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Posting Poolside: Random Thoughts on Life, Miscarriage & IVF

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a blog by Traci Shahan, RN, WHNP-BC, Doctor of Nursing, Albrecht Women’s Care: A Center for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, March 28, 2011

So, here’s a little insight into my wacky, slightly OCD personality: I am in Costa Rica, night is falling, the howler monkeys and I have exchanged what has become our nightly friendly, loud banter of howls and barks. (My daughters run from me when I start this primitive communication, virtually certain that we will be labeled, well, wacky. Fine with me.)

The waves below our suite are ushering in an inky night, and I am thinking of how proud I am of my daughters — embryos under the microscope just 14 years ago, staring back at me as 4-cells — who are fierce and proud surfing today. I am thinking of how cute some of the little ninas and ninos were today were at the pool. I watched them with their moms and dads, flinging them with abandon into the pool, adults and babies seemingly in love with life submerged in the very quintessence that fosters all of life: water.

And all this water and surfing and splashing and fun got me to thinking about how not that many years ago, I was on vacation, newly pregnant with No. 3, when I began to miscarry. I was rushed to the ER where a male ultrasound tech tsk-tsked, and a male ER doc (nothin’ wrong with the guys; I just really needed someone to listen to me weep and maybe sit with me to hear a bit of my story and my pain) remark, “You can go back home to your other children.”

I had no children at home, but I had many that I carried for only a few weeks, one in fact, who was big enough that when I miscarried her, I thought it was only respectful to bury her in my great-grandmother’s antique lace handkerchief on the side of a mountain overlooking where I was born.

As usual, I digress, but the point is that I love writing to everyone who so badly wants to be a parent. So, I decided to post a blog from Costa Rica, sitting poolside.

I promised this week to write about in vitro fertilization (IVF), and will address it only from a cursory perspective, since I am now up to 396 of my 500 word limit, and life gets dicey when a fledgling writer oversteps certain editorial bounds.

In 87 words, here is what I know about IVF, as both a former patient and a current REI nurse practitioner. IVF works with staggering success. I am still thrilled when I look at the national averages of IVF take-home baby rates, never mind the clinics that claim very high rates. It’s pretty typical for a clinic to accurately cite 60+ percent stats in women 35 and under. Some clinics are rocking in the 35 to 38 age range. (Check out the SART data — that’s where I get my information.) We'll talk serious IVF next week.

Until then, Pura Vida.

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