Friday, May 1, 2009

The five stages of infertility

First things first: Retrieval was yesterday. I was expecting it to be horrible, but actually everything went fairly smoothly. I was on time (which is kind of a feat, considering that Mystery insists on making his "contribution" at home, which is totally understandable, but adds an unfortunate element of unpredictability to the proceedings), they called me in fairly quickly, and it was much less painful than usual. I was conscious, but the stabbing felt more like sharp prodding, which was a vast improvement. I don't know if the anaesthetic just worked better this time (there was a longer delay between the injection and the procedure, so it's possible that it just had more time to work), or if pregnancy has rearranged my parts, making my ovaries more accessible, but either way, I'll take it. It was also remarkably quick. The yield was six eggs. Not spectacular, but not dreadful either. In my first-ever IVF cycle, they retrieved 9 eggs (negative, nothing to freeze). The second time, only 2 eggs were retrieved (one of which ended up becoming Eggbert). So, I have learned that it's not all about quantity. I'm just hoping that one of those eggs turns out to be "The One." I guess time will tell.

The night before retrieval, I had trouble sleeping. Part of it was straight-up cowardice about the anticipation of pain. For some reason, I can remember the feeling of my first two retrievals in sharp technicolor, whereas the pain of labor (which I know was MUCH worse) is something that I can remember in theory, but I can't actually imagine the feeling itself. I guess that my body somehow instinctively knows that the pain of childbirth is "good" pain, whereas being stabbed is generally something to be avoided, so it sends the signals to the conscious mind accordingly.

The other issue on my mind, the huge possibility that this cycle will not yield a child, was probably the greater problem, though. I found myself endlessly crunching numbers in my brain--"If I get 8 eggs, and half fertilize, and all of those make it to transfer..."--and searching for the magic number that would allow me to relax. Of course that number is one. One more healthy baby, that is, not one egg. After several hours of fruitless effort to put these thoughts out of my mind, I realized what I was doing. I was "bargaining," the third stage of grief. This got me to thinking about infertility and grief in general.

I can clearly see that I have been through all five stages (although not necessarily in that order, and often moving forward and backward between stages) regarding my infertility in general. And I think that I have reached some level acceptance, and that I stay there most of the time. So, it surprised me to find myself at bargaining again. Then I looked back and realized that I have made very recent visits to denial and anger. I guess I'm not as far along in accepting my reality than I had thought.


Marie-Baguette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marie-Baguette said...

I want to wish you all the best for this cycle. Quantity and quality does not mean much (Max was a so-so embryo and he is the most beautiful and brilliant child EVER, with Eggbert of course). I had cycles where I had 15-20 eggs and only half fertilized , and did not turn out so well.
I am still very angry. There was a discussion on the NY Times yesterday in "mother lode" on 2ndary infertility and commenters were just ugly, as in "why don't you adopt", "the earth is already overpopulated", "you are a freak to want more children", "your body is telling you you should not have children anymore", etc. Of course, all those judgments came from people without children but not suffering from infertility and who would never adopt themselves. It made me realize how lucky I was to have people like you in my life, even if I don't really know you.

Anonymous said...

Well done for getting through it, Sara. The retrieval and the stages of grief.
I don't think the pain of infertility ever really goes away, even with one beautiful healthy child (and hopefully two). I think it's very healthy for you to live your emotions as they come and to be so lucid about them.
My SIL just got pregnant with her 3rd and I am still finding it difficult to deal with, even though I have my daughter and don't want another child. Logical? Rational?
I gave up expecting anything to make sense when I broke open the first packet of Clomid 4 years ago...
Rose xx

WaterBishop said...

I don't think the stages of grief can ever be concrete no matter what the source of the grief. There will always be a little back and forth. Also You have sort of started over with infertility. Not at the very beginning this time, but far enough back for it to be highly emotional.

Good luck. I hope to hear about a fab fertilization report.

Lut C. said...

Glad to hear the procedure was less painful and the yield was better than last time. I get you on the quantity/quality and the numbers game.

I'm struggling with my emotions too. I think I'm in some way traumatised by going through IF. I can't look upon fertility and pregnancy (in myself and others) in a normal way.

I keep feeling like I have to defend myself about my mixed emotions, but resenting that fact too. Mostly it's when I've spoken to my non-IF friends or anticipate speaking to them. Sigh.

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