In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF): The rollercoaster ride of infertility

Here on the Graco Blog, we emphasize that we come as parents first and employees second. Well, recent events have inspired me to put that parental voice forward here. My hope is to connect with others facing the fear of climbing up fertility treatment options and with others, rejoicing in the free fall into parenthood.

embryoInfertility is a relatively quiet problem facing more people than you might imagine. As many of you may know, our two little girls and ability to say we have a family was enabled by persistence and eventually in-vitro fertilization. My husband and I are advocates and cheerleaders for exploring fertility treatment and view our 2 little girls as blessings & absolute miracles. I’m an eternal optimist – and many people who know our infertility story really only walk away knowing “part” of our story…our joyful decent into parenthood…

On too many occasions I hear people say, “you were the lucky ones” to go through in-vitro twice and walk away with two amazing and healthy little girls. Well, luck or otherwise, the odds were on our side and everyone knows the “happy” side of our roller coaster ride. I’m writing this post to encourage others facing the same challenge to get on the ride to family and parenthood knowing full well there are ups and downs. Our ride to family and parenthood hasn’t been all white-knuckle grips with smiles so big it hurts and on the roller coaster ride of infertility it’s just as important to share both sides of the story. Again, the reason for screaming from the roof-top with our gifts and our givings is to generate “hope” for couples longing for a baby.

Yes, we have two little miracles as a result of two separate rounds of in-vitro. We were crushing the odds and perma-grin was setting in. As many of you know going through the IVF process, you may end up with more embryos than is healthy to use at one time. During our first IVF cycle (resulting in the birth of our now 3 year old Bear) we went into the transfer knowing we would transfer THREE embryos. When we arrived at the transfer we learned we had a “late bloomer” and now had four chances to grow our family. Our reaction… a very happy, “WHAT??!” We came prepared to transfer THREE not four. So, we made the decision to preserve the fourth embryo.

Almost four and a half years later we made the decision to give this embryo a chance at life. For those more familiar with IVF here are the facts:

The embryo made it to Blastocyst before being frozen. It thawed successfully and within 5 hours after thawing the blastocyst had ‘hatched’ and showed incredible signs of “thriving.” Just imagine this for one second…less than 100 cells coming to life after 4 ½ years on ice. Another example of the miracle of life.

My husband and I began to think this “late bloomer” and now “thriving” embryo was going to round out our family. Well…we experienced the thrill of a positive pregnancy test and blood test confirmation through our amazing Fertility Clinic. We went a month preparing for baby #3…why not? we had been living the thrill of the free-fall in the past …before learning the pregnancy terminated and the embryo stopped developing. Perma-grins turned upside down, white knuckles regain color and sorrow sets in wondering what’s on the other side of the climb. Were we unlucky, had we done something wrong or was it just something else far outside our understanding? We will never know and that’s just part of getting on this roller-coaster.

I share this story, not to divulge our personal lives in a professional setting, (I sat on this post for quite a while) rather I come first as a “parent and a mother passionate about motherhood and family.” And after sharing the thrill of success with in-vitro, I feel it’s just as important to characterize another part of our ride on the in-vitro roller coaster. My husband and I want to be the story of hope for all couples searching for parenthood. We try to use our transparency as a vehicle for getting the tough topic out into the open early and often and most of all use our roller coaster ride as one example so that others may believe their ordinary miracle is coming around the next turn.

To everyone working through their own challenges with infertility, my heart aches for you, but is full of more hope than sorrow. Buy your ticket to ride, relax your grip and have faith in what’s around the corner.

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14 Responses to “In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF): The rollercoaster ride of infertility”

  1. Heather June 11, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Kim. I Loved the article. I too have a miracle baby. My first IVF we only had 1 to transfer. Poor quality. Told to hope for a miracle. It worked she was a girl. Today 5 years ago I had a stillborn daughter due to an unforseen incompetent cervix. Did IVF one year later. This time had 10 viable. Transfered 3..although embryologist recommended 4 my doc would not do 4 on me. I now have a 2.5 daughter (6 months of bedrest and a cerclage procedure she was born on her due date). I also have an IVF Nephew and an IUI Niece. This world would be a lonely place without fertility treatments. More than you know need it. Thanks for your great article. Heather

  2. Kim June 11, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    Thanks Heather. It’s stories like ours that give couples on the journey…HOPE. Thanks for sharing. And congratulations to you and your growing family. They are little miracles.

  3. Heather Ward June 11, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    Kim-
    What an amazing post! I can not even write this post with going through a range of emotions and I just want to say SO much! Mostly I want to say that after 4 rounds of IVF and 1 miracle little boy, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Quite the opposite of how I felt when I was in the fertility clinics waiting room! To all of the women out there going through this struggle, the fact is that it CAN happen TO YOU! So, fight the fight–it IS everything that you are hoping for and it is definitely worth it!

  4. Keri Drake June 14, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

    Kim-

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with IVF. As someone that’s just completed what will hopefully be the the first (and last!) round of IVF, I can certainly relate to your comparison to a rollercoaster ride. The journey begins with research, countless injections and also includes a couple of really uncomfortable medical procedures. As if that isn’t enough, once we learn it’s worked and we’re pregnant, we’re told there’s more waiting involved – the every other day testing of beta HCG levels.

    I love that you focused on the positive outcome and the fact it truly is a miracle.

    Cheers!

  5. lyn June 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your heart. My prayers go out to you.

  6. Nella Enroub June 15, 2009 at 5:55 am #

    Kim,
    First let me say that I am happy for you and your beautiful children. With 3 children of my own, and another on the way, I know the joy of parenthood and the pain of failed pregnancies as we have also had two miscarriages ourselves. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those experiencing fertility issues and my heart goes out to them as well.

    However I do wish to take issue with the ever increasing use of IVFET today. I am saddened by the treatment of IVFET by leading voices in the parenting industry who throw credence to the ability to conceive children “in glass.” While IVFET does seemingly offer hope to those undergoing fertility issues, it is never the prudent choice for many reasons, two of which I will lay out here.

    Primarily IVFET circumvents the natural conjugal relationship that is the only natural environment in which children are to be conceived. This is natural law. Therefore IVFET usurps the rights children have to be conceived within the natural loving act between husband and wife, not in a lab by a third party. Secondly, it treats those human persons conceived ultimately as objects to be gained, and furthermore sentences the majority of them to death by either a failed Embryo Transfer(the ET that is usually missing from the acronym) or in a suspended state of deep freeze which will ultimately lead to their death. Never are they referred to as small human persons, which they are, yet viables, zygotes, embryos, blastocysts, etc. You see, your children were children from the moment they were conceived, not later when they were unfrozen and “hatched” as you say. (I would ask you not to refer to human life as ever being “hatched” as that belongs to reptiles, birds and some other mammals.)

    IVFET does offer hope in a perverted sense of the word, but it is a counterfeit hope based on the end always justifying the means; this is never prudent when human life is involved. Children are a great end, but this doesn’t justify an illicit means to gain them. Those afflicted with infertility should endeavor to find the root cause of their infertility and seek to correct the issues prudently and ethically. Such as the work of Dr. Thomas Hilgers, M.D. and his work with Naprotechnology which helps women overcome fertility with an understanding of how and why their bodies are not performing well.

    Sometimes, we may have to accept the fact, that as hard as it is to believe, that we cannot have children, or that we were not meant to have children. The truth is that children are gifts to be received when given, not objects to be obtained when desired. All the great intentions can’t change the logical conclusions here, and the best choice is to truly love our children in this way.

    The sooner we can shift this thought, the better and happier we will truly be. Thank you for your time to say what is never said, and I wish you and everyone reading this the very best in the future.

  7. Bells June 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm #

    To the commenter above me, Nella, your thoughts on this subject are greatly insulting. To suggest that couples who go through IVF do so without first investigating the root causes of their infertility is damning and insensitive. Many couples try to find other ways to fall pregnant before finally taking the huge, expensive and difficult process of IVF. We put it off for TWO YEARS before finally taking the plunge and I know we are not alone.

    And let me assure you, that through each and every failed cycle I’ve endured, my husband has loved me, held me, supported me (and I him) every step of the way. We have done everything we could to ensure that our babies (the two we conceived and then lost) were brought into the world in a loving, warm environment, enabled by medical science. We took every step to ensure there was love and committment reflected in what is, in the end, a deeply clinical and painful process, particularly for those of us who do not succeed and who, as we are now doing, finally reach the place of giving up.

    Only people who had children easily ever say that couples should accept their infertile lot in life.

    Your thoughts on this are, I’m sure, not remotely appreciated by anyone in the community that strives for the joy of parenthood.

  8. Kim June 15, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    Hi Ladies,
    Nella thanks for your comment and reading our blog. We respect everyone’s point of view and the new perspective that challenges your thinking or encourages you to learn or persevere something else. Bells, as a fellow friend who has endured the same challenge of infertility, I agree that my heart was touched (maybe nerved) in the same manner reading Nella’s comments. Nella, please know many couples come to fertility options leaning heavily on their faith & love for each other. All of us agree and see the “miracle” in every child. In fact, we appreciate how precious and fragile the gift of life is. Many of us realize and appreciate there is a “bigger plan” and the medical options are only enablers. The love between a couple struggling with infertility is hard to describe…and I agree Bells it brings you closer than you could imagine. Nells, I love your point that upon conception, they should be referenced as babies (not embryos). I totally agree with that and unfortunately used terminology that was a little too literal & scientific. Thanks for that point of clarification.
    The great news…the three of us are in agreement that motherhood is amazing and the gift of a child is extremely precious and should NEVER be taken for granted.

  9. Kathy June 16, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with Bells comments more. I certainly wouldn’t continue to go through this process unless I had thoroughly investigated the root cause of my fertility issues. Nella I’m happy that you were ultimately able to overcome your own fertility issues but for those of us that continue to struggle your comments are hurtful and short sighted. It takes a LOT of love (and work) for a married couple to go thru the IVF process together and I admire the women that desire motherhood badly enough they are willing to put themselves through it. Believe me when I say that none of us envisioned this for ourselves when we dreamed of being parents. I’m personally thankful for the fact that there is now more than one way to have children in this day and age and I continue to hope it will be possible for us.

  10. Sheryl September 10, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with the comments any better. Nella, in my opinion if you haven’t walked in the shoes of someone suffering through IF then little to nothing of what you say matters to any of us. You obviously have felt the pain of miscarriage as you stated, but have you felt the pain of that compounded by cycle after cycle of failed attempts? My guess would be No. Yes, I agree that sometimes we have to accept that we are not meant to have what we desire, but I also don’t believe that God intends for us to hurt or long for things with such a deep passion to no avail. I’m not sure if you are religious, but after all Jesus’ conception was not between a man and a woman and he was born of a virgin. God allows technology and people to gain the knowledge for these techniques for those of us who struggle. I thank God for these clinic’s everyday and feel like it is wrong for me to not exhaust every potential method of having my own biological child. Its’ a shame that you feel like so many women are just blindly walking into infertility treatments and that they haven’t tried to find a natural cure or something that was the root cause. It shows your complete lack of faith in women and I personally abhore your comments as a person that has struggled with IF for over 6yrs. I am using the use of IVF and a surrogate(my mother) because I have Type 1 Diabetes, which you should know I will forever be on medication to maintain, and I have a Thyroid issue. You do not know peoples circumstance so you should not proceed to judge what you do not know.

  11. Ana Brandau November 26, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    I was wondering if anyone would care to share with me about IVF (also have type 1 diabetes) and the struggle to control my blood sugars. I would really appriciate the good and the bad. Me and my husband have been having a tough time with my sugars, I am going to get on a pump in the next week or so. The doctors have said so many negative things about this issue. It has me and my husband terrified, oh by the way I am 9 weeks. Thanks for any one that can give me some information..

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