Prairie Wife of the Week: Fertility Struggles and IVF

Posted April 24, 2015 by Prairie Wife - 2 comments

I have been waiting since last fall to interview this Prairie Wife, and I am happy to say it was well worth the wait. DesignDiva and I met in third grade and soon became best friends. Despite my tomboy attire and constant ponytail she took me under her wing and tried to show me how to dress a little more feminine, style my hair, and even wear makeup. Despite her best efforts it took me another decade before I learned to follow her advice. We attended different high schools but managed to keep in touch off and on through the years. With the wonders of Facebook we reconnected and even spent some time together on one of my last visits to The City. It was no surprise to me that she ended up going to a fashion related career, and she was as chic and put together as always when we met!

When I learned that she and her husband were having trouble starting a family my heart went out to her. While The Cowboy and I have had some troubles of our own, I knew that we had faced nothing like DesignDiva and her husband were going through. I prayed for her on her journey and I cried tears of joy when I learned of her pregnancy last year. Talking about infertility and the process of starting a family is personal and with all of the emotional and physical ups and downs it can be a hard thing to share. I am SO happy that DesignDiva felt comfortable enough to share her story with our readers. Her bravery and unwavering faith in God and His plan are inspiring, and her honesty about her journey is sure to help our readers and their families who may be currently struggling. After completing this interview I have even more compassion for families facing fertility issues, and I’ve made a mental note to think more carefully about how what I say may make others feel.

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Prairie Wife (PW): First tell us about your family.

DesignDiva (DD): I grew up in Milwaukee, WI with my younger brother. Other than a few years spent in Ohio for college, I’ve lived here all of my life. I think it was a typical mid-western childhood, though living close to the larger city of Milwaukee offered me a few more experiences than if we lived in a rural area. I have a BA in fashion design and a masters in visual arts. I most recently worked as a buyer for a local company.

PW: Several years ago your husband and you began to look into In-Vetro Fertilization (IVF), can you tell us what lead to that decision?

DD: We tried for four years to have a child on our own. We even tried diet and exercise and homeopathic remedies with no results.

PW: For your first round of IVF you went to Colombia, why did you choose to try there rather than the US?

DD: The whole process was FAR less expensive in Colombia, and I had family members that lived there that were able to help support me physically and emotionally during the process.

Having gone through the procedure both there and in the US I can say with confidence that medications and level of care was the same. Our doctor was practicing in Columbia but had attended medical school in California. In Columbia the whole round of IVF, including medications and aftercare was about $6,500 as opposed to well over 25k here!

PW: For those of us that aren’t familiar with IVF can you walk us through the process and the physical and emotional side effects?

DD: The whole process takes about two months from start to finish. First you begin by taking Birth Control to regulate your cycle. Then begins the “fun”…you get many small injections in your stomach a couple times a day for about 2 or 3 weeks. The purpose of the little shots is to make your ovaries produce many eggs but keep them from being released. The next stop is the “trigger shot”. This is a big shot in your lower back, its purpose it to release all the eggs that your ovaries produced as a result of the small shots.

Then you have an egg retrieval. This part is a little more invasive and your doctor will put you under anesthesia while the eggs are harvested and then immediately combined with the previously collected sperm. Five days later you go back into the office and try to stay calm as the embryos (two in our case) are implanted into your uterus. Following this you head home and are on bed rest for around five days.

twins ultrasoundAfter the implantation, you get oil shots in your back two times a day. There is no way for me to sugar coat those…they hurt like hell! They also make lumps under your skin. Some women can have an allergic reaction to them and of course I was one of them. At 8 weeks I had an allergy attack and I couldn’t breathe, to say it was scary is an understatement! You need to continue receiving these shots until your pregnancy is confirmed. If your IVF has been successful you need to continue them until the 12th week.

Physically the process of IVF involves a lot of hormones…and the massive amount of shots can be overwhelming. The shots hurt and because of the hormones I gained a lot of weight, had major sweating issues and occasional headaches. Like I said above there can also be some crazy side effects as well. I would just encourage women going through IVF to keep a positive attitude and try to stay focused on your future plans.

PW: Your first round of IVF was unsuccessful, can you share with us what that was like for you and your husband?

DD: Devastation, that’s all I care to say.

PW: When you decided to try again what did you do to prepare yourself physically and emotionally?

DD: There was nothing specifically that we did, when we were able to afford another round we decided to try it.

PW: What did friends and family do for you during the IVF process that was helpful…or what did they say or do that was hurtful?

DD: We didn’t really share much with anyone, we wanted to prevent having to explain a lot of personal things that we didn’t want to talk about…nor did we think it was their business.

Our immediate family was really supportive and sensitive to us throughout the whole process.

Hurtful comments came from others who didn’t know we had fertility issues. I’m sure you’ve heard them all…”When are you going to have a baby?” “Don’t you want kids?” “What’s taking so long?” Stupid off handed comments like that were just hurtful. Yes I’m aware that they didn’t know about our personal struggles, and meant no harm, but it still hurt me. I hope that anyone reading this will think twice about asking others those kind of questions. Just like the “Are you having another one?” and “Don’t you know how that happens?” people’s choices about how, when and if they start a family is really none of your business, and you could really be causing others a lot of emotional harm.

PW: When you found out your second round was successful I’m sure you were both overjoyed and nervous! What did you need to do to help ensure that all was well?

DD: There is nothing you can do (other than follow the doctors instructions) and this is the hardest part for most people. My husband and I had confidence that God has a plan for everyone. I prayed every night and gave thanks every morning. I was grateful for each day and tried not to think about the next.

PW: With IVF twins are common, were you still shocked to find out that you were having not one but two babies after all your struggles?

DD: Not really shocked…just wildly excited! Throughout the process I prayed for both embryos to be healthy and grow strong, not just for one. Honestly, I didn’t even consider that it would only be one baby. I felt like it was going to be all or nothing, if it was going to work I knew that it would work for both.

PW: You delivered two happy and healthy twin babies on October 28, 2014! What have these last few months been like for you?

twins picsDD: I wish I could give you more details but the last few months are a total blur! There have been so many ups and downs for our family and me personally. To go from a family of two to a family of four has been a huge adjustment that is both exhausting and wonderful all at the same time. Routine is key but trying to get two babies on the same schedule is impossible! I’ve learned to just be prepared for every possible thing they may need or that might happen. I had originally planned on returning to work, and we even tried it for awhile. In the end we decided that daycare was just too expensive, it was almost as much as my total salary. I’ve also learned that the consistency of having mom everyday has made happier babies, and consequently we are all doing better!

PW: What advice would you give to other couples that are considering IVF?

DD: Pray. A lot. DON’T join support groups. Don’t read about other peoples horror stories. Take one day at a time and be grateful for each day. Keep a positive mind set and don’t let IVF consume your life.

I know this advice sounds harsh, but I believe my treatment worked the second time because I didn’t look anything up. I worked hard to stay focused on every part of my life, husband and work, family and friends, not just the IVF. I didn’t listen to other people’s stories, I would actually stop people from saying anything to me.

And I prayed. I prayed so hard! I had constant prayers running through my hands. I put the lives of my babies into our Heavenly Father’s hands and trusted in the Virgin Mary to bring them to us.

PW: Is there anything that you wish you had known or been more prepared for throughout the IVF process?

DD: No. I trusted our group of doctors and what they told us. I knew that they would tell me what I needed to know and keep us healthy and safe to the best of their abilities. I know this isn’t how everyone works but, it worked for me.

PW: Have you and your husband thought about going through IVF again?

DD: Way too soon for me to answer that question!

PW: Any last Prairie Wife Words of Wisdom?

DD: Yes, Pray. Trust in God to provide what you need. Seek out medical help when necessary, but accept the limits of medicine and put your life and your future into God’s hands.

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2 thoughts on "Prairie Wife of the Week: Fertility Struggles and IVF"

  1. Nina says:

    Thank you for sharing your story…we used IVF as well, had miscarriages, two miracles..Creighton and Dawson, then our special surprise Barrett…so I guess we were on the buy two, get one free plan. I’m not sure if DD is Catholic, but being Catholic and going this route has prompted a lot of scrutiny. We gave every embryo a chance at life and honestly had no idea it was against Catholic doctrine at the time we went through it all. It was definitely a life changing roller coaster ride. We feel very blessed to have our healthy boys and I too, prayed so much to get through it all. I have since prayed and learned more about our decision as time goes on. It is very important to remember everyone’s fertility journey is very personal and different, and to always be sensitive with questions and comments. I will never forget the words Fr. Michael Flecky told me after I was struggling with my faith and our IVF decision after we had our two boys, he said to look at those babies, see those miracles and know God definitely was right there through it all…DD, thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on those beautiful babies!!

    1. Prairie Wife says:

      Thank you for sharing yours Nina, religious beliefs can put a whole new complicated spin on infertility. I agree with Fr. Michael. God is still a part of the process!

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