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Hey Doc, Where’s My Life?

IVF waiting

a blog by Amy Klein, February 12, 2014

Sometimes when I’m sitting in the IVF clinic waiting room – okay, it’s a lot of time – I plot how they could be doing their job better. I’m not going to even bother talking about the waiting time: IVF is all about waiting, from the hours spent waiting for your first appointment to waiting till the two week wait for a pregnancy.

So I understand we patients have to be patient when it comes to IVF. I know it’s impossible to plan anything, because Mother Nature – that capricious whirlwind – does not know when we will ovulate, if we will, when our retrieval will be, if there will be an embryo transfer, if we should plan two days of bed rest and cancel our night out of dancing on the town.

It’s impossible to live this way. Can we go away on vacation? Can we make plans for the weekend? Can I commit to babysit for a friend? I never ever seem to know.

But here’s what I’m starting to think: my fertility clinic has some idea. At least a better idea than I do. They read the blood charts. They can tell me at the beginning of the cycle, “Listen, you’ll have to come in on Day 3 or Day 4, Day 7 or Day 8, then 11-14. Then if they see that I never ovulate before Day 20, they should mark that on my chart. (As I mentioned, appointing a specialist to each case would help.)

Am I asking for the impossible? Sometimes when I try to press a nurse, an ultrasound technician or even the poor phlebotomist if they can give me a clue if I’ll be available for my best friend’s bachelorette party, they look at me askance, as if to say, “How dare you plan anything during this tumultuous time?”

I’d understand this way of thinking if it was for just one cycle, or even two (which is what I tell my friends considering egg donation – they can hack it for a defined period). But when you are at a clinic or two for a year or two, it begins to get frustrating.

People always advise us to make sure we have a life while going through IVF. To make sure our life is not only about IVF. And I want to say, “Man, I’m trying. I really am.”
I wish this were also the holistic goal of a clinic: to give patients as much information as possible as early as possible so when we’re not doing IVF, we can actually have a life.


Comments (2)

who have nurse specialists assigned to each case. I did IVF successfully in 1998 and was impressed by the individual attention that I received from our nurse. She gave us a calendar for the month so I knew how to adjust my schedule accordingly. Of course, the scheduled had to be changed a couple of times, but that was easier to deal with then just not knowing. I'm just putting this out there to say I'm surprised that this isn't the protocol for all ART clinics. Maybe it should be.

I loved your blog on NYT and look forward to following you here. I recently completed two cycles of IVF and am trying to mentally prepare myself for the challenges of doing a third (last) cycle in a few months. One of my biggest frustrations is having to take so much time off from work at the last minute (ie the two-day warning). I work in health care and have to have my patients cancelled and rescheduled day after day. It feels embarrassing to have to bring my personal life into my workplace and frustrating to pass on the scheduling challenge of IVF onto my own patients and clinic staff. It's been a tough phase of life to experience and I look forward to my experience with IVF ending soon.

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