Alec and I had been trying to get pregnant for two years before we turned to IVF. Of those two years six months were spent trying naturally, another six trying naturally while getting an array of testing done, and another year trying naturally while also doing three rounds of IUIs. After three failed IUIs we knew it was finally time to turn to IVF. It’s not something I ever imagined I would have to go through. When we were ready to have kids I thought it would just happen naturally like it seems to for everyone else. It was hard accepting that we have a different path to take but it’s brought us closer together and it’s made us stronger.
Choosing Cancun for IVF
So if you know anything about fertility treatments in the states you’ll know that they’re insanely expensive. My insurance doesn’t cover anything fertility related so everything we did was out of pocket. We had been saving up money to start our family before learning of our fertility troubles and after two years of testing and treatments we didn’t have enough money left to spend on IVF AND to be able to actually afford to bring a baby into this world. To do one round of IVF (not including the drugs which cost about $4000) here was going to be just under $20,000. We knew we didn’t want to go into debt trying to get pregnant and then be struggling financially to raise our baby for the first year or so but we also didn’t want to wait another year while we saved up. We may be young but time still isn’t on our side, plus I always wanted to be a young mom. After doing a TON of research I found the Fertility Center Cancun and knew it was the right place. It was nearly half the cost and we got a relaxing vacation out of it. Going through all of this can be so stressful on your body and mind and being in Mexico really helped us both relax and enjoy our time. We had to see the doctor every other day for about two and a half weeks for monitoring. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to do that here in LA and try to juggle work and life on top of it. (We went over Christmas when we were both able to take time off work.)
You guys! Can I just say that I am incredibly proud of myself for overcoming my fear of needles. The first injection was administered by my nurse so she could show me how to do it but after that it was all on me. Alec came down a week after me so I didn’t even have him to rely on I had to do it all by myself. It’s kind of like jumping into a freezing pool. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and go for it. The first week I had bruises all over my belly from the shots but eventually they got easier. The needles weren’t too big but man oh man did each one of them sting! Over the course of two weeks I gave myself about 20 shots and I’m kind of a pro at it now.
The egg retrieval
I think it was around day 12 or 13 that we went in for the egg retrieval. We went in at 9am for Alec to give his sample while they got me ready for surgery. I was really scared. I had never been put under before but I just kept reminding myself why I was doing it. After surgery they brought me into the recovery room and told me to rest for an hour before leaving but I had a bad reaction to either the anesthesia or the morphine or both because I was so weak I couldn’t stand and every time I tried to I got so dizzy I threw up. We ended up staying in the recovery room for 8 hours so I could rest and get the meds out of my system. The good news was that they retrieved 30 eggs and 19 embryos made it to freeze!
Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome
I thought the worst of it was over when we left but throughout the night my stomach started bloating to the point that I couldn’t even sleep on my side. I had to sleep on my back propped up a little. I was in so much pain I could hardly walk to the bathroom. Every step I took had to be slow and careful because even the tiniest shake or bump made the pain worse. I literally looked like I was about 6 months pregnant. OHSS is a risk when doing IVF. Unfortunately I got a severe case of it and almost had to be hospitalized. I was bedridden for about three days and in a wheel chair. It was awful. I didn’t fully recover for about three weeks. The entire rest of the trip was me holding my stomach in pain and walking in slow motion because each step killed me. It’s kind of comical now that I can look back on it but in the moment it was miserable. The only thing that got me through the day was knowing the next would be a tiny bit easier. It hurt to walk, it hurt to sleep, it hurt to move. Severe OHSS is not a common side effect. I don’t want to scare anyone off from doing IVF. Apparently it occurs in less than 1% of patients and with my classic bad luck I got it. Unfortunately my egg transfer had to be canceled because if I were to fall pregnant it would only make the symptoms worse. This was a big disappointment as it meant we’d have to go home and come back in a few months to try again.
I went back a month later to do a frozen transfer which was a success but unfortunately ended in a miscarriage. I wrote about that here.
Looking back on the experience I would absolutely go through every single part of it again. The pain is only temporary but the happiness it will bring us whenever we finally do have a baby will be lifelong and even though we still aren’t pregnant we made some amazing memories together in Mexico. (I’ll be doing a few separate blog posts on the vacation part of our month in Mexico soon!)
UPDATE: about five months after our first miscarriage we miscarried again at 8 weeks. We are so hoping the third time’s the charm.
To anyone out there going through infertility or multiple loses you are not alone. Stay strong and stay busy. What got me through my miscarriages was planning out a big vacation for us and planning our next try.