To IVF or not IVF

Published February 15, 2014 by Jennie

This post is a plea for advice.  I completely understand that all women are different when it comes to infertility. However, I am kind of at a crossroads right now.  I love writing this blog because it allows me to connect with other people are are going through similar experiences.  I have been overwhelmed with the encouragement and support I have received.  No one understands infertility like someone who has gone through it (although I am lucky to have have additional support from my non-infertile friends).  So here it goes.

For those of you who may be new to my story, I have undergone an incredible amount of medical testing and procedures to obtain the coveted label of unexplained infertility.  You can read more about this journey here.  As a result, I have began to take a more holistic approach with a new focus on health.  I understand I can not do everything (no one can!), but here is what I have done so far.

* Gave up soda
* Eliminated caffeine
* Eliminated artificial sweeteners
* Read food labels to cut down on processed food
* Eliminated any food that have been modified to be reduced fat, low sugar, etc.
* Eliminated fast food
* Avoid foods that could possibly have listeria
* Avoid soy when possible
* Switched from cow’s milk to almond milk
* Switched to organic meat. This means they have not been feed antibiotics or growth     hormones. You can read more about it here.
* Sometimes switching to organic when I think it is worth it. I do not buy a food just because it is organic. I research it and then make a decision. For example, when I buy berries, I make sure they are organic but organic junk food is still junk food.
* Drink a lot of water. I recently learned about the multitude of benefits of lemon water. You can read more about that here and here.
* Make foods at home as opposed to buying them at the store when possible
(for example, I make pizza from scratch now which actually tastes a lot better)
* Exercise 4x a week (I am lucky to have an awesome workout buddy)
* Maintain a healthy weight. I have never been overweight but I have been underweight.
* Trying to get into yoga (I have a friend who is a yoga instructor and she
is willing to work with me on this one)
* Started acupuncture
* Started a blog (huge benefits here!)
* Actively trying to maintain an positive attitude.

We are currently scheduled to start IVF in May.  I am now starting to have second thoughts.  I do not know if all this stuff I am doing can actually make a difference.  Even so, it may be worth trying on our own for a while with these changes to see what happens.  Also, it may be worth trying another IUI. We previously did two and had great numbers both times (our doctors really thought it would work). Additionally, I think I am a little scared of IVF (is that strange to say?). I have seen other people go through it and it is a lot to take on. I know it can be worth it but I want to make sure I am prepared and I am not sure if I am quite there yet (if that makes any sense). I am 31 now which I know does not make me a spring chicken but I do feel we have a little bit of time to explore options. I sincerely appreciate any feedback that people would like to give. I do not judge and I am open to considering different options. As always, thank you so much for your support! xoxoxo

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51 comments on “To IVF or not IVF

  • I get asked this question ALL of the time and this is what I always say…

    1. Don’t ever do anything in life until you have 100% peace about it. Seek God, ask Him what He thinks and as time goes on, if it’s something He wants you to do, you will not have any second thoughts. I can speak from experience. There have been times when I was even 90% at peace about a decision but there was something not quite right. So I waited. Over time (God must have needed to do something first), I developed the 100% peace.

    2. If you do IVF, just know that getting a negative test after IVF is so much more of a different feeling than getting a negative after any other cycle. The only reason I can think of is because everything was in there so your hopes and the statistics, etc. are higher. With other procedures and doing it naturally you never know if it made it to the uterus, etc. I don’t like to sound like a debbie downer, but I was not prepared for the results after I did IVF. I expected to have the feelings of disappointment like I had with all the other cycles. Make sense?

    I personally feel like if you don’t have peace, continue on with what you are doing. This doesn’t mean you won’t do IVF down the road, it just means you won’t do it know.

    Praying for you girl! I think the changes you made are amazing and it takes time to see the effects of it. xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • That you so much for the encouragement! These changes can be hard but I think they are worth it. I had no idea how I would handle a failed IVF attempt. On the other hand, thinking about it possibly working makes me want to start it tomorrow.

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  • I started TTC when I was barely 36 and after trying all the natural stuff under the sun we did manage to become pregnant once before, which ended in a miscarriage. It took us 1 1/2 years of actively trying to get to that point. After my miscarriage we tried au natural again for another 6 months or so and nothing happened. Since I was not getting any younger (if I had been in my early 30s I would have given it more time) we decided to go for IUI and luckily that worked. You are much younger than me and you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility which could mean anything under the sun. Based on that I think I would try either another IUI or try au natural for a few more months. If nothing happens in a year or so you can still go for IVF. It’s not running away, right? It all really depends on how much longer you want to wait to have a baby. I would definitely do something about it before you hit 35 ’cause those eggs don’t get any fresher if you know what I mean 😉

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    • Haha you are so right. Sometimes I wish I had frozen my eggs when I was in my early twenties but unfortunately I did not know infertility would ever be an issue. I actually spent a lot of my earlier life being terrified of getting pregnant (up until the age of 25 I was convinced I never wanted kids). It is funny how things can turn out.

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  • You’ve got some time to think and pray about it so I’d suggest doing that before making a decision. I hate this process of decision making but the answer will come to you. I agree with Elisha that a negative result after IVF is much much harder to deal with than IUI or other methods. I was completely crushed and am still recovering; however, it can have great amazing results! Give it some time and the answer will come to you. Whether you go with IVF or another IUI cycle, the steps you’ve made to improve your health will help you in the long-run no matter what path you choose. Hugs!

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    • Yeah that is what I am most scared of. I am pretty sure I can handle the medical stuff. In that area, I am tough. i just do not know how I would handle a failed IVF cycle. I fell apart when my IUIs did not work even though I knew the odds are not great for that procedure. I am glad I have begun to work on improving my health. That could help prepare me for what happens (good or bad!). Thank you! xoxoxo

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  • Given how you’re feeling (apprehensive) and your (excellent) age, and that you’re “unexplained”, and done only 2 IUI’s, I wouldn’t rush into IVF (unless insurance was paying for it or money was no object). But it’s your (and hubby’s) decision, so follow your hearts! XO

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    • Thank you so much! We do have good insurance coverage for but of course that does not mean it’s free! That is actually one reason I am thinking of one more IUI. Before we did it out of pocket but our insurance does make it MUCH cheaper. xoxkxo

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  • I also have unexplained infertility. We have been TTC since the loss of our son in 2012. I am on my 23rd cycle. I have had an HSG, too many blood tests to count and lap and hystro surgery several months ago. I recently had a miscarriage and am 38+. I am feeling my time is slipping away. Given that… And all I have learned in the past few years. I think I would also give the IUI one more try. You are young enough and have the time to go to IVF if necessary. Although I say this with a grain of salt. Keep on top of whatever you do decide and push for what you are ready for and what you think is best for yourself. Do not let someone else define what is right for you. Best of luck in all you do!

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      • I think you already know. Hehehe.. I know strange thing to say. But we women always like to second guess our selves and analyze. Just remember you are doing all the right things and asking all the questions and that is what matters in the end. You are putting thought and much love into it!

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      • I am the queen on bring indecisive! For example, I am looking at getting a food processor. I have spent a long time researching all the options and changing my mind. I wish I could just go get one. I know this drives my husband nuts but he does his best to deal with it. Sometimes I wake up and I am fine not having kids and other times thinking about it consumes my whole day.. Ugh!

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  • I definitely underestimated how hard IVF is emotionally… I kind of knew it would be physically tough and after various ops/offensive tests etc I was prepared for that side. I’d agree with the other ladies, a negative test after IVF is crushing compared to a normal monthly cycle. Having said that, the rewards are high! It is certainly not easy, but if you are ready for it then you will be strong enough.

    Have you had your AMH tested? I’m 31 too and mine is low for my age (it indicates egg reserves). If you are going to wait a bit longer, I’d check that your AMH is okay first just to be on the safe side.

    If you aren’t 100% sure and you have no health reasons that mean you need IVF quickly then postponing it for a bit certainly won’t do you any harm… I had no choice and I think if I had, I would have liked longer to try naturally or something less invasive like IUIs. Good luck with your decision! x

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  • If I was 31, we would not be doing IVF, but since I will be 39 in June – we are. I did many of the changes that you stated above the last 6 months and had considerably better results with egg quality. I would say that it would be worth it to give it another 6 months of trying on your own or IUI and see what happens. Wishing you all the best in your decision-making and hoping that something feels right soon 🙂

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    • It’s encouraging to know someone made healthy changes and it made a difference. I do feel better but there are times I would still give a limb for soda and reading food ingredients makes grocery shopping difficult. I am keeping my fingers crossed for you. I hope IVF brings good news for you!

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  • I have a different take on this one. For me, after TTC for 2 years we started treatments. We did everything we could starting when I was 30 to try & avoid ivf. Like you, our #s always seemed good for IUI, but no success. At 31 we decided that we would try naturally until 34 while we saved & prepared for ivf. We went thru 1 cycle and I am now 22w5d pregnant & I wish we had done this in the very beginning. Financially speaking, all the other treatments we went thru equaled about what our ivf cost us. As for the process, my early cycles on clomid were harder on me than ivf, hormonally speaking, but I know that isn’t always the case.
    You have to do what is right for you, but if I knew at 30 what I know now 4.5 years later, I would go ivf right out of the gate.

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  • For us, IVF was the only option- so I’m not sure how long I would have waited before going to that if I had the choice. I will say though, that IVF wasn’t as bad as I expected- at least the first round. If it works, you’ll have no regrets!

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    • That is a good point. I do not think it’s my only option but then again I have yet to identify the cause of my infertility. For all I know, IVF could be the only thing that could work on me. On the other hand, it may not be able to overcome whatever is making me infertile. I wish I could be psychic sometimes!

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  • Hey,

    I think that your commitment to your health and fertility is amazing! I tried naturally for 5 years, I also gave up a lot of foods and drinks that are unhealthy. It was hard as I felt quite restricted at times, although a lot healthier! I also did a lot of acupuncture which I loved, I went weekly or fortnightly for a couple of years.

    To be honest in Australia the specialists do not recommend iui very often, I’m not exactly sure why. I’ve heard conflicting advice about whether it is worth doing at all.

    I didnt find IVF too traumatising, and I’m needle phobic, so that’s saying a lot. We started in Feb 2012 and I was pregnant by May and gave birth to my baby girl in Feb 2013.

    We were lucky in that it worked really quickly for us, I put some of that down to all the health changes and various alternative medicines I tried. It can certainly take it’s toll if you do cycle after cycle for years, I was never going to be someone who would do that to myself. I only had to go through one egg collection and 2 transfers. I’m not a fan of the fresh transfer a few days after the egg collection, I think its a waste of an embryo and your body has just been through quite a lot with all the various drugs and the procedure. The frozen transfer is so much easier, in fact you could take a few months off after the egg collection and let your body settle down and return to normal. Gives you time emotionally to have some time out from being poked and prodded! There’s lots of research saying that if an embryo can survive the freezing and thawing it is of very good quality. Also I wouldnt put two embryos in, it’s just much more work for the body to process and I was told I was less likely to end up with a pregnancy.

    One thing that was important for me was that I had a reading of 9 for my Thyroid, underactive. You’ve probably looked into this but just in case, here’s some info. Your thyroid levels, your TSH should have a reading of 2 or less for pregnancy. Some Dr’s dont believe it has an affect but I’ve done quite a bit of research into it and I believe it has a very big impact on fertility. My IVF specialist was not helpful with getting me the thyroid medication, I had to have quite a few blood tests from an Intergrated GP, they will also test your reverse T3 & T4, but it’s not common practice so you really have to seek it out, well you do in Australia, it helps give you more of a whole picture of whats going on with your thyroid. Anyway, sorry to ramble on, you may not even have any thyroid issues!

    So I managed to start taking Thyroxine medication two weeks before the second (frozen) transfer, who knows if that’s what helped it worked, we’ll never know, but I just wanted to give myself the best chance I could. So I ended up having a two month break after the first fresh transfer failed. It felt good to put the first part of the IVF treatment behind me.

    I had quite a hard pregnancy, it made the IVF part seem easy, a drop in the ocean of time. The most important thing is falling pregnant and having your long awaited baby. year after year of infertility certainly leaves a scar, it’s a very painful time and even now I have had a baby some of that pain is still there, it’s just part of my journey. Having my baby girl in my life is a total joy, I’m so glad I finally plucked up the courage to do IVF.

    Having said that, you do have time on your side, so why not wait a few months, it’s nice to take a little break if you have had a lot of procedures, as there are lots of internal scans and blood tests with IVF. Take some YOU time, pamper yourself, have massages, long hot baths (which you cant do when you are pregnant), re connect with the earth and things you love and find fun. Make a vision board, cut up images from magazines and stick on to a board that you see every day! Mine had lots of beautiful pregnant women, bellies and babies on it!

    Susiex

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    • Wow that is a lot of great advice. I have visited different doctors that tested my thyroid and said it was fine. Even so, I don’t remember looking at my actual numbers. I have never even heard of reverse T3 and T4. I just saw the word normal on the results and moved on. I have also heard that frozen is better. My crazy good insurance covers the whole freezing process (I am sure you know a little bit about how fu#%^d up American health costs are). My RE actually does mostly frozen. I have never before heard that 2 embryos make your chances worse. My RE recommended one based in my age and desire to avoid multiples. Thanks again!

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  • Well it looks like you already have a lot of comments here and I did not read all of them. I hope I’m not just repeating what they have said but your last paragraph makes so much sense to me!! For my situation I would add to your concerns, I am questioning whether I even need children any more. I know that probably sounds ridiculous to some but sometimes I feel like it’s not meant to be (for me personally) if I have to force it like this. I will be 36 this year and I haven’t felt like a spring chicken for years now. I also know that due to the rest of my unrelated to infertility health issues it would be a very high risk pregnancy! I say take your time to decide if IVF is right for you. I am not discouraging it at all. I just think this is certainly not a good time for impulsive (that may not be a word…lol) decisions. You will know when it’s right. Good luck in your journey. Sending good thights your way!

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    • I haven’t wanted to admit it but I too sometimes wonder if having children is for me. I have been so focused on getting pregnant for so long that I feel I may have lost sight of the big picture. I want my life back.

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      • I feel the same. I know I always question the definition of normal but I want to be “normal” again! I don’t want to give up I just want this to be over!

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      • If you are thinking about getting a dissertation done or wanting your life back I would think very seriously about whether it is the right time for you to have a baby. There is no ‘getting your life’ back once you have a baby. You get a completely different life, one that is devoted to keeping a small human alive, I now dont always get time to brush my teeth or have a shower, and she’s a pretty easy going baby! Its the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever done, I look at her every day and can not believe she has come into my life, this gorgeous little being that I get to look after. I dont regret a thing, except perhaps not starting ivf earlier as now I think it is very unlikely I will have another child, that being said, I am an only child and I dont think I want more anyway. I do have an embryo left over but the pregnancy was so hard I couldnt go through it again. Mine was unusually hard, most people dont seem to suffer the way I did, so dont let that put you off!!

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      • Thank you so much for your input. A lot of times I get angry at my infertility situation because I allow it to hinder progress in other parts of my life. If I did ever get pregnant, that would become my number one priority. I know that school will always be there but a child may never be. I worry a lot about putting my life on hold for something that may never happen.

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      • Agreed. It is such a hard decision and I went back and forth for so long. How do you know when you are finally done going back and forth. When can I just go forth? :/

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      • If you know in your heart that you do want a baby one day, and see yourself when you are old surrounded by children and grandchildren, then go forth now. Every moment you wait could, and I say could, decrease your chances. There is never a right time, having a baby needs to be your top priority right now, even before being pregnant.

        Having said that I needed to be in the right head space, I set myself a time when I would start ivf, so if you do want to do your dissertation, then book an appointment for January 2015, that’s your cut off, dont do any treatments in the mean time, no iui etc vno nothing, no more discussions.

        Psychologically I needed the space in my mind to connect with this being that was yet to be conceived. I talked to mine all the time, my spirit baby, welcomed it into my life, told it that it was loved and wanted. Then I did that every day when I was pregnant too, and especially when I was afraid, which was most of the pregnancy. I found it pretty nerve wracking being pregnant, plus I had bad nausea the first 13 weeks, I thought I’d be the happiest I had ever been and yet I was the most depressed, it really tested me. I lost a lot weight, I was 64kilos to start with and I went down to 56 kilos, I also got gestational diabetes, annoying but a very healthy way of being at least!!

        I quit my job before starting ivf also (not an option for everyone I know) . I also did a Doula course, helped me learn everything there is to know about birth. I immersed myself in it as much as I could. I read about things like concious conception, I went to acupuncture, I went to therapy groups, counselling, bodywork, abdominal massage, the list goes on!

        I found starting ivf a big relief, it was then out of my hands and I could stop ‘trying’ so hard to do it all right all the time.

        I can hardly explain the joy of having my own baby, not just looking longingly at someone elses child or buying endless presents for others newborns. It is a totally mindblowing experience, I am loving it and that’s an understatement. Even though I was up 4 times last night, all whilst having terrible ovulation pains!

        To be honest, most people are not that honest about how hard it is having a baby, I guess they think it’s mean to tell another women that. But I think I’d rather be honest here.

        Hope that helps
        sx

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  • Sorry I am not one of your regular readers but I read your post and I wanted you to know that I came to a similar point in my life as well. I had to reach deep down in my soul. I wanted to quit, give up, I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore. But, I came up realizing that I could never give up, never stop until I got my baby. So I decided to continue on and do what ever it took. It was a very emotional and scary time for me, I was so lost. If you really want a baby and this is your best way to get it, then do it and don’t look back. You will never know if you don’t try, and worse you may regret that you didn’t. Whatever you decide I wish you the best of luck. Shannon

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      • Don’t give up it was a long and hard fought journey but in the end my biggest obstacle in life became biggest triumph and I remember that every time I hug my baby girls. Cheers.

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  • We have done IVF and we will do it again but that being said it is hard. The finances to me are actually the easiest part (remind me later that I said that!). The emotions are by far harder than I ever imagined. We have had it work (see our story to see how it ended) and we have had it not work. If you don’t feel you are completely ready to do it I say don’t. Pray about it. Talk about it with your husband. It is really not something to take lightly. If you think you might want to try another IUI talk about it and don’t make a quick decision. Jumping into it when you aren’t ready is only going to make it harder. Praying for you!

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    • Thank you so much for your input and honesty. While we have been trying for four years, we only started seriously considering IVF in November. It is so easy to have all of this run my life. I do have other things I need to focus on (like getting my dissertation written!). Thanks again and I hope it all works out for you.

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      • Yes we should! I study econometrics and public policy which is great but it makes dissertations hard. These areas teach me how to analyze data but are not specifically linked to topics. The best advice I ever got is that the best dissertation is a finished dissertation.

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  • It really sounds that you’ve really improved your lifestyle and it sounds like you are doing everything right. We got pregnant after our second month of trying but had a miscarriage and did not full pregnant naturally again. I found that I went through different phases during our infertility. The first phase was trying naturally and getting frustrated each month with nothing happening. The second phase was getting everything checked out, having a lap and a hysteroscopy – all fine but my husbands morphology was low 1-3%. Our fertility specialist was very optimistic that we would get pregnant if we kept trying naturally but it would be a case of how long it would take. She did however recommended going for the best possible treatment straight away which was ivf-icsi. It is the more expensive treatment but if it works quicker then it might save money in the long run instead of trying other options first. About that time (a year into trying naturally), I really started struggle mentally with everything that was going on but I knew I wasn’t ready to start ivf and I needed to sort myself out. I talked to our FS about waiting another 6 months and while she agreed that it might be a good idea to wait, she said don’t wait too much longer as things may deteriorate. I am 33 get to put it into context. She said that if we were trying for 18 months, then our chances of conceiving naturally for our first would drastically reduce. So after a few more months, I was physically and mentally ready to go through IVF. I was glad that I waited but I am also pleased we had a date in place when we would go for it. It also meant that I thought about a getting pregnant over a 6month period rather than month to month. That definitely helped with my sanity. I think in terms of IVF I think you may have to prepare yourself for more than one cycle but you have age on your side which certainly helps with the chances of success. We were really lucky and we had an amazing first cycle. We got a positive result after our first transfer (one embryo) and we’ve got 6 frozen embryos in storage. It is early days but it was all worth it. The actually IvF cycle was fine and I didn’t have any bad reactions to the hormones. So my advice is do it when you are ready and only when you are ready and if you can, go for the best treatment you can afford. Also be prepared that it might take more than one cycle and that in the first cycle, they find out what works and what doesn’t. I hope that helps.
    Best of luck with whatever you decide
    Alex at http://www.mylittleoven.net

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    • Thank you so much and I am glad it has worked for you so far. It is a lot to think about and getting input from people who have gone through it is incredibly helpful! Best of luck to you and thanks again 🙂

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  • I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog. I am currently at this IUI/IVF crossroads. Everyone has such much great advice to offer. Just know that whatever you do, you’ve made the decision that feels the best to you. Good luck with everything!

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  • Thank you for the great post. Its very comforting because I think about this crossroad all the time. I’ve done IUI and my husband is somewhat not convinced with IVF. Primarily due to the cost and the fact that it isn’t guaranteed. I’m 2 months away from 40, so time is not really my friend. I’m comfortable with IUI, but I really appreciate your insight and the comments as I didn’t really think about the painful impact of a failed IVF cycle. Good luck and look forward to hearing more on your story!!

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    • It is such a difficult decision! One day I can wake up feeling a certain way and the next day I can feel completely different. My take on IUI is that it is definitely not nearly as effective but it has to work for someone right?

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  • Hey!
    I just wanted to say your dedication will pay off! WOW! You are going all about it the right way! I’m super excited for you and for May to get here!
    When we did IVF, as it was an only option for us, since I had an ectopic pregnancy after my HSG, it left me with only a left tube – but both ovaries. I was 31 at the time and we figured why spend another year hoping the left side produces like an apple tree. We monitored it for a month with an IUI and wouldn’t you know my right side was the money maker! Figures! Just my luck!
    All the while we had been doing Acupuncture, I know some people don’t have luck with it, but my goodness the amount of relaxation I found in Acupuncture was beyond amazing!
    That being said – I would only maybe recommend that, on top of everything else you are doing!
    We had a successful IVF cycle and have an awesome little man.
    And now as we embark on the world of FET, I find myself reaching for more Acupuncture.
    We also are eating organic meats, no red meat, and we are also dairy free. It has done wonders for our body!

    I’m super excited for you and will totally be cheering you on until May and beyond!!

    You got this!

    HUGS!

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    • Thank you so much. Your kind words mean a lot. I have actually already started acupuncture. I like it a lot. Sometimes it makes me really tired so I have to take a nap afterwords. I am so glad your IVF worked for you. It sounds like you have been through a lot. One unexpected benefit of trying to get healthy (physically and mentally) is I am starting to be more ok with my infertility. It does not (by any means) mean I do not want children. It just means I am getting to the point where I think it will be ok if it does not work. For me, it is really important to get ready as much as possible before we try IVF. I know I can not completely prepare myself but I want to at least try regardless of the outcome. Hope your FET goes well. My doctor actually has suggested that after retrieval we wait a month and do a FET. Apparently success rates are a little higher then fresh but I am not sure why. Thanks again!! xoxoxo

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  • I don`t have any sage advice to impart. I just wanted to let you know that I am struggling with the same questions. It sounds like we have a lot of similarities – unexplained infertility, 31 years old, failed IUI treatments. I have always been scared of IVF but now that I am getting desperate (for lack of a better word) I am seriously considering it. My plan is to give acupuncture a try for 3 months or so once we have finished trying with IUI and clomid (I hear after 3 tries its not that effective) and then potentially take the IVF plunge after more research. The question I ask myself is whether I will regret not giving it a try. Given the stats on IVF I don`t know that I could not at least give it a shot once all other means and methods are exhausted. I figure that if/when the time is right for IVF I will know. I look forward to reading more about your journey. Good luck!

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    • Good luck to you as well. I would never wish any of this on anyone but it is nice to know that other people are in similar situations as myself. I am also doing acupuncture and I am not really sure if I believe it can help but I figured it can not hurt 🙂

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  • Go with your gut feeling. I know that IVF is a big step. Been there, done that. And yes, it doesn’t always work. Been there too. BUT, sometimes it does work! And if you are one of those lucky ones who is successful on the first try, you won’t regret having done it. I’m afraid I am now of the opinion of not waiting. I know that people say “time is on your side” but I think time passes in the blink of an eye, and with it, so may a wasted opportunity. I wish you guys love and luck in whatever path you choose. Xx

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    • Thank you so much! Your kind words mean a lot to me. We can not do anything until May regardless but I think my plan now is one more IUI try then IVF. I have made a lot of changes since my last IUIs so I think it may be worth a shot.

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