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The horrible adventure IVF

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

I'm kicking off the blog with a tear-filled story. It has taken me a long time to find the words for what I am now writing. Finally, I have managed to gain perspective. Now I want to share and spread some hope. Maybe it helps someone. It would make me happy.

To all of you out there who are fighting or have fought the battle to become a mother. Here is my story:

In the spring of 2018, my IVF journey began. We had been trying to conceive for a year and finally decided it was time for professional help. The doctors advised me to stop exercising as I was pushing my body hard. In that period of my life training I ran half marathons, competed in Obstacle Course Racing and loved how my body responded to my commands. My body was my instrument that did what I wanted. Like a finely tuned guitar. It carried me, lifted me, loved me. Before long I would become aware that I could no longer control my body. I would get to experience what it was like to lose control over myself, both physically and mentally.

IVF no. 1. The injection treatment was started. I, who was afraid of syringes, had a lot of trouble putting the needles into my stomach, but I persevered. "It's being done for a good cause," I thought. The day of egg retrieval came and we retrieved five eggs, one of which managed to become an embryo which they implanted. Two weeks and a long wait later – blood and a negative grave test. The mood was low and the tears flowed but we decided to keep trying.

IVF No. 2 started two months later. Same procedure but stronger medicine. This time I couldn't manage to put as many syringes. My partner R helped me while I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. The egg retrieval again yielded five eggs of which two embryos were created, one of lower quality and one of better quality. They inserted one embryo and tried to freeze the other. Two weeks and a long wait later. Blood and a negative grave test. The embryo in the freezer had not survived. This time I completely surrendered. "Now we give up. That's enough for me. I can not take it." Then R shook me kindly but firmly and said "Now you get up and continue. Now we will finish this.” It was the push I needed to get up and continue but from then on I shut down my emotions to mentally survive the continuation.

IVF no. 3. Here we began to question what the error really was. The doctor called it "a queuing system." "Your eggs are in a queue and right now it seems that eggs of varied (read poor) quality are at the front of the queue. We simply need to hit the right egg.” We started treatment no. 3. Here they doubled the dose of the medicine from IVF no. 2. I googled and realized that I took a significantly higher dose than what was the highest limit for what is normally given out. "Trust the process" I thought and continued to persevere. This time I didn't inject myself but lay on the floor and cried while R did the injections. On the day of egg retrieval, come and hear and be amazed, 8 eggs! Of which three survived to the embryo stage. It is unusual to insert two embryos during IVF treatment in Sweden today, but the doctors chose to make an exception for us. That day I left the hospital with two implanted embryos. Hope lived, at least a little. Two weeks and a long wait later. I went to brunch at At Park in Gothenburg with my mother and sister on a sunny holiday. It was actually too early to take a grav test, but of course I had brought a grav test in my bag. You can never have/take too many grave tests... I tested myself in the At Park toilet - A positive grave test for the first time in my 30 year old life. A positive grave test! Not even an obscure, hard-to-understand grave test. A real one. Cursed. Positively. Grave test! I was so mentally stripped that I was barely happy. “It will start bleeding soon.” "There is an error on the grave test." I thought.

Many people I have spoken to about IVF treatments usually say that the so-called incubation, the two weeks you wait between the embryo insertion and the grave test, is usually the worst wait. For me, it was all the next few days of pregnancy. For the first twelve weeks I expected to miscarry every day. My partner and I often travel abroad as my partner has a flexible job where he can work remotely. To take our mind off the pregnancy, we went to the United States, where we usually travel. You could probably call it our second home. We followed IVF clinic procedures and did an ultrasound at a clinic in Texas to make sure the embryos were growing as they should and that the hearts of both fetuses were beating. We saw immediately on the ultrasound screen that there was only one embryo in the uterus. The heart beat. "gallop, gallop, gallop." A healthy fetus with a strong heart! After all, we were set from the start that no fetus would survive, so a healthy, alive fetus was a total Jackpot.

I felt like shit during that trip. While R and his friend went around and ate good food, I was lying in a hotel room with the curtains drawn, feeling constantly ready to throw up and eating apples and crackers.

The pregnancy developed normally. I was perfectly fine, as good as you can be during a normal pregnancy. At week 17, I could feel flutters in my stomach, the beginning of kicks. From week 20, there were no more flutters in the stomach but real pushes and punches. Somewhere after week 25, I started to feel that now this little bastard has to move out soon. And out she came at last. My beloved Tyra.

On a warm summer night in 2019, I gave birth. I lost over 2 liters of blood and had a real near death experience. After a 32-hour labor, the body couldn't take it anymore. About a minute after the baby was out of my body, I passed out. The blood and life began to drain from me. I was rushed to surgery. My partner was left alone in the dark in the delivery room for 30 minutes with the little one on his chest. She sucked on his chest in search of food and cried in frustration at the lack of milk. I received two rounds of blood transfusions in the following hours. At the lowest I had 63 in HB (blood count). A few hours after the operation, I got to see my daughter. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. At the same time, I barely had the strength to hold her. I barely managed to pick up my phone or talk. I had been awake for 30 hours out of a total of 32 hours of labor and when I was lying in the delivery room in the hours after the operation waiting to be transferred to BB, I kept my eyes open. Not because of happy hormones but because of my bottomless fear of starting to bleed again.

The days and weeks went by and I slowly got stronger. I had already decided before the pregnancy that I would breastfeed. That's how you do it. I struggled for three months with breastfeeding. Right from day 1 Tyra kicked behind and hated my chest. The only thing that worked was to breastfeed when she slept, dreamfeeding. For three months I pumped my breasts. I felt like some kind of cattle, standing there in the kitchen day and night, pumping spurts of milk from my bleeding breasts.

In retrospect, I have understood that I should not have even tried to breastfeed. My body did not have enough energy and strength to take care of both my own health and my child's food intake. It was a relief to start with formula.

The first months of my daughter's life I thought every day that "BB will soon come and take the baby back because she is not mine." It was like not real to me. All the IVF treatments, the pregnancy and the difficult delivery had completely broken me down. Only when I stopped breastfeeding and started getting enough sleep and rest did these thoughts gradually subside and finally I could find myself sitting smiling and crying with my daughter in my arms. I really felt like I was the mother of my child. To my beloved Tyra.

We decided after a few months to try to get siblings for our daughter. Of course I hated the whole idea but the idea of ​​Tyra being without siblings won out in the end. The small frozen embryo in the hospital freezer was thawed and inserted into me - Two weeks and a long wait later - blood and a negative grave test.

IVF no. 4. We did this treatment at a private clinic. During that treatment we managed to get an embryo. When I met the doctors the morning of the insertion, he said: "If we had had more embryos to choose from, we would not have inserted this. It is a poor quality embryo and we judge that it will not develop into a fetus. You can decide for yourself whether you want to make the deposit.” We made the deposit the same day. Two weeks and a long wait later – blood and a negative grave test.

Two weeks after the IVF treatment and the negative grave test, I miraculously became pregnant in the normal way. Like a kind of miracle. 9 weeks into the pregnancy I had a miscarriage.

A few weeks after the miscarriage, I got pregnant in the normal way again. We didn't understand anything. "Now there are good eggs in the queue at the end," my partner and I stated. When I was 20 weeks into my pregnancy, we lived in the United States for a month. Tyra learned to swim dog lap and get around a pool by herself on that trip. The day before we were to fly home, I tested positive for Covid. We isolated ourselves and stayed there for another week. I was coughing so much that it felt like my water was going to break but after a few days the cough finally subsided and I was well enough for us to go home.

After a 40 week normal pregnancy I gave birth to another amazing daughter. My little beloved Unni. The labor was only 12 hours long. The same thing happened during this birth too – I started bleeding. The staff did aortic compression (they push the knee right down into the solar plexus and cut off the blood flow of the aorta between the knee and the spine) and drove me up to surgery. I was conscious and in good spirits, laughing and talking to the midwives: "I feel like I'm at a spa." I was high on sedatives and other drugs. Here I got my childbirth revenge. A really good experience despite a placenta that refused to come out this time as well. Unni loved breastfeeding for the first three months and I got to experience what it could be like to breastfeed completely carefree. After three months she finally refused the breast too and I started formula as soon as I noticed her refusal.

Four IVF treatments, a miscarriage, an abyss of grief, two pregnancies, two births, two surgeries and two blood transfusions later, I got what I wanted, a family to call mine with all my heart. Two healthy, happy children. This experience left its mark on me but today, 4 years later, I can honestly say that it made me stronger.

Without healthcare, I would not have had my wish fulfilled. Thank you healthcare! Thank you to all the countless doctors we met at Sahlgrenska fertility clinic. Thanks Livio. Thank you Östra hospital's labor and delivery. Thanks. Without you, my children would not be alive today. Without you I would not be alive today. Thank you R for making me stand up and try again even though my brain said No.

Thank you Body for carrying me. Thank you for carrying my children.

What I learned from this trip:

  1. Syringes are my best friend. They save my life time and time again and make it possible to have children even though it should be impossible.

  2. The body is so much stronger than I thought possible. It is perhaps when we lose control the most that it is at its strongest.

  3. Time is stubborn. It will continue to tick at its regular pace both when you feel like it wants to stand still and when you want it to skip over months of waiting.

  4. Time is also kind. It heals many wounds, both physical and psychological - if you take your time.

  5. The psyche is a fragile and beautiful thing. Take care of yourself.

  6. There is hope. When it's at its darkest. Continue.

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