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The 28-Day IVF Marathon: What it’s like and how to offer support

I wrote this in 2014 years ago and discovered it by accident. My heart was so broken, I could not share publicly. Now I’m ready, as we need greater


It is 7:15 on a Monday morning as I arrive to the Reproductive Endocrinologist’s office. “How did my follicles respond to the stimulation meds I started over the weekend,” I wonder. I walk in and count FIFTY people waiting already — about 10% of them men, seeming to be spouses supporting their wives. My husband does not come with me anymore. We’ve “been there, done that,” so he only joins me when he is “needed,” or rather the sperm is required. Sounds so impersonal and technical, doesn’t it?


Welcome to the world of infertility.

Woman Sad Looking out the Window Infertility Struggles

I decided to write this because I’ve noticed that when I mention the letters I-V-F, people give me a blank stare. I often wonder what they are thinking.


Perhaps its…


Oh, that sucks but I have no idea what you are talking about.


I’ve been there.


I know someone who has been there.


Nonetheless, I want to share the real deal because after our four-year journey, I have become passionate about increasing infertility awareness.


Undergoing fertility treatments was not at all what I expected. I’ve been in the pharmaceutical industry for almost 20 years, where for part of that, I was a sales representative, visiting doctors’ offices everyday for two years. I was Chemistry major in college. I’m used to science and medicine.


Fertility treatments are on another planet. I was not prepared for the “IVF factory.”


Let’s get back to the doctor’s office.


A sweet, young nurse calls me in to “the room.” It is a series of cubicles filled with women getting their blood drawn. A few vials of my blood are drawn, and I am shuffled back to the waiting room.


After some time (yes, they have WIFI and I’m on my laptop catching up on emails), another nurse comes in asking me to go into Room 4. I remove all clothing from the waist down, prop my legs into stirrups and wait. A doctor (usually one I’ve never met) comes in, quickly moving the curtain that creates a barrier between my half naked body and the door. He closes said curtain behind him, shakes my hand while introducing himself, and sits on the stool.

He sticks what might as well be a dildo into my vaginal cave and digs around. (After 4 years of this, I can read the screen with him.). “Looks like your left ovary has 6 follicles and the right has none. Endometrial lining looks good for where you are at in your cycle. Nice to meet you. The nurses will call you with instructions.”


I look at my watch and give myself a high five because I timed it perfectly to arrive at work and attend my 9 AM meeting without anyone having a clue. I make sure to remove the Band-Aid from the blood draw so that I am not drilled as to where I was.


At 2 PM, the phone rings. It’s the nurse instructing, “Based on your hormonal levels, take 300 Gonal-f and 2 vials Menopur at 9 PM and come back Wednesday.”


Crap. I have a client meeting at 8:30 Wednesday. I guess I will arrive at doctor’s office 30 minutes before they open, hope I am first in line and I will get in and out. The backup plan is to take the call in the lobby, which tends to be quiet so no one will notice.


Wednesday arrives. Rinse. Repeat.


Fast forward to Saturday when I drive 2 hours away for my friend’s 40th birthday party. I bring extra meds. My head is playing this out.


We will be at the restaurant at the time I need to do injections. Let me bring extra just in case. Hopefully, by the time I actually inject, we won’t be smack in the middle of blowing out candles.


At 9:30, I make a break for the bathroom. The stall is tiny and I’m trying to figure out how to be sanitary, inject in right location, mix liquid from one vial with powder in another.


Argh. I messed up. Where is the liquid? It is not in the vial and not in the syringe. Thank goodness I brought backup and my doctor ordered extra and my insurance covered this.


I return to dinner party as if nothing happened.


Did I mention my stomach looks like someone punched me? Thank goodness it is January so I don’t have to be in a bikini! How do I explain these bruises?


Day 10. 3 AM. Inject Ovidrel to time ovulation “perfectly.” (Yes, there was that one time I ovulated right before I got to the doctor, losing the egg, money and time I put into it.)


Day 12. Retrieval Day! (Eggs removed exactly 36 hours after Ovidrel shot.)