Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Self Imposed Deadlines

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.


  1. Good luck on your beta! I agree, decide when you get there. The best laid plans...

    1. I will be thinking of you tomorrow Jane!

  2. Good luck on your beta on Friday? I'll be thinking about you! Pregnant women are very smug.

  3. I will be thinking of you and hoping for a very successful beta day!!!

  4. I completely agree. Even on my worst days while doing DE IVF I never waivered in my belief that preventing unplanned pregnancy is important! Glad you are still feeling passionate. Good luck on beta day!

  5. Best wishes on beta day! I like your new plan. No more hypotheticals...

  6. Makes me miss volunteering for planned parenthood. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to it soon.
    I will be on the edge of my seat waiting for beta day. Any chance you are testing early or waiting for the beta this time?

  7. Wishing you good luck for Beta Day! I am really hoping this is it for you, and the only deadlines you'll worry about from now on are baby-related.

  8. You are so right. We just never know how we will react in a situation until we are faced with it...

    Wishing you all the luck in the world on beta day my friend :)

  9. I always kind of thought 38 would be my cut off point, but now I'm mere weeks away from that and, with donor egg on the horizon, I have a feeling that's another deadline that'll pass for me. At least I got one right...I dumped the boyfriend that was never going to propose! Without bothering with an ultimatum, I might add.

  10. My ultimatum is the end of 2014. In January 2015 we're filling out our adoption papers. We always knew we'd adopt (just assumed it would be after having kids of our own). But just ask any fertile - every couple who has ever adopted ends up conceiving on their own!

  11. I kind of see 40 as my cut off date, too. But that's probably because it's 2 and a half years away. I tell myself surely by then I'll have a baby, so I can rationalize that there's no harm in setting such a date. You're right, there's no predicting how you'll react in a certain situation before your faced with it. Good luck with your beta.

  12. I wanted to respond to the very end of your post by saying "Bravo!" It's a common expression in Greek. I think your decision to not think about what to do next is a very positive thing. As for the rest of the post, I can so relate. I am the queen of timelines. I think it's my way of coping. If I create a timeline, I know there will be an end to the madness regardless of the outcome! For now, my end date is age 42. I will be thinking of you tomorrow. Best of luck, my friend.

  13. Good luck with your beta. I think giving yourself deadlines like that and keeping them is so hard. I was in the same boat as you in the beginning, we're not doing this, we're not doing that, and after our first IVF it was my husband that was more willing to give up, where my resolve to do anything and everything possible had strengthened. Hang in there. Hopefully you'll get a BFP and not have to worry about next steps!

  14. I'm glad you still enjoy your job. It would have been a shame for infertility to take that away.
    And I think you're so right about hypothetical decisions. Honestly, I think this is an important aspect in discussions about abortion, but that's a different topic.
    Thinking of you as your beta comes up!

  15. Good plan with your beta...waiting to see what the next step will be. I remember when we were newly married and I had a spreadsheet (bahaha) with my plans for the next 10 years. According to it, I should have one child and be preggo with #2. Also we should have been on three major vacations by now. Ha..I never considered vacation fund would be used for fertility treatments! I've only just learned to let go of those deadlines and just let life happen as it will. I'm thinking of you and hoping for good news!