Friday, August 22, 2008


Nurse (with an "ugh, do I have to explain everything to you" attitude) to Lisa: "Is this your first IVF?"

Lisa (with a "don't worry about me, I'm an expert" smugness) to Nurse: "No, it's my 6th."

Nurse (with a "you don't know everything, you snot-nosed infertile" look) to Lisa: "Oh, but, it's your first one here with us, right?"

Lisa (with a "so the eff what, do you want to count the needle holes in my body from all of my previous cycles" defiancy) to Nurse: "Yeah, the 5 others were at another clinic, but, this is my 6th overall."

This exchange happened between me and a nurse at Clinic C last week, on the first day of this IVF cycle. As it was happening, there was a training nurse standing nearby, observing. I noticed an expression on her face, which I couldn't clearly define. Was it pity - a sadness for this poor infertile creature in front of her who has gone through this so many times and, a minute ago, told the nurse that she had suffered an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage for it to be put in yet another medical record in yet another doctor's offices computer systems? Or, was it an expression of respect - respect for this poor infertile creature in front of her who had been through so much and was still here, still trying?

I realized that the line between pity and respect is a really thin one. And, it made me wonder - do we wear our infertility, the things that have happened to us that define that, as badges? And, are these badges our way of garnering respect (or pity, remember it's a thin line) from those who have not earned as many badges as we have?

I say that I have had 5 IVF's, but, have I? I have started 5 IVF cycles, only to have 2 of them cancelled 7-9 days into stimming. Do I have the right to count those as IVF cycles? Is it really a cycle if you haven't gone through retrieval and transfer? Has someone who has had 1 fresh IVF cycle and 2 FET's (frozen transfers) really gone through 3 IVF's, or have they only gone through 1?

Do we use the larger number (in my case, 5 IVF's and not 3) because it sounds better? Are we looking for pity or are we looking for respect?

On the IF message boards, most women have their infertility history in their signature, so, every time they post a message, you know exactly what they've done treatment-wise, as well as what losses they have suffered. Many IVF bloggers (myself included) have this history somewhere easily viewable on our blogs. Is this purely informative, or, does each line sit there like a badge sewn to a girl scout sash? (Totally off subject, but, wouldn't it be ironic if you could earn a sewing badge for sewing on your badges?)

Badges tell a story. They show perseverance. They show experience. They show commitment. They are a way to honor the effort that has been put in, even if success has not yet been achieved. Yes, to answer my questions from above, I think that every cycle that we do counts. Every cycle is a badge earner. They are badges that each and every one of us wishes we didn't have. But, those badges tell the story of my struggle and, whether they earn me respect or pity, neither of which I want, I will wear my badges proudly and hope and pray that IVF #6 is the last badge I have to add to this already overflowing sash.


Cassandra said...

Here from ICLW...

It seems like a lot of veterans count things separately. 1 IVF + 2 FETs = 1 IVF + 2 FETs, not 1 or 3 IVFs.

In the case of cancelled cycles, I guess you might use the bigger number unless you're starting with a new RE who refuses to do IVFs for women who've failed more than a certain number. Then, you'd use the smallest number you could (or run out of there and find a new RE).

I have definitely felt like my own stats lend credibility to my IF history. When I'd been TTC for six years but hadn't done IVF, it felt like I hadn't REALLY been IF, though of course I had.

P.S. As I remember, you had to sew quite a bit to get the Girl Scouts sewing badge. Sewing on your own badges wouldn't be enough. My mom sewed all of my badges on to the sash. I was busy completing the woodworking badge with my dad!

Linda said...

Good post Lisa. No matter how you count or don't count things, it shows that you are a veteran. Some respect, some pity...but mainly it's saying 'I've been through a h*ll of a lot so give me a break'. Continued prayers to you for this cycle.

Nic said...

I honestly don't think of it in terms of exactly where you got to in the IVF....a cancelled cycle, at the end of the day, is another slamming bfn, regardless of the fact that no embies actually got in there to have a good go.

We do wear what we've been through as a badge. A belonging to the most wonderful club of lovely, supportive women, who, without this hideous battle, we'd have never met.

Over from ICLW xx

Rebecca said...


I think however you want them to count, that's how they should count. I count myself as TTC for almost 4 years, even though three of those have been without medical assistance. We've still been trying, still devastated by the BFN's every month. I'm just sorry that so many of us have to wear two or three sashes to carry the badges we bear. (((HUGS)))

christina said...

I think, with IVF especially, that I would count every cycle, whether cancelled or not. I haven't gotten to IVF yet and have had 2 cancelled IUIs, but don't count them in my total count. But there is so much more that goes into IVF. I think if I were even doing injectables and had a cancelled IUI, I would add that to my "badge" count.

The bottom line is that whether you finish the process, you go through the process and all of the ups, downs and around & arounds that come with it. It still takes a huge toll on you and you physical/emotional/spiritual being. SO I think you're completely on track.

Good post. I hope you get your mommy badge soon!

iclw, though i have been reading your blog for a while but am a bad commenter.

baby~amore' said...

- OMGH that nurse sounds like she needs a new job ! Wear your badge proudly - I say go with 6th too. Each cycle is the beginning of journey and carries with it hopes and dreams.
In that case I got pregnant on my 4th IVF cycle.
I wish you every success.
I do agree with Cassandra too though -what she said has merit regarding RE.

Here from IComLeavWe... (adoption,pregnancy loss, IVF twins)
My Little Drummer Boys

Bec said...

I think it is up to each person to determine how they want to count their cycles.

I count each cycle started as a treatment cycle because goddammit I injected needles and sniffed drugs just like any other cycle.

A lot of it comes down to how comfortable a person is with their infertility 'status'.


Stacie said...

You've got me thinking about this, and I guess I never had before. I do wear my history as a sort of badge. I do so because that history has shaped me in a way that very few other life experiences have. It is important to me for that very reason.

As for the idea of which cycles count and which do not, I think they count as long as they were started. If they "shaped" you, then they count!

Here from ICLW.

Kate said...

Here form ICLW. Whatever the number, I hope you don't have to earn any more "badges".

Beautiful Mess said...

Having all these badges isn't any fun. Although our badges make us who we are, the pain that goes along with them isn't any fun. I'd say kick that nurse in the teeth, but that's just me ;o)
Have a GREAT day!

Amber said...

I've tried not to wear the RPL badge too boldly - my chemical pgs aren't even in my sig. But sometimes it's hard not to shout about all we've gone through. If we can't get a baby out of it at least we should get some recognition, right?

What a strange world we've all come to live in...

(Here from ICLW (and theNest))

g said...

Just stopping by to wish you best of luck on your cycle.. i am about to embark on my 5th & final!


dmarie said...

Here's to hoping that number 6 is the last badge.

M de P said...

Visiting from ICLW...

This was a really thought-provoking post. I think you have every right in the world to count your "badges" any which way you want. This is YOUR story.

I hope this is the badge that will fully complete your sash!

seriously? said...

Here from ICLW. Good luck with your new cycle at the new clinic. I read back a few posts, congrats on your mother's success and your FSH number!

tripmom827 said...

Such an interesting point about the line between pity and respect being so blurry sometimes. I guess when I pull out my badges, and I do often, I am wanting people to acknowledge that I have been through a lot and I have made it and am therefore worthy. Worthy of what...I don't know. Basically, I just want the props that I feel I am due. You are due mega props for handling all you have had to endure! Good luck on this cycle. I bet you win over nasty nurse in no time!


Sweet Georgia said...

I think all of the attempts count. Every time you have to mentally prepare yourself for the beginning of another round of needles and wanding etc etc, should definitely count.

Hope #6 brings the badge of success to your sash.

from ICLW

~Jess said...

I hope 6 works for you! I think they are a kind of badge. After 30 cycles of trying, we're FINALLY doing our first assisted cycle with donor sperm.
Do I say this is our first cycle trying? Or do I hold with that we've been at this for 2 1/2 years? Who knows.

Ms Heathen said...

Interesting post, Lisa!

I would describe myself as having had two failed cycles of IVF, even though I've never actually made it into the 2ww: my first cycle was cancelled prior to retrieval due to poor response, and the second one was abandoned after retrieval because of a polyp. In each case, I had to deal with the crushing sense of disappointment as well as all the side effects of the drugs. The clinic certainly felt that they counted: on both occasions, they sent us a very large bill! In my mind, those cycles definitely count; I feel that I have earned the right to wear my badges with pride!

Fertilized said...

What a great post!