The hardest part of IVF

The hardest part of going through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) isn’t the physical part. It isn’t the daily injections that you have to give yourself, or having blood drawn every couple of days. It isn’t the sometimes severe abdominal bloating from the multiple grape-size follicles growing in your ovaries (if you’re lucky enough to grow multiple follicles). And it isn’t even the surgery to retrieve the eggs from the follicles, which involves an IV (I hate IVs) and a fairly substantial needle puncturing your uterine wall from the inside (you’re welcome for that visual).

It’s the waiting. And waiting…and waiting.

In the special case of donor egg IVF, there’s additional waiting before you can even start the process. We’re still waiting to hear if our egg donor, Marie, passed her genetic tests. In the meantime, we got special permission from our favorite Belgian egg donation nurse, Bernadette (voilà!), to do my test-run with the new hormones (the so-called ‘try-cycle‘) before actually getting the results. Luckily, I passed that test on the first try — I think perhaps the first thing that’s gone ‘right’ in this whole process…? I may not have any eggs, but I can still grow an endometrium LIKE A BOSS.

We got even more good news this week: our case was presented at the bi-monthly staff meeting, and Marie was approved as our egg donor! I wasn’t too worried about this part — as her in-person screening appointments didn’t seem to raise any red flags — but it’s still nice that it’s official. However, her approval is contingent on her genetic tests, which are still not back from the lab…

Why is this a problem? Well, because we’re trying to get the actual donation cycle done over Marie’s summer break, our timeline is rather tight. We have tentatively planned Marie’s first ultrasound for 9 July, which would get her back home before she starts teaching. We even bought the flights(!), though with cancellation insurance of course. But to make this timeline, I need to have an injection on 26 June that they will only give me if Marie’s genetic tests are ok. And can you guess when those test results are due back? On 27 June…exactly one day too late.

Apparently this process can’t be rushed, at least at our clinic. However, Bernadette worked her magic on the lab technicians and convinced them to send the results by 25 June — two days earlier. That means we should find out if this cycle is a ‘go’ in time, but only at the last possible minute. Because obviously this whole process isn’t suspenseful enough already.

That brings us back to the waiting. In the best case scenario, the test results will come back on 25 June, and Marie will be fully cleared as our donor. Then I can have my injection on 26 June, and Marie will fly out in early July with both her kids (who I like to think of as ‘Model A’ and ‘Model B’). We will all drive to Belgium on 9 July for her first ultrasound. If everything looks good there, then we can move on to the next of at least eight more distinct stages of waiting. Because that, my friends, is IVF in a nutshell.

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