My worries when considering IVF…

After 12 months of trying for another baby with no success we were referred to a fertility clinic. Almost five months later we are now making the choice – do we go ahead with IVF?

We haven’t even started yet and already I’m swinging through emotions and bouts of anxiety. I’ve been sad, angry, resentful, worried and fearful. There haven’t been many positive emotions yet.

I continuously ask “why can’t we just conceive naturally again?” and even they can’t tell me the answer. Just indicators of why it may be taking so long and the reassurance that it could still happen naturally. But how long do we want to wait? I already feel like I’m living in limbo and the age gap between my child and this yet to be conceived baby continues to grow.

So for anyone else facing this decision here is a list of my worries, some logical and some maybe not:

What if they mix up the eggs/sperm/embryo?

While the chances of this happening are incredibly low it does still worry me. The occasional news story or magazine article has showed that this can happen and then you would endure heartbreak parting with the child you carried or knowing that your biological child was out there somewhere. When my baby was born the nurse offered to take him for a couple of hours one night so that I could sleep and I refused as I had this fear of babies being mixed up. It was only upon being told he was the only baby there that night that I agreed. I worry a lot and my anxiety doesn’t help that. *I know plenty of people raised by a parent that is not biologically theirs, they have loving relationships and that is fantastic. My fears don’t reflect my thoughts on that*

What if I don’t feel as connected with this baby? Will I love this baby as much?

I’m sure that all parents who are having their second child wonder this at times (about loving the baby as much) but with IVF and the whole medical feeling of it all, well it leaves me questioning if I will feel as connected with this baby. The moment I knew I was pregnant the first time around I was connected. With IVF I wonder if my fears will hold me back from that, particularly with my concerns of them mixing the embryo up with someone else’s. Will I be left wondering if that baby is truly mine? And with the whole medical side, will I be left a bit emotionally numb by the process?

What if we end up broke and still have no baby? Or end up broke and I have to go back to work very soon after having the baby?

There are no guarantees that IVF will result in a baby. They may be able to get us an embryo but it doesn’t mean that it will implant and if it does we still face all the risks and statistics of miscarriage and loss as a ‘natural’ pregnancy would have. IVF can be expensive and I don’t know how many rounds we would have to do/be able to afford. I’m also concerned about throwing all our money in and then compromising things for the child we already have (and yes, kids don’t need big holidays and lots of activities but it is still nice to have some financial freedom to do that).

There is also the chance that we are successful with IVF, have another baby and then I have to return to work sooner than I would like for financial reasons. With our first child I was able to take the whole first year off as I had saved a lot of money and could combine that with the paid parental leave. I would like to give my future child the same amount of time. I also had my own separation anxieties when I returned to work and feel that an earlier return would cause me extra emotional stress.

Can I even handle this? Can I physically and emotionally handle the process of IVF?
We had some initial testing, one of these being an internal ultrasound. Not only did it feel somewhat invasive, I also cried seeing that empty screen in front of me (shout out to the lovely lady conducting the ultrasound who turned it off and talked me through it.) Rounds of blood tests, scans, injections and then the whole egg retrieval process already has me questioning how many times I’d be willing to go through it. While I know I could do it, I’m also concerned about the side effects – it can make you feel sick, emotional and more. Can I physically manage that happening while also caring for my child and working at my job?  And the emotional side of it, the hopes being so high and then the risk of it not being successful? I know how I react most months when I get my period. I’m not sure I want to know how I’ll react if this doesn’t work.

How do I deal with my employer? If unsuccessful will this affect my chances of contract renewal?
Legally your employer can’t ask if you are trying for another baby but with all the appointments for blood tests, ultrasounds and trips to the city, on very short notice, I’m probably going to have to disclose it to my boss at some point. I don’t like the idea of losing my privacy on that. And how much do I need to disclose? On the other hand, maybe I’ll be emotionally supported and met with understanding? I’m aware that in my field of work where there are strict ratios it could be a huge inconvenience for them and by nature I don’t like letting people down. I’m also employed on a contract and am concerned that it could affect my chances of reemployment for the following year. If we are successful with IVF then it won’t matter but if we aren’t, will they think I won’t be around and give it to someone else? Or if extra work comes up this year, will they offer it to me or find someone else instead?

Will I still be able to give my child the attention he needs while going through this?
I have the most beautiful little boy who comes with his own wonderful personality and a range of needs and emotions, like any child does. My world, very much, revolves around him. Naturally I am worried about all the ways this could affect him too. Even having to travel to the city for treatment can affect him (either dragged along with us or left with somebody back home) let alone if the medications make me unwell. While he has attended childcare part time for a while now I have never actually spent a whole night away from him. Of course, it could all be fine but my mind actively runs through so many scenarios.

What if something bad happens to me?
Reading all the information and consent forms did not help my anxiety with this. Of course they are legally required to list all the possible risks and side effects of the medical procedures and medications, but geez, some of them are quite serious and worry me. What if I’m in that tiny percent?

What if God doesn’t want me to have another baby?
I was brought up Catholic and the God question plays on my mind sometimes. Usually anytime we have encountered a problem. It goes something along the lines of “maybe God doesn’t want me to have another baby” and then ends up with “maybe God is just testing how much I want another baby” and then it goes round and round. I actually have no idea what the Catholic church thinks about IVF. Part of me thinks that because it’s not a natural conception they wouldn’t agree but then I think that God gave us free will and humans have developed medical science and therefore maybe it is ok. I don’t know. I believe that God forgives us either way as long as our intentions are in the right place.

Added to these worries (and more not listed) are the general worries about having a second baby that has nothing to do with IVF:

Is this the right choice to make, having another baby?
Any and all aspects considered here – relationships, the child I already have, financial, emotional, health, etc. Even though you want another child so much all these doubts creep in.

How will another baby affect my child?

My child wants me to have another baby, he regularly asks when we will have a baby and even tells me what he wants to name the baby (usually characters from a TV show). He doesn’t understand all the changes that will happen when we have one, so how he will cope with all that is a concern of mine.

What if I die in pregnancy/labour?

I kind of worried about this the first time around but now the stakes are so much higher. I already have a child and I’m terrified of leaving him without a Mother. Just typing that has me in tears.

What if I miscarry/lose the baby? What if something is wrong with the baby?
I was pretty anxious during my pregnancy about losing the baby because I am so aware that it can happen at any stage and even after the birth I’m scared of losing the baby. I had a consult with a mental health midwife who agreed my anxiety levels were higher than what is considered normal.

I also worry about how we would cope if there was something ‘wrong’ with the baby. Things like meeting its needs, getting support, financial issues, how it would affect our other child and on and on and on.

What if I ruin all our lives?

You’ve probably by now realised that I am an anxious person, who worries a lot, with a mind that never shuts up. I will worry over something quite small, worry over the very big things and worry with all kind of overly dramatic scenarios. Unless something huge happens (like death) this probably won’t ruin our lives but my brain worries about it anyway. And when I dig down really deep, the base fear becomes simplified and it is often something that I’m allowed to be concerned or anxious about it. IVF, pregnancy and birth in general can’t be controlled for the large part and that is hard for me to accept but I am working on it.

There is more, so much more, that I probably think of in the middle of the night yet can’t remember to write down now.

So yes, I have a lot of fear and concern and doubt with if we should commit to IVF or not.

I also then must force myself to ask – “what if we have a living, healthy baby, that is biologically ours and that fills all our hearts with love and ends up being perfect just for us?”

What if…………?

Maybe we should just jump in and give it a try?

 

 

*This is a highly emotional time for me right now and while I am more than happy for you to share your own personal stories (please do!) negative judgments will not be tolerated*

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