IVF: On Feeling Pretty while Feeling Everything

I feel like I’ve been drowning in infertility treatment. For those lucky souls unfamiliar with this particular type of torture, know this: it is time consuming. First there’s the appointments, logically. But with the appointments come the traveling to the appointments and the waiting rooms and the paperwork and the trying-to-make-sure-you-pay-everyone billing. Then there’s the medication. But with the medication comes tracking it down—because this stuff isn’t stocked in your standard pharmacy—and lessons to learn to administer it and researching the things you can’t do on it and maneuvering through the sea of side effects. Then come the procedures. But with the procedures come more traveling and waiting rooms and paperwork and billing and can’t-dos and side effects. What on paper takes perhaps a few hours per week begins to rapidly inhale all your free time and brain space and general sense of sanity.

It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been battling new fertility medication side effects for the last year and a half. Sometimes it has been small: discomfort on injection site, upset stomach, trouble sleeping. Some have been cosmetic, like acne or weight gain, that hurt my spirit more than my body. Others, quite often, have been physically debilitating: exhaustion, extreme pain, ongoing numbness of huge parts of my body, flu-like symptoms, swelling to the point of bed rest, terrible nausea, acute emotional instability, multi-day headaches, depression. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure—let’s pick trouble sleeping, weight gain, and emotional instability this time!—except the end result is more often than not crying alone in bed in the middle of the afternoon.

IVF has made blogging… Well, I want to say hard, but the answer is really just different. I’m not a model, which I’m well aware of, but when you’re dealing with physical side effects outside of your control editing your own high-res, amateur-shot (and therefore largely unflattering) photos can add fuel to the depression fire. And it has left me so tired I postpone posts and then feel bad for postponing and then never get around to it. Then I go to post and the photo thing happens again. You can imagine how this grows.

But on the other hand, I’ve never felt so connected to you as readers. I was surprised to check my analytics and see you’re mostly still there during my slow time, and I’ve been ecstatic to connect with so many fellow Infertile Myrtles, especially those who have felt alone in this turbulent process. Connecting with people has helped me navigate through this—and remember that there are no rules to blogging, so if I need to sleep the meds off, that’s okay.

One person who really brightened a dark IVF day for me was Meredith from L Photographie. We met when my gang of blogger babes held a staycation in St. Louis’ Central West End (she’s the incredibly talented photographer who took those images.) When I first opened up about IVF on Instagram, I mentioned I hadn’t been posting because none of my clothes fit and I was so painfully broken out—painful as in zits that hurt too much for makeup—and she wished me well and asked if I wanted to work together again, mentioning we could work around any problem. This sweet gesture made my day; I had posted the photo only minutes beforehand and was thinking about deleting it when she reached out.

I felt pretty awful the day we took these photos; I was worried about my double-layer concealer starting to crack and I felt like my head was anchored upon a million chins from the swelling. But Meredith knew some place down by the river she had been wanting to shoot, and man am I glad we met up. Not only were these photos the confidence boost I needed, but working on the site was the push I needed to keep IVF drama from sucking up my entire life. Meredith, these are amazing and so are you.

Currently wearing… Dress, Free People, Nordstrom Rack | Shoes, Free People, DSW | Bag, DIY | Cuff, Kendra Scott | Necklace, vintage

Oh, and since this blog was rooted in fashion, let me tell you: I have seen this dress at the major discount retailers (T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstom Rack, Steinmart) and it is worth every penny. If you see it, buy it. The stretch around the waist makes it the most comfortable maxi you’ll own, and I think it’s going to transition into the witchy season wonderfully.

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