Think Before You Advertise

We are the perfect demographic to have children. I’m at the maternally ripe age of 31, and I’m married to a man who is 30 years old. We’ve been married 6 years. I’m getting marketed to like I have babies. We’re infertile. Go figure. 

Lately, I’ve noticed that my customized ads and coupons have changed. It started last week when my recommended items for purchase on Amazon included a Diaper Genie, and several other baby toys. In full-disclosure,  I’ve bought prenatal vitamins from Amazon, and I’ve purchased several toys for my nephew via their site. So I understand it might appear to their clever marketing algorithm that I have children, but I don’t. And every time I see these “perfectly placed” ads, I grit my teeth. I actually thought about picking up the phone and calling Amazon, and chewing out their marketing department. Now I know this sounds crazy, but as an infertile person it’s painful to be constantly reminded of what you don’t have. This used to only affect me when I saw children with their parents, or newborns and pregnant women (which are the toughest for me at the moment). Now that it’s affecting me through marketing, I’m getting pretty peeved. 

Today, the clever marketers struck again. After purchasing a set of permanent markers and two camping chairs from Target, the coupon machine spit out a lovely gift for me. A coupon for a discount on diapers. For split-second, I thought about throwing it up in the air and running out of the building screaming. I was able to contain myself. No promises on my future ability to be poised, accept the coupon with a smile, and wish the cashier a nice day. 

So retailers everywhere, guess what? Your marketing algorithms are not infallible. Just because I’m a certain age, married, and perhaps buying certain items that may indicate to you that I am a fertile person, I’m not. I literally LOATHE getting these ads and coupons. Someday, I might appreciate them, but that day is not today. In the meantime, you’re making me feel less inclined to shop with your company.

Failed IVF: How Does it Feel?

No one sets out on this journey to fail. That’s not to say we’re na├»ve and think this is a guaranteed process. We know the risks involved. We understand getting pregnant is not a promise. We also know we will never have our own child without this risky process. 

Taking the plunge into the world of IVF is scary. We’re handing our reproductive abilities over to doctors. Initially, somehow we find reassurance in the fact that the doctor will be taking over our babymaking. After all, by the time we reached the IVF process, we’d tried and failed for a long time. So the fact that another person is taking it out of our hands is a bit of a relief. However, as the process gets rolling, there are ups and downs. There are times of intense anxiety while we’re waiting for answers and we just want to know how it’s all going to end. And where is the end exactly? How long will it take to get there? There are countless times where we so badly wish we could have a baby “like everybody else.”

Last week, I finally saw a therapist about our failed cycle. Something hasn’t feel quite right to me since we got the news. When I’m sad, I can’t cry. I haven’t cried a tear since the day we found out. When I feel joyful, I can’t laugh. In fact, nothing really strikes me as funny anymore. The highs aren’t high, and the lows aren’t low. For lack of a better way of expressing it, I feel emotionally dead. 

The doctor told me I’m experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This news was shocking. I’ve always pictured PTSD happening to war heroes and combat veterans. It never occurred to me that a failed IVF cycle could bring this on. 

I learned that anyone who goes through a traumatic life event is at risk for PTSD. At highest risk for PTSD are those with pre-existing anxiety, and lack of a support system. Anxiety has been a struggle for me throughout my entire life, and only one trusted member of my immediate family, and his awesome spouse, actually know we’re going through this. So there you go–it’s the perfect storm for PTSD. 

You’re probably wondering why I don’t just tell my family. Why would I voluntarily put myself in a position of isolation and loneliness? Simply put, it’s easier this way. I realize I never know unless I try, but both Chris and I feel so strongly about not keeping my family in the loop. They know we want kids, and we’re trying for kids, and that’s all they’re ever going to know. We don’t need to add more stress to this already stressful situation by informing them of the particulars. 

So how does it feel? Failed IVF is more painful than most can imagine. These are wounds that I will actively work to heal in therapy. I hope one day, I can look back on this experience and be safely on the other side. I hope our future IVF attempts do not deepen this wound. The hard part is, we’ll never know unless we try. 

Debriefing and Doctor Shopping

It has been a little over two weeks since we received the call telling us our IVF cycle failed. We’ve experienced every emotion from anger to intense sorrow to hopelessness to resignation. I’m now finally able to look at moms and babies without tears welling in my eyes. The struggle has shifted. I find it hard to be happy for fertile people when I hear they are expecting. And trust me, there have been PLENTY of fertile people announcing pregnancies lately. It’s not that I’m not happy for them–I’m just overwhelmed by sadness for us. 

We discussed our failed cycle with our RE. He thinks our cycle was unsuccessful solely because of our sperm. He wants us to try another cycle with more stims (for more eggs and more embryos), and try fertilizing a few with donor sperm to see if my eggs can make it to the blastocyst stage when fertilized by different sperm. If they do, then we know for sure our sperm is to blame. If not, then it’s my eggs. To me, this approach sounds like an elementary school science experiment. 

Our urologist prescribed Clomid for Chris in combination with hardcore antioxidants (that make him sick) in order to boost his sperm motility and overall quality. The urologist advised Chris to take them a couple months before doing a fresh TESE, but our RE wants to drag it out for about 120 days. I don’t want to wait that long to move forward. Our communication with our RE’s office has been slow and frustrating. As you may recall, we’ve also had some rough experiences with them giving us incorrect info in the past. All these experiences finally culminated in me shopping around for another clinic. 

Today we met Dr. W. He seems incredibly confident in his abilities, and had a different take on why our cycle failed. When Dr. W heard that I have over 25 follicles pre-stims, he said that I have PCOS. Our last doctor toyed with that diagnosis, but never made it official. Dr. W also completely disagreed with the medication protocol I was on with the last clinic. He said it’s not a good protocol for someone who has PCOS, as it results in underdeveloped or overdeveloped eggs and possible hyperstimulation. He’d like to change my medications, and use the Lupron trigger instead of hCG before retrieval. Dr. W also thinks my egg quality is probably the main reason we aren’t getting pregnant. He said sperm rarely are the culprit–only about 2% of the time. 

This new clinic is huge with tons of people on staff who are all very friendly. They gave us time and attention, and encouraged us to ask questions. The staff provided an abundance of information, and seemed to want us to understand the process. That’s a huge change from our previous clinic. We have a good feeling about this new place. We don’t know if we’re going to succeed, but at the very least we’d like a positive change of scenery. So it’s official–we’ll keep the same urologist, but we’re changing clinics and REs. We don’t have an official start date yet, but likely July or August.