This day last year, we began the stop-start journey of our IVF cycle. It was CD3 and I had gone in for my first monitoring appointment in preparation to start my stims. My estrogen levels were initially deemed too high to start and they told me to call back on my next CD1, until the nurse spoke to my doctor and he ok’d it with a slight delay on starting my stimming meds. It was all a bit of a gong show, and that’s how it felt for the rest of the stimming process. I had two runaway follicles that got way too big and threatened to derail the whole cycle. My estrogen levels topped out over 20,000IU forcing us into a freeze-all cycle. I was mostly ok with this at the time, because I felt physically and mentally exhausted with all of the stress on my body and the meds jacking up my ovaries. I would have preferred not to be delayed any further but wanted the best possible chance for our embryos.

Little did I know that delay was going to stretch another 6 months. After waiting for my 2nd period after the retrieval, some ill-timed travels, a cancelled FET, a new protocol, an extra long (almost cancelled), drawn out FET cycle (including having two cysts drained) we finally transferred one of our five embryos to my uterus on Dec. 13. On Dec. 20 I got my first faint positive pregnancy test, and on Dec. 22 a positive beta confirming that pale pink line.

After a little over three years to date we have nearly reached the next stage in our journey. A year of trying naturally, a year filled with testing, waiting, interspersed with 3 failed medicated (unmonitored) IUIs and finally a decision to pursue IVF, we then spent the next six months in IVF/FET limbo hell, finally receiving our desired outcome. But once the test is positive it is a new game, worrying about the next beta, the next ultrasound, viability and ultimately a fresh baby in your arms.

When you’re living it, it is so awful, and you can’t believe it each time the seriousness level ratchets up; trying naturally to seeking assistance which turns into IUI, then IVF, potentially multiple transfers or multiple rounds and for some, beyond that. It seems never ending. I will admit that getting (and staying) pregnant has eased some of the immediate pain but it can’t undo the scars that infertility has left. I was “lucky” in that I only had to endure one round of IVF and one transfer (it’s sad that I’d consider myself “lucky” but there are many who have been through much more and much worse). I can also say that pregnancy is no bed of roses, though I have had it relatively easy for the most part. I can’t say it is really enjoyable being pregnant, I do not love feeling like a whale, and all of the physical discomforts that come along with it (though feeling a living person inside of me, and knowing that they are growing and thriving because of me is pretty powerful stuff).

But (huge emphasis on the “but”) I am deeply grateful, because I know I am one of the lucky ones. Even though we went through hell and back, it’s all been worth it. While we were in it, I wasn’t sure we’d survive, if it would work, if would I have regrets. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t know what lies ahead. And I can’t say that ART is going to work for everyone, or what the best stopping point is. My biggest measure of whether or not to keep going was “will I regret it if I don’t?”. Because initially (when we first started seeing our RE) I was against pursuing IVF, but as we began to run out of options I knew I would regret it if we didn’t give it a shot, no matter how scared, or mad or frustrated I was at our situation.

So I’m not going to tell you to never stop trying, because eventually you may get to a point where you have to, for your sanity, and physical well-being. I don’t know what that point would have been for us, as we, fortunately, never had to consider it (not too much at least, beyond deciding to pursue IVF). Take the path of least regret, therapy and time can help you deal with the aftermath, whatever it may be.

Looking back, year over year, it is amazing where we’ve been, and now, where we’re going.