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IVF is one major life disruptor. One cycle with one transfer can involve 5-6 bloodwork appointments, 4-8 internal ultrasounds, getting pumped with liquids for external ultrasounds, timed and temperature controlled injections daily or multiple times daily for two weeks or more, popping 20+ supplements a day, going to the clinic sometimes 2-3 early mornings in a row, and this doesn’t even include the side effects from the medications. I went from having a normal belly pooch to looking 8 months pregnant in about a week. Nothing fit anymore.

Now, imagine doing that with a day job, trying to hide the procedure and diagnosis or fact that you’re even trying to conceive from your judgy employer. Nope nope nope.

I booked my last transfer and NYC trip around my 3 month probation at my day job. That job I got so I could get maternity leave like any other normal human Canadian being. Those of you who don’t know me personally, I’m a wedding and portrait photographer. Self employment isn’t kind to pregnancy or leave.

I arrived in NYC and stewed in my thoughts for a few days, while trying to be peppy and make the most of my trip at the same time. IVF has taught me that it’s entirely possible to feel multiple conflicting emotions at the same time. Excitement and disappointment. Happiness and bitterness. Joy and sorrow. You almost start to compartmentalize it in a way. Observing the feelings from the outside. Like when your best friends get pregnant with twins on their first cycle while you’ve had losses upon losses. You feel ecstatic for them. But you also love hate them a little bit too. It’s entirely possible to feel the emotions at the same time and to genuinely be happy for others while grieving yourself.

A few days into my trip I decided that dealing with an incompetent boss who pushed professional boundaries about asking about medical stuff wasn’t worth the stress it was bringing to my situation. Maternity leave or not. Who the hell knew when we’d have success again. I couldn’t stick it out with no end in sight. What seemed like a hopeful career path and dream job for working my way up in a new field turned into feeling stuck, stagnant and bitter. I emailed my boss and told him I wouldn’t be returning. I emailed his bosses and told them why. I felt free for the first time in a long time. Free from the burdens of IVF and from the burdens of a job I hated. Free to live in the moment for the first time in ages.

This trip rejuvenated me in a way. It gave me the space and time to decide on our next steps.

When we started IVF we said we’d only do one cycle. Whatever we got, we got. Then we’d look at alternate options. Like many things in life, we didn’t know how we’d feel until we were faced with the decision of what came next. It wasn’t our last cycle.

We got home and due to my job as a wedding photographer I looked at the calendar. My job is one that I can’t just call in sick to, or allow life to just happen around. I plan my life 12-18 months in advance, down to the day. It was June and if we did another cycle, and another transfer (always the “what if this time it sticks?!”) it would put me being due in May – the beginning of my summer season the following year. I had already booked a few gigs for 2024 and I needed to do what I could to pay the bills – keeping my age in mind.

I assumed we’d have the same success the second time as the first. We’d have a few embryos to work with, so if we waited until August (when I had a lull in my schedule) for our cycle start, we’d surely be set up for a 2024 baby that wouldn’t interfere with my job. So we decided. We’d wait until my July cycle start to begin our protocol again. Same clinic, same protocol as cycle 1 with the addition of Saizen/Omnitrope as a primer alongside birth control.

We tried naturally that in between cycle with timed intercourse but alas it did not work. My cycle came and we were once again on our way. This time with no burden of a day job, with a month and a half break under our belt, some relaxation (see guys, I relaxed, it didn’t work!), and with fresh hope.

On August 3rd, 2023 I started my stim injections once again. I had a AFC (Amtrak follicle count, a pre count of your follicles before stims) taken prior, with 6-7 follicles visible (the same as last cycle). I started taking Gonal F 300, Menopur 150, Orgalutran .25, plus Saizen .1ml a day. Daily injections, taken around 10pm at night. This time, there was no fear of the needles. Every part of my being wanted to get shit done. I was ready for this. Readier than I have ever been. Each night I eagerly did my stims awaiting the day of our next ultrasound.

After 3 ultrasounds I was told my follicles were slow growing. My first cycle, I stimmed for 11 days total. When 11 days neared. They kept pushing me further. My follicles were growing, steadily, but slowly. This meant more meds, more money (about $650 a day per extra day), and more appointments. On day 13 they finally told me I was ready. I’d trigger on day 14, and my retrieval would be on August 18.

I took my HCG trigger at 8:30pm, 36 hours before my retrieval, this time 10,000 IU instead of the 7500 IU last cycle. I scrambled to book ferries and hotels. We had planned for every possible date within the 3-4 dates they quoted originally, booking countless ferry reservations and hotels, but with my delay we had to cancel them all and struggled to find a ferry that would get us there in time. Summer ferries are no joke. We had friends in town so had to shift accommodations as well to fit us all. This stuff just never goes as planned.

I waddled my way into the Airbnb around 10pm the night before the retrieval, the earliest we could get there. I tucked myself into the hardest bed I’ve ever slept on and tried to rest up for my procedure the next day. I could barely roll over I was so bloated. I didn’t know, but during stimulation your ovaries can grow to the size of grapefruits and beyond. I didn’t even have a large number of follicles – pretty average actually around 14. I couldn’t wait to get these eggies out and fertilized and to get back to being able to wear actual pants and not just leggings.

The things we do for love.

Before stims


After stims (day 14)

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