The Battle of the “What Ifs” and “I Knows” of IVF
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The weeks leading up to our first (and one and only, if we are very lucky) IVF retrieval procedure were filled with daily shots, appointments at the office every other day, and emotions that swung wildly from “what if” to “I know”.
Emotions were running very high, on super speed
It was exciting to watch my follicles grow, knowing that my eggs were in those carefully monitored enclosures, getting ready for their big day! But the “what if” hit too – anxiety and not knowing when the retrieval was actually going to take place. I had to be vigilant to keep the “what ifs” at bay. When I say anxiety, I don’t mean it in a negative way. I guess the anxiety was closer to anticipation…like a child anxiously awaiting Christmas day (because, really, this was our version of Christmas!).
We were SO excited, you know, like unwrapping presents on Christmas morning excited and, we wanted to reach this fertility milestone as fast as we could, so that we could move onto the next phase of the process (and I know they say you shouldn’t rush through life, but I think fertility treatment might just be the exception to that rule!).
When my follicles were finally the size they needed to be, I received the instructions for the administration of my trigger shot. My instructions were that I would need to give myself the medication at midnight, exactly 36 hours before my retrieval was scheduled, for the optimal response and the highest amount of eggs retrieved. Because the dosage of my shots was more than the syringes could hold, I would have to give myself three separate injections that night.
Now, I’m not going to lie, at this point in the process, my stomach felt completely raw. I had small bruises at some of the injection sites, and I felt like the world’s biggest pin cushion without any space for more pokes; I truly couldn’t fathom how (or where!) I’d be able to administer THREE more injections! Not to mention the exhaustion finally hit me; the process had worn me down (without me even realizing it) and I was ready for the retrieval to be over… The “what ifs” were would I be able to give myself 3 more shots? But, the “I know” won out - I would do whatever was needed.
The Day Before the Big Day
The exhaustion carried into the next day, which was the day before our egg retrieval. Again, I was excited and Christmas morning anxious, but, at the same time, it all felt so surreal. Surreal like looking through a lens that made everything an entirely different color- because how is it possible that we got here? And surreal because of all the “what ifs” that are just so hard to ignore. What if we don’t get a good number of eggs? What if Dan’s sample is sub-optimal the day of the retrieval? What if we don’t have any embryos at all? What if none of our embryos are chromosomally normal? That’s only the tip of the iceberg- I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of “what ifs” that were going on in my head at that moment. And I did my best to quiet them, I really did try to be strong (“Eye Am Strong, Eye Am Strong”), but it was not an easy task. In fact, all these “what ifs” brought me to tears because the reality of our situation? It hit me like a ton of bricks. The emotions of everything we have gone through, added to lack of control over the situation, it all got the best of me and hot tears just poured out of me like lava erupting from a volcano.
In general, I feel like I’ve been able to keep it together (I know I’ve been trying).
I’ve gone through the motions, doing what I’ve had to do like a good little patient BUT I don’t think I ever let myself “feel” what I’m going through, as weird as that may sound.
In some ways, I’ve kept a wall up to protect myself, to keep our reality at an arm’s length but, I guess at that point in time, the tears just had to come out. And Dan, always the supportive voice of reason, made this very valid point: “We have done everything we could up until this moment and the rest is out of our control”. He encouraged me to think positively and to have faith. I vowed to him that I would do my best with that, but every now and then, even as I wrote this entry, those “what ifs” rose to the surface and consumed my thoughts.
The dynamic of the “what ifs” and the “I knows” have been at the edge of my mind constantly, playing off of one another, but I’m going to leave you with some crucial “I knows”.
I know I have to remain positive and hopeful. I also know I have to be realistic. Since I work in a fertility clinic, I know the wildest swings that fertility treatment can take, so keeping my feet on the ground is important. I often say I think I almost know too much for my own good. At the same time, though, I know that I am in the best hands and receiving the best possible care and for that, I am thankful.
Bottom line? I will put my faith in what I know- that our fertility journey will be successful. My faith extends to include Dr. Shaun Williams (who will be performing the retrieval) and the entire RMACT team.
In the battle of the “what ifs and I knows”- I turn to my beliefs.
And what I believe, deep in my heart, is that everything will be ok…
About Justine Houle- "Where’s the F%&$#!ing Stork?!"
Justine Houle loves a great pair of shoes, and her boys Dan (husband) and Ralph (a very handsome pup hailing from Tennessee which must be where he gets his southern charm). She began her career in childcare and then joined the RMA of CT team in 2011 as a Patient Coordinator. She's served several roles in the organization since then but most recently as the Marketing Operations Coordinator. She is well known for her impeccable style - and recently became an independent stylist for Stella and Dot. On the weekends, she can be found tooling around with her boys in Fairfield, CT where she grew up and currently resides.