Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Calling all Iffers - I need MAJOR ADVICE!

Anyone and EVERYONE is welcome to comment on this post however you feel fit. I will not be offended by anyone's brutal honesty, I will actually be thankful. This may make more sense if I explain what I need advice on...

As all of you know, hubby and my next step is IVF. Yes, it is hard to believe we are at that point but here we are. I guess I am having two major concerns with IVF.

1. I was raised Catholic and still have Catholic beliefs. I am trying to find out how to balance my religion with IVF. I am trying to figure out how so many Catholics are not fans of the science behind infertility treatments and how I am supposed to work around that. I personally believe that if God does not feel IVF is supposed to be a part of my journey then I will not get pregnant. I feel that God brought us to this point and I want to believe that the reason it hasn't happenend naturally yet is because my hubby and I have learned so many valuable lessons and our baby is just not ready to make it to us yet. I want to believe that God trusts in our decisions and brought us to these fabulous doctors who are able to help us get pregnant. I think Catholics who turn up their noses to treatments have either never been through it themselves or don't know anyone who has ever been through it. So I guess I am just wondering how some of you balance this in your lives.

2. I AM A SCAREDY CAT!!!! Some days I can put on my game face and confront anything that comes my way but IVF just seems so intimidating to me. To anyone who has been through this or who hasn't and would like to share some thoughts: What are the ins and outs of IVF? I feel we have done a lot of research about it but am still worried about all that it requires. I guess I am just wondering if the meds are that different from injectable IUI cycles, what is the embryo retrieval like? What is the embryo transfer like? Do you have to be put under for the retrieval? How many days should I expect to take off of work? Am I going to become a crazy person from all of the meds? (I am sure my students won't appreciate that!) WILL I MAKE IT THROUGH THIS EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY? I am feeling ready to take this on because we are just so incredibly ready to be parents and bring a new baby into this world. I guess I just am a scaredy cat of the unknown. It is hard to go through something this major for the first time and not have too much first hand knowledge from people who have already been through it. Sure, I can talk to all of the doctors and nurses at my clinic but they haven't been through it first hand. We have been trying for over 2 years now but I am still only 27 years old...I am worried about putting this off any longer. It is our time. It is our turn. I just need some help thinking through it.

Any advice is welcome...you can even just tell me to suck it up, put my big girl panties on, and tighten my seatbelt for the ride!


  1. I have been struggling with both of these issues for the past several months. I've started a post about these very topics...should be up tomorrow!
    I will FOR SURE be back to see what other people say on the topic!

  2. I cannot comment about the religious aspects but I can give you info on IVF itself
    The meds are like IUI but at higher doses. My side effects were somewhat worse but I think a lot of it was the weight of the cycles with how much they cost. I get very uncomfortable right before the retrieval. They use twillight anesthesia for the retrieval. There is slight pain, i usually lay around on a heating pad after and I am back at work the next day. Transfer is easy, a little crampy but easy. I take off the day of the retieval, tansfer, and the 2 days after the tranfer to do couch rest. I got little crazy b/c you cannot exercise and that is my best stress relief. Please reach out to me if you have additional questions. I have attempted 4 ivf cycles and completed 3 so I know the drill.
    Good luck!!!

  3. I was raised very strict catholic and probably because of that very reason I no longer consider myself Catholic.
    On the website catholic insight it says this about IVF:
    "IVF violates the rights of the child: it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personality. It objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity, it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood, and responsibility for upbringing. This threat to the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder, and injustice in the whole of social life." It also mentions how "not infrequently" fetal reduction is used to kill embryos when too many embryos are implanted. But if you have a responsible doctor you know that this happens only in rare occasions.

    So I guess my thought is, that if you agree with the above thoughts from the website then IVF is not for you based on religous reasons.

    Good luck with everything!

  4. Can't comment on religious aspects, though I did have so other issues. But I got over them.

    As for the actual IVF...I did not do any other treatments, just that. But, expect some discomfort, side effects of many kinds, and for ER, a couple days of rest. I only rested one day after ET because I couldn't stand to sit anymore...

    Good luck sweetie! Ask away if you have anymore questions!

  5. I can't really comment, but I am totally scared of the whole egg retrieval and transfer part as well. The cycle I am on now is sorta a mini ivf cycle - I'm on follistim, lupron, and low dose hcg, but just at a lot lower dose than someone who is actually doing ivf. I'm doing well with the med's, but it is a stressful process at times. Good luck!

  6. You can do it!! No messing around though, sometimes it sucks (a lot)!

    As for the religious aspect, I am not Catholic (my mom is though) and I talked to her about it before we started everything (3 IUIs and 2 IVFs). She said some very simple words that worked completely for me. She told me that the God she believes in created the fertility doctors and gave them the technology to help people. That simple sentence worked for me. :) You will find the peace in your heart to decide what is best for you.

    The first bit of advice I have is to wait for your hubby to come home and open the box of meds together. I didn't do that, and as I pulled each bag and box and needle and med out of the big box, I started crying. It was so overwhelming for me.

    Once I got everything sorted (with what went in the fridge and what didn't) and got a few questions answered from the doc, I felt much better. It did get old to open the fridge every day and see the meds staring me in the face, so if you can stash them in a fridge drawer or behind the milk, it won't be this constant reminder. I also picked up a cute bag to use for all my supplies that I left in our bedroom (where we did the shots), that was way better for me mentally than seeing the big green bag from the doctor. For me, it was the little things I could do to keep my sanity.

    When my hubby could get home early from work, I really appreciated him being with me for the shots. Sometimes, he would help me mix (and he needed to do the trigger shot each time) the drugs. I remember looking up at the mirror and watching the two of us load needles and get ready and thinking, "Is this really who we are right now??"

    I also remember getting really annoyed sometimes because of the timing of the shots. We did them at 6pm every night and when we were out and I had to do them in the car, or we had to rush home, I found myself mad, mad that we had to do this at all and wondering, "why me?" Blah.

    I did all my shots in my thighs, so the bruising there was pretty awesome. Sometimes, if I walked fast or ran, the area around the shots would hurt.

    In the few days leading into retrieval, I was super uncomfortable. My abdomen just felt so heavy and although I tried to keep exercising (even walking) I was pretty miserable. Bloated and cranky. I got anesthesia before the retrieval (they called it Happy Camper) and woke up to graham crackers and gi.nger ale. :)

    The night before retrieval, the doctor had me do an ene.ma (yuck) and dou.che (that was my first time for either which made for an interesting night). From what I heard, not every doctor recommends that, so I don't think you have to. Just follow what they say.

    I was really uncomfortable for about two days after retrieval. Light OHSS (Gator.ade helps) and I couldn't go to the bathroom (#2 - yikes!!). So I needed two days off from work after retrieval (3 days total). For transfer, it worked out that it was on a Friday, so I could rest over the weekend. My doctor said bed rest for the day of transfer and light activity the day after. For the two week wait, they said no jumping or lifting anything over 10 lbs.

    You are stronger than you think. Honestly, IF is the hardest thing I have ever gone through, but I know that I was changed for the better.

    It was definitely hard sometimes. The hormone ride is brutal through this, but if you have support of your husband and maybe some close family and friends (and if you are comfortable with your doctor and nursing staff), you will all get through it. :)

    This ended up being kind of long...hope some of the info helps you!
    Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or if you need to vent or scream, I'm all ears.

  7. Hi! I really enjoyed reading your post and the other comments. Here is what my hubbie and I decided from a similar situation...
    We suffer from secondary infertility as we are blessed with a beautiful daughter, but we can no longer have children. Our only option is IVF and we are Catholic. I am also a Catholic School Teacher. We chose not to do IVF for many reasons, but the main reason was that I felt that my daughter was concieved through an act of love. Unfortunately, if we were to have another I felt as though God was not helping to create this next child and that the next child was missing the act of love from their parents. It truly is my own opinion, based on my deep love for God (although I do truly question God's plan for me and why I was chosen to face secondary infertility). But we just couldn't do IVF. For us, it didn't feel right. We tried other options, even a minor surgery, but we are still waiting for our second little miracle. I have complete faith in God and we feel we made the right choice for us.
    Although the choice is never easy, do what you are comfortable with. Do what your heart tells you! Best of luck!

  8. Can't comment too much on the religious part, as I am not Catholic, but I will say that I find the logic quoted from the church website above doesn't sit well with my sense of God. I don't believe that science is separate from God, nor that committed couples making babies threatens the social order. As for selective reduction, just limit the number of embryos you transfer. (We did one, as twins seemed intimidating.)

    To be honest, I do feel weirder than I thought I would about the number of embryos we have frozen now. Definitely more children than we could deal with having, even if only half of them became viable pregnancies. I don't feel good about embryo adoption in our case -- that's where you donate leftover embryos to couples who would do FET and raise them if born -- but maybe that is an option for you. If not, you may want to talk to your doctor about not trying to stim you to the max, especially if it would be possible for you to do another cycle if this one doesn't work.

    I wrote a fair amount about my IVF experience on my blog -- look at June of this year -- including a description of what ER was like for me. I was TERRIFIED, frankly. I won't like and say it was all sunshine and daffodils, but it was nothing like my fears. The worst part of ER for me was that my IV was put in strangely and really hurt. (My recovery was rough, but that's mostly because of a combination of too many eggs and bad endometriosis. Even so, the percocet had me sorted in a day or two.)

    During the stim phase of the cycle, I was mostly just crazy tired. I also had a backache for a lot of it, not helped by the ovarian cysts that give me a backache every month, no doubt. I saw an acupuncturist twice a week, which helped my anxiety a great deal. (If you're interested but worried about the cost, google Community Acupuncture, a movement of low-cost clinics.)

    I had big qualms about doing IVF, and it took me months of emotional processing before I was ready. But I'm glad we did it.

    One more thought: meaning no disrespect to the poster above, I do consider this kind of creation to be an "act of love" -- in fact, I think it's more likely to include love, on average, than conception by the usual means, which is sometimes filled with love but certainly isn't guaranteed to be. Without the love of my partner, who gave me my shots and comforted me when I was frightened, this would not have been possible. We both were focused on the creation of this life with our whole hearts, and not just for one evening ;) -- you might like the post she wrote about giving me my shots.

  9. Hillary at http://makingmemom.blogspot.com/
    This should be a good resource for you for IVF and church.
    They did IVF under close supervision with their doctor in order to only make a few good eggs.

  10. Hi, I just found your blog through LFCA and wanted to share my thoughts with you. After my first failed IVF I flipped out because I thought God was punishing me for doing IVF. So, I contacted my Baptist minister from my super conservative church. He eased my fears with facts totally based in scripture. The bottom line for me is this...I/We treated every embryo as God's creation. He is the author and creator of life. Each embryo was my child whom I longed for. The were never to be killed or destroyed, only cherished and longed for. My Baptist pastor gave me many, many verses to mull over and He assured me that God knew my heart and my intentions. Also, my VERY biggest secret throughout 2 IVF's was lidocaine cream. It is a white lotion that numbs your skin in 30 minutes. I put it on before every single shot. This ended up being about 300 shots in 6 months. My skin was always numb. It is expensive without insurance ($50 per tube), but with my BCBS insurance, it was only $9.95. Nice! Please feel free to visit my blog at www.justthedarkbeforethemorning.blogspot.com. We've done 2 IVF's and are expecting our first child this spring. I'd love to be here for you and support you through your journey. : )

  11. Here from LFCA.

    I'm Lutheran, so some similarities to being Catholic, although certainly some differences too (especially when it comes to reproductive stuff). I struggled with IVF at first, both because I was freaked out by it, and because I was concerned about the ethics of it.

    For me, it made sense that God gives doctors and researchers the smarts to figure out how to deal with diseases of all kinds, including infertility. So, for example, I would never deny myself (or anyone else) treatment for cancer, as if God simply wanted me to have cancer and that was the end of it. I don't believe that God sends us afflictions of any kind; they just happen, and they happen randomly, and that's just human life. But God does give us strength to get through them and people to help us, and in my case, those people were my reproductive specialists.

    As to leftover embryos, we decided to donate any (we only have one, and we're hoping to try for a sibling later on). I felt that if I had multiple embryos leftover, I would want them to have some kind of meaningful existence. I could offer them for adoption, but with a 37-year old mom and a 47-year old dad, let's face it: nobody's adopting those. I figured that if I had a child and my child died, I would hope that I would have the strength to donate my child's organs so that another child could have life. And that's why I would donate embryos, because then they might help contribute to enriching human life.

    As for the freaked out part: all I can say is that I was nervous as all get out about the injections and the side effects and everything else, and as far as the physical side of IVF, it turned out to be WAY easier than I thought. I actually enjoyed it because it felt like I was finally doing something about infertility. There's no denying that the emotional part is hard. The two week wait after IVF was the LONGEST two weeks of my life. But you can do it. You really can. Best wishes to you.

  12. Best of luck to you as you navigate the possibility of IVF. I always ask myself, "Would the Jesus I know and love damn me to Hell for ..."

    No, I don't think he would. To me, it sounds like men controlling a woman's reproductive rights. Infertility is a disease. You wouldn't be paddled for seeking treatment for diabetes or alcoholism? Methinks not.

  13. Hi Sara,

    I'm not Catholic, but Church of Christ. Although C of C does not have an opinion on IVF, I know when your religious community does not approve of or support a decision you have to make how difficult it can be.

    It makes me mad when people say a child made through A.R.T. is not conceived in "love". They have NO idea what they are talking about. Sex does not equal love. There are plenty of people who create babies out of sex and not love. My baby was conceived through IUI and I can guarantee you it was conceived out of more love than lots of people I know. People who have not been through IF have no idea how much love it can take some couples to get a baby.

    The logic that the Catholic church uses about IVF seems a bit off to me. I agree with Amy's comment. God gave us the knowledge and the Dr's to help overcome these medical issues. As far as selective reduction and destoying embryos, my Dr won't do it. There are good, moral Dr's out there who will work with you and within your moral convictions.

    I know this is probably one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make and I pray that you find peace about it. Good Luck!

  14. Remember, God is more powerful than IVF. If He didn't agree with IVF, it wouldn't be happening, I don't think. So my IVF baby is a blessing from God; her cells just had to be put together in a lab.
    However, I could not personally ever dispose of or donate embryos, so I told my IVF doctor not to go crazy making eggs and embryos - specifically, I told him that any babies he makes, he will have to put back in me.
    While we were doing IVF in summer 2010, my husband and I made a will and specified that any frozen embryos would be donated to Sacred Selections (a church of Christ adoption group) to be adopted out and that money from my life insurance would pay for the frozen embryo transfer for the adoptive couple. It was important to me to have a place for my babies.
    We really put a lot of thought into the morality of IVF before we did it and now that our baby is here, I know God is happy. We will raise her to love Him.
    It's not just Catholics - any religion could be judgmental. We've been somewhat selective about whom we told that our daughter is IVF but I think now that she's here and wonderful, I think people would be more accepting.