While I was blessed with thick hair and big boobs, the female parts of me that actually matter- my ovaries- are hideously haggard, so the only way baby number three is happening would be to try through IVF again. Since the annual fee on our frozen embryos is about to come due, we’re faced with the decision of donating the embryos to science, paying for another year of storage (meaning we’re never getting cable back) or attempting to have another child(ren).
At first glance, fertility treatments seem awful. They are very expensive with no guarantee of success. Imagine buying enough lottery tickets to pay for a Lexus and hoping to hit the jackpot.
IVF is hella stressful. There are so many steps in the cycle that have to go perfectly before you even get to implant the embryos and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and screw up with multiple pills, creams and injections to keep track of. I remember going out for my sister’s birthday and realizing I had gotten so caught up in dinner that I was an hour late taking an estrogen pill. I was sobbing in the car, horrified that I had just ruined my chances of getting pregnant and wasted thousands of dollars. My poor husband talked me down and got me to take the pill (which come to think of it may have been why I was so emotional in the first place).
IVF hurts like a bitch. The medications have strong side effects, I had awful insomnia and when I did manage to sleep I had vivid, wake-up-screaming nightmares. And let’s not forget the injections- every day, with a needle so long you’re positive it will pass through you and out the other side. Oh, and be careful you don’t hit that super huge nerve that runs down the back of your leg and is right next to where you want to inject this stuff. It’s been over a year and I still have lumps of scar tissue in my rump.
But they say positive attitude can impact the success of infertility treatments and it’s important to find the silver lining in circumstances when you can. Plus I think it’s important to look at all angles when making such a huge decision, so I’ve wracked my brain to come up with this list of why IVF ain’t so bad:
1. Sex can be fun again.
No more forcing yourself to do the deed when all you want to do is watch Real Housewives. No more checking cervical fluid (is this what eggs whites look like?), charting your menstrual cycle, using a basal thermometer the second you open your eyes in the morning or peeing on those pricey ovulation sticks. No more specific and boring positions or putting your feet over your head post deed in hopes of getting lucky. Just fun, spontaneous, whenever and whatever you want sexy time.
It would be a cruel, cruel world if women going through infertility issues were also denied the good grape juice. Lots of women who are trying to conceive hop on the wagon “just in case” or go about their usual drinking schedule only to find out they are unexpectedly pregnant and then worry about any possible effect on the baby. Since IVF treatments dictate which days are red letter, you can drink without guilt the rest of the time. Me, I deliberately went to a wine bar the day before my embryo transfer and had a marvelously tipsy, guilt free time. Bottoms up.
3. You never have to worry about birth control.
It can be hard to see this as a benefit when you desperately want to get pregnant, but if you make it to the other side and have the kid(s) you want, you’ll suddenly appreciate how awesome this is. Maria Guido recently wrote this hilarious feature about birth control once you’re done having kids. I loved it, but I love even more that I’ll never have to argue with my husband over whether he should get a vasectomy or if I need an IUD. No more “did I remember to take my pill” scares, no more condoms and no unexpected siblings that would inevitable come just as I potty trained my first two.
4. That braggy mom you hate who’s always talking about her perfect kids and showing off her professionally edited family photos, the one who wants you to know that she is WINNING at parenting? Nothing eats at moms like that more than seeing another mother with something exclusive that she can’t have.
Make her “here is my newborn inexplicably tangled in a bag of yarn” pics look so last season when you debut a photo of your actual embryos. Sure, you know the clinic only gave you the picture as proof that they didn’t swap your eggs with the lady in the next room, but all your nemesis will see is a super exclusive photo that she can’t replicate.
5. You can give your father the best gift ever.
No, not talking Superbowl tickets. Dads love being told they’re going to become a grandpa, but no dad wants to think about what his daughter did to make that happen. When I told my dad that the IVF worked and I was pregnant he was thrilled because he can continue on in his blissful fantasy that I somehow remain a virgin. Thanks science!
6. A baby.
Yes, IVF is expensive, and stressful, and painful but I feel very lucky to live in a moment in history where the technology is possible and in a country that respects my reproductive rights enough to authorize the procedure. Yes, IVF is not 100%, but if it all works out, at the end of the day you get to have a new little baby (or babies), which is universally awesome and makes it all worthwhile.