Saturday, March 17, 2012

IVF at 35 or bust?

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting too much about infertility lately. There are a couple of reasons for that.
  1. I've been super busy at work and haven't had much time to think or write.
  2. I've been trying not to think about trying to conceive (TTC) during the next couple months. If I write about it, that means that I'm thinking about it and drudging up all the emotions that come with that.
  3. I'm scared that June is fast approaching and I won't be completely ready to do IVF
more on #3
I am far more ready than I've ever been BUT...I have so many fears surrounding doing my one and only IVF cycle (A and I have decided that we can only put ourselves through it once). Do you really ever feel completely ready to put your mind, body and finances through the ringer? Let me tell you a little more about my fears...

My insurance doesn't cover IVF at all so we will have to pay out of pocket for the drugs and procedure. We have been saving for a while so fortunately we have the money. But it is almost our entire savings. I'm not a gambler so spending over $15,000 for a roughly 50% chance of success is beyond frightening. That's like putting down $15k on red or black at a roulette table in a casino. Might get lucky...might not. That's crazy to me!

I'm scared of needles. Like really scared of needles. I faint when I get a shot or give blood. I start to hyperventilate. It's not pretty. The thought of giving myself daily shots for several weeks makes me break out in a cold sweat with anxiety. I'm scared that all of the hormones being injected into my body will make my emotions go all haywire. I'm scared of the bruising and the pain from the shots. I'm scared of being put under general anesthesia for the egg retrieval. I'm scared of not producing enough eggs or any normal eggs. I'm scared of getting ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and being in severe pain and hospitalized. But most of all, I'm scared of my body failing me and the embryo not implanting and finding out the IVF cycle failed.

My biggest fear is that I will put myself and my marriage through all of this and still end up childless. I'll be left with a ravaged body, broken heart and empty bank account. Some of the other things that are extremely difficult to come to terms with are the unnatural choices that you are forced to make when embarking on IVF. What if we only transfer two embryos and neither of them implant? I'll always wonder if we should have opted for three. What if we transfer three and all three take. It would be a huge risk for me and the babies to carry the pregnancy. But how could I ever selectively reduce? To choose a baby that we've tried everything to conceive and end its life.

And if all goes well and the IVF is a success, what do we do with the rest of our embryos? A and I have always wanted just one healthy baby. So what about our embabies? We don't want to give them away, kill them or freeze them forever. There are no good options and these aren't decisions that people normally have to make.

Those are the reasonable concerns and fears. Then I have the unreasonable ones...what if I do conceive and the IVF causes health problems down the line for the child? What if mine and my husband's genes aren't compatible and natural selection is trying to keep us from procreating? What if I end up getting some crazy cancer from all of the drugs I inject into my body? What if we aren't meant to be parents and I'm trying to play God?

I turn 35 this summer. 35. The turning point for infertility patients. After 35, you are considered high risk. You are put into a different success percentage category. And for us...we don't feel like we can continue in limbo like this much longer. We need to have some resolution. So, if I'm going to do this...I better quit dragging my feet. But I'm so petrified.


Mrs. H said...

Breathe! I know it's all overwhelming. I'm exactly in your shoes. We paid for this first cycle ourselves (both procedure and meds out of pocket). Shop around to get your meds it helps. I made a post a while back with a price list from all the major fert pharmacies. I can help you with anymore info if you need.
The needles well I can't help with that fear other than to say I had a fear of them as well. They're not so bad. The gonal f pen is tiny and my needle for Lupron was just as small. Does progesterone hurt yes it's a bigger needle but i am used to it. Or you can request to have suppositories.
With regards to all the other fears their all normal. Trust me I wondered the same thing about my age, side effects, what to do with embryos left over etc. these are decisions you and hubs will have to decide together. Remember there is a whole world of community for support but what matters is what you and hubs decide. Breathe and I hope you're able to decide what is right for you and that you do get your hearts desire.

Caitlin said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. We were in your same shoes too, wondering if we would ever be ready (especially as I was 26, we're we rushing etc?). And we too were out of pocket....ouch. We ended up having to do a second ivf cycle as my first cycle I ended up with severe OHSS (yes another worst fear) and as result our quality was never there. Even with our second round I didn't know if we should do it, I stressed about it like crazy, and then of course was petrified of OHSS and another failed cycle. I wish I had good advice, all I can say is be open minded as to where it will take you and just take it one day at a time. Good luck. Ps - still holding out hope that you won't have to do it at all!

EmHart said...

I can see there is so much rushing round your brain at the moment. It sounds like you are processing it all and that is just what you need to do. The one thing I hope you can remove from your fears is worrying that you were not meant to be parents. I just can't believe this. I believe if someone wants a family they are meant to be parents, no matter how that eventually happens. Those people who decide to live childless make that decision for themselves, no-one is 'not' meant to be a parent. That is within our own choosing, I truly believe that.

ADSchill said...

Those are ALL valid feelings and worries. I know you are scared, but it will be okay. The needles don't hurt nearly as much as you think they will. There are ways to make it easier on yourself and we can all help you with that when the time comes.
I know how you feel about the finance aspect. That is one of the hardest hurtles to overcome. It really is a gamble. No way around it.

When it comes time to decide what to do with your may feel differently. If you are blessed to have extra to freeze, you may want that oppotunity. Just take one step at a time and digest what you need to to get through each stage.

It is a really scary situation that no one wants to have to go through, but you have your hubby and all of us to help answer your questions and for you to vent to.

Try not to overwhelm yourself with every worry at once and focus on one thing at a time. You'll get there friend.


Shannon Elise said...

There are so many decisions to consider. I really think that you should give it a shot or else you will always wonder "what if." I know it is a big gamble and believe me, I understand so so well. But, for all the negatives, there is a positive and there is a very good chance it will work out. As for the needles, if you ever need help, I can come over every day and give them to you. :) Bottom line, you just have to follow your heart. It won't steer you wrong. Love you girl!!

newbie said...

These are all valid worries and fears - I thought of all of them at some point during my 3 IVFs. I will say that of all the worries, the biggest by far is "will it work?" Everything else can be dealt with...failure is the hardest part. But since there are no guarantees, that possibility is something we all have to deal with.

In terms of the shots, I too really hate needles and am a wimp about pain in general. I assure you that the shots are not that bad, particularly the stim meds, which you can do yourself. The progesterone shots suck (not so much the shot itself, but the aftermath), so if you can you should see if your clinic will let you do suppositories. My first clinic didn't allow it but my second clinic did, and it's so much better.

As far as worrying about what you would do with frozen embryos and the like, I would consider that a "high class problem." If you're lucky enough that your cycle goes that well, then you are in a great place and will be able to deal with whatever decisions are necessary. I worried about those things before my first IVF and then realized how silly I was to assume I'd even get frozen embryos - in fact I barely got any viable embryos (3 total) in 3 IVF cycles. How I got pregnant at all is a miracle, actually.

You will almost certainly do better than I (I've never met anyone with that poor a response!), but you may not ever have to worry about frozen embryos at all, so don't worry too much about it now. I do agree that it's better to get this going sooner rather than later - it's not like you fall off some magic cliff at 35 but there's no question that age doesn't help matters.

I am excited for you to get underway - will be cheering you on!

Lauren said...

It's a huge decision, isn't it? Before we had our first, when we had NO idea what would get us pregnant or if we would even have a child or why our IUIs weren't working, people would tell us to do IVF. As if that was the magical answer. I would talk about how expensive it is (and here in Canada it is more like $7000, not $15000!), and they would say "But isn't it worth it?" I would reply "I would take out a MORTGAGE to have a baby if I was GUARANTEED it would give me a baby!"

It's really hard to spend that money without a guarantee. Especially if you're saying it's the only IVF you'll do. Then it's your only shot at all.

I checked your history and saw you only did 3 IUIs. I obviously haven't read through your whole blog, but have you considered doing more? We didn't get pregnant with Noah until our 4th IUI, and a lot of people take longer than that.

I don't know, you might have legitimate reasons for why you didn't do more. Just in my head I was thinking that if IVF is such a huge obstacle, maybe you could try some more IUIs first.

I hope you find peace with whatever you end up doing! It's nice to "meet" you:)

Heather said...

I haven't been through IVF, but am more than likely infertile. We've decided to try to adopt, but that's a risk too, and VERY expensive. I empathize with your fears and will be praying for you.

(In)fertility Unexplained said...

Your fears are normal. I shared and share many of them.

- "I'm scared of needles."
You are strong. You can do this. You won't be scared of them by the end.
- "I'm scared that all of the hormones being injected into my body will make my emotions go all haywire."
They probably will. It will suck, but it's only for a few weeks. You are strong. You can do this.
- "I'm scared of the bruising and the pain from the shots."
They mostly won't hurt too bad. The bruises will be small. They'll be your battle scars.
- "I'm scared of being put under general anesthesia for the egg retrieval."
I used to be scared of general anesthesia, and if the nervous laugh I had before my egg retrieval is any indication, I still am. But, it's not bad at all. In fact, it's over before you know it. I know you can handle this one.
- "I'm scared of not producing enough eggs or any normal eggs."
This is scary, but did I mention that you are strong? It's hard to stop our minds from running away from us with thoughts about all the things that can go wrong, but in the end you'll take it one step at a time, and you'll do great.
- "I'm scared of getting ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and being in severe pain and hospitalized."
There are a few bloggers that have had OHSS, and many more of us who were deemed at high risk. Your doctors and nurses will be there to help you through the days after egg retrieval. We'll be here to lend you support.
- "I'm scared of my body failing me and the embryo not implanting and finding out the IVF cycle failed."
I am scared of this too, but having lived through it last month, I can assure you that even if this happens. You'll be strong. You'll make it through.

There's my rambling bits of advice. I'm excited for you. This is a scary, but hopeful, next step and I'm wishing you all the best.

Rebecca said...

I hope it all works out the way you want it to.

Colin and Jess said...


A lot of things going through your mind, huh? I have never gone through IVF, so the best advice I can tell you (and it's good!) is to trust God through the entire process. He knows what is best for you and He already knows who your children are going to be!

I hope you can find rest and relaxation until then and through the process. I am excited for you and prayerfully hoping you get pregnant!

Have you ever read Making Babies? It is writted by doctors that have performed IVF and have the highest rates--it is a natural approach (focuses on food, herbs, exercise, and the mind) to infertility that can be used before trying OR alongside IVF.


Andrea said...

I'm new to your blog and just wanted to say, as everyone else has said, your fears are so completely normal and expected. Fear almost prevented me from doing IVF and now in less than 4 weeks I'll be beginning stims for my 3rd cycle. I never in a million years believed I would have the strength to do 3 cycles. You find the strength and just have to push the fear aside. I am also terrified of needles. They truly aren't that bad. I have found that the emotional side of IVF is much more difficult than the physical. And IF things don't end up working out, we always find a way to pick up the pieces and carry on. 50% is good odds...yes, a gamble, but good odds! Hope things go well for you and you can look back at this with a big sigh of relief for giving it a chance! The reward if it works out is so worth it!! That's what keeps me going!!

Leslie said...

Hello! What you are feeling is very normal! I felt very similarly before our IVF! We too were out of pocket and I had never done injectables before. In all honesty, it was not nearly as bad as I imagined in my head. I did the subq. shots myself and my DH did the IM shots. We tried to make it a bonding time (kinda crazy, I know) but it helped to relax me a lot. We are all here to help & support you through this time!!

EndoJoanna said...

Your fears and worries are completely justified. It is a risk everytime, and it's up to the individual how many times they want to chance things. My husband and I are feel the exact same way. If we have to go to IVF, which it is looking that way, we will probably only do it once. I will be thinking of you and hope that as the process goes on, you get a little more comfortable with the needles and that you get your take home baby! xx

Katie said...

I just stumbled on your blog and am so glad I did. I will be reading through many more posts after this. I am currently waiting results from my IUI and am so scared to find out if I'm pregnant. I had quite a lot of follicles the last two times which they were hesitant to let me proceed due to the risk of multiples but they did. They said if this doesn't work there is a good chance we would move on to IVF, which makes me nervous. I already felt quite a lot of physical/emotional side effects from the shots/hormones doing this. Completely understand your fear. but I remind myself all the time that once I'm holding my baby this will all be worth it. You will be in my thoughts and prayers and I'm looking forward to reading more about you! good luck with everything.

Katie said...

sorry to leave another comment! But I thought I'd add that I did the shots for two rounds with the IUI and while I don't have a huge aversion to needles I was dreading it and that part wasn't too bad, once I got used to how to do the medicine and give it to myself. the harder part I think was the side effects - which I'm sure you've felt on any of the other hormone med. you've been on.

Anonymous said...

Tears streaming reading your blog and the wonderful comments left for you....I'm precisely where you are.....petrified of my own shadow...this has been a long road and I so want to believe there can be a happy ending but all I can see is failure....sorry not to be inspiring! Good Luck x

Anonymous said...

I read your blog and reminded me how I felt so scared to do IVF because of your same reasons. We wanted to do this two years ago but because of fear and lack of money and my fibroids we were afraid. God is awesome!!!! I promise you that and when it is in his will the fear go away, the illnesses no longer exist, and he moves things around and make a way. My husband and I started ivf in February and it was a challenge, the needles I feared wasn't as bad except the progesterone shots they do hurt! Lol however you can do the capsules which I highly recommend......that is what I use now as I am headed to my 8th week of pregnancy!!!! It worked and me and my husband are so grateful to God! I hope my story encourage you and we will keep you guys in our prayers. Prayer works and yes your hormones will be everywhere but stay strong. God Bless!

daysofserenity said...

Hi! Thanks for posting on my blog and introducing yourself! I'm reading through your's now and found this post. When you said "We don't want to give them away, kill them or freeze them forever. There are no good options and these aren't decisions that people normally have to make." I sooo feel that! I think we said the EXACT same thing. I have just resolved to pray and trust God and take one step at a time. If I'm going somewhere I shouldn't its up to Him to warn me. So far so good. The rest of your fears are completely valid and I relate to them all. All I can say is I'll be praying for you as I follow your journey. Let me know if you need anything.

Also, shop around for your meds! Our clinic told us to estimate between 3 and 7 thousand but I found our entire cycle of meds for 2500! If you want some help doing this I would be glad to share what I found.

Anonymous said...

Hi :
My name it Elizabeth and I'm staring my ivf at the end of June can you give me some ideas on to where buy my med. Thanks and God bless you for all your help. my e-mail its

Mauimandy@The Grains of Paradise said...

I just found your blog and it's wonderful. Thank you for sharing....
I'm 36 and we're just now starting the whole "what is wrong with us" process at the end of June. We've been casually TTC for well over 3 years and I can't believe I've waited this long to even tell my OBGYN this news. Why?! Well, I've had a million excuses over the years...the economy, being so far from our families, the school systems here on Maui, medical insurance, my fear of doctors, ect. But enough is a enough. I'm sure I'll be learning all about our options very soon. Right now, I'm just looking for some answers.
Mahalo for your blog and best of luck to you and your husband....Aloha :)

Blogging tips