The Ugly Truth About IVF

A friend once told me that having kids should be fun and free. For us, it has been neither of those things. For us it has been doctors appointments, test after test, needles, hormones, blood draws, ultrasounds and lots of bills. Growing up, I never imagined that this would be a road I would walk. My parents had four kids in seven years. My cycle has been normal and predictable for as long as I can remember. I look back over our almost four years of marriage and I can say with confidence that I did not see this coming. But in the little things, I can see now how the Lord was preparing us to endure. My sweet husband is a type one diabetic that was diagnosed at age 2. Can you even imagine? Shots, finger pricks, hospital visits, low blood sugar scares as a 2 year old. Blake doesn’t remember life without those things but let me tell you… this man is a fighter. Since the day I met him, I cannot remember one time that he has ever complained about this disease that plagues our daily life. His poor fingers and legs are so bruised and scared from all the shots and pricks, but yet he never complains. He has taught me how to endure a struggle well.

Fast forward. After we had been trying for about a year with not a single positive pregnancy test, I knew it was time to see a doctor. After lots and lots of testing, the fertility specialist told us that our only option was IVF. I remember sitting in his office listening to him talk about the details of IVF but not hearing a word he said. It was one of those “Is this really happening moments?” IVF was the last ditch effort not the first step, right? I remember calling my friend Leslie, who was walking this road with me at the time, just sobbing my eyes out. I never wanted multiples. I didn’t want to have to make all the impossible decisions that IVF brings. I wasn’t sure I could endure this physically, emotionally or spiritually. Not to mention, that $14,000 price tag was shocking. After much prayer and counsel, we decided to move forward with IVF with a local doctor in June of last year. My husband is a teacher so the daunting schedule of appointments would only work for us in the summer.

No amount of knowledge or wisdom from others could have prepared me for the month I was about to endure. Two-three shots in my stomach per day. Every other day trips to Columbus, GA for blood work and ultra sounds. An inhumane amount of hormones being pumped through my body. The medicine made me crazy. I am not a very emotional female and I had so many fall down on the floor break downs that month for absolutely no reason. The doctor I went to had a sort of one size fits all approach to all 25 of us that were in that particular IVF cycle. I was started on a lower amount of hormones than most but my body still responded way too well. When I went in for my first set of blood tests & ultrasounds, my estrogen levels were off the charts. The doctor had to call me in a prescription to bring them back down. But, I was already 5 days into my medication so I had progressed way too fast. I was incredibly swollen. Like twelve week baby bump swollen. After about a week, I was put on bed rest because the doctor was afraid too much activity would cause a rupture. I could hardly walk, could not bend over to pick anything up and felt beyond miserable. When we went in for the retrieval, we were hopeful because the doctor said we had a lot of follicles growing. Then I woke up. And the doctor was in my face telling me they were only able to retrieve 10 eggs and they all looked fragile. I felt like someone had just stabbed me in the stomach with a knife. How could this be possible? I thought everything looked so good! Then you wait 24 hours to find out how many of the eggs fertilized. We got the call that only 3 out of 10 took. Another incredible disappointment. But as disheartening as this was, I felt the Lord’s presence and hand so strongly in each and every step. I was so torn about all the decisions that IVF could bring so I felt that this was the Lord protecting me from those decisions. We were just supposed to have 3 babies and that was it. Never in a million years did we imagine ourselves having triplets. But for the next two weeks, we both felt this overwhelming sense of peace that this was the plan the Lord had for us. And confidence that He would provide.

Then the call came. You’ve waited two weeks. Made yourself sick with every symptom good or bad. I had played out both scenarios countless times but when that phone rang, my whole body went numb. I had this sick feeling in my stomach that the news was bad. And it was. The words no IVF patient wants to hear. Not pregnant.

The next few months were just a blur. I remember so many days when I couldn’t even get out of bed because my heart was so heavy. We had invested so much time, money, strength and emotional energy and were left with broken hearts. I had no idea how to even begin picking up the pieces. I cried a lot. More than I think I’ve ever cried in my life. It took me a long time to be able to even go out in public for a few hours and hold myself together. Being around people was hard. Social settings were hard. I didn’t have the energy to pretend that I was ok.

It’s been a year since we walked that road and there are days that I still feel like I am putting the pieces of my heart back together. In the darkest of moments, I am so grateful for the hope and promise that one day I will get to meet my babies. I dream about what they would look like. What their personalities would be like. But then the Lord meets me where I am and shows me that He is enough. That His mercies are new every single day. That His promises of Heaven are true. And because of these things, I know I will be ok.

I don’t wish infertility on anyone. It is the hardest thing we have ever endured. We don’t have a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know that we will ever be given a baby this side of Heaven. But the Lord has placed before me an incredible platform to share my story and encourage women. I’ll never forget the first time I shared. The messages, comments, texts and emails were unreal. So many people walk this road in silence. If you haven’t struggled with this, chances are you know someone that has.

In the midst of this incredibly hard season, we have been loved so well by so many people but we have also endured a lot of heart ache from people. Comments, questions, hurtful things. There was a season when we had to walk away from some friendships that just weren’t building us up. As challenging as it has been, I am so grateful for the Lord’s promises and for His provision. At times when we felt most alone, He has surrounded us with an incredible community. He provided people for me to talk to that get it. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to spend time with someone that has walked this road. You don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t have to pretend. It’s like this unspoken understanding of the heart ache that molds an instant friendship.

Then there are those that don’t get it and they don’t try to. They are simply just there for you. They listen when you need to talk. They are your shoulder to cry on when you need it. They don’t try to tell you what to do. Or give you false hope like “It’s going to happen for you.” They are so grounded in truth that they just pour His promises on you. Promises not for a baby, but that no matter what He is good and He loves me. Then there are those that don’t get it. They have never been through something hard in their life so they can’t possibly understand. They have good intentions but they say all the wrong things. They try to tell you what to do. Ask you questions that don’t even matter. Sometimes, people focus so much on what to say instead of just loving people. No matter what you say or do, you won’t be able to take the pain away. So just be there. Love people. Ask how you can help. Ask how you can pray for them. Ask about things that help encourage them and do it. That’s what friends are for. And I am so grateful that the Lord has blessed me with those kind of people. Our friends and family have surrounded us with love, encouragement and prayer that has carried us through the darkest of times. I see Jesus in them every single day. And because of that, I know that even if the Lord never answers our prayers for a baby, we will be ok.

I want so badly to suffer well. And I do not want our suffering to be in vain. I will not let my life fall apart because of this. I will not let my marriage fall apart because of this. And I will not allow having a baby to become an idol in my life. I can’t accomplish these things on my own strength. It takes constant communion with the Lord and accountability. My hope and prayer is that the Lord will use this trial for His glory. That people will look at our story and be changed. Not because of us but because of Him.  That He will win people over to the Kingdom through this. Because after all, we are called to this earth for His purpose, not ours. So even if our life looks differently than we imagined, He can use us for His Kingdom.

Thank you for loving, supporting and encouraging me!

Megan Smalley

Owner of Scarlet & Gold

 


5 comments


  • Aquila

    Lovely woman you are! Your story is so touching & my heart melts for ladies like me who have to walk through this lonely road….sometimes misjudged& misunderstood by others.I identify with your pain& prayed 4u tonight for more courage to keep shining for your Lord.Thank you -2020


  • Aquila

    Lovely woman you are! Your story is so touching & my heart melts for ladies like me who have to walk through this lonely road….sometimes misjudged& misunderstood by others.I identify with your pain& prayed 4u tonight for more courage to keep shining for your Lord.Thank you


  • Darla

    I cried reading this. I am so glad you shared your story – thank you for that. My husband and I are considering IVF but I’m not sure its the right road for us. I will pray for you tonight.


  • Robin Ford

    Sweet girl, you are not alone. I walked that journey you are currently walking and I always referred to infertility as an “invisible physical handicap”. My body wouldn’t do what everyone else takes for granted. It was a long lonely road for us but God showed up just at the right time through adoption. And now our nest is empty as we recently sent him off to college!! Please email me if you want a prayer partner who has been down the same road.
    Many Blessings!!
    Ps. I love your shop and War Eagle. I’m an alum!!:)


  • Brittany

    I’m 25 and although not married and trying to have kids this is something I can somewhat relate to. Last October I was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma and because of this, I’m going to be on medication to keep my cycle going. I’m certain that my ability to get pregnant one day, when I am married, may very well be a difficult one. This is something that I worry about at times when I consider my future, but this post made me realize it’s not my future it’s God’s future. And he is a God of possibilities and love, so thank you for the reminder. Your blog is amazing!

    " That He will win people over to the Kingdom through this. Because after all, we are called to this earth for His purpose, not ours. So even if our life looks differently than we imagined, He can use us for His Kingdom." So simple, but so powerful. Thank you for writing this!

    Blessings!

    Brittany


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