Almost a decade ago, when my husband and I found out we were infertile, I dedicated every spare second to learning about IVF.
As soon as our doctor told us IVF (thousands of dollars, a couple small surgeries, hundreds of painful injections) was the only way we would be a family, I went straight to Google.
And stayed there for the next several months.
I stalked Trying To Conceive (TTC) websites like I would be tested on what they said. At our doctor’s appointments, I had so many anecdotes and testimonies from my online friends rattling around in my head, I questioned our doctor like his professional peer. Because, truly, at this point I probably was. I certainly spent more time reading about Lupron injections than he did.
The TTC world is a strange one. I knew more about strangers’ menstrual cycles than I did about my own. It’s also a sad world. Obviously. Most women going through IVF want a baby worse than they’ve ever wanted anything. No matter how much money they spend trying or how many hormone-altering shots they grit their teeth through, the process often ends in heartbreak.
This is the stuff of (really, really sad) Hallmark movies.
Because of this, the whole TTC world has kind of a dark cloud over it. Even if (yea!), you get pregnant, you’re so worried your cycle buddy won’t be, you don’t want to tell any of your online friends. You certainly can’t ask your dearest infertile friend to throw your baby shower.
This is why people name their IVF blogs and TTC websites “MY IVF JOURNEY.” Women need a somber tone for this terrifying, lonely business they’re going through…and “IVF IS HELL” seems so brash.
Anyway, if the Lupron and progesterone shots don’t get you down (they always do, by the way), this dark cloud of TTC websites will. I distinctly remember one particularly low day with I googled, “IVF Humor.” The response was, “Your search did not match any documents.”
All this to say I’m here with some perspective. Four kids later (yes, they were all conceived through the miracle of IVF) and ten years worth of perspective, has helped me see that all of IVF wasn’t hell.
Only the shots were hell, really.
And the miscarriage.
But, wait, that’s not funny.
Let me try again.
Here’s the lighter side of IVF…
1. Look on the bright side! With IVF you have the perfect opportunity to choose your child’s birthday! Or close to it. Actually, the laugh is on me with this one. I chose summer birthdays for all our kids. Which, really? Every mom who has ever debated her child repeating kindergarten knows summer is the WORST time to have a baby.
2. Conceiving your child through IVF means you can call your dad, tell him you’re pregnant, and also never have to admit you’ve had sex.
3. When someone says, “you can’t be just a little bit pregnant,” you can say, “Actually, yes you can.” You can be a little pregnant when you have a couple of perfect embryos in your uterus, and you’re waiting to see if they’ll “take.” So, there’s that.
4. Twins! Triplets! The goal for IVF clinics is “one healthy baby” per IVF cycle. But, let’s be clear, the goal of the patients is “as many babies as I can get for all this pain and money.” The idea of multiple babies to an infertile woman is like dangling Louboutins in front of a shoeless SJP. So, when the doctors tell the patient, “Now, you understand there is a risk of twins, right? You understand the stress two babies can cause, right?” The patient is thinking, HECK YES! I know about the twins. And that’s exactly what I’m praying for, buddy.
5. When your kid is older, and they claim you don’t love them, you can always bring up how much money you spent conceiving them. “Sure, Jimmy might have a new XBOX. But, we had you instead. Sorry, honey. But now maybe you understand how much we wanted you.”
6. Most every day you get a progesterone shot, which is one of those deep-tissue ones that goes right into your thigh muscle. It’s one of those shots the nurses describe as, “you’ll know your husband hit the right spot if it hurts really bad.” Yes. One of those. Every day. The bright side of these shots is that you have the most amazing dreams on Progesterone. Like 4D, super-magical, intense dreams that really give your brain a work-out. Which is nice compared to the mush it’s been before that with the estrogen suppositories (yes, seriously) and daydreaming about babies for months.
7. You get an up close and personal look at what your body was designed to do. While tracking your cycle and egg production and ovulation, you see how outrageously perfectly God designed your body to function. Even the most cynical, egotistical doctors admit that whether or not the embryos “take” was a miracle they couldn’t understand.
8. Prayers. When you’re going through IVF, you can ask your best friends or your whole church to pray you’ll get pregnant. They can even have a little prayer vigil while you’re high on Valium and your legs are in stirrups at the hospital, getting surgically impregnated. When you’re trying to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, a prayer vigil during the actual act is a little more awkward.
9. You will grow closer to your husband. We would do lots of fun little rituals together during IVF. My husband would name the shots he gave me. “Oh, look. This one is the DOUBLEYOURENERGY shot. Take this and you’ll wake up with twice the energy!” Truthfully, he should have named all of them the THISHORMONESHOTWON’TMAKEYOUSOCRAZY shot.
10. The best part of IVF is, of course, the babies. Our four IVF babies are a blessing beyond my comprehension. The years have faded the memories of the miscarriage, hormone shots, and heartbreak. But the joys of IVF—the help conceiving these precious, beautiful kids—is obvious everyday.
Christina Hergenrader is the author of eight Christian books. When she’s not writing, she loves to bake, take pictures, and soak up life with her husband and four kids. They all live in Texas with their ancient Cocker Spaniel and unusually slow Greyhound. Her most recent book is Starring Roles, a devotional about friendship.