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What Infertility Taught Me About Working in Healthcare

I like to plan my life out far in advance. Like my career as a music therapist, I had a vision for how my life would unfold and hoped for the best. 8 years into my career, two pets, a house and a husband, I found myself excited about the idea of growing our little family. However, infertility laid a different path ahead of us.

Months passed with negative test after negative test. The sinking realization came into focus that this process was going to be more difficult than I had imagined. Thus, began monthly visits with my OBGYN, transitioning to a speciality fertility clinic and finally navigating through full-blown in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. Each step felt like a punch to the gut, as I had been assured time and again by my gynecologist to "just call me when you get pregnant".

I found out last year that I have a pretty intense case of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). My fertility doctor referred to it as "super PCOS" due to my hormonal levels. In short, my body didn't ovulate like a normal person, which is kind of important from a "getting pregnant" standpoint. This made IVF our most logical choice.

If you're unfamiliar with IVF, it is a straightforward, yet daunting, process. You inject stimulating medications into your stomach to grow many eggs at once, rather than the one or two you'd grow naturally in a cycle. During this phase, you're monitored by frequent ultrasounds and blood draws. Once enough eggs have reached maturity, you undergo a sedated, surgical procedure, called an egg retrieval. This is where your fertility doctor "retrieves" these follicles. Mature eggs are fertilized with your partner or a donor's sperm sample. You wait for five days (years) to see if any of these fertilized eggs become an embryo. If you complete the cycle with embryos, these can be transferred back with, you guessed it, more medication and injections! Following transfer you wait, again, for two weeks (decades) to see if you are, indeed, pregnant. From start to finish, my process lasted about seven months with over 100 injections and needle sticks.

Egg retrieval