Every January, a pink and yellow bill arrives - the multi layered kind where you tear off your own receipt and put it in the box with the five others.
I hardly remember the first bill, I definitely don't recall the last two (since they never arrived), but I remember the middle years. The years that were part financial burden, part marital unease, part emotional trigger. I never felt a real choice, but Andrew was done at two children.
We had to pay the annual freezing fee, because otherwise it would be gone. But I didn't want to use it - exactly. How do you decide you're done having children? How do you decide when life begins?
I don't have these answers.
One day this summer, I began to panic. We hadn't received a bill since we moved two years ago. For a time, I thought it was the universe taking care of things for us - but that hot July day, things changed for me and I was terrified that it would be gone.
This year we won't have to open that bill because we payed a different kind of bill on the phone, earlier last week. The two thousand dollar kind. A bill with real possibilities rather than indecision.
This bill might just buy us another baby.
At a minimum, it's a chance.
So I am going to break my own rule of late, and not dance around the details. What is a FET? What is IVF? And what's the difference?
Let's start at the beginning shall we!
IVF (in-vitro fertilization... don't worry - there won't be a quiz) with ICSI (introcytoplasmic sperm injection) was our first path to parenthood. In 2010, we were told that our only chance to get pregnant was IVF with ICSI - due to male factory infertility. When we did our original round that year, we paid for everything out of pocket. Something to note - our provincial healthcare system in Ontario would pay for a round of IVF if the woman had a blocked tube back in 2010, but if the issue was on the male side - nothing.
IVF for us, started with the birth control pill, followed by suprefact, puregon and repronex (aka the shot that stung like hell). There was daily monitoring with ultrasounds and blood tests and then, when the time was right, a trigger shot to bring on ovulation. Next came the egg retrieval where a doctor surgically removed all of the eggs that I produced - she got nineteen.
The ICSI part takes place in a lab, where they inject the sperm right into an egg. The resulting embryos that fertilized were grown for five days, then graded. We had two that were doing very well and they are now our daughters, Alice and Isla. We had a third that was still good and we froze it... six years ago.
We are so lucky that we live in a time where technology is advanced enough to make reproducing possible for us, but it comes with a new set of dilemmas. Some of which, we could have never predicted during our fresh IVF cycle.
What can be frozen, is up to the discretion of the fertility clinic. Each clinic is different. Some will freeze almost anything and others, like our clinic, are quite strict.
When we were undergoing our fresh round of IVF, we wanted frozen embryos. As many as we could get. IVF is expensive and it is a very hard thing.
I hate you. I remember yelling from the floor of our old master bedroom.
Fuck that hurts. Shit I shouldn't be swearing, sorry. I told the doctor performing the egg retrieval (repeatedly).
Dammit I'm bleeding. I told Andrew five days after our embryo transfers.
It worked. He told me as I sat on the staircase crying.
There's the second baby. The doctor told us after some confusion about what we were seeing on the ultrasound screen.
What about the third? A thought, that didn't grace my mind until much later.
FET (frozen embryo transfer) is our answer to the third.
We returned to the fertility clinic in August following a six year hiatus. We approached the entry doors with a familiar longing. But it was different this time.
There is a comfort in knowing that this clinic was able to get us pregnant the last time.
We left that day with hands full of requisitions and hearts full of hope.
Last month I had blood tests, ultrasounds and a saline hysterosonogram and it all came back positive.
You get to do a natural cycle, our fertility specialist told us while tapping her manicured fingers on the desk in mid October.
A natural cycle means no drugs, no at-home needles, no hormones. I called in my cycle on day one, on day eleven I will start daily blood work at the fertility clinic. There will be an ultrasound to measure the thickness of my lining and then they will thaw our embryo.
If it survives the thaw (when it survives the thaw)... two to three days later they will transfer it.
So here I am, sitting in a Starbucks, three hours post acupuncture on cycle day seven, remembering my naturopath's wise words of this morning.
Just take it day by day.
Have you or are you currently going through fertility challenges? Leave a comment or email me directly to chat, candidly about infertility.
P.S. the very best moment, and doing it