Tuesday, 10 April 2018

5 years reflections: the fertility clinic

 torthúil was 5 years old in January 2018. I had other things on my mind then, so I didn’t write anything on my blogoversary. But I thought it might be interesting to write a few retrospective entries on the last 5 years. So I will plan to do that and put the label “5 years reflections” in the titles.

In January 2013 we got our referral to The Fertility Clinic for the first time. I remember being both anxious and excited and my entries reflect that. I felt like I was about to be initiated into an exclusive club, and I was nervous about what that meant. I felt like a lot of things were going to happen but I didn’t know what any of them would be. All we could do was set sail and hope we would ride out whatever storms were on the horizon. I didn’t doubt there would be storms. I didn’t think it would be easy.

Our first contact with The Fertility Clinic was in April 2013. Our first appointment was in May. We spent the next few months doing seemingly endless tests culminating in an IVF attempt January 2014.

I was trying to think the other day if I have any happy memories whatsoever of The Fertility Clinic. There’s really only one, and that was when I picked up my drugs for IVF. I had been feeling quite apprehensive about IVF shortly before. My mom came with me to the clinic to get all the medication and we rode back to my parents place on the bus. (Mr Turtle was still in the US visiting his mom.) It was cold, overcast and snowy. The bag containing the drugs was purple. I had not thought about this in a long time but when I finally disposed of the leftover IVF drugs and supplies a few weeks ago, I remembered later and thought: that visit was actually a happy experience. I liked having my mom with me. She was excited too. Later we played Scrabble and we made all sorts of fertility related words like “ova” and “baby.” Probably not coincidence. 

The next day I had to go renew my driver’s license. It was sunny and the light reflected brightly off the winter snow. I walked to a nearby registry office. As I walked home afterwards, I suddenly felt a lightness of spirit. I believed we were doing the right thing and beyond that, I felt a joyful presence with me. I was not alone. I have never talked about this experience because I can’t explain it. But I can’t dismiss it either. It is one of the sacred memories of my life.

Otherwise, however, I really have no good associations with The Fertility Clinic. They never got us pregnant. Almost every meeting was bad news. Mind you the last one was more hopeful, and it’s funny to think I was already pregnant when we were there but I didn’t know it. When the nurse called me the next month to get set up for IUI, I got to say “thanks, but I’m already pregnant.” Somehow that was more embarrassing than satisfying.

I was thinking of all this recently because I am as close to certain as I can be that we will never go to the Fertility Clinic again. Hurrah! We are probably done having children as well, but we do not intend to ask The Fertility Clinic to help in any case.

There’s only one scenario where I can see us going back and that’s if - God forbid - one of our children dies and we decide to do absolutely anything to have another. I don’t know why my mind goes there but that’s literally the only circumstance I can think of. Unless I also consider insanity. I hope neither of those things ever happen.

With that in mind, I feel like I can say we are “resolved.” Even if we choose not to actively prevent pregnancy (that’s another can of worms), I’m done with any form of assisted reproduction.

I am so grateful for my children and to close the book on assisted reproduction it makes my head spin. Paradoxically, it also makes me feel a little closer to the memories of when we were starting out. I can now re-read the entries where we were anticipating or doing various treatments and think “and this is how it ends.” What a great gift. There's a little frisson of deja vu, a thought of "so now what?" but mainly sweet relief and gratitude.

12 comments:

  1. It’s a bittersweet ending to this chapter. It sounds like there are a lot of memories there and my hope is with time those memories transform into something less painful. Here’s to closing chapters!

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    1. Most of the treatment memories are not really painful, they are more unpleasant and disappointing. We lucked out in that the worst moments were balanced out by the pregnancy and healthy birth of AJ. It was still rough at the time but not as sad as it could have been. And then Danika rounded things out. But yeah the only thing the doctor did was tell us how much we suck. I won’t miss that! Maybe the DHEA and CO Q10 helped me ovulate. But I’m really not sad to be quit of my he place!

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  2. It would have been nice to know the ending (aka two healthy children) when going through infertility. It certainly would have made the journey easier. It is interesting to go back to read old blog entries as I wish that I could go back and tell myself to relax.

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    1. Oh I know. The uncertainty was one of the worst things. And waiting, always waiting. I think part of my re-reading and looking back is wanting to tell my old self it will be ok. Of course I can’t do that, but I can adjust the way I tell the story. Ironically though trying to reframe the story with the new ending brings the memories of the past closer.

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  3. The bedside manners of most doctors in that clinic are um... not great. Lol. I did get pregnant twice through IVF at that same clinic but every step of the way was stressful because of their communication. I can vividly recall how upsetting transfer day was with the twins. I was at high risk of hyperstimulation so they didn't want to let me transfer but the embryos would not survive a freeze and thaw either because they were poor quality. I pleaded and begged to do the transfer because I would much rather risk OHSS than lose my embryos. I was told there was zero chance of twins and 20% chance of pregnancy at all.
    I can only imagine how you feel about that clinic without a successful cycle to offset some of those negatives. It does sound like you are doing much better at closing the chapter than I was. I just now feel completely done with it. Got an IUD last week - DONE :)

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    1. Oh gosh, how stressful. I’m glad you proved them wrong; that we both did. To think your twins wouldn’t be here if you’d listened to the doctors. Wow. It’s not to hard to close the chapter on fertility treatments. Childbearing in general: that’s harder. Wouldn’t say I’m there yet. While there’s even a slim chance it’s hard for me to say “never again” even though there’s a lot of rational reasons to say “enough.” But no more treatment attempts. No more tests, drugs, wondering about donor eggs etc. Definitely done with that! I’m glad you have made peace with things.

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  4. I remember feeling the utter relief that we were not alone in this journey after our first involvements with my fertility clinic. Ultimately, with the last cycle cancelled, they didn't follow through even on their offer to get the counsellor to call me, which still annoys me. But I remember that initial relief, and that's enough.

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    1. Heh, one thing I do appreciate about our clinic was they booked us to see a counsellor after our cycle was cancelled. Maybe I should have included that in the list of not so bad memories. I mean, it isn’t a happy memory exactly but talking to someone made things better, not worse and during the bad times that actually is a blessing. I am glad that you are able to focus on a memory of relief as opposed to all the negative. It’s too bad the clinic didn’t offer you more closure by talking to a counsellor but it sounds like you found it for yourself. I am always fascinated by stories of resilience because life can be so horrid and unfairit’s hard to believe people keep going and yet they often do.

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  5. I love, love, love your last paragraph. It is lovely to go back to the beginning, knowing how it ends. Even for me, knowing that it ends differently, I want to whisper into the old me's ear "you will survive this." I love your sacred memory, too, that feeling of not being alone in this experience. Happy belated blog-o-versary!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, closure is a big deal. There’s so much waiting and wondering and not knowing what shape your life will take. That’s all highly stressful. While the future is always a mystery it still feels a lot saner than it did with fertility questions always hanging over it. I’m glad you have happy thoughts to tell your old self. You know, it sounds crazy but sometimes I wonder if we really can do that. Maybe time is not as linear as it appears.

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  6. It is so nice how you can go back and find the good, list some good memories that came out of the bad times. I personally have a hard time doing just that...it is usually far too painful for me to go back and look through hard times, even knowing how it ends. It is refreshing to hear someone who can have a different perspective. So very glad you have found so much peace.

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    1. Thanks! I think resolution looks different for different people and I hope you can find the kind that works for you. Honestly, I don’t read about the really bad stuff that much either. I remember it well enough without trying to conjure it up further. In our case there was more uncertainty than there was tragedy; we were lucky that way. But still there were months and years of not knowing how our lives would look: so many shoulds and what if’s. That’s the part I feel I can close the book on. Many hugs!

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