IVF: Chasing Hope

“Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” — Shawshank Redemption

So you all know we started IVF a few months ago. Many of you have sent me very sweet (yet persistent) notes asking me how things have been going. Well, after a lot of soul-searching and a roller-coaster ride, MJ and I want to share what happened.

First of all, it only took a couple of weeks of shots, blood work and doctor’s appointments for MJ and I to agree on one thing — this would be our final attempt at having another baby no matter what. After all, we had been down this road five times already. That’s five positive pregnancy tests, five rounds of telling friends and family (and all of you) the good news, and five instances of getting our hopes up. I’ll never say that we “only” got Will out of it, because he’s the most unbelievable thing in our lives. But 4 out of 5 times ended in heartbreak. That’s just a lot of hurt to absorb, and it has taken a toll.

As I alluded to before, this IVF shit ain’t easy.

Poor MJ has been a trooper. She basically turned herself into a human pincushion to try to have this baby, taking subcutaneous and intramuscular shots in the butt and thighs for more than two months combined. Not to mention all the different meds that accompany the needlework. And for half that time she had to inject herself because I was so afraid of needles it took me that long to work up the courage to do it myself.

All of it led up to a 5-day stretch in mid November when the doctors extracted eggs. All you really need to know when it comes to eggs is the more the better. The more eggs that can be retrieved the better the chances of fertilizing them and successfully implanting them. Unfortunately, we ran into some trouble.

After the retrieval, we were sitting in the recovery room with two other women — all of us separated by curtains. The doctor spoke to both women before she got to us, and we could hear everything. The doctor told the first woman she had retrieved 14 eggs, which seemed to please the patient. A few minutes later the doc told the second woman she retrieved six eggs — and the woman started crying hysterically, apparently because that number was way too low. Therefore, I expected to have somewhere between 6 and 14 eggs.

But we had three. Just three. And when we went back in five days later, the news got even worse.

The doctors were able to fertilize two of the eggs, but in reality only one embryo was viable. They implanted the second, but basically gave us a snowball’s chance in hell of it taking. So after all those shots, all the pain, and all the time devoted to expanding our family, it amounted to a single chance of a successful pregnancy. Even the doctors called the whole thing “not exactly ideal.”

It made me want to strangle the woman crying over 6 eggs. But, we were pregnant. At least for the time being.

With our spirits low and nothing to do but wait a few weeks, we were pretty down. As negative and pessimistic as I am, I’m actually the glass-is-half-full person in my marriage. Scary, isn’t it? But even though I kept reassuring her that everything was OK, well — fortune hasn’t exactly favored us the last few years in this department. Still, I soldiered on believing the universe had to owe us one.

But apparently MJ and I were puppy killers in a past life because the universe was not done fucking with us.

I was at the gym about to hop on the treadmill when I looked at my phone and saw 4 missed calls from MJ in the last 3 minutes. And then the phone rang again. When I heard the pain and anguish in her screams my heart sank and my knees gave out. I couldn’t make out everything that was said, but I heard “spotting” and “clot” clear enough. I bolted out of the gym trying to calm her down, all the while watching Hope disappear over the horizon for the last time.

Walking into a doctor’s office for that final ultrasound and diagnosis is hell — especially for those of us unlucky enough to be repeat visitors. We’ve lost pregnancies at several different points in the first and second trimester, so we knew the drill and had pretty much resigned ourselves to our fate. We walked, teary-eyed, to the exam room and held hands. Nothing more could be said or done. I gave her a look that told her I love her more than life itself, and that everything would be OK. We have a beautiful, healthy son. And that’s a lot more than some other people have.

But I also told her I was proud of her. After you’ve been hurt that many times, it’s excruciatingly painful to even put yourself on the line again for more disappointment. All those times we had to tell our friends and family we lost another baby. All the empty cribs and baby clothes that had to be stuffed back in the drawer. Trying to be happy for all the other people you love in your life who have kids, when a part of you just wants to curl up and cry because you can’t have that kind of happiness one more time. And, for me, the pain and guilt of knowing it’s all my fault because my boys aren’t great swimmers.

The ultrasound tech went to work, we looked at each other one last time, and we cried…

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” — Shawshank Redemption


Sometimes all it takes is one! πŸ˜‰

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21 thoughts on “IVF: Chasing Hope

  1. This is the best freakin’ news I’ve read all day, and that’s saying a lot considering I’m a 49er fan! Congratulations to the both of you!!! I’m sending lots of healthy pregnancy thoughts from out here in our-team-is-in-the-Super-Bowl territory (what kind of blog reader of yours would I be if I didn’t mouth off about my team? πŸ˜‰ ).

  2. Thank you and MJ for being brave enough to share all of this with people you know and don’t know. Your posts routinely inspire and encourage me to be a better father and husband. I wish you and your family all of the best.

  3. Thank you for sharing your heartwarming story. I have a few IVF war stories of my own so I can relate. After being pregnant 4 times with 5 babies, my 2 sons are now teenagers. I’m able to tell them how hard I fought to bring them into our family. Congratulations.

  4. Yea! I am so happy for you and your family. Wishing you a healthy preganacy.

  5. I have been following your and MJ’s story for well over a year now and I applaude you sharing so much of your life with not only family and friends but people like me, whom you’ve never met. Congratulations on your upcoming addition!! You deserve this happiness more than anyone! I look forward to more of your journey together!

  6. I wish you all the very, very best. I hope I don’t offend you by saying I am keeping you in my prayers.

  7. Congratulations, that’s great news. And as you’ve just discovered it’s not quantity but quality that counts. I know only too well!

  8. Couples who wants to undergo IVF must really have the complete information of the process, cost and what to expect. There are so many factors to consider and to anticipate since “some” couples had it successfully after many try.

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