As a journalist I am very good at meeting deadlines. I have mastered the skill of pushing myself at the very last minute to get the very best results. Of course, this sort of self-mastery has also made me the perfect procrastinator. Why do something now, when I can put it off (and still pull it off)?
This is one of the many reasons why I didn’t fret about fertility until I turned 40.
When I did, I was suddenly hit with the realization that I may have missed my deadline of delivering. And, well… that’s when I really went to work.
My life of stability quickly became a quest for fertility. I got busy google-ing, my conversations all turned to baby-talk and I started seeking out a specialist. I was full-steam ahead, with a mind-set that I could make up for lost time by simply pushing forward.
When I first walked through the doors of The Southern California Reproductive Center, I remembered thinking, “I won’t be here long.” After all, I was healthy, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink (a lot), and had been born with good ‘child-birthin’ hips. Plus, I always did my best work under deadline pressure.
I remember I didn’t even want to discuss with Dr. Hal Danzer a monthly, methodical approach to getting pregnant. Period. (Because, after all, my periods had always run like clockwork). No. I wanted to go straight to in vitro and I wanted to schedule it as soon as possible.
Was I overconfident? Yes. Was I under-informed? Definitely. Or perhaps, I just didn’t want to face the cold, hard fertility facts. I was ready for a round of IVF. In my mind, it would be one and done… and I would end up with a bun (in the oven, that is).
But here’s why that was a half-baked idea. According to RESOLVE, which is one of the nation’s leading infertility awareness organizations… even young and fertile couples have just a 15-20% chance of conceiving naturally in any one month. Sure, a round of in vitro is going to increase your odds… but not by nearly as much as you may think.
When RESOLVE surveyed patients, they found that a most of us thought an excellent IVF success rate was right around 80% or above, and that anything below 50% was considered poor.
Poor fools. All of us. Here’s the truth of the matter. Women with the top chances of IVF (still in their 30’s who respond really, really well to the drugs) have just a 40% per-cycle success rate. While the majority of us who are considered ‘fertility challenged’—have per-cycle success rates of only 20-35%.1 And of course, the older you (and your eggs) are… the lower that percentage can go.
Eventually, I would come to find out, no amount of determination would save me from my devastation. My first round of IVF failed. 9 eggs were extracted. 7 of them fertilized, but only 2 went the distance to full blastocyst (which is complete cell development). However, one of them had markers for Downs Syndrome (I did PGD testing… which I will blog about later). So, all my money was on that one, single embryo and sadly something inside of it was also broken, and when my period came to pay me a visit, I fell to pieces.
Not only had I missed my deadline, but had been forced to face the fact that there is no fertility ‘quick fix’. This is a journey; a process that requires patience and persistence (along with a whole lot of progesterone). What had screwed me up the most… is the picture in my head of how it is all supposed to be. I was going to have a career, meet a guy, have some sex, and have a baby. Although having three of the four of those wasn’t bad… I was beginning to wonder if it would ALL be possible???
Then I realized, the only impossible journey is the one you never begin. Mine had just started… and if I wanted the happy ending I had always dreamed of… I was going to have to forget about the deadlines, and map out a whole new approach.