How to Prepare for IVF Round 2

Even though we all know IVF isn’t a sure thing, it’s still shocking when your first cycle fails. Here’s how you can prepare emotionally, physically and mentally to make sure you go into your next cycle with renewed hope and optimism.

Let me tell you a little story about my first round of IVF.

Spoiler alert: it was a big fat failure.

We started our IVF journey back in June 2016 and I was so excited! Finally, after a year and a half of trying to conceive we were actually DOING something about it. And our odds were good! With a solid sperm count and above-average AMH, our reproductive endocrinologist gave us a 75% chance of InVitro Fertilization (IVF) and a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) resulting in a real-life baby. I remember my husband Brad and I left that appointment feeling so hopeful and excited; we were basically picking out baby names.

But our optimism quickly fizzled out after my egg retrieval resulted in only 7 eggs, which quickly dwindled down to just two blastocyst embryos. After another two week wait we got the genetic screening results back and learned that our two little frozen embryos both had chromosomal abnormalities that were not compatible with life. We had no healthy embryos to transfer.

Cue ALL the sads. I spent the entire month of July crying. I bought a lot of poetry books. I journaled every day. I was inconsolable. How could this NOT work? This thing that we spent so much money on and believed in? All those drugs? All those appointments and ultrasounds? That 75% number the RE gave us? How could modern medicine NOT have worked?

Call me naïve, but I hadn’t even considered this outcome. Sure, I knew IVF wasn’t a guarantee, but I always assumed it’d fail later. Like maybe a transfer wouldn’t work or a frozen embryo wouldn’t thaw properly. But to not even make it to a transfer? Woof. That was brutal.

It took a couple months for me to get my emotional shit together and prepare for a second round, which we underwent in October 2016.

When you get ready to go through a second round of IVF (or a second IUI), there’s an odd mix of feelings. It’s both easier and harder than the first round.

It’s easier because you know what to expect. You know how to administer the injections, how to plan your calendar, and how to predict your feelings. But some parts are also just plain excruciating…sometimes it’s harder to get as excited as you were the first round. There’s also more at stake from a financial perspective with more bills and more pharmacy runs and just more everything. But above all else, it’s hard to go into a second round with the same blind faith and hope so many of us had with round 1.


Here are some suggestions and tips for ways you can prepare yourself as you gear up for your second round of IVF (or IUI, or embryo transfer).

1. Understand that the first round not working wasn’t your fault

As women, a default reaction is oftentimes to blame ourselves. Perhaps you experience an unhealthy internal dialogue that sounds something like: “If you only had cut out gluten…”, “Why didn’t you do more acupuncture?” or “You should have worked out less.”

The first step in getting ready to jump back into round 2 of IVF is to acknowledge that this is not your fault. Bodies react differently. There’s not always a scientific rhyme or reason. It sucks and it’s nebulous, but it’s not because you had too much cake and it’s not because you got too into HIIT workouts.

Cut yourself a much-needed break. Sometimes these things work and sometimes they don’t. It’s truly not your body’s fault. It’s doing the best it can.

 

2. Make sure you’re really ready to go again

Having a failed cycle of IVF, a failed embryo transfer, or a failed IUI is heartbreaking even in the best possible situation. Now multiply that heartbreak if it resulted in OHSS, a chemical pregnancy, a miscarriage, an ectopic pregnancy or another complicated outcome. Not only are you going through emotional heartbreak, but sometimes your body is also physically traumatized.

It’s important not to rush right back into treatments if your soul and your body are not yet ready. You need time to process what happened and how you’re feeling. You need time to regroup with your partner and make sure you are still aligned and emotionally, financially and physically prepared for the next step

Every single day spent trying to conceive can feel like a year, but waiting is a good thing if you’re not yet ready to move on.

 

3. Avoid back-to-back cycles

Even if you feel emotionally and physically ready to jump right back into treatments, you may still want to consider avoiding back-to-back egg retrieval.

According to Carolinas Fertility Institute, the standard space between IVF cycles is one full menstrual cycle. A fresh IVF cycle should not be done two months in a row without a menstrual cycle in between them. That means waiting about 4 to 6 weeks after the embryo transfer and negative pregnancy test to start another full cycle for most women. 

There are a few compelling reasons to avoid back-to-back IVF cycles: 

  • Physical: The medications used for ovarian stimulation may cause some inflammation. Many doctors think it’s beneficial to wait for the inflammation to subside before going forward with another fresh cycle.
  • Emotional: To give yourself time to not focus on IVF. For your mental health, you may need to take a breather from the emotional rollercoaster of treatments.
  • Financial: Unfortunately, even insurance plans that cover fertility treatments will not cover everything. So it may be necessary to pause treatments to assess things and make arrangements for the next cycle.

 

4. Let go of expectations

It can be tempting to compare the second round of IVF with the experience of the first round.

It’s important to let go of these expectations because every cycle is unique. During your second round of IVF, you may be extra keen on reading up on all aspects of the process. But sometimes information overload can do more harm than good. 

Consider what it would look like to detach yourself a bit more from the process. This could look like limiting your reading material, or decreasing your time sifting through the depths of online forums. It’s perfectly OK (and healthy) to shelter yourself from information overload, and let yourself feel grateful for your body and for making it this far. That, in and of itself, deserves recognition.

 

5. Consider changing things up

Sometimes making some small changes between cycles can give you a greater sense of control. Whether that means taking more supplements to increase egg quality, working out more, going to therapy, or even working with your RE to change your medication protocol, doing small changes to tweak your attitude and outlook can make a big emotional difference.

It’s just human nature to try something different a second time once a first attempt fails. And while it might not necessarily make a huge difference, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

 

6. Continue making mindful medical decisions

After your first IVF cycle crashes and burns, you usually have a “WTF Appointment” with your RE. That’s when your doctor will tell you what they learned from your first cycle and how they plan to change things up the next go-round.

Maybe that means adding more meds or changing your pre-stimming protocol. Or it could also mean suggesting you pursue egg donor, sperm donor or surrogacy options. Just be sure that you and your partner are making mindful medical decisions on how you both wish to proceed. 

Don’t let ANYONE pressure you into a decision you are not comfortable making. Take your time. Ask lots of questions. Do your research. Write a pro and con list. Take a vacation. Do whatever you need to do to get educated, aligned and then prepared with your partner.

 

7. Take care of yourself

Make sure you’re getting what you need to get and stay calm as you get ready for Act 2. Whether that means surrounding yourself with safe friends, buying new slippers, cutting out alcohol, or finding yourself a mentor who understands… just do whatever you need to do to feel safe, supported and mentally prepared to get back in the game.

Remember also that self-care looks different on different days. Some days self-care means drinking green juice and going for a run, other days it means eating a milkshake and binge-watching Friends. Again.

 

What’s Your IVF Story?

Did you have a failed IVF cycle (or two or three or four)? What do you wish you’d known back then? What advice do you have to share with your fellow fertility warriors? Please share in the comments below!

  1. Jucy Bounce

    Jucy Bounce

    I went threw ivf frozen cycle I made six blastocyst I had two placed in during my transfer which was successful me and my husband were excited and thank god for them me and the babies were very health and all test came back great at first during the first two months I had some bleeding here and there but everything was fine I reached 4mos and begin to start feel them move they even put on shows during ultrasound waving and kicking and opening their mouth and things like that this was my first pregnancy and I was happy well one day at work I felt weird like tightness and pressure am a phlebomisit at a doctors office so my work is very light anyway I felt weird and I didn’t have any bleeding I got home and laid down to put my feet up about 5pm by 10 pm I begin to bleed so I rushed to the hospital when they checked me I was 10cm dilated and in full labor I was have major contractions and there was nothing they could do i they did a ultrasound and the babies were fine and kicking showing no di stress I delivered a baby girl who lived for 15mins and a baby boy who passed during me pushing it was the worst pain emotional for me I blamed myself and could I have don’t something different but I did everything right never missed an and we all were healthy I had to have surgery cause I hemorrhaged and had to have a blood transfusion but am ok when I was released from the hospital I had my kids cremated And now I have their ashes in my heart pendant necklace it was a real tragic for me and my husband I was very upset with god cause I couldn’t understand but am hopefully and praying that this time god will bless us and let us keep the next baby or babies My main point of this is keep praying and don’t give up cause I haven’t it will happen for me and it will happen for u god bless ??

  2. preparing for ivf

    preparing for ivf

    After being floored again we picked ourselves up and decided, against the advice of the consultant, to meet a fertility specialist to see if there was anything that could be done to preserve our ability to have our own family.

  3. MW

    MW

    thank you for sharing this. I had my cycle about a month ago and they were able to retrieve 19 eggs. 9 fertilized, 3 made it to blastocyst. I was over the moon and was not prepared to accept the call last Friday letting me know my 2 baby girls and 1 boy had chromosomal abnormalities. I was heartbroken (still am) because the moment they told me the gender they weren't just embryos anymore, instead they were Emily, Sophia and Jacob, and it was a reminder that just like my inability to get pregnant naturally, I had once again I had failed.

    I realized t's not my fault and that these things happen, but you are right I do need to change things up this time around because I was anxious and stressed the first round there are lifestyle changes I can improve to increase my chances. We are taking a couple of months off and starting our 2nd round in May and I pray we have successful round this time.

  4. Cheryl

    Cheryl

    We did a cycle in fall 2018 and none of our embryos lasted except one to day 5. We did transfer on day 5 and it failed. This was after two other failed IuI due to male motility issues. We have opportunity for a free cycle but I’m so emotionally drained and messed up from all the previous treatments I’m not sure I can do it again.

  5. Anonymous

    I really needed to read this. My first ivf cycle failed this week. It broke my heart. Reading this made me realise I'm not alone and you explained everything so well and made me feel a bit braver to try again. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous

    Day 2 after finding out my 1st IVF treatment failed… I needed this, thank you.

  7. Tanzie

    Tanzie

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know I’m alone, yet I feel like I am suffering by myself. I just received my negative PT 9/21. I’m emotionally drained, sad, depressed, hurt, I feel like a failure, I’m asking God why me, even embarrassed. I have been trying to conceive naturally for 15 years, I have had 2 miscarriages and 1 ectopic. I had 11 eggs, 6 matured, 1 was genetically normal. My husband and I will take a 2 month mental and physical break before starting our 2nd cycle. I’m so nervous and stressed about starting all this over. This go round I’m exercising more, trying to eat better, more water, less stress, more supplements, 15# weight loss goal, and more praying. I pray God have mercy on me and this time it’s successful.

  8. Ellen

    Ellen

    Thanks for this post. I am heading for IVF round two. We have done a year of medications (clomid and letrozole), 3 failed IUIs and a failed IVF cycle. I almost got choked up at the parallels in your story. I only had 7 mature eggs, 2 fertilized, and one made it to a 5 day fresh transfer in September. I experienced a chemical pregnancy and was devastated. I was crying for a week straight. Even though I knew it was a guarantee, I really didn’t occur to me that it wouldn’t work the first time – we were ideal candidates for success, only up against unexplained infertility.

    Going through this during a pandemic has been extremely isolating, so it’s so nice to hear stories of women going through it alongside me (past and present). We are switching to a new RE that has much better outcomes and starting a new cycle in December. Wishing you and all others who may come across your post success and sanity.

Sign up to comment

If you already have a Fruitful account, please log in.