Struggling with Infertility: IVF Transfer Cycle

The meds, the dizziness, the dry mouth.

In my last personal blog on IVF, I went over the entire egg retrieval process: meds, the procedure itself, and how I felt.

I still stand by everything I said, most especially my belief that talking about the difficult things makes it easier for others to do so.

I had my egg retrieval at the very end of November 2018, and then the genetic testing on the resulting embryos (called PGS or PGD) in December. After the egg retrieval, we had 5 fertilized eggs and ended up with 3 viable blastocyst-stage embryos after genetic testing.

Normally, we would have proceeded with the implantation at the end of December, but my fertility facility’s labs close the last 10 days of the year.

So, instead, they put me on birth control for about a week starting on December 21st, specifically to delay the start of my next cycle.

That started the implantation cycle.

I was only on the birth control for about 6 days. At that point, I was brought in for blood work and ultrasound and started taking estrogen and progesterone.

The following week I had blood work again and my progesterone dosage went up.

I learned through some Googling and reading IVF forums that side effects on progesterone are pretty common, especially because I was on a very high dose, but I DID experience side effects from it.

These are what I personally experienced:

  • Dry throat. My throat was dry a lot, but especially at night. I needed water and cough drops all night long.
  • Dizziness. I was dizzy basically 100% of the time. It wasn’t so extreme I couldn’t stand up, but it was constant lighter dizziness that made me uncomfortable enough to not drive and sometimes I needed to just take a minute to equalize before going down any stairs.
  • Insomnia. I only slept maybe 3–4 hours per night, often broken up, and it took me forever to fall asleep every single night.
  • Shortness of breath. I got out of breath going on a walk, talking for too long, working, and just in general when lying in bed. It was weird.
  • My breasts were sore all the time. Not throbbing pain, but I sleep on my stomach, so I definitely noticed.
  • Fatigue. I was tired all the time. I was barely sleeping, so it makes sense, but it was more than that. I was just exhausted all of the time. Body, mind, and soul. I definitely fell asleep a few times during the day and napped a little, but it never seemed to help.

At the second blood test and ultrasound appointment, everything was looking good and my installation was scheduled for the following Wednesday.

I went in the Tuesday morning before the implant for final blood work and ultrasound, where I was told my uterine lining was 10 mm and “looked perfect!”

I was excited and not really nervous at this point. I knew the implant wouldn’t hurt and that it was quick.

I went in for the implant at 1 pm on Wednesday. It went well, didn’t hurt, and I have always had this attitude of “well, my legs are in the air and my vagina is on display, might as well take it in stride” and I joked around with the approximately 17 people who were in the room during this inelegant display.

It was done quickly, they showed me my little embryo on the screen and sent me home with a picture of the microscopic blastocyst after laying down for just 10 minutes after the procedure.

I left feeling excited, nervous, and in wonder at science.

Waiting

The following week and a half were the longest 10 days of my life. That’s how long my wait was until I was supposed to go in for the blood test to see if it worked.

I was still having all the side effects, plus ridiculous bloating and SUPER smelly farts, which I’ve learned is another side effect of progesterone.

I was also emotional. I had a lot of feelings, I teared up easily the entire time I was on the estrogen and progesterone. I sometimes got snappy and had mood swings. It was a LOT of hormones. And my sweet, supportive, awesome husband just cut me a lot of slack.

I was honest with him about how I was feeling, which honestly wasn’t great. He just allowed me to complain and gave me gentle non-squeezing hugs. If it gave me a kid, then it’s totally worth it, but my body hadn’t really felt like MINE and I hadn’t really felt like myself since before starting the original meds for the egg retrieval 2 months before.

I took a home test on day 9, it was negative.

I went in for the blood test on day 10.

It was also negative.

Afterward

Not only am I devastated it didn’t work, but I am also angry. Angry at my stupid uterus, at my broken but undiagnosable reproductive system. I feel broken. I feel really freaking sad.

I feel like I wasted A LOT of money that we maybe shouldn’t have spent.

I know we have options (adoption, more IVF, surrogacy, child-free lifestyle), but I feel sad and broken and upset and broken and mad and ripped off and broken.

I don’t blame the doctors or the science. I knew the risks, all the numbers and my chances were explained to me in great detail.

I knew it might not work.

But that doesn’t mean anything when a teeny tiny little potential baby is shot up into your uterus like the medical equivalent of turkey bastering yourself.

You just want so badly for it to work.

I mean, who would spend over $20k and DO all this to their body if they didn’t really, really want a kid? Exactly. So we all want it to work really, really badly.

And the reality is that it often doesn’t. According to many fertility clinics nationally, the actual success rate of IVF for women under 35 is only about 40%.

I am unfortunately part of that statistic as the “other” 60%.

Now

Right now, I don’t know if I can go through this rollercoaster again, at least not immediately. I need some time and space to recover and heal emotionally AND physically.

My emotions have been all over the place. I am freaking exhausted.

And I truly have many, many things to be grateful for, to be thankful for, to look forward to. But right now, tonight, I just need to be sad.

So just for now, I wallow a little. I grieve for what might have been. I sit and despair, just a little. I cry some and hug my husband and wish it had been different.

But tomorrow is a new day. I will get up a little less sad, a little more determined to figure out the next steps and we will decide what to do next.

I just wanted to share my journey with you because I feel that so often we don’t speak about infertility publicly.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Out of 100 couples in the United States, about 12 to 13 of them have trouble becoming pregnant.” And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “ About ten in 100 women in the United States ages 15–44 have difficulty becoming pregnant or staying pregnant.”

That is 10% or 6 MILLION American women struggling with infertility and it often feels like no one is talking about it!

My story is not unique. I know I am not alone. But we just don’t talk about it.

So just in case YOU feel alone in your journey — please know you are not. Even when people aren’t talking about it or sharing their negative experiences with fertility procedures — you are not alone. There are so very many of us. And while that is sad, there is also hope and love in this journey and in this process.

I have been incredibly blessed with a supportive network of friends and family, but above and beyond that — since starting IVF, I have had some amazing women come to me and tell me about THEIR experiences and their feelings and cheer me on and cheer me up.

Women are strong. We are magnificent.

And I will be okay.

Tomorrow.

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

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