.)

The procedures leading up to this point along our bigger journey through infertility had required money, but not the kind of money a person could give a car dealership and come home with a new car!

Needless to say, the Unknown of what would result from our attempts at IVF was very daunting, indeed.  I am not really a gambler, and not a huge risk taker.  Yet here I was, embarking on what seemed to me the biggest gamble of a lifetime.

Little did I know that all the other IVF Unknowns would begin sneering at me as we moved forward through this procedure.

If a person has undergone either an IUI or a Timed Intercourse with Ovarian Hyperstimulation procedure that required the use of stimulation medications rather than chlomid, then they are somewhat prepared for the prep work required for IVF.  If not, then there's the first little Unknown.

Thankfully, my husband and I had done the stim shots for two prior procedures, so I wasn't daunted by the shots I had to take.

What I hadn't experienced was how the amount of medication injected (WAY more than for IUI or Timed Intercourse) would cause bruising, making it difficult to find suitable injection sites toward the end of the cycle.  I also had not experienced my ovaries expanding to the point of making it painful to walk, sit, pee, laugh, and much more, because with IUI (and the like), you want to see significantly fewer follicles formed than with IVF.  In fact, if too many are formed with IUI, it can be cause for canceling that cycle.

Other Unknowns:
  • How many follicles would we get
  • How many of those follicles would have eggs
  • How many of those eggs would be mature
  • Will we be candidates for ICSI
  • How many eggs will fertilize
  • How many embryos will keep growing
  • Will we have a day 3 or day 5 transfer
  • How many embryos will we get to transfer
  • Will the embryos "stick"
  • Will we stay pregnant
  • Will we have a child
  • Will we have any embryos to freeze
  • Will we have to start all over
Insignificant Unknowns (but on my mind, just the same)
  • What should I wear to the egg retrieval
  • Where will they put the IV
  • How long will I have to have the IV
  • How bad will the IV make me feel (in case you can't tell, I've had bad IV experiences)
  • Will I be super cold before and after surgery (I hate being cold)
  • How much pain will I be in
  • What will the pain feel like
  • When will the pain go away
  • Will I be nauseous afterward
  • Will the pain meds make me want to puke since they have codeine in them
  • Is it really worth it if we don't become pregnant
  • How much activity is acceptable after transfer
  • Does pineapple core really help implantation
I now have answers to some of these unknowns.
We endured (and survived) egg retrieval and we're scheduled for transfer at 11:30 tomorrow morning (Wednesday, June 1st).  But we still don't know how many embryos are still growing and will be candidates for transfer and cryopreservation.  We still don't know if the transfer will take place on Wednesday or if it will be moved to Friday.  We still don't know if the embryo(s) will "stick" and grow and be born healthy and thrive.

The interesting thing about this journey through infertility is that while it can break you, it can also make you stronger.

Yes, there are thousands of unknowns we face each step of this journey, but in the grand scheme of things, there are truly millions of unknowns we face each day of our lives as humans.  We just don't think about them.

So, in light of what I do not know, I am choosing to focus on what I do know.  This is where my husband's and my faith comes into play.  Our faith is not just something that "gets us through" when we find we're in a rough patch or need a little extra help from a higher power.  Our faith is an integral part of who we are.  I put it this way to a friend who asked about our faith:
"Faith doesn't just play a part in our journey, it is the undercurrent of our existence and our journey through infertility plays a part in our faith."
My husband and I are choosing to focus on the things we hold as truths in our faith.  These truths bring us great comfort and peace and keep my mind from swirling around and around in circles of despair over the sneering Unknowns.

If you have questions about the IVF process, our experiences as we walked through it, and even our faith, please feel free to ask :-)  I'd be happy to share anything I can to make your journey, or even your potential journey, less stressful and more restful.



  1. Prior to your treatments, did you know anyone well enough to ask them about procedures (like IUI and IVF) that they've had done? You are that person for me. :)

  2. Excellent question! We did not have any immediate resources, other than the clinic and the internet, when we went through our IUI's. When we did Hyper-stimulation with Timed Intercourse, we just had the clinic and the experience we had with the IUI's.

    When we started seriously considering IVF, I was blessed with the opportunity to meet one of my sisters' friends for lunch and have a long conversation about what to expect. She had endured three IVF's, two of which were successful. So she was able to give a broad perspective.

    Still, at the time, IVF seemed so far away, so even though it was extremely helpful, I found myself longing to drive the several hours it would take to meet her again, just to pick her brain on some of my questions while facing this cycle. Thankfully, I have kept in touch with her and was able to ask questions via text messages, since the drive was out of the question. :-)

    I'm so thankful God has allowed me to be that person for you, sweet friend! I treasure our conversations regardless of the topic :-) This is difficult to endure alone, so I'm glad I could be there for you.

    Thanks so much for your encouragement and support! They mean the world to me!

  3. Praying for you and your husband, sweet sister in Christ. :-)

  4. Thank you, sweet friend! We need it! Love you! Can't wait 'til we get to see you again :-)


I would love to hear from you! The subject matter of this blog can be very sensitive. This is intended to be a place of encouragement and to be uplifting. It is never my desire to cause pain through what I write here, so please keep that in mind as you share your thoughts. Thank you.