So, if you don't like hearing bitchy musings, stop reading now. I just read a post over at Carrie's blog about her husband's response to IVF. Now, I do want to say D has been great for the most part, most of the time. To say infertility puts stress on your relationship is the understatement of the century. So, this isn't a complaint about him as it is a ranting diatribe on how hard treatments are on a woman's body. That's something I don't see talked about often, or maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.
Let's think about this. We are told by a doctor in a very clinical, cold and impersonal setting (sometimes whilst on our backs with our legs spread, business open to the world) that the only way to biological children will be administering sythetic horomones to ourselves whose safety is yet unproven. This is usually because there is something wrong with our reproductive systems anyway - things that already put us at a greater risk for cancer (endo and pcos). So to me, adding synthetic horomones to the mix is like adding fuel to the fire, right? Well, my RE assures me, no, this is not true. I remain hesitant at best. It's not his body after all - really - what does he care if I end up with cancer later in life? He won't know know unless I tell him, assuming he's still around.
Then, if the treatment is IVF, we continue this regimen of horomones for several days, during which our lives are completely disrupted by attending countless monitoring appointments, always scheduled at some ludicrously early hour of the morning so we may make it to work relatively on time, blood draws, and trying to take update calls at work in the afternoons. During this, we are bloated, tired, anxious, on edge, emotional, as our estrogen levels are pushed to some out of control limits. That can't be good. Oh, what's that? You exercise to relieve stress? Well, you can forget about that too. All of this while we still at least attempt to continue working, maintaining the house, attending to the needs of friends and family, and nuturing the marriage. Becuase if you're like me, getting the "It's a Woman's Job" manual at the onset of puberty, all of these things, are, in fact, a Woman's Job. Even if she is sick. Even if she is tired. Even if she is having a nervous breakdown. Even if.
If after all of this you are lucky enough to produce a good number of eggs, then it's time for the Retrieval. During this lovely procedure, a long needle is inserted through your cervix, into your uterus, where a hole is punctured in the uterine wall so they may aspirate the follicles sitting atop your ovaries to retrieve your eggs. Don't worry, you will be asleep. Hopefully, this will happen over the weekend, so you won't be missing any work. But don't count on it. You have no control, you are at the mercy of your reproductive organs that have betrayed you many times before. Not reliable. So plan on missing a couple of days.
After all of this, you hope for some mature eggs. Some that will fertilize. With ICSI? Without ICSI? You may or may not know. What is your husband's one contribution? Jacking off in a cup. Yep. That's right. You've put your body through hell, your life has been turned upside down, and your husband has to masturbate. Have an orgasm.* Something you haven't been able to do, and won't be able to do for at least 2 more weeks if not several more months. If you are "lucky".
Now, you are ready for the Big Day. The Transfer. It's not too bad, really, the transfer. You are filled with hope as the tiny blastocysts are placed inside. You think, maybe this is it. Or if you're like me, This better damn well be it. Now, you are the lucky recepient of PIO in your ass for the next two weeks, and maybe longer if you're pregnant. I hope you like painful bruising.
Oh, and it has to be administered 2x a day, so make sure you can work it out with your schedule.
Finally the wait is up. Are you or aren't you? Either prospect seems equally terrifying, and you may be wondering what the hell you just did to yourself. Are you REALLY ready for this, be it another round of IVF or a pregnancy? If you are pregnant, how many are in there? Will it/they make it? Will you make it?
And then, some well meaning, albeit completely emotionally stupid soul asks, "why don't you just adopt?"
*I know it's hard on men too. I get that they are torn emotionally between wanting to "fix it" and being supportive and detatching themselves from time to time because it's just too damn painful. I know that masturbating in a doctor's office while looking at well used porn is far from ideal. This is just me being well, just annoyed/pissed off/downright angry with how one sided fertility treatments tend to be. And I'm not man bashing here. I like them fine.