Inge, 33 years old
"What you see a lot is that other couples announce with great euphoria that they are expecting a baby. Sometimes I think to myself: I wonder if these couples in that moment are also aware of the group that is in a fertility process, like us? They are, quite understandably, in their own bubble. But there is also a very different side that does deserve a little more attention: the side when getting pregnant doesn't go so smoothly."
IUI and IVF
When Inge and Oscar want to fulfill their desire to have a child, it doesn't seem to happen naturally. After examinations at the doctor and gynecologist, the problem appears to be reduced fertility. "Sometimes it feels like we have been walking around an amusement park for a year and a half. After a while in the queue, you get on a roller coaster, where you make many rounds and encounter different emotions. Euphoria and joy because the odds appear good on paper. But also sadness and frustration because in reality, results were disappointing." After the fertility treatment indication, a preliminary examination starts to determine which treatment is the best fit: IUI, or IVF. In IUI, the strongest sperm is placed directly into the uterus. With IVF, fertilization of the egg takes place in a laboratory where the resulting embryo is placed in the uterus. "We went through the IUI process, but with insufficient results. The next step was IVF. For periods of two to three weeks, this required me to inject myself with hormones several times a day. In the beginning, my refrigerator was completely full of medication. It is a very clinical process, not romantic at all. It was a challenging ride, but it also brought us closer together. And as annoying as those medications and physical discomforts were, the time on the roller coaster was also beautiful in a way. Beautiful because for a moment you are completely brought to a stop. From that point on, the cart you're in slowly starts moving toward the goal you have."
Their own sidetrack
"We did also feel lonely during this period. Sometimes it seemed like everyone was following the train track to the next phase, having children, while we were waiting on the platform and couldn't join them yet. Time can feel slow when you are in so much uncertainty. A fertility process is stressful: hormone treatments with insufficient results, a cyst that keeps getting bigger, an early miscarriage. Preparing with medication for two months toward the day for the placement of an embryo, that happens to be on a Sunday when the medical office is closed, preventing it from happening. These are all situations that accumulate stress. It feels as if a window is closing further and further, leaving less and less space to breathe. In the meantime, Oscar and I had to keep faith and trust that the gynecologist and fertility doctors were doing everything they could to improve our chances."
After a period of one and a half years, Inge successfully became pregnant after a third IVF placement. The first thirteen weeks felt uncertain. "That's still your default mode after several setbacks. It caused me to feel moderately happy. You are also processing this intensive process that others cannot really understand, no matter how well-intentioned everyone sympathized with us. When we knew after several check-ups that everything was okay, we shared it first with family and later with friends. We were often asked if we were able to enjoy it. And that answer is yes, the two of us celebrated a lot. We did that more in private, because we are so very aware of how confronting it can be to others."
"Looking back, I think: gosh, how much I learned in that period. An IVF process confronts you with bigger life questions. It was very profound for our relationship, we really came out stronger together. In these modern times when the most beautiful parts of life are being shared on social media, it can seem as if everyone is doing amazing and fantastic all the time. But in reality there are many people who have to deal with (similar) setbacks. You are not alone, even if it feels lonely at times. That idea creates love and is supportive. The trick is to take setbacks as they are and remain hopeful. Trust that things will turn out as they should, even in the face of adversity."