As the calendar draws closer to my beta day, I gave myself a deadline to finalise my decision about cleaning out the freezer with FET#2 or trying for a better crop of embryos with a second stimming cycle. I figured my brain would be in a more rational state prior to the emotional letdown after a BFN. I go for my beta in less than 48 hours and I still haven't made up my mind.
I think almost everyone knows a friend who gave her boyfriend the ultimatum: propose by a certain date or she'll end the relationship. I think we all remember that the date came and went without a ring. Many of us also observed that the friend failed to carry out her threat of breaking up. In general, ultimatums don't work, as I am finding that to be the case with trying to conceive.
I thought I'd take a look back at some of the self-imposed deadlines I've issued myself over time. When my IUD was still in place, my plan was to start TTC at age 35, and if it didn't happen in two years, then I'd get a new IUD and close up the shop. After all, I would never do IVF. When we started meeting with Dr Somebody I Used to Know, my intention was that we would only do IUIs. Of course, my strategy was for an IUI to work, and therefore we wouldn't need to do IVF. When I first recognised that we would need to do IVF, I was against doing ICSI. Thanks to my savvy bloggers, I accepted we would need ICSI long before my disappointing retrieval.
As I write this, it really resonates that I never anticipated that we would have any problems conceiving. Like most women, I never envisioned that Husband would have any male factor infertility issues. Interestingly, in the final three months before I removed my IUD, I became Mary Perfect with a 28 day cycle. I contributed my regular cycles to the fact that I did a three month triathlon series, and AF liked to show up on race days. I couldn't forecast that my cycles would become unpredictable and unreliable. I didn't know that I'd become that example of why REIs proclaim that you don't know how you'll respond to stimulation until you go through a cycle. Despite my low FSH/ E2 and high AMH numbers, I produced a very low yield of mature oocytes.
I can also accuse my former self of not being very specific with this deadline. The plan was to start TTC at age 35, but I postponed my IUDectomy for 6 months due to Myrtle's wedding -do I get a 6 month extension? The year 2014 was supposed to be a cut off point, but I never clarified exactly when. January 1st or December 31st? By the month of May when I turn 38? I feel like I can place a few particular limitations. We will only do one more fresh cycle, and it will not be after January 1, 2015. I will stop trying to become pregnant at the age of 40.
As another reminder about the length of we've been trying to conceive, which I know is relatively short compared to some others. I'm writing as I listen to lectures during an educational symposium on contraceptive technology. Although there is a lot of redundancy from year to year, it is one of my favourite conferences and I try to attend annually. In addition to the great speakers who deliver excellent lectures, I can hop on the train and take a quick trip back across the bay to swim in the noon class.
When I attended two year ago, I was in a two week wait from my first Clomid cycle and thought my BFP was only a few days away. It seemed so ironic to be learning about preventing pregnancies whilst I could possibly be pregnant. It was during that meeting when I scheduled a lunch date with my cousin, and felt upstaged after she announced her surprise pregnancy. "It happened in Hawaii, as we were just so relaxed..." she explained. At that time, I just interpreted 'relaxed' to mean tipsy, but as I wandered deeper into infertility territory, the 'relaxed' comment really started to irritate me, as she experienced infertility and conceived her older son as a first time IVF success. I feel a little guilty as I realise that I've been opting to swim during these breaks and I haven't made any overtures to meet up with her again. However, during our last encounter, I discovered that we don't have much in common.
A year later, I attended this annual forum deeply entrenched in infertility. I sat at the back of the room and inconspicuously tried to write some blog posts, just as I am doing now. I was recovering from the hysteroscopy which corrected my uterine septum, and I was excited to be starting IUIs. I knew IUI success rates were low, but I figured we were appropriate candidates as we had a spontaneous conception, but the reality of needing to do IVF was starting to loom. Yet, I never could have anticipated that I'd be post FET in one year's time.
So far, focusing on strategies to address unintended fertility and unplanned pregnancies has made for a nice distraction to prevent me from thinking about what may or many not be going on in my own uterus. Or at least it was until I noticed that there were two very pregnant women sitting in my row. I sent a witty text to both Husband and Co-worker. She replied first, "Maybe you'll be among them!" She added extra exclamation points for enthusiasm, which I won't duplicate. Yeah, I've played that game before and I know the end result. Husband would know how to make me smile, "Are they Smug?" he asked.
Even including the preggos, I love being among my reproductive health peeps. Despite my personal experience with infertility and even after examining the ways my perspective has changed in past two years, I haven't been altered professionally. I still love discussing contraception. I am committed to the goals of making every pregnancy a wanted pregnancy. This remains my passion.
Looking back on what I've learned in the past two years, what stands out to me, is that one cannot make a decision based on a hypothetical; one needs to be faced with the situation. Thus, I've decided to relieve myself of the burden of deciding our next step before my beta draw. We'll just wait to see what happens.