I saved my IVF needles. All of them. That’s a total of 6 egg retrievals, 2 fresh transfers, 2 frozen transfers, and 2 mock cycles. Some people, including probably everyone who has never gone through IVF, would think I’m a bit nuts for holding on to all these needles. But it’s oddly hard to part with something that you’ve put so much of yourself into. Something that symbolizes an experience, or maybe a part of you.
I even have my needles from my very first IVF cycle over 4 years ago – the one that brought me my feisty daughter. At that time I think it was just feeling a bit overwhelmed that kept me from taking the time to bring them back to my RE’s office for disposal. I didn’t have any grand plans for them. But this second time around, I did. I kept the needles from each cycle in a separate sharps container. I envisioned making one of those IVF baby announcements one day when it finally worked. You know, the cute pictures where all the needles are arranged in the shape of a heart with care, surrounding baby’s first ultrasound picture. Maybe a onsie or booties, too. I was so hopeful back then, and it made me smile every time I saw one of those pictures.
But as my failed cycles piled up, so did my needles. The idea that once symbolized optimism and success, morphed into something quite different. Now I have a giant pile of needles. I’m actually missing about 80 percent of my Gonal F pens because my nurse would discard them when I’d bring them in for her to combine the tails to get me an extra dose or 2 of meds. My pile began to feel chaotic as one cycle blurred into the next. The FET that finally worked consisted of 2 embryos from 2 different egg retrievals; I lost track of which sharps containers led to which of these embryos.
I’m left with a big pile of needles and no desire to shape them into something pretty.
Why did I keep these needles? Because when I look at this pile on my table I see my pain and strength. I see determination and perseverance. Countless hours spent crying in the arms of my loved ones, and even more spent crying alone in the bathroom when no one knew. Friendships fading away, while unexpected ones blossomed when I needed them most. Miracles. I see isolation and connection. The highs and lows that no one really understands unless you’ve walked in my shoes. Failure and success. Baddassery (especially when I self administered my first PIO shot). Luck – sometimes good, sometimes bad. I see hours of research and hard decisions made. Coping skills executed and eventually exhausted. Asking for help, and helping myself. Enduring more than I thought I could, and then a little bit more. Making a healthy decision of when to stop and finding peace with that. The emotional, spiritual, and physical tolls. Pride in myself. Somewhere along the way, infertility became a part of who I am. It is not all of who I am, but it has challenged and changed me in ways I never anticipated. And I’m different now. Oddly, I wouldn’t change that.
If all goes well, I will be a mom to 2 daughters. Yet in my mind, I will always be infertile. Despite the failures, I got the outcome that we all hope for. I am so very blessed. And, well, really I think I’m just lucky.