The emotional toll of IVF

Posted by paddingtonk @paddingtonk, Sat, Nov 9 5:13am

For me the actual IVF rounds were ok emotionally. I try to be a positive person and look to the bright side of everything but when we got the results of our second round that none of the embryos were genetically viable, that was really difficult. Then having to decide whether or not to do another round of retrieval. We are trying to bank all the embryos we will need now because I am 41 next week. So we want to get all the healthy eggs out that we can. When the results come back that only one out of four embryos are healthy or zero. I felt like a failure and that I would never hear giggles again from a child of my own. I always think that maybe I’m cried out but some days just surprise me. It’s so hard to stay calm and low stress when this process means so much.

I feel like I could have written that. Felt it right fit in the feels!!! Our first retrieval gave us only 4 embryos that didn’t make it to blast, so none were frozen and the two cleavage-stage we transferred were unsuccessful. Our second retrieval we were so excited about because they got 21 eggs, 8 made it to embryo. I thought it was worth all the pain that round caused me. Then only one made it to blast and that was a punch to the gut. Then genetic testing came back as “highly recommend not to transfer” and it was a second blow. I feel like all we get is bad news. It’s hard not to start taking it personally, to not question everything you thought you knew. We will do another retrieval but it’s getting more difficult to stay positive and not feel like we have a black cloud over us all the time.

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Hello @paddingtonk,

IVF is an all-consuming, often lonely process and needs an enormous emotional commitment. I know this is easier said than done, but try and look at it from this perspective: You’ve been through the worst part of the process!
Stay strong and have hope – things happen when you least expect it.

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@minnesotamrsa

I feel like I could have written that. Felt it right fit in the feels!!! Our first retrieval gave us only 4 embryos that didn’t make it to blast, so none were frozen and the two cleavage-stage we transferred were unsuccessful. Our second retrieval we were so excited about because they got 21 eggs, 8 made it to embryo. I thought it was worth all the pain that round caused me. Then only one made it to blast and that was a punch to the gut. Then genetic testing came back as “highly recommend not to transfer” and it was a second blow. I feel like all we get is bad news. It’s hard not to start taking it personally, to not question everything you thought you knew. We will do another retrieval but it’s getting more difficult to stay positive and not feel like we have a black cloud over us all the time.

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I hear you. I hope the next retrieval is the one that works. I think staying positive helps.

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Good morning. Emotions are huge in this process…. I knew that it would be but not to the extent they played out. My past with endometriosis greatly affected our outlook going into IVF. After I had a laparoscopy in February of 2019 my egg reserve dropped dramatically. For my age it is considered low. Where the emotions really got to me was the initial meeting to sign consent forms and being told that not only were there signs that endometriosis was back but that we would be lucky to get 4 eggs. As you know, you need a minimum of 4 measurable eggs in order to proceed with the retrieval so I think the emotions there kicked into high gear. I was scared we would do all of this and not even be retrieving. I felt like my body had failed me, that I had possible done something wrong in this whole entire process to be dealt that hand at 32 years old. For me, I turned to my faith and prayed like crazy. What else do you do?

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@loren12

Good morning. Emotions are huge in this process…. I knew that it would be but not to the extent they played out. My past with endometriosis greatly affected our outlook going into IVF. After I had a laparoscopy in February of 2019 my egg reserve dropped dramatically. For my age it is considered low. Where the emotions really got to me was the initial meeting to sign consent forms and being told that not only were there signs that endometriosis was back but that we would be lucky to get 4 eggs. As you know, you need a minimum of 4 measurable eggs in order to proceed with the retrieval so I think the emotions there kicked into high gear. I was scared we would do all of this and not even be retrieving. I felt like my body had failed me, that I had possible done something wrong in this whole entire process to be dealt that hand at 32 years old. For me, I turned to my faith and prayed like crazy. What else do you do?

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I so badly want to turn to my faith but I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’ve lost it. I’m very angry and I take it out on God (I know he can handle it). But I’m generally just pissed at everything. I can still feel positive going into new rounds because I *DO* still have hope, but a lot of anger too. To cope I listen to music (the louder the better!), podcasts, I read, I travel, I surround myself with friends that make me laugh, I spend a lot of time outdoors (Duluth is good for that!). It doesn’t “work” all the time but it helps pass the time and distract and as you all know, there is a lot of empty time to pass in IVF.

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Guess who finally figured out her account password? THIS GIRL! Apparently if you attempt too many times, you get locked out of your account for 15 minutes and by the time the 15 min was up, I already moved on to the next thing. But not this time! This time I got that password down!

ANYWAYS… I really struggled with my faith during this process too. It is tough to see God as "good" when you are dealing with devastating news – like egg retrieval (@loren12), BFNs, or just all the emotional and physical tolls of taking all the pills and injections. I would tell myself that I would still believe in him no matter the result in the days leading up to any procedure, md appt, or other event, but once the news hit, it was hard to see God at all through the pain. For coping, I found distraction to be particularly helpful. Doing activities like @minnesotamrsa said or other activities that reminded me of "me" or the "good" in life really helped. Also, I have to admit, having an animal like a dog really helps the loneliness and the emotions. It is hard to cry when they keep trying to lick your face or have a squeaker toy and want to play fetch.

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… on another note…

With all this emotional junk, when do you think it is time to see a therapist? Like what is everyone's threshold? If anyone has saw a therapist, did you find it helpful?

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@abcdefghi I started seeing a therapist this summer and it was one of the best decisions I have made! It has been a safe place to talk, cry, share frustrations, disappointments, feelings about those around me and how I handle interactions with those around me during this time. I think talking to a third party person can be extremely beneficial. I will say tho…. as helpful as it is, unless your therapist has gone thru this process, it still pays off immensely to have people who truly get what you’re going thru to lean into as well. I have found I need both.

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@minnesotamrsa

I so badly want to turn to my faith but I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’ve lost it. I’m very angry and I take it out on God (I know he can handle it). But I’m generally just pissed at everything. I can still feel positive going into new rounds because I *DO* still have hope, but a lot of anger too. To cope I listen to music (the louder the better!), podcasts, I read, I travel, I surround myself with friends that make me laugh, I spend a lot of time outdoors (Duluth is good for that!). It doesn’t “work” all the time but it helps pass the time and distract and as you all know, there is a lot of empty time to pass in IVF.

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It is so difficult to not get angry. After the death of my son, I felt I could either get angry or learn to carry that grief with dignity. For me, I didn’t want to turn into a bitter, angry person and that can be a slippery slope. I rely on my husband a lot. He’s going through all the same things I am. I can let him know how I feel like I am a failure because it’s my body that is letting us down. And some days I have to go to a higher power and say that I think this is one of the times I need to be carried for a little bit. I tend to feel a bit lighter after.

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@paddingtonk

It is so difficult to not get angry. After the death of my son, I felt I could either get angry or learn to carry that grief with dignity. For me, I didn’t want to turn into a bitter, angry person and that can be a slippery slope. I rely on my husband a lot. He’s going through all the same things I am. I can let him know how I feel like I am a failure because it’s my body that is letting us down. And some days I have to go to a higher power and say that I think this is one of the times I need to be carried for a little bit. I tend to feel a bit lighter after.

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Having your perspective is a gift. I’m really glad you are here to share it!

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@loren12

@abcdefghi I started seeing a therapist this summer and it was one of the best decisions I have made! It has been a safe place to talk, cry, share frustrations, disappointments, feelings about those around me and how I handle interactions with those around me during this time. I think talking to a third party person can be extremely beneficial. I will say tho…. as helpful as it is, unless your therapist has gone thru this process, it still pays off immensely to have people who truly get what you’re going thru to lean into as well. I have found I need both.

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Ok I have looked into therapy but I wish I could have one that specializes in infertility. Do you go alone or does your husband join you?

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I agree, it would be an amazing gift to find a therapist that specializes in infertility but that is VERY hard to do. I had no luck. However, the therapist I did find has helped me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. Infertility takes a toll on EVERYTHING in my life and talking to someone who can address those aspects too has been very beneficial. I go alone to these meetings. I find that sometimes just being able to say anything I want and really just process on my own with the therapist has been very good for me. I do know that she does see couples.

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Hey so following up with this convo (sorry I was on vacation the past two weeks), to those who did go to a therapist, HOW did you find it helpful? Like @loren12 you mentioned "the therapist I did find has helped me in ways I didn’t even know I needed" – like in what ways were they helpful?

@paddingtonk, you stated "I can let him know how I feel like I am a failure because it’s my body that is letting us down". I can 100% relate to you. In fact, I basically said this thing to my husband last night regarding my failed body image. I think we are in the same boat. It is hard not to get angry at God or even myself and my body.

@minnesotamrsa , To answer your question, I don't go to therapy but I am wondering if I should. I am starting to begin the process of thinking of myself as a barren women who can't have kids. And that sentence alone is quite difficult for me to type, even more difficult to internalize and begin to accept. I guess, I just don't know how this process should look. Or in the bigger picture – how a person going through infertility should look. I get that everyone is different and unique, but I need more of a framework, a template so to say, for how to cope and how to handle all of this. Or I should say handle this better… or if how I am handling it now is enough.

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I have found with the emotional roller coaster that is IVF. I simply have to just feel and let my emotions run their course. Again, I’m fortunate and have an amazing support system, so I could vent to just about anybody and they would just let me. I have also found that keeping busy in my “normal” life helps too because then I cannot dwell on stressful piece of “waiting” in IVF. The “waiting” is the roughest part because your mind just goes places. I tried to keep my life full and busy to distract and that helped me a lot.

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@abcdefghi

Hey so following up with this convo (sorry I was on vacation the past two weeks), to those who did go to a therapist, HOW did you find it helpful? Like @loren12 you mentioned "the therapist I did find has helped me in ways I didn’t even know I needed" – like in what ways were they helpful?

@paddingtonk, you stated "I can let him know how I feel like I am a failure because it’s my body that is letting us down". I can 100% relate to you. In fact, I basically said this thing to my husband last night regarding my failed body image. I think we are in the same boat. It is hard not to get angry at God or even myself and my body.

@minnesotamrsa , To answer your question, I don't go to therapy but I am wondering if I should. I am starting to begin the process of thinking of myself as a barren women who can't have kids. And that sentence alone is quite difficult for me to type, even more difficult to internalize and begin to accept. I guess, I just don't know how this process should look. Or in the bigger picture – how a person going through infertility should look. I get that everyone is different and unique, but I need more of a framework, a template so to say, for how to cope and how to handle all of this. Or I should say handle this better… or if how I am handling it now is enough.

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@abcdefghi I should start off by saying that if you can find someone who actually specializes in this area that would probably be at the top of my list but I was unable to find someone who did and that I could get into. I got really lucky with the therapist I found and while she doesn’t specialize in fertility she sees a large number of women who struggle with it and therefore is pretty great at helping! My therapist has really worked with me not just on the fertility stuff makes me feel but how it affects my entire life. She has helped me work on ways to communicate, how to cope, how to advocate for myself. She has really been someone who just truly listens and makes me feel safe to share where sometimes that isn’t always as easy with friends or even sometimes family. Fertility has taken a toll on my marriage as well and she has really helped me look at how I can work to keep that from getting out of hand. All in all it has just really been a blessing to have a safe place to cry, laugh, share all the big and small things and to never feel judged.

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