Let's Chat: Hilary's IVF Story

My daughter is smart, funny, kind, and beautiful. She was also conceived in a petri dish in San Francisco.

Let’s just put this out there: my fallopian tubes are shitty. They don’t work properly. I always knew I’d have a hard time getting pregnant due to this. However, as I got older (read: mid twenties), my OB suggested that, when we’re ready, we should explore IVF in lieu of trying “the old fashioned way” because I would be at a very high risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies put you at risk of losing a fallopian tube, an ovary, and they could be life threatening. The pregnancy is never viable, either. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

When I got engaged at 28, I went to see a specialist at a fertility clinic. I was eleven years younger than his average patient. He told me that he thought that this was the best option of safely conceiving a baby. And, at 28, “sooner rather than later” would be a good time to start. My husband and I got married in June of 2014, when I was 29. We went on our honeymoon in July. A few days after returning from our honeymoon, I started IVF. Talk about a whirlwind!

See, when you go through IVF, you need to do near-daily blood draws and ultrasounds. At that time, I was a teacher and I knew that I had to fit it in before the school year started, or else I’d have to wait until the following summer. I needed to get to work at 7 a.m. every day. I couldn’t just stroll in at 9am after a morning appointment. I very well could have waited another year, but as us women know, younger is better. No pressure, right?

Before starting IVF, we had to read and sign about fifty pages of paperwork, covering all of the legal stuff. What would happen to our embryos if we got divorced? What would happen if I died? If my husband died? If we both died? We had to go through all of those situations you never want to think about.

I went up to San Francisco many times, early in the morning (they would call later that day with the results which determined dosages for the next few days), for roughly two weeks. I’d get my blood drawn and I’d have an ultrasound of my ovaries to see how many follicles I had. I truly didn’t even know what a follicle was until I went through this process. The best analogy I can use is that an egg to a follicle is like a seed to a fruit. Every egg is surrounded by a follicle. Every night, my husband would inject me three different times in the abdomen, a couple inches away from my belly button. We would switch sides so the other side would have a day to heal. My stomach was bruised and tender. One medication stung so badly that I would just drop the F-bomb over and over until the burning stopped.

These shots stimulate your ovaries so they produce more than one egg -  ideally, you want many eggs (but not too many - OHSS is not good, either) to be retrieved because that gives you a better chance of success. I remember my doctor saying that during this process, a follicle is roughly the size of a grape. I’m not going to get into specific numbers because I don’t want anyone comparing themselves to me.  I was, essentially, carrying a bunch of grapes in my pelvic region. I was so bloated that none of my clothes fit. It hurt to wear my seatbelt. There was so much fluid in my belly that it jiggled like Santa Claus. It was painful. I looked pregnant, but I most definitely wasn’t. It was a mind fuck, to be honest with you. Here I was, trying to get pregnant, but already looking like I was. What the hell!


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{Pregnant? Nope! This is me, 3 days before my egg retrieval}

These shots had to be taken at the same time of day, every day. So, when we went to a good friend’s wedding, we left the reception, got in the car, and unzipped our cooler. My husband injected me, in the stomach, in the parking lot of a hotel in Sonoma. How's that for romantic babymaking?

We got to the end of the stimulation process which meant it was time for the retrieval. I went in and was sedated while they took my eggs out. Everyone was pretty pleased with the amount they were able to get. There are a few next steps after this, and at every step along the way, it is expected to lose some eggs (or embryos). We watched the number dwindle down from a lot, to...not a lot.

The embryos were frozen, and my body had a break for a few months. In late January, I had to do some more shots to get my body ready for the transfer. Naturally, my husband was away on business for the trigger shot, which is the most important shot of all the shots and I had a 5 minute window to inject myself. I’ve had a lifelong debilitating fear of needles, so I had already contacted some nurses I knew in case I couldn’t muster up the courage to give myself the shot. Somehow, I did it.

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{My FET calendar. I had a different calendar every few days for my egg retrieval process, so I just saved this one.}

On February 2nd, 2015, at 9:30am, we did a FET (frozen embryo transfer). I rested for the remainder of that day, but was instructed to go about my daily life thereafter. I had a couple of blood tests to make sure my hormones were rising, and on Friday the 13th, we got the call. It was official. I was pregnant! Tears of relief flooded my face (and I’m crying while typing this). I will never, ever forget that call. Our daughter turned two in October. She is happy, healthy, and thriving.

While I know my IVF story isn’t one you typically hear of (I’ve had no miscarriages, no failed IUIs, etc.), it was still mentally, physically, and emotionally difficult. I am so thankful that we live in a world where IVF a possibility, and I’m so grateful for my daughter. 

1 comment

  • Kate

    Both of my sons were conceived via IVF so I can completely relate to this blog. Through the shots, blood tests, ultrasounds, OHSS, and emotional/physically rollercoaster we couldn’t be happier with our sons. They were completely worth the wait. Our first son was born in 2014 and our second son is just 7 weeks old. We are so thankfully that our doctors and that we live in a time where we have a family of our own. I would like to thank you for sharing your story.

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