Last month my husband, Brian, and I went back to our old stomping grounds in Iowa City. No, not a bar, though we headed there next. The Reproductive Endocrinologist. A place that we spent countless hours in our quest to have a child, but have since avoided for 2+ years. We had an appointment to discuss the unthinkable thing that I haven’t been able to get off of my mind for the last six months: doing IVF again.
We have two bright and beautiful children who resulted from our 4th round of IVF. We also have two frozen embryos just chillin’ (pun intended) in the lab at the University of Iowa Hospital.
It is time for us to decide what we would like our family to look like, and what our options are to get there.
So many of my concerns about doing IVF again are similar to any parent-of-two who is contemplating the idea of adding a third child: can we handle being outnumbered? Can I start over with the baby phase? Will our family lose some of the freedom and sleep we have finally reclaimed?
But most of my questions, fears, and concerns about heading down this road again relate directly to IVF. The emotional roller coaster. The physical side effects. The reality that pursuing IVF again is no guarantee.
We, mostly likely, would not successfully grow our family. So I ask myself, can I open myself up to this possibility knowing the physical toll, emotional pain, and agonizing uncertainty that lie ahead?
Can I really do this again?
Can I have yet another transvaginal ultrasound to confirm that my ovaries are, indeed, still empty?
Can I spend hours on the phone with my insurance finding out if they will cover the procedures?
Can I handle a long conversation about the quality of my two remaining embryos?
Can I discuss the pros and cons of transferring one or two?
Can I even think about doing another endometrial biopsy (in which the doctor scratches the inside of my uterine lining under no sedation)?
Can I go through the process of custom-ordering my drugs from a pharmacy on the East coast with no dyes or sesame oil?
Can I psych myself up for the outbreak of hives (my body’s medication reaction of choice) that is surely coming?
Can I look at our late 2016 calendar, full of trips and birthdays and our anniversary, and cross reference it with the IVF clinic’s “up times” for scheduling procedures?
Can I turn my dining room table into a one-stop-IVF-pharmacy again? (How can I have a toddler-proof house with all those needles?)
Can I return to the daily doses of messy vaginal estrogen?
Can I psych myself up for the nightly shots with a two-inch-long needle?
Can I wean my two 2-year-olds who are still obsessed with nursing?
Can I sit in the procedure room, waiting silently for my embryo report, knowing the very real possibility that neither of our embryos could thaw correctly?
Can I handle another ten-day-wait for a beta blood test and a phone call from a nurse to tell me if I am pregnant or not?
Can I let myself hope that I will have a third child?
Can I subject myself to the likely scenario that this will not work? Or worse, that it will work and I will have a miscarriage, the one pain I have been spared on this journey?
Can I accept the fact that these last two embryos are all that we have, and give it a whirl?
Can I do this all over again? And do I want to?