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The Powerful Resilience of Women

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a blog by Gina Paoletti-Falcone, RN, BSN, January 12, 2011

I have been emailing back and forth with a woman going through her third IVF cycle for several months. She found me on the Freedom Fertility Pharmacy website through my “Ask a Nurse” portal. What started as a question about birth control pills, leuprolide acetate and when to expect her period turned into, what I consider, a lovely relationship via email through her IVF cycle and beyond.

I have thoroughly enjoyed feeling like “her nurse,” able to answer her questions at length with the luxury of time that most nurses in fertility practices do not have.

I think this woman exemplifies the powerful resilience of many women going through fertility treatments. First of all, it was her third IVF cycle, and that alone shows determination and resilience. Things did not always go as planned, and yet she stayed the course, got to egg retrieval, embryo transfer and her first positive pregnancy test.

But just when she should have been able to celebrate, there was that note of concern because her BhCG level was lower than expected. It continued to rise, but was always behind and an early ultrasound did not reveal a gestational sac. In her last e-mail she told me she stopped progesterone and had some bleeding. I hadn’t heard from her in over a week until today. It turns out she had an ectopic pregnancy, was treated with methotrexate (which very often resolves an ectopic) and ended up having surgery to remove her tube and the little embryo that should have been in her uterus.

What inspired me to write about this experience today was her email asking questions about her next cycle. She hasn’t had her post-op visit, and yet she is looking forward. She isn’t stuck in “Why did this happen to me?” or “How can I possibly go on?” Her powerful resilience is pushing her forward to contemplate her next step, the one that may get her where she wants to be ... a mother.

I have seen the resilience of women like her many times in my 32 years as a nurse. First, when I worked in Labor and Delivery and witnessed the powerful strength of women as they labored to bring their babies out of their body and into the world, and then as a fertility nurse helping women labor to put embryos in their uterus to grow into babies.

For some, motherhood comes easily; for others it is a struggle, a hard fought battle. As the mother of two sons whom I love more than life, I can say it is a battle worth fighting. And if you need reinforcements I’m just an e-mail away.

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