Starting IVF was exciting. I was lucky – I was on a protocol that didn’t involve down-regulation (taking drugs that effectively shut down your cycle and put you in a false state of menopause). I was full of hope. Normally gloomy Dr Vintage had actually said he thought we had a very good chance of success. I’d conceived twice before, and when my tubes were taken out of the equation, he didn’t anticipate any problems. That was a surprisingly optimistic statement from someone who didn’t normally raise hopes. I wasn’t scared of the injections; each day when I stabbed my stomach with that needle and injected Chinese hamster hormones, I felt hopeful, buoyant even. I felt like telling people “I’m injecting myself!” But I kept it quiet, and only told internet friends, and one solitary IRL friend.
The hope was good. It kept me going, it made me feel happy.
But it came to nothing. The disappointment was strong. But it would have been strong even if I hadn’t had hope. I’m a great believer in clinging on to hope – realistically of course – during a cycle or early pregnancy. If it doesn’t work, it’s going to hurt whatever. I believe there’s an emotional terminal velocity. After a while, however, far you fall, the impact is still going to kill you.
The second cycle didn’t work either. There was no point in trying again. Besides, Dr Vintage wouldn't let me, even if I wanted to. I wasn't responding to the drugs. He described my ovaries as being the engine of a car, the drugs the accelerator. But in my car, the accelerator was already flat on the floor. The drugs couldn't boost anymore. Anyway, in New Zealand, there is a maximum dose. I'm horrified at the doses some women in the US are given. All in the name of selling drugs and making money - because there is no evidence that - after a certain limit - more drugs equals success.
We considered donor egg, but the one person I would have asked – my sister – was already too old herself. And when I thought about it, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea. I may blog on that another time.
I asked my fertility specialist if there was any point trying by myself for a few more months. I knew time was running out. He said yes, but wanted me to have another HSG first. So I did. On my 41st birthday, I went and had the HSG ... alone. I’d had one before, and had conceived only days afterward. So I was hopeful. I lay there and watched it on the screen in real time. But I could see, this time, the result was different. The dye didn’t spill through my tubes. Not this time. Completely blocked, a result of all the problems and procedures with my interstitial ectopic earlier that year. With no other options, I knew I would never be pregnant, never breastfeed, never have my own child.
Infertility decisions? Not so much decisions, as slamming into a brick wall (emotionally or physically or both). Occasionally there is an alternative route to take, but sometimes the brick wall is a brick wall. And so we stepped through the door in the brick wall, out of the infertility maze (apologies for all the mixed metaphors), and into our life without kids.