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IVF - Difficult Roads Often Lead To Beautiful Destinations

I’ve Waited SO Long to Meet You

My Journey with In-vitro Fertilization

I’d always been on the fence about having kids. I’d had the “if it happens, it happens” kind of mentality. That all changed with the first positive pregnancy test. We’d been “not avoiding” it for a few months, so when I suspected I could be pregnant, I took to Pinterest for ways to tell my husband. I finally landed on “gifting” him the positive test. When I took the test and it came up positive, I gave it to him in a little gift box and managed to get it on video and everything. We were very nervous, but over the moon excited. So at 8 weeks when we were supposed to go in for our confirmation appointment, but had to replace it with an appointment to confirm a miscarriage, you could say we were quite heartbroken.

I took a day off work, then had to push through. I only told one friend right away. I wasn’t ready to answer questions or face the grief, disappointment, and feelings of failure quite yet. I deleted the video, and threw out the positive test. I couldn’t handle any reminders. But my entire mentality on kids had changed. I went from “if it happens, it happens” to suddenly feeling like my life was missing something. And that something was a tiny human to love.

Fast forward 6 months to March 25th. We’d found out just a few days before that we were pregnant, again. But that morning I had some bleeding. Thinking I knew the routine, I went to work anyway and called the doctor to cancel my appointment. However, they insisted I go in to see what was going on. At the appointment things didn’t seem quite right, so they sent me to the ER for an ultrasound and urgent bloodwork. After several hours, they suspected it was an Ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy. It took my husband, my parents, my OB, and an ER doctor to convince me to have the emergency surgery. I was so concerned that if it was in fact a viable pregnancy, that this surgery could end it. Finally, after a very blunt ER doctor told me I very likely could die from internal bleeding, they took me in for surgery at 2AM and removed my ruptured right fallopian tube then sent me home to recover. More tears, more disappointment. And unfortunately, no answers as to why it happened.

Another 6 months passed, and we found out in late September that we were pregnant again. As soon as I got the positive test, my Doctor wanted to see me to make sure it wasn’t ectopic. It was very early so they didn’t see anything but were optimistic. I went in every two days for ultrasounds and bloodwork just to make sure. Then after a week, they saw something – but it was in the left fallopian tube, and once again we were crushed. The doctor thought it could be treated with Methotrexate to save the tube. But then I had severe abdominal pain and spent two days in the hospital being monitored. After more blood work, they determined another dose of methotrexate was needed. While we were heartbroken about losing another very wanted baby, we at least had the opportunity to try again. Until the poor little baby continued to try to grow, developed a heartbeat, and ruptured my left tube a few days later. At that point, I was out of options. I had about two pints of blood in my abdomen and I was still bleeding so they rushed me in for another emergency surgery. I’ll never forget the wonderful woman in the surgical waiting area that came up and gave me a big tight hug as I stood there crying, waiting for my name to be called.

After that, we discussed IVF and adoption. Both roads were long, heart wrenching, and very expensive. But even after everything we’d been through, neither my husband nor I were ready to give up. I did more research on both than I ever thought I would, and we found out that my insurance recently changed to cover Fertility treatments, including In-vitro Fertilization. After comparing the costs, this was the option that was going to be most do-able for us, even though it was going to be a huge emotional, physical, and financial strain. We were lucky enough to have a HUGE support system for the financial piece, so that December we began our IVF journey.

It starts with 3 weeks of birth control, so they can time your cycle just right. During that time we had our “injections” class. Now, my husband had been my rock throughout everything we’d been through. But that injections class solidified how incredibly thankful I am for him. The class started and they showed us how to use the Follistim pen (follistim stimulates your ovaries to create the eggs). No biggie, I had that one down pat. Then we moved on to mixing Cetrotide, and when to add Menopur, adding extra doses, how and when to up the doses, and when we’d be expecting the Luprin Trigger shot. At that point, I shut down. I was so overwhelmed by the number of medications, the number of steps, and the number of injections I’d need every day. My husband on the other hand, took it in stride. He diligently watched, practiced, and took notes, all while I sat there with a blank terrified look on my face. He was simply wonderful.

A few weeks later, our first night of injections was finally upon us. I had set up a box with all my meds, needles, Band-Aids, and a handy sharps container. At that moment, I determined that the room was too hot, and the lights were too dim, and the blankets on the bed were too messy and that it all needed to be fixed before we started. My wonderful husband just chuckled, and reminded me that even if we fixed all those problems, I’d still have to get the shots. So I took a deep breath, pulled out my phone and played LMFAO’s “Shots” while we prepped the meds.

The amount of time that someone must do the injections varies anywhere from 8-14 days, and we had to continue for the full 2 weeks. I fully expected the meds to make me very emotional, but I lucked out and they just made me sore, bloated and tired, oh joy! But they worked and my wonderful ovaries had made a whole bunch of eggs, and grown from the size of a grape, to the size of a fist on each side. I looked and felt about 5 months pregnant, just from how much room my ovaries were taking up. At that point we went in for the “extraction.” Quite possibly the part I hated the most. It was done at a surgical center and I was put under general anesthesia. They use a very large needle through the vaginal wall to basically suck the eggs out of each ovary. About an hour later, I woke up groggy to find out they got 16 eggs! Then the pain meds wore off and I was MISERABLE for 4 days. It hurt to sit, stand, walk, laugh… basically everything hurt. But we got a report that first night that 11 eggs fertilized and were now embryos!

We got an update on our little embryos every day, until day 6 when we went in for transfer. That’s where they put the embryo into the uterus. At that point we had one strong high grade embryo. We’d only planned on transferring one, but I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have more to potentially freeze. Not a painful procedure, but definitely a little awkward laying there, feet up for ten minutes waiting. Then we went home to wait.

We got a report two days later that several other embryos continued to grow, and to our surprise, we had eight good quality embryos to freeze. We were very excited, but still incredibly impatient to find out if our current cycle was successful. After two weeks of waiting, we went in for a blood test and on March 1st, 2016 we got the most wonderful news that we were pregnant! After nine months of anxiety, but an otherwise complication free pregnancy, Miss Ella Blades was born at 6:35 pm on October 31st, after 22 hours of labor. They put her on my chest, I looked in her beautiful blue eyes and told her “I’ve waited SO long to meet you.”

Since we were incredibly lucky and had embryos that froze successfully, we are looking into doing a frozen cycle in the near future. This means no stimulation and no extraction (YAY!!!) but it does mean other meds are still necessary to support the pregnancy. Intermuscular progesterone shots as well as estrogen supplements will start before we complete the transfer, and will have to continue through the majority of the first trimester. The injections aren’t the hardest part though. The hardest part is the not knowing. The roller coaster of emotions. As a parent, you sacrifice everything for your kids. They’re your world. But with infertility, you sacrifice so much just to have a chance at having a baby. You go through all the procedures, take the meds, go to the appointments, all in the name of hope. You try to brush off the hurtful comments, ranging from “when are you having kids” or “it could still happen, you know” (that one was almost comical) all the way up to the “that’s just unnatural” conversations. It can be exhausting, confusing, and lonely. But when it works, it’s worth it. That moment that you get to hold your tiny little human, all the battle scars begin to fade into the background as they’re replaced by the most overwhelming love. In hindsight, it was all worth it. And I’d like to think that it’s helped to make me the mother I was supposed to be.

**Michelle Ruble has been a member of FIT4MOM Lorton/Springfield/Burke/Woodbridge/Kingstowne since February 2017. She is mom to Ella (October 2016).

#FIT4MOM #themotherhoodisreal #strengthinmotherhood #Fit4MomLSBWKNoVa #ourvillageisyourvillage #IVF #rollercoasterofemotions #itwasallworthit #atinyhumantolove #ourmomsrock

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