January 24, 2018

A successful IVF cycle can make the next cycle MORE stressful

I love being reminded when I’m making assumptions. A patient undergoing a frozen embryo cycle was telling me how stressful it was this time, even more stressful than her last cycle. I remembered that she had a lot of stress with her original fresh IVF cycle, which, by the way, resulted in her getting pregnant with a beautiful baby girl. I was thinking to myself that back then, she was completely infertile and was under huge stress trying to get that first baby. And now, she already has the peace of mind of having a healthy child, so the pressure is nowhere near as great. Back then, the injections associated with a fresh cycle, the egg retrieval procedure under anesthesia and then having a transfer a few days later should have been way more stressful than just having the transfer itself this time. Back then, the unfamiliarity of being in our “new” office should have been more stressful than now, when she is coming back to a familiar place that she has already visited so many times before.

So I couldn’t resist asking her to elaborate. I addressed her by her first name and asked, “I don’t doubt that this is stressful, but can you tell me why this time is even more stressful than your fresh IVF cycle that you had last time?”

She smiled. “Because…now I’m trying to do all this while at the same time taking care of an energetic toddler.”

  • http://www.alittlepregnant.com/ Julie

    There’s a little more to it, though. You allude to it when you say: “She already has the peace of mind of having a healthy child, so the pressure is nowhere near as great.”

    In a way, that’s true. She’ll never fear again that she’ll end up childless. But when we go through treatment for an additional child, there’s a lot of guilt we heap upon ourselves for having the nerve to ask for more when we’ve already gotten so impossibly lucky. This feeling is amplified by others, people who tell us we should be satisfied with what we already have, as if daring to want more of such a great thing were the height of greed and selfishness. What’s worse is that that condemnation often comes from other infertile people.

    There’s also the fact that once you do have a child, the stakes are very different: you know exactly what you’re hoping for, and what you’ll miss out on if you don’t succeed. When you don’t have a child, you think you do; you imagine it. When you do have a child, though, you have proof.