IVF – My Experience

by Courtney El-Ghoul

I have been talking to you guys a lot about my journey raising the twins and about the struggles that I had with getting my pre-babies body back. What I haven’t talked much about is the long road to getting pregnant with the girls.  It was a crazy emotional ride, and I can not believe it has been over five years! As I look back on it now, I am at a place where I think maybe it wasn’t so bad? Considering the outcome 😉

Here goes….

My Experience with IVF & Pregnancy

Like many other women – I thought I had everything planned out pretty well. In my mind at least 😉 Khalil and I got married at 26, I told myself we will enjoy being newlyweds, and not focus on kids right away. As long as I was pregnant by 30, I was totally happy! I think it’s so unfair that as women we have these preconceived notions that 30 is the magic number for everything. I thought my eggs were going to decline, childbirth would be impossible, and that I was going to be the “old mom”!!! NEWS FLASH! So not true. I often wonder now, if the stress and pressure I put on myself was somehow related to why I ended up having a difficult time getting pregnant.

Family Planning

So the first step in our family planning… I went off birth control about a year after getting married, we weren’t actively trying to get pregnant yet, but by that time our mindset was that – if it happens earlier than we planned, so be it. Nothing happened, no surprise pregnancy. We started being more conscious about getting pregnant… and still, nothing. I spoke to my OBGYN and he told me not to worry, and said it was normal. He said that once it had been a year of trying with no pregnancy then we could start to dive deeper. Of course, when you are trying to get pregnant and it’s not happening it feels like everyone around you is pregnant. Like, there is “something in the water’ so-to-speak. I felt like it was always in my face.  I wanted to be happy for all these people, but if I am being honest, I was just feeling jealous that it wasn’t happening for us. Most of them weren’t even trying, ugh, it was terrible! In hindsight, I am sure it wasn’t that bad, but at the time I was so upset. I went so far as to get off facebook and social media – I isolated myself, which is so not cool, reflecting on it.

Fast forward a year and a half into trying, we were able to move forward with some alternative next steps. I got all the blood work to make sure everything was ok with me, and Khalil got checked out as well – everything looked good.  We tried ovulation kits, HSG sonogram, Clomid for 3 months, etc. You name it, we did it. They still didn’t have an answer for us. It was one of those “sorry, but we just don’t know why.” Then we were referred to a fertility specialist. We were hoping this would get that ball rolling. I still remember that first meeting, oh my gosh it was so overwhelming. Then started all of the different options, the time commitment, the injections, the timed cycles, and not to mention the COST! No one tells you before you start IVF just how intense it really is. During your cycle, you literally have blood work every-single-day, at the crack of dawn. I remember going into work and having to hide my arms because of the crazy bruising.

Getting back to our “plan”, since we didn’t have a particular problem they could identify they told us we could start with the less invasive treatment IUI. You take a medication like Clomid, they track your cycle so that they know when you are ovulating, then they insert the sperm… Boom. Done. Seems easy, right!? It’s not easy, it’s the complete opposite of that, it’s beyond stressful. You are on a constant see-saw – being so optimistic and hopeful, only to find out that it didn’t work… again. Those long days waiting for the results, gosh, it was agonizing. We did three rounds of this with no pregnancy. 

Beginning IVF

Moving on to the next option, we began IVF. No break in-between. I felt like, “Okay I did three IUI’s, I got this!” Ummm, no, totally different. The injections alone are a lot, not to mention the egg retrieval and then the embryo transfer. Honestly, the cycle itself happens pretty fast, but it’s all the waiting in between. The constant feeling of everything being unknown was the worst part for me. I could deal with the shots, the hormonal ups & downs, and all the blood work… it was the stress of waiting and worrying about starting over that messed with me the most. I wish I could say the first cycle worked, but it did not 🙁 We had this great looking embryo, we thought for sure – THIS IS IT! It’s finally happening, and then nope, pregnancy test – negative. Guys, I was a wreck. We both were. It was just as hard on Khalil as it was for me. He never missed a single appointment! He gave me all the shots, which was not easy to say the least. He was truly a rock-star partner through the whole thing. 

We decided we will give it one more shot. This is it – if it doesn’t work, it’s not meant to be, and we will deal with that. The cycle went great, successful egg retrieval, and we made several embryos! All good news. What you don’t know until you are in the room ready for the transfer is how many are viable, and of those how many do you want to put in? They give your embryos a grade A,B, or C. We had 2 B’s and a C. They didn’t think the eggs would freeze. I am not going to sugar coat it… Khalil and I were prepared for one baby, that’s it.  The idea of possibly having multiples was scary. However, we both knew that if we only put 1 in, and it didn’t take, and the other two weren’t viable for freezing we would be screwed. We would maybe be back to IVF for the third time! Neither of us was mentally or physically up for another IVF cycle. So, we put two in, and what do you know, they both took. Hello, Ava & Nahla 🙂 The other embryo did freeze, even though they were pretty sure it wouldn’t. ( Stay tuned for a future blog post on that journey)

I know so many of us go through this struggle, it’s such a hard thing to go through for anyone. I used to be so uncomfortable talking about it, I felt ashamed. It just wasn’t something I wanted to open up about. Even after having the girls, I would cringe when people would ask if my twins were “natural” but now… I am like, who cares?! It’s my story and if sharing it can help others going through the process or thinking of moving forward with it why wouldn’t I? 

 I can now be confident in saying this was our journey, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

XO 

Courtney

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