During that first cycle, we went for the retrieval, and I was in the waiting room with a woman who said she had 21 follicles. I was so naive in this journey I hadn't even considered that there was a chance that this might not work. Despite having had a close friend and colleague go through the emotional devastation of IVF, I simply expected that her circumstance would not happen to me. In my career, I am known for helping people turn their dreams into reality. I thought that of course I would be able to do this for myself.
The irony of this has been another lesson. We need to make ourselves first in this process and give ourselves the space and time to go through this journey. This can be hard for a women who always want to give to others first.
So there I am, sitting in the waiting room the morning of my first retrieval, and this woman tells me this is her second time. Darren, knowing the stats and facts of typical IVF patients, had been shielding me. Unbeknownst to me, just because you have 21 follicles didn't mean this was a slam dunk. When this woman told me she'd had several attempts that didn't work, I found myself in a state of panic. As fear overtook me, tears began to well in my eyes and I felt my heart racing. Was it possible that after all of this there would be no baby? Wow! That was a hard reality that I never even considered—not once.
As I awoke from the retrieval, they informed us we had eight eggs from the 21 follicles. I later found out that I must have been highly overstimulated for that to happen or perhaps I suffered from polycystic ovary syndrome, which is common and not diagnosed in most women. Getting eight eggs from 21 follicles wasn't great, but it only takes one.
Those eight eggs needed to turn into embryos. They mix them with Darren's sperm, which is taken from the "oval office" right before the retrieval takes place. There are dirty movies and magazines in the room, and it is the most unromantic way to conceive of a baby. After we got used to this process, I began to bring romance into the room with music and candles. But that first time was a real shocker. We needed to wait a few days to find out how many embryos were created from my eggs and Darren's sperm.
The waiting was torture. These were going to be our bank account for our future, something to make us feel assured for when we decided the time was right to create the baby. These miracles of modern science were going to be the basis of our future family. We successfully froze thee embryos—three possible children for our future. I was so happy that Darren had looked into this option. One month later, he proposed. My future was looking bright: I was planning a wedding to the man of my dreams and knowing we had three possible children when we decided the time was right.
Back then, our lives were full of possibilities. Today, we still have many and always can and will, but the one possibility that we cannot make come true is natural conception. And that news is devastating.
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