It's not him, it's you. You're old!
"Women your age".
True Story- That's the phrase that kept being thrown around during all my fertility appointments. No matter who the doctor, the phrase "women your age" was a canned response to most of our concerns on whether IVF could work for us. My gynecologist, the 3 fertility specialists we met with, the nurses...everyone loved that phrase. It was like a robotic response. Nevermind the fact that I was only 38. My doctor, who I truly did adore and chose for his bedside manner and dreamy blue eyes, even called pregnancies at my age "geriatric". When the fuck did 38 become geriatric? Thing is, I never felt old until I tried to have a baby.
I knew going into it that I would need a little help, maybe some chlomid or extra progesterone tablets. But I never prepared myself for what I got. The only reason that we sought IVF after all was due to my husband having a vasectomy. So I thought, piece of cake. They are going to bake this bun in the perfect oven, with the right time, temperature and ingredients and everything will work out fantastically. I mean how could it not? All the guesswork in trying to get pregnant was being removed. I was creating a plethora of eggs, which they would pull from my body at precisely the right time and marry with my husband's happy little swimmers and then place the embryos back into my uterus, a uterus that was perfectly set up for a healthy viable pregnancy, full of plush lining, and optimal hormonal settings. I wouldn't drink, smoke, eat shitty food or do anything strenuous to risk these babies not attaching to my uterine wall and developing into a beautiful healthy baby. And bonus, I had at least 3-4 shots each time (the number of embryos they would place back into me), normal women don't get that. So how hard could this be?
-"Women my age seemed to be doing just fine, thank you. I was the problem. Me. Not women my age".
Turns out, really hard! 5 tries hard. What really tore through me about the whole thing, was that while I had these optimal conditions and a team of nurses and doctors hovering over and inspecting the entire process, my girlfriends who were older than me, were accidentally getting pregnant with no worry or concern. 4 of my friends who are older than me, got pregnant during this time, naturally; during the time I was being told, "women your age have a tough time getting pregnant". 4 of my friends went on to have healthy pregnancies and beautiful babies; during the time I was being told "women your age struggle to have healthy babies, should they even get pregnant". Women my age seemed to be doing just fine, thank you. I was the problem. Me. Not women my age. I had concerns after the second failure that maybe my husband's sperm was part of the problem, but the doctors all assured me that since his sperm were swimming, he was not the problem. So back to the drawing board I went, with all the shame and guilt solely placed on my old decrepit shoulders. Yaaay!
I wish I could tell you that every time we embarked on another round of IVF, things got easier. But they didn't. Physically yes, because I knew what to expect. In the beginning it is scary because you are sent home with all these expensive drugs and needles and told to administer these shots, like you went to nursing school and have any idea how a syringe works . I remember being so fearful that I would mess something up. Did I give myself the right dose? Was this one supposed to be refrigerated? One time I called my husband in a complete full on panic crying hysterically because I left the one medication on the bathroom sink instead of putting it back in the refrigerator where it belonged. I was working an hour from home at the time and sat in my office terrified that I ruined the medication and the whole cycle would have to be cancelled because of my stupid mistake. I remember my husband first sticking me with the big progesterone needle and hitting a nerve. It was so painful and I couldn't walk for days. I remember watching You Tube videos about how to give the progesterone shots so they wouldn't hurt as badly, measuring across my back and buttocks for the perfect needle placement. But after a few rounds, you get the hang of it and become sort of a pro. By the 3rd round, I was giving myself those scary progesterone shots with the gigantic needle, proud of how brave I had become, and less fearful that I was messing things up.
But despite being more comfortable with the physical demands of the cycles, I was emotionally growing weary. Each new cycle brought hope but it was mostly shrouded in pessimism and fear. I tried to remain optimistic, as I am usually known for my sunny disposition on life, but it was an internal struggle that I was losing, and every day brought more sadness and depression. What made that worse was our decision not to tell people we were doing IVF. I didn't want other people's worries, opinions or doubts stressing me out even more than I already was, and I didn't need to share the news of a failed cycle with a bunch of disappointed onlookers. But not sharing, made the whole process incredibly lonely. Only my husband and doctors knew, as many times I wouldn't even tell my parents, to prevent them from getting their hopes up for a grand baby. IVF was one of the loneliest experiences of my life. And according to medical professionals, I was ancient so that is a lotta life experience to consider.
In the end, after 5 cycles, all the drugs and shots, and bruised skin and surgeries, and pregnancy tests and blood work and sperm extractions (my poor loving husband), our doctor sat us down and with those dreamy blue eyes and his incredible bed side manner, informed us that moving forward at this point would be futile and it was time to consider other options. My eggs were rotten. No good. Not worth a damn. Old. Useless. Bad. Very very bad. Ok, well he didn't use all of those adjectives, he simply said my eggs were not healthy enough to create a viable pregnancy. But I heard all those other words. And I felt the immediate shame that came with them. I was old. I missed my opportunity to have a baby. I missed my opportunity to know what it felt like to be pregnant. I started to resent my choices, resent that my husband had two children from his previous marriage while I was wasting my youth dating shitty guys and trouncing around the city with my friends. I felt old. And I felt like it was over for me. And that is a terrible feeling, especially when you are only 38. For the first time in my life, I felt older than I was. So after a massive pity party, a few days off work and some good for the soul conversations with my mom and girlfriends, I picked myself back up and devised a new plan. Turns out with age comes resilience and this geriatric wasn't done chasing her dream just yet.....