I can still vividly remember the day my doctor called and said, “I think you need to consider IVF." At that point, I had suffered 3 consecutive miscarriages, and we were desperately looking for answers. We tested for everything my OBGYN could think of including my AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone), which can be an indicator for the number of eggs we have but not necessarily the quality. However, I did not know that then. In fact, I didn’t even know what AMH was!

I was on a business trip in Wyoming and stepped out of my meeting to answer the call from the doctor. I was not at all prepared for her response. Not only did my OBGYN say, “I think you need to consider IVF," she also recommended a Reproductive Endocrinologist and said she couldn't help me anymore. Those words hit hard.

The call only lasted 5 minutes--that’s how short it took to flip my world upside down. I felt disappointed and betrayed by my body. What did she mean? Was IVF my only option? Could I have a baby without IVF? Would I be forced to spend $25,000 to TRY to have a baby? I hated feeling so lost and became determined to find answers. There was no turning back after that day. I became obsessed with fighting for answers. I wanted to better understand my body, and I wanted to know my options...ALL of my options.

It’s been quite the quest to get my diagnosis. It took 4 miscarriages, 1 OBGYN, 2 Reproductive Endocrinologists, 3 unsuccessful medicated cycles, 1 unsuccessful IUI, and tons of tests to find out that I have Diminished Ovarian Reserve, APS (an autoimmune blood clotting disorder), MTFHR, and my Progesterone runs low.

After my third loss and finally receiving a diagnosis, I remember saying to myself, “Okay, now you have all the pieces of the puzzle; you just have to put it all together, but if you ever have one more miscarriage then you'll just do IVF." At that time, I could not imagine having to survive another loss again.

But then after our third loss, it took us almost a year to get pregnant again, even with Clomid, Letrozole, Follistim, and an IUI. During that time, I obsessed over the research and learned so much about infertility and loss. I have come to the conclusion that my “best” chance of having a baby may be through IVF, but I am still working on accepting that.

neon "feelings" sign on a wood-clad wall

In my case, even though I am able to get pregnant on my own, I have not managed to maintain a pregnancy. It could be due to one of the issues I mentioned previously, or it could be due to a chromosomal issue, and IVF is the only option that would allow us to screen our embryos so we can ensure transferring a “normal” one. However, even with a genetically tested embryo, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a 100% success rate when it comes to IVF.

It feels like a gamble. In fact, there is no bigger gamble one can take than IVF. The rewards are high, but so are the risks. We could spend $25,000 or more and still end up empty-handed. That's a lot of money! If it was a guarantee, I would do it in a heartbeat, but that's the thing… IVF doesn’t guarantee a baby.

Infertility and loss are stressful and challenging, and even though IVF could offer a solution, it also introduces another stress factor into the equation. The thought of going through the whole process of hormone injections, doctor's appointments, monitoring, waiting, and spending upwards of $25,000 with the possibility of doing it all for nothing gives me serious anxiety.

It's scary to sign up to put myself through that. Especially because I have Diminished Ovarian Reserve, I have been warned that it could take several egg retrievals to get a decent number of eggs. I try to take things one step at a time, but because I know my odds I can’t help but think ahead. I guess it’s my way of planning and preparing. As much as I want to be positive, after everything I have been through I am more logical than emotional. I want to know our options from A-Z.

IVF might be our “best” option, but it is not our only option. There is a part of me that is just not ready to give up on believing in my body. A friend once shared this analogy with me: think of it like flipping a coin. Sooner or later it will land on heads. It can not land on tails forever.

rainbow on a pastel sky

Miscarriage has tested me emotionally, and by no means do I want to undermine how painful the process of miscarrying is, but aside from my first one, physically my recovery has been rather tolerable. My first loss was a missed miscarriage that required a D&C at 10 weeks. I bled for 3-4 months, ended up losing 2 liters of blood which required two blood transfusions and a second D&C. We found out there was nothing wrong with the baby, but when I was diagnosed with APS we realized that was probably the cause.

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The rest of my losses have all happened within the first trimester and on their own. No further complications have occurred, which leads me to believe that the last three were probably due to chromosomal issues since APS usually starts to affect pregnancy after 7-8 weeks gestation. That's when blood circulation can begin to cause issues.

My losses have been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to survive, but each one has made me stronger and more resilient than the last. You really don’t know how strong you are until you have no other choice. I don’t want to survive any more losses, but I know that I am strong enough if I have to.

So for now, I am holding off on IVF. IVF is my safety blanket; it is my last resort; it is my “if all else fails” backup plan. I am terrified of going through the process and it not working. Then what would I do? Where would I go from there? If we do end up getting to that point, if we do end up doing IVF, then I have made a vow to myself that I will focus on everything that can go right instead of everything that can go wrong.

I would like to end this by acknowledging all of the families who do choose to go through IVF and the families who have no other choice. Your courage, strength, resilience, and commitment are admirable. I have so much respect for you!

woman holding a sign that reads "i am not ready to do ivf"

Linny Stone shares her journey through infertility & loss on Instagram at @linspired.living.