I grew up loving children and knowing that I’d have at least three kids, if not more.
I had a consistent babysitting job starting at 11, I studied biology in college to be a pediatrician, and ultimately didn’t continue, and taught it instead, because medical school didn’t fit into my life plan of being a mom.
I know, I was young and dumb because clearly, you can do both. But the good news is that the universe knew better and thankfully guided me in the right direction.
First, I got to explore different careers. I started as a middle school chemistry teacher and high school biology teacher. I always had little projects and businesses on the side. I created a private tutoring business, a dance camp for high school teams, and I designed a home accessory line for boutiques around the country.
And when it was time to move to the east coast, my entrepreneurial background landed me a job in media sales where I learned an entirely different set of skills and continued to explore, grow, and succeed in that career for eleven years.
I share this with you because our drive to create a career and life that inspires us is a big reason that more and more women may find themselves at IVF’s door.
We should be proud of ourselves for our drive and ambition. I didn’t marry that guy I dated in my 20’s that I would be divorced from right now and instead I took a lot of risks and jumped at opportunities which ultimately made me well-rounded and marketable. By 31 I was married, and by 32 I started trying for baby #1.
I went into Baby Making thinking we are going to do it, and then two weeks later get a pregnancy test that says,"Of course you’re pregnant Tasha!"
But that last part never happened. With each month that passed, I did what we all do: I got more serious about the process.
I started reading books and going to acupuncture.
Then started taking my temperature, and using daily ovulation tests.
Next, I learned to analyze my cervix for shape and substance - egg whites suddenly had a whole new meaning for me!
Around month nine I went to my OB, told her how I was charting, and she started the initial fertility tests with me. I was grateful she didn’t make me wait a year.
Tests were blood work and a hysterosalpingogram. This is where they put dye into your uterus, which will then flow into your fallopian tubes, and see if there is any blockage.
Everything on my end came back normal.
Next Brian had to get tested. He had the grueling process of watching porn and ejaculating in a cup. Poor guy. I felt soooooo bad for him.
We learned that Brian has low sperm count. 40M is what they like to see to get pregnant naturally, 10M is required for IUI (turkey baster), and Brian had 4M.
Brings a whole new meaning to “it just takes one” because it don’t.
So, IVF was the only option. I didn’t expect that answer, and I immediately started crying. I only knew one person, at the time, who’d gone through IVF, and the process sounded horrible.
But then I turned my negative into a positive: I didn't have egg quality or quantity issues, and am quite the planner, so this could be nice. I will do IVF once, and fill up a cryogenics chamber full of my embryos, next to Walt Disney of course. I figured I’d have one child every two years and have around four before 40.
Please note that this INSANE thought process was before I had even one child.
The thing that worried me the most was giving myself shots and not knowing how I would respond to the hormones. See, I can’t even take the pill because I’m sensitive to hormones. Sensitive as in bat-sh*t crazy.
Ask my best friend, Annie, who I lived with for many years. She was the only person who saw me on the pill. My rage and insanity could be compared to seeing the The Hulk transform if the Hulk was just a little shorter because I’m pretty tall in heels.
I was self-aware enough to know two things. First, I needed to give to my husband strategies he could use to calm me down when I got nuts to make sure I didn’t have my baby in prison.
Second, I had to create this strategy and then make sure I didn’t leave it up to him to implement. That would just put us in a fail-fail situation. He would fail to remember what would calm me down and then I would fail to put down the kitchen knife.
For these reasons, I created The Hit List The Hit List is a list of things that can immediately shift my mindset and calm me down. Without any substances.
It was go time. Round one of IVF.
I went into my first round quite anxious. I had a case of "fear of the unknown." The process was intimidating, the calendar of events overwhelming, and I feared reactions to the hormones with every new shot.
At the egg retrieval, I had 15 eggs retrieved and was on my way to filling up that cryogenics chamber. But by the end, only two embryos looked normal.
Of course, now I know why, but at the time these results sent my anxiety through the roof. I felt like I wasn’t a good egg producer.
Well, that round I got pregnant. One of the two embryos had implanted, but by week 7, there was no heartbeat.
First reaction was sadness and and immediate second was annoyance.
Wait, I have to start all over and do this again? Like from the beginning? No vault of frozen babies?
Everything went perfectly according to the doctor. How could this have failed?
Of course, no one had an explanation. You have to be ok with "I don’t know" being an acceptable answer in this process. Yes, even when you just spent all of that time and money and emotional strife and physical wearing.
I went into it angry. In the waiting room, I was annoyed that I had to be there again. I was annoyed by anyone I saw.
This round I started doing all the shots by myself. I was working full time in New York City and had to go out with clients, so I needed to be independent.
Here’s a fun story for you. One night, when I was out with clients, I forgot a part of the needle. I was towards the end of my round, and the next night would be my all-important hCG shot. I felt like I was messing up right at the finish line. I immediately and frantically took the shot when I got home.
The next night I was ready for my hCG shot. The all important, precisely timed shot needed to release the eggs from the follicles they’re housed in. This shot makes you ovulate, but instead of the eggs traveling down your fallopian tubes, the doctors are going to catch them right before they leave the follicle during the egg retrieval.
It has to be timed perfectly because your appointment for the egg retrieval will be approximately 36 hours later. So, if you take the shot at 7:00 pm on Monday night, your appointment for the egg retrieval will be at 7:00 am Wednesday morning. If you miss it, the eggs start traveling; you can’t retrieve them, and your IVF cycle is ruined.
Well, the night of my shot, we had dinner plans with another couple, one of our closest friends, Missy and Duke (and yes, they are as gorgeous and preppy as they sound).
I needed to take the shot at 7:00 pm, but I couldn’t find it. It was packaged in a box branded Ovidrel. I’d been looking at that packaging in my fridge for a month now. Where on earth did it go?
So weird. I check again, and again, and again.
I kept all of my meds in a bag in the fridge. The rest were there, so where was this Ovidrel box that I’d just seen?! We tore up the house and found nothing. Brian took the dog out and came back home to find me in the fetal position, bawling on the kitchen floor, with the garbage can turned over, holding the empty Ovidrel shot.
I had taken it the night before.
How did this happen?
First, I was rushed- I just grabbed the shot and wasn’t paying attention. Second, the Ovidrel box and pre-filled syringe look exactly like Ganirelix box and pre-filled syringe. The colors of the box are different, but once you pull it out of the box, it looks the same.
I couldn’t believe I took the shot the night before. It was over. I couldn’t forgive myself. I just cried and lamented that I’d ruined everything.
I called the doctor on call, whom I had never met, and he was neither sympathetic nor supportive. He lectured me on how important it is to take the shot when they tell you to. How there’s no room for the egg retrieval the next morning, how big of a mistake this was.
He apparently knew exactly what to say to calm me down. Who needs a Hit List when we have this guy?! Not me!
He finished the lecture with, "Come at 10:00 am tomorrow, and we’ll see what we can do."
I hung up and then the self-abuse began. I couldn’t believe I messed up the last, most important step.
"Why am I so dumb?"
"Why don't I pay better attention?"
"You’re always forgetting stuff because you’re doing too much. If you just slowed down"
So, I went out to dinner and tried to take my mind off things, and from then on I had the attitude of, "Oh well. Nothing I can do to fix this, so I just have to go with it." But my mental stability was hanging by a thread.
And the mental abuse kept creeping in, "You stupid, stupid, stupid…." But I’d shut it down.
We got to the clinic, and they fit us in. As I waited for my turn, Brian and I kept the mood light-hearted. We laughed and made jokes. He put on medical gloves and pretended to do an anal exam. It’s funny in person. Honestly, just someone putting on a latex glove and sticking their finger up is funny. We were good. I was...well, not bawling, so that was good.
We finally heard the doctor approaching with a nurse. He asked, “Who’s next?"
The nurse responded, "The one who messed up."
The thin thread holding together my mental stability broke. I’d been holding in my shame and sadness for hours. This comment released the floodgates.
I couldn’t stop crying.
I cried as I was answering the prep questions from the doctor, through the walk to the operating room, inside the operating room.
The nurses looked genuinely concerned and tried to assure me that this was a simple procedure and there will be no pain. I could not even catch my breath to get out what I was crying about.
Thinking about it, I might have been having an anxiety attack. I just know that I couldn’t speak, couldn’t catch my breath, and couldn’t stop crying.
Then I was knocked out.
Thank God for everyone, right?
But then I woke up and started crying as soon as I was conscious. As we left, the bawling was a whimper.
Then came the day when they were going to look at the embryos and tell me whether or not I should come in for the transfer. This clinic was big on Day 3 transfers, which I never recommend. But at the time, I didn’t have the piles of research and rounds of experience that I do now. If none of the embryos looked good after three days, I’d just have to start the whole process over again. And the shaming and stupid-idiot-internal-name-calling would continue.
I "knew" I wasn’t going to have any good embryos. They needed another full day to grow. But I got good news: I had two embryos that looked good, and the transfer would be scheduled for that day.
This was the same results as my first round. I hadn’t totally ruined the cycle! Of course, I figured that if I hadn’t messed up, I might’ve had more good embryos. But, overall, I was ok.
And guess what. That was the round that allowed my son, Hudson, to join our family.
Take that Dr. A-Hole with your lecture and mean talk.
It looks like “Tasha-Too-Early” was right on time! Maybe I know more than you do. In your face you bully doctor...wait! I’m pregnant! YAY! I love you so much!
The pregnancy was a roller coaster (he might have Down’s, he might have a heart condition, you have placenta previa), that took me right into a haunted house (a small, New York City, Pepto Bismol colored hospital room that I had to stay in for nine weeks leading up to a C-section a month before he was due).
BUT, I was able to walk away with a healthy baby boy, so bring it.
Another plus, I have great tips on how to get through horrible, hospital bedrest if you need it.
Overall, my IVF Story to conceive Hudson was very easy. Two rounds, and I got pregnant both times.
I didn't have any embryos frozen, and I’d have to do IVF all over again, from the beginning, for my next child, but this process worked quickly for me.
I was sure baby #2 would be a piece of cake. That was the right attitude, but it was not the reality.
As you know, I have done IVF TEN times. My IVF story, Part 2, is coming soon.