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The summer after my chemical pregnancy came in hot. If you don’t know me personally, I am a wedding photographer and it’s my full time job. Mid-may to mid-October I tend to go completely MIA due to wedding season and portrait season. My friends have grown to expect this.

We kept on trying through the summer, taking my basal body temperature (BBT) daily, tracking it in a charting app, peeing on blue LH sticks to predict ovulation, timing the deed within my fertile window. We tried going on vacation, we quit drinking in July (still sober, woohoo!), we started on more supplements and tried to stay healthy and relaxed.

A close friend of mine got a referral to a fertility clinic locally in the spring and in type-A fashion, I did the same because I knew there would be a long wait IF we needed to go that route. I still had a lot of hope we’d succeed on our own.

We got into the clinic fairly quickly, waiting just a couple of months. We weren’t ready to stop trying but we happily did the bloodwork they wanted, infectious disease screening, and my husband did a semen analysis. Everything came back pretty normal, minus a small hiccup – I didn’t have immunity to the Rubella virus (I was vaccinated in school but I guess it never took). Given the low prevalence of Rubella I felt comfy signing a waiver and forgoing the vaccine again – it would have delayed trying by 2-3 months. My 37 year old eggs weren’t ready for that.

Summer came and went. No pregnancy. In late august we made a decision, after 8 months of trying with no success we decided to do a medically assisted cycle. It was the least costly and least challenging way to give my body a boost. They say, after 6 months of trying after 35, if you do not have success you should seek professional assistance. Under 35 it is recommended after one year.

As mentioned before, your Luteal phase (after your ovulation until your period) should be a minimum of 9 days. Mine was 11, but it was possible this could have been hindering our odds. I worked with the clinic to start on a cycle of Letrozole medication. This would ultimately make ovulation occur more regularly (around cycle day 14-15) and prolong my luteal phase. 3 more months came and went. No pregnancy.

Feeling really defeated and scared that something larger was going on, we had a follow up with the doctor (OBGYN), and he suggested we speak with a Reproductive Endocrinologist about IUI or IVF.

After a long phone meeting with the doctor, some review of the stats on IUI (IUI is Intrauterine Insemination – basically a glorified method of using the turkey baster, with a cleaned up sperm sample), we decided this wasn’t the route for us given my age. It was way cheaper than IVF, around 700-800 per cycle and many people go this route before venturing into IVF. We just couldn’t get on board with the success rates (10-12% per cycle instead of the approx 8-10% with trying naturally).

We decided to forge ahead and give IVF a go.

This is where I say how fortunate we are that we have this option at all. Many couples do not, for various reasons. Financial being the biggest of all. An average IVF cycle in Canada costs between $17-22k with the procedure and medications. This doesn’t include genetic testing of the embryos, subsequent frozen embryo transfers, further analysis, or embryo storage in many cases. Some people have insurance – really more companies should be providing an option for infertility insurance at the very least. But most do not. It’s a rarity.

I used to think people who did IVF were entitled. That it was unnecessary and they should “just accept the cards life dealt them”. A baby isn’t the end all be all of existence, and there are a myriad of other ways to grow your family. But, as soon as infertility reared its ugly head at me, my perspective shifted.

Having a condition that prevents you from achieving your goals and dreams, that results in loss and tragedy, that hurts your body and your heart is far from entitlement. One day I’ll talk on adoption and explain why we chose to do IVF as our first choice. But I’ll say now that it was not an easy choice, and having a biological child was not even my first choice from the beginning. But it was now the plan.

So here we were. About to embark on the most blind decision of our entire life. No clue what to expect, feeling so damn isolated and alone, shameful, broken.

I told a select few people and got the worst response possible…
“Congratulations”, “That’s so exciting!”

Lesson 1 in IVF: It’s not something to be celebrated and it’s the furthest from exciting. It means your life savings is about to dwindle for a remote chance that you can achieve something other people get for free, by accident even (I still don’t understand this as it seems impossible from this perspective). It means you get to endure pain and pokes and prodding before you even achieve pregnancy. Before you even know if it’s possible.

The only thing I was excited about was to hopefully get answers. And to have medical support and monitoring to help us get there sooner, before my geriatric old lady eggs shrivelled up.


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