Although I hadn’t been feeling too sad, I was looking forward to seeing my therapist. My three sessions with her last year were so beneficial to me for sorting out my thoughts and feelings. I was hoping that I could get a few sessions in before her maternity leave.
I arrived early as usual. Knowing that she is eight months pregnant, I wasn’t worried about my reaction to seeing her bump. I have to say that she did not look like she was about to give birth. She seemed to be very mindful of her choice of clothes as her sweater was big and did not hug her body. My pregnant coworker who wears tight fitting clothes probably shows her bump more than my therapist does. I commented on how great my therapist looked at this late stage of her pregnancy and asked how she was doing. She said she was getting a little bit tired but overall had no complaints.
Once we sat down, she said that it was great to see me but she was sorry that it was under these circumstances. The first 30 minutes were devoted to telling her about all that had happened in the past eight months since I last saw her. The last time we saw her, we had not even started with U.CSF yet. And I bet she wasn’t even pregnant with IVF yet. It really had been a long time. I updated her on the following:
- First cycle in August was canceled because of a cyst
- First cycle take two in September went well with four eggs, three fertilized eggs, and three embryos to freeze on day two
- Second cycle in October with our surprise eggs from two little follicles so three eggs turned into two fertilized eggs, and then turned into two four-cell grade one embryos
- Third cycle in November was long drawn out due to lack of response to Clo.mid and a subsequent natural IVF cycle yielded two follicles, one egg, and none fertilized
- Intended fourth cycle could not take off due to lab closure for the holidays
- Intended fourth cycle still could not take off in January due to a cyst, decided to move on with the cycle anyways, ovulated before cycle day eight, tried to grow follicles in the luteal phase, eventually follicles shrank, bled three times and ovulated twice in 23 days. My body was screaming “GIVE ME A BREAK”
- Finally fourth cycle started in February, unfortunately with a cyst again. Still decided to move forward with natural IVF without medications. Grew two follicles on my own. Despite Gani.relix to hold off ovulation, ovulated prior to egg retrieval. Still tried to retrieve but there was no eggs. Converted to IUI with 20 million sperm post wash. Transferred all five embryos due to lab error of thawing more than we wanted. Negative beta.
- Met with Dr. No Nonsense to discuss egg donation
As I recounted all the details to her, I was a little choked up. I didn’t cry as I didn’t feel like it. However, I was a little emotional. We went through a lot as a couple. Since the very first cycle with Dr. E until the last cycle with Dr. No Nonsense, we have always had to make many last minute decisions that could alter the outcome of each cycle, hence the pregnancy outcome. Through all the ups and downs of this roller coaster ride, my heart is set on not spending more time and energy on my own eggs. I feel very strongly about that. I really cannot bring myself to go to a monitoring ultrasound to check my antral follicles, to take any oral meds or do injections to boost follicle growth, and to wait and hope that I haven’t ovulated prematurely/we get eggs/the eggs fertilize/the eggs continue dividing/we have embryos to transfer. I really cannot go through with this process again. However at the same time, I still feel sad that other people achieve what we can’t. I see other ladies with diminished ovarian reserve who have better cycles than we do and they miraculously get pregnant. I fall into that trap of wondering “why them and why not me?” Despite these feelings of inadequacy, my quest to have a baby with my own eggs has ended. This is a very personal decision. I am sure that many women in my situation would choose to try a few more cycles. However, to me, doing fertility treatment with my own eggs for eight cycles is enough to tell me that it is time to move on to the next chapter.
And I am very grateful that my therapist is there to help me sort through these thoughts and feelings.
I told her all the things that I have been feeling and all the things that I have been doing to help myself feel better. I cry when I am sad. I talk to people. I take time off when I need to. I told her the whole thing with my pregnant coworker as well as my out-of-town friend who said mean things to me. My therapist gasped and agreed that my friend’s statements were hurtful and insensitive. She told me that it’s important to set healthy boundaries with people, including pregnant coworker and this friend. I told her that I am feeling okay. This time it feels so different from last year. We have a plan. I have been mentally preparing myself for egg donation since last July. So it feels like I have had a lot of time to digest the possibility. I also firmly believe that my emotional stability has to do with all the prayers that we have received since the beginning of our journey with U.CSF. God really has watched over us and been with us every step of the way these many months.
I told her that I am still not ready to write to the U.CSF donor coordinator or to contact any donor agencies yet. I haven’t even written the billing lady at the clinic regarding our refund for all the procedures that we didn’t do (no eggs, no culture, no ICSI). I am simply not ready. She told me that it’s totally okay to take time for myself to be ready for the next step.
We discussed a little bit about choosing a donor. My husband and I finally looked at the in-house donors again. We used to joke about having donor 1 or donor 2 as our donor. And now that we really have to pay big money to find someone, Bob all of a sudden becomes picky. My criteria come down to proven fertility and decent person with decent height. Bob seems to have a longer list of his wants. There is a full Asian donor (half Chinese) who is really young (21) and had four donations that resulted in four pregnancies. I think she could be a good choice, but Bob has reservation because she did not go to college. She is so young though. You just don’t know what she’ll do in the future. Anyways, Bob vetoed almost everyone on the list and wanted me to consult with donor agencies. My therapist told me that my choices and Bob’s choices will be very different because women usually value proven fertility more, and men just want to find someone who is like their wife. So we will eventually have to come to a mid point. Nobody is perfect, but we will really have to be comfortable with our choice. The therapist thinks that I am very in tune with my feelings. So she is confident that I will come to a choice with whom I am comfortable. She also told me to consider my feelings around my future child(ren) having half siblings running around due to the donor’s successful history. I haven’t really thought about that, so I’ll have to give it some thoughts.
At the end of the session, my therapist asked me about the timeline, i.e. when we’re looking into doing a DEIVF cycle. I said three to five months. She was relieved to hear that. She said she was worried that I would say next month, because she thinks that I will still need some time to grieve and have closure for the loss of my genetic links to my future child(ren). And then she told me this:
“Just keep doing what you have been doing. I am here to help you.”
I come out of the session feeling empowered. Life is full of possibilities again. And I get to talk to her again next Wednesday.
I am grateful for that.