One More Shot – Documentary Review

I just finished watching the documentary, “One More Shot”, on Netflix.

Guess what?

I am still crying.

This film is so real. So truthful, so heart wrenching, so me. In 90 minutes this movie managed to completely transport me back in time and to accurately explain the roller coaster of emotions we went through just over two years ago.

ONE. MORE. SHOT.

A perfect title that can be interpreted in many ways. One more shot of medication. One more blow to your heart after another negative pregnancy test. One more attempt at conceiving. One more shot of tequila to numb the pain. Or, one more chance at a miracle.

The story follows a couple in their early thirties as they try to expand their family and navigate the uncharted waters that are infertility. They aren’t a glamorous Hollywood couple. They aren’t doctors or scientists who know all about infertility. They are the couple down the street that stop over on Thursday night for a glass of wine. The couple you pass in the grocery store while looking for a ripe watermelon (how DO you know if a watermelon is good??). And they are the couple that sits across from you at the fertility clinic, wondering how long you have been trying, if you were already pregnant, or if you had just suffered another loss. The ones whose eyes you meet before heading back for your consultation who can tell you with just one look that they understand.

There were several moments in the film that I could identify with, but there were also several that I could not. This couple suffered longer than we did, and more loses. But, some points that really hit home for me, were:

 

The fear of the unknown.

As an OCD, control freak, I spend every spare moment planning, making lists and setting goals. Infertility was something I knew nothing about, and treatment had no guarantees. Yes, there were dozens of options for starting a family, but nothing was guaranteed. I often thought to myself “I would go through this 10 times, spend $100k if someone, somewhere could promise me that it would all end with a baby in my arms.” But the truth of the matter is, they can’t. And the fact that I had no control over the outcome was debilitating.

 

Feeling broken.

Nick checked out OK. Borderline for sperm morphology but otherwise, good for baby making. This made me feel like it was all MY fault. That I was broken. I couldn’t do the thing women were SUPPOSED to do – make babies. I feared this would break our marriage, and I feared it would break me.

 

The shots hurt.

Those shot were NOT a walk in the park. They hurt like a b*tch! They left me sore, bruised and hormonal.

 

Punishment.

Was I being punished for sneaking out of the house in high school? Or for that time I swiped some beer mugs from a college bar? Or for all of the things I have taken for granted or selfishly just assumed would happen?

 

IVF is the ultimate “treatment”.

When we started at our clinic, we were given a less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally. So we jumped straight into IVF. And we were positive it would work. When it didn’t work the first time, it was an even bigger blow. The miracle treatment we had just shelled out $15k for was a bust. It’s hard to pick up the pieces after that.

 

Obsession.

The sheer obsession of all of it. I think infertility made me a hypochondriac/Google genius. I spent all of my free time Googling symptoms, or lack thereof, grants, adoption, embryo donation. I needed to constantly feel like I was being proactive.

 

The comfort of knowing I was not alone.

From the moment I made my blog public, it was like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. The out-pour of love and well wishes we received was amazing. But what was even more amazing was the number of women who messaged me and said, I understand. I too, am suffering from infertility. I too, find it hard to be happy for my friends having babies. I too, am scared.

 

This documentary was everything I never knew that I always needed. I think it is something that every struggling family should watch. And all of their friends and family. And everyone else. It is relatable, funny when it needed to be, and informative. I highly recommend that you check it out now on Netflix. You won’t regret it. The only thing you might regret is forgetting the tissues, or that you didn’t watch it sooner.

And for all of the women, men and couples out there trying to grow your families, find hope and comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Infertility is hard. It will push you, it will test you, and it will break you. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel. There is always another option – maybe it’s another crack at IVF. Or maybe it’s a surrogate. Perhaps it is coming to terms with never being parents. Or maybe it’s adoption. Whatever it is, make sure it is YOUR decision. Not anyone else’s. And let that decision be the one that puts you back together again.

Finding the beauty in the pain

IVF is a long and painful (both physically and mentally) process. I know this already and I have not yet completed a full cycle! Every day we wake up and look at our schedule. We administer our injections, we take our oral medications, we visit our RE for ultrasounds and bloodwork. Some days we have procedures. We wait for results, we wait for answers, and we wait for the next day knowing that it might be one step closer to bringing home our miracle babies.

We do all of this while staying strong so that our peers don’t know the real struggle we go through on a daily basis. We try to stay positive while on the inside we are constantly mulling over the “what ifs” or the “how could this possibly work” thoughts. We look forward to our injections, because we know the pain will be worth it, and the pain makes it feel real. We look at our embryos as children, and we question how we have been Pro Choice for our entire lives but now that our future is in the hands of these tiny little blastocysts we can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to terminate them (I am still Pro Choice, but it does get me thinking). We are both excited and afraid of D-day (pregnancy test day) and have already planned out what we are going to do that evening if the results are positive (celebratory dinner!) or negative (down a bottle of wine and watch ourselves cry in the mirror).

But through all of this pain and mixed emotion there is beauty. The female body is an amazing thing, and science even more so. A human being can be created outside of the human body, carried to term, and result in a beautiful child. The scars and bruises from medication signify our struggle, but also our determination. There is beauty in the hope and strength that we develop as women. There is beauty in the relationships we build with our partners. There is beauty in the bonds we create with women like ourselves on forums, chats, in waiting rooms, or just passing by. There is beauty in the amount of love we pour into the tiny chance that we may someday have our family. And there is beauty in the idea the infertility is not a stigma or defining characteristic, but a journey that we are blessed to travel.

Many of you may have come across this image/story below in recent weeks, but I wanted to share it regardless. The thought behind this image is both beautiful and thought provoking, and I believe it will help bring the awareness that infertility so desperately needs. Please take a moment to read the story here http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/incredible-story-photo-baby-surrounded-syringes/story?id=34339669, if you have a moment.

ht_ivf_baby_portrait_float_jc_151007_12x5_1600
This image was shared on the Sher Institutes Facebook page with the text, “Wow, what a photo. Thank you to Sher Fertility St. Louis and Dr. Dayal patient Angela, who shows the true definition of love that went into making this gorgeous new baby girl.” Photo courtesy of Sher Institutes

In response to this image, I wanted to create my own. Though I do not have my take home baby yet, I created this image using some of my syringes and my embryo/ultrasound photos. The quality is not great, and I don’t have nearly as many syringes, but I think the message behind it is just as beautiful. HOPE.

HOPE_Needles

I was feeling pretty emotional today…..could it be symptom??!! Haha.

Probes and Pokes

We are now well into our first round of IVF shots, and I have to admit, so far they aren’t bad at all! I stabbed that first one in like a champ! However, I do seem to have an issue mixing the meds so that is now my husband’s job. He claims I am “too slow”, but I prefer perfectionist. We make a great team though. Every day around 6:15pm he sits down at our dining room table and performs his “chemist” duties, and then I inject. Piece of cake! There really is no pain unless I don’t let the alcohol on the injection site dry, then there is a slight burn.

I have been on 2 vials of Menopur and 2 vials of Bravelle until yesterday when my RE increased my dosage of Menopur to 3 vials. I have also begun my morning shots of Ganirelix (I believe this is to keep me from ovulating early).

I have been to the office now three times for ultrasounds and lab work. I’m getting more action from the vaginal ultrasound probe than I am my own husband (to be fair, we haven’t been permitted to “baby dance” for about two weeks now)! The whole process has become so routine. Every other day I go in for an ultrasound to check out my follicles, followed by blood work. The insides of my arms are forever bruised and I’m pretty sure I look like a druggie to spectators. And I’m OK with that.

My last ultrasound was yesterday and everything looks pretty good so far. My lining is “beautiful” and my eggs are growing at the same rate. I have several follicles on my right ovary but only a couple on my left, which is kind of disappointing. Apparently only about 80% of follicles have eggs in them, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a good bunch of high quality eggs.

As far as side effects go, I feel pretty good. After 8 days of stimming I still don’t really have much bloat or cramping. I will say that I have been exhausted, I can’t seem to go to bed early enough each night. And I think I feel hungrier than usual, but who knows. Besides that, I feel pretty darn good. I am trying to walk on the treadmill a few times a week to stay active. I really miss my high intensity workout but I will do anything to up my chances of this working, even if it means sitting on my butt and getting fat for the next month!

I go back tomorrow for another ultrasound and blood work, and during this visit we should have a better idea of when the egg retrieval will be. Right now it is looking like this coming Sunday or Tuesday. Fingers crossed things keep looking good!