Fertility Vacation // Practical Tips

Hi friends,

As many of you had requested, here are some practical tips from our fertility vacation in Prague. Hope it helps for your journey!

Flight
I booked my trip on WOW Airlines from Los Angeles to Berlin with a stopover in Iceland. I loved seeing the magic of the Northern Lights to fill up my spirit before the unknown of IVF.  I choose WOW for their stopover options.  Be careful on luggage charges and pack strategically.  Mike flew on Copa, a Russian airline that had some great last minute options into Prague since we didn't know exactly what days he should be there.

Home Away from Home
We booked a few Airbnb apartments throughout our stay. We prefer to get to know a neighborhood, and then book last minute while we are on site. Other people like to book in advance to feel a bit more settled before their trip. We loved the photogenic Vinohrady district, which is an art deco neighborhood off the beaten path, but still close enough to everything.

Time Commitment
I would recommend about a month-long trip for a Fertility Vacation; give or take a few extra days for travel and to account for what day your period will start. Technically, the guy only needs to be there a day or two for sperm retrieval, but having Mike as my emotional support during implantation, and also my adventure partner was necessary for a few days longer. Here is a sample schedule from our IVF clinic:

Day 1 – arrival
Day 2 – Initial consultation, gynaecological examination. The man will follow with blood sampling and sperm freezing. Paperwork, payment, signatures, man can leave if necessary.
Day 3 - 7 eggs retrieved from the donor, their fertilization
2 - 5 days after fertilization (i.e. between Day 5 – 12) cultivation of embryos takes place. It is finished by embryo transfer
After the transfer we recommend to relax at least for 24 hours before you fly back home.
In total 7 - 12 nights

Fertility Clinic - Praga Medica
Overall, we had a really positive experience at Praga Medica. The staff made us feel comfortable and understood, despite the language barrier. They provided a translator as part of the fees. They were helpful and competent, even if their approach to kindness was different than smiling (they’re definitely not going to smile at you!).

Money Money Money Money….Money
There are a lot of factors to consider with a Fertility Vacation. Vacation days from work, life commitments, how many times you want to try IVF, etc. Cost was a huge factor for us and with our flexible lifestyle and love for travel, a fertility vacation made the most sense.

In total - the cost of IVF, travel, room and board - our trip was about $10,000. Keep in mind, we also lived for that price - meals, shows, etc. IVF in the U.S. runs about $15-$20k. Most people I have spoken with said the cost is $20k, if you’re lucky, as it’s not uncommon to cost astronomically more than that. One of my friends was close to $65k and was successful on the first IVF attempt although they tried multiple options along the way.

Research
Prior to choosing Praga Medica we Googled a few IVF clinics in Prague. We compared each clinic and then also asked our friend who is an IVF consultant here in the U.S. to see her recommendation. After interviewing Praga Medica, we felt like they stood out to us and were the best choice. Here is our list of questions from the interview

Prague
Being in Prague was the best part of our experience; away from everything and focused on us. Prague is a big sprawling city that is affordable and has a ton of activities including unique cafes, foodie hot spots and art classes. There were historic city tours, food tours, music performances, day trips to charming towns like Cesky Krumlov, Karlovy Vary, Vienna and Budapest. So many choices!

Is a Fertility Vacation right for you? You should:

  • Love to be in a new city
  • Want to be parents
  • Feel comfortable being away from home
  • Have a support system in place; smart phones, Hello TMobile, friends to visit, etc.
  • Find a way to communicate with your people so you don’t feel alone and so that everyone at home still feels included

While on your fertility Vacation - Suzanne says:

  • Pick a place and neighborhood to stay; let yourself feel the routine of it
  • Pick what time of day to take for your shots that fits best into your desired routine - mine had to be between 6 and 8pm. I choose 6 but as a photographer I wished I had chosen 7:30 so I didn't have to miss the golden hour
  • Discover your favorite coffee shop and become a regular
  • The shot has to be refrigerated so bring a cooler/ice pack with you so you don't have to go all the way back to your hotel if you don't want to

While on your Fertility Vacation - Mike says:

  • Find a way to relax and enjoy your time, instead of constantly thinking about the procedure
  • Spend enough time in your city: two full weeks for me was enough time for fun and exploration
  • Treat yourself while you’re there
  • It's a journey and it’s hard, but it also builds character and a sense of adventure
  • Be willing to allow yourself to have fun
  • It's not a dreadful event, but rather a life adventure

Things that made us feel at home - Suzanne’s lens:

  • Went for Mexican food (Las Adelitas - Malé Naměstí 13) so many times, nothing says home more than tacos
  • Drawing classes make me feel comfortable to me when traveling
  • Mike’s walking tours. I pick places I’m interested in and then Mike holds my hand and and navigates me around the city, adding in his own special stops. I love following him around and he loves logistically organizing everything.
  • Lunch and going to the museum
  • English book store called “Shakespeare's” where expats congregate
  • I feel really at home amongst tourists and listening to all of the languages being spoken.  You find tourists in the most incredible places; they are my tribe.

Things that made us feel at home - Mike’s lens:

  • Going to the movies (three times!)
  • Museums
  • Visiting historical sights and art exhibits
  • Farmers markets and swap meets
  • Finding every cool coffee shop
  • Drinking a beer before noon
  • Walking  5-8 miles a day
  • Endless picture taking and mini photo shoots of each other
  • We had friends meet us there from England, Dubai, Switzerland and Sweden

Emotional Preparation
IVF Is hard. There are no two ways around it. PMS has nothing on IVF.  It is identity shaking, emotional, disruptive. The weeks during the actual IVF process were fine, even great, but the aftermath of the hormone depletion was completely overwhelming. I feel much better equipped for the second time around. I have less fear and will relax more, now that I understand the upcoming challenges.

Lots of love to you!!

Suzanne & Mike

4 Things // Back At It

Listening to : The Kitchen Sisters Present : The Hidden World of Girls with Tina Fey. This collection of emails, audio clips, poems, and stories travels to different corners of the earth telling stories about the hidden world of girls. I was feeling a little post vacation blues this morning and this gem cheered me up and made me feel more connected. Oh wanderlust. - Suzanne

Photographing : I'm so inspired by the Mitte district in Berlin. Life seems to be lived on the street. I felt like every apartment was empty Sunday afternoon and every man, woman, and child was out walking, biking, and lounging under the warm spring sun. It felt like a town and a city all at once. - Suzanne

Working on : I'm on a mission right now to get back into shape, on a proper diet, and back to martial arts. For the first time in 15 years I have allowed weeks to go without disciple in my categories like my diet. I notice this effects everything and I'm motivated to get going. - Mike

Listening to : Podcast by Jocko Willett author of Extreme Ownership.  I highly recommend his book and podcast.  I have been watching athletes and military service men in action. This always gets me motivated and grateful. Prague was an amazing chapter in our life and now a new chapter is starting. - Mike

Fertility Vacation // No Secrets

So here we are on the last day of our trip. Four days since “uno” and “dos” have been put back inside of me. The doctor told me to avoid baths, jacuzzis, swimming pools, heavy lifting, over doing it, and uncooked meat for the first three days.

The first three days were crucial. It feels good to have made it that far. While I won’t know for another 10 days if I’ve made it at all, I still love the milestone. If uno and dos are born, I can tell them how I loved them and wished them safe passages as I walked around Prague and Berlin, putting myself in the way of beauty.

So many kind people have commented or texted their wishes to us. A few mentioned how brave we are for sharing our IVF story. Mike has mentioned several times that he thinks I’m brave too.

It’s been odd to wrap my mind around this concept. From the beginning, I decided that I was more afraid to attempt IVF in secret, than to tell everyone about my journey. The stress of not being able to keep the secret would bury me.  

I don’t like secrets. I don’t think they are fun to keep.

I remember when I was a teenager and my parent’s marriage was falling apart. Times were tough, but it was important to me that it didn’t show. It felt like a terrible secret I was hiding. I got so good at hiding, that it took me a long time to be comfortable showing people my whole self. I can certainly give Mike a lot of credit for helping me bring out my light and my dark side. When we first met, I decided that if he was going to for fall me, I had to show him the real me.

Being transparent is now a part of my essence.

My brother told me secretly that he was going to propose to his girlfriend. He asked me not to tell anyone. So I called Mike (hey, he’s my husband!). Then I may have called my mom (well, she is my mom!). So if you have any good news, I’ll probably tell Mike and my mom too.

All of this to say, I couldn’t have gone to Europe for five weeks and not told you my hopes and dreams. I’m not really made that way.

Of course I’m scared, because maybe in 10 days a stick will break my heart and everyone will know.

But ultimately, I feel free that my spirit is full of truth and hope, not secrets.

Fertility Vacation // Implantation Day

Today is implantation day. April 1, 2017. Today is one of the best days of my life. We have a chance for hope; a chance to be parents. Maybe we will be parents in 9 months, maybe we won’t, but today we have the best chance we’ve ever had.

A questionnaire once asked me to list the three best days of my life. Of course there have been so many, but here are the one’s that stand out:

  1. The day I met Mike Ofeldt
  2. Our wedding day
  3. The day my world expanded as a 17-year-old when my dear friend Cristina explained backpacking and the endless possibilities of travel.

Today is coming pretty close.

____________________________________________________________________

Implantation went great.  They implanted two excellent embryos and froze two excellent embryos. The procedure was relatively quick and painless. There was a point where it hurt and I held Mike’s hand tightly. I think it’s unusual for it to hurt, but I have a tilted uterus so perhaps that was the issue.

I zoned out and imagined two babies in footsie pajamas laughing and playing with Mike and I on the couch. I listened to Don Williams’ “I Believe in You” on repeat and then the procedure was over. I then took a 20 minute nap in recovery. Acupuncture right before and right after was a great choice.

Everything went as smooth as possible. In two weeks we will know more.

5 Things // Prague Life

Dreaming of : Implantation in the next 48 hours. - Suzanne

Photographing : Prague. So many hours a day, every nook and cranny.  What a daily dream; a meditation, a photo walk and holding Mike's hand. - Suzanne

Drinking: A bunch of different local beers in Prague. I'm enjoying trying to get a feel for the culture and the daily life here. - Mike

Watching: We have been to the movies on three occasions. One was an amazing film at the Prague film festival about kids during WWII. - Mike

Reflecting: It's been a roller coaster ride. Being in a different place going through this new IVF experience has taught me a lot and given me some much needed experience. It's given me time to step out of my routine and see what issues I have. I really like it here. - Mike

xoxo
Suzanne & Mike

Fertility Vacation // Worrying About Worrying

Today could have been our implantation day, but instead it will be tomorrow or Saturday. It feels scary that it wasn’t the first possible day. I’m guessing that it’s not actually better or worse which day it happens.

I wonder why I’m struggling so much. Is it the hormones? Is it because they took the eggs out? Does that make you spiral a little? Is it a withdrawal from the hormone shots? I guess I should be grateful for all the easy days I’ve had.

I’m worried about being worried. I want my body and mind to be relaxed and peaceful. The doctor said the only thing I can do to raise our chances is to think positive. Instead I feel panicky.  I swivel from feeling so much power and gratitude, to feeling fear and panic. I’m sure it’s the hormones.

I have to keep remembering that everything is going so well. Seven of our 10 eggs are growing. All of our friends say that’s great.

I’m scared anyway. I meditated. Scared. I took a bath. Scared. I’m trying to write it so it gets out of me. Scared.

Finally we’ve gotten to the part in the IVF process that people complain about. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed during certain moments of the day.

Mike was supposed to fly home tonight, but I asked him to call and change his flight. I’m not ready for him to go. The next three days are crucial and with everything happening at the lab, I don’t want to be without him. Cristina arrives in an hour so I know I won’t be alone, but I need Mike here too. Everything feels more hopeful with him here.

I’m not a very needy or demanding wife. Usually I’m independent to a fault. But for a couple more days I want to explore the city via “Mike’s Walking Tour” and sleep holding his hand.

An hour goes by and I’m feeling even and calm. Mike is the best at talking the fear out of me.

Fertility Vacation // A Heart Full of Gratitude

“No one has friends half as good as mine or loves them half as much.”

I butchered that quote, but the people in our lives astound me and I am wholeheartedly grateful for them.

I often think we must have done something right to have such incredible people in our lives. Really incredible people like Cristina, Vanessa, Jenny and Janna who would fly out and meet us in Prague, Germany, and Iceland.

An amazing group of people in San Diego and scattered all over the world, rooting for us and our 10 eggs. Everyone has been so kind on Facebook, via text, and WhatsApp. It’s been good to share our experience. I feel so safe wrapped in everyone’s collective prayers and vibes.

I like to imagine our little eggs swaddled in a myriad of wishes and dreams; all of us collectively willing life into them. I want them to be safe and healthy and know they are loved. Four eggs growing strong, three slightly slower; seven eggs left in the race. They are small, but mighty.

While my mind is exploding with wonder, I am gently reminded of the song, “Que Sera Sera”.

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be.

I feel grateful for the opportunity to try IVF.  Some people never even have this chance. At the very least I can give it my all in the process and feel grateful for every opportunity. Grateful for IVF, for travel, for Prague, for the lower prices in Europe, for my translator, for amazing coffee, and for my handsome husband.

Fertility Vacation // Egg Retrieval Vibes - Why Not Us?

It’s time for egg retrieval surgery and I’m alive with possibilities. I can almost feel the little hand of our baby wrapping his fingers around one of mine. Mike and I sitting on the couch, smiling at the cuteness. Maybe we are both holding a baby. How cool would that be? A little boy and girl.

Who knows what will happen, but today we have a chance. Today we are one step closer to the family of our dreams. One step closer than we’ve ever been. I love IFV.

The universe is unfolding in our favor.

________________________________________________________

The surgery went well. The doctor informed us we have 10 eggs and that usually a third of the eggs are viable. 16 follicles, 10 eggs, and maybe a third would fertilize; so incredible.

Now there is nothing to do, but wait. No shots, no pills, just an evening off. We went to the Communism Museum and did some window shopping around the Palladium. We took a nap and then ate an indulgent dinner at Cafe Stav.

We are both starting to get really hopeful. Why not us? Someone has to be the 10%. Why not the Ofeldts? I dream of twins. Sweet and healthy babies of our own to love. No one can take them away like foster kids. They would be ours to love forever. I still really want to adopt, I just don’t want them to be taken away. Maybe this is our time. Maybe we will be the lucky ones.

I’m holding my breath. I’m crossing my fingers. I’m loving Mike and when the fear creeps in, I’m remembering to be grateful for the opportunity and the chances we have ahead of us. Sometimes I like to imagine singing songs to the baby, reading a book, teaching him or her about the colors, and laughing in the pool. All of the glimpses into a beautiful life.

There are logistics and so many real life issues, but I feel like it’s my job to stay in dream land for a couple more weeks. Things feel delicate. I need to take care of our family and be here, now.

Fertility Vacation // A Darn Cold

Good morning, Morning Pages. Getting a cold a few days before egg retrieval during an IVF vacation is about as appetizing as being sick in bed when you’re supposed to be hosting Christmas dinner. There is a never a good time to get a cold on vacation, but this feels a little worse.

Warm baths, hot tea, lemon, salt, medicine, ginger - yeah yeah yeah. I’d just prefer to feel the physical vitality that I have in my heart. C'est la vie.

I’ve spent a few weeks raising my hope levels and lowering my fear levels. Last night I took my last Purgeon hormone shot. I’m oddly sad that I won’t get Purgeon anymore. I’m nervous that the brain fog will return as I’ve been feeling a little edgier and emotional. Who knows if it’s the cold, the lack of Puregon, the new meds, or just life. I wonder what fears are real and what fears are imagined.

I love the mantra, “The universe is unfolding in my favor”. I also love Mike’s quote to me, “You are so good at following your dreams”.

Even with a cloudy head and stuffy nose, I will choose to trust this course with joy in my heart and ask questions as needed.

Fertility Vacation // Last shot & What's Next

Tonight is my last night of hormone shots. Cheers to that! It's been slightly disruptive to our daily schedule to be near the fridge at 6pm everyday. While the hormones don't bother me, aside from immediately knocking me out for 15 minutes, I'm happy for them to be gone. 11 more days in Prague and a little more freedom after tonight.

Today we met with a third doctor and so far he is my favorite. I feel like we get passed around a bit, but it seems to be time related as my body dictates when we need an appointment. It's all dependent on when my period starts, how I respond to the hormones, how many controls I need, how large the follicles are, etc.

On Monday (two days from now) we have our egg retrieval appointment. Embryo implantation will then happen on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday depending on how the eggs grow and what the endocrinologist says. Both the doctor and Veronica, our translator, seemed pleased with the results this morning. I didn’t need anymore controls or hormones, my body is responding great. The next shot I take will be to induce ovulation.

We also discussed what type of options would increase our chances of getting pregnant. We went with the “Uterus Glue” and “Embryo Hatching” as my friend Amy had suggested. We also chose video monitoring of the eggs and Acupuncture before and after implantation.

This process has had quite the learning curve and I am still figuring it all out.

I wonder how many eggs they will find and how many are viable. I wonder what happens to the other eggs. I can't remember what we read online anymore. If we want to come back and try IVF again in the future, do both Mike and I come back? Do they save all of the eggs and sperm? Can someone else have them if we don’t use them?

I would love to have twins. If they insert two eggs, and we get pregnant with twins, that would be incredible. I keep reminding myself not to get too far ahead, but it's the flashes of future dreams with Mike and our kids that keeps me going.

4 Thing // New Sights

Mike made it to Prague, yay! We are exploring and making the most of our time here. 

Photographing : Everyday Prague; the life, the cafes, the views. It's a romantic city and we can't stop trying to reflect something back that sums up how it feels to be here. - Suzanne & Mike

Listening to : The Royal Czech Orchestra at the Charles Bridge Palace.  Initially I was interested in being in the same room that Mozart once stood. Mozart! The real Mozart. And also where Milos Forman filmed "Amadeus". Milos Forman is such a cool director to me. The palace is stunning, it's so fascinating. Everywhere you look something else reveals itself to you. I was totally unprepared for the music.  The six musicians who stood 12 feet in front of me blew my mind.  It's rare to be in such close proximity to the musicians without anything obstructing your view.  We were in the second row of folding chairs. I could see every musician's hands.  4 violins, 1 bass, 1 cello, 1 opera singer and pure magic. The skill level was beyond comprehension. Their speed and dexterity, the way they anticipated each other's movement without a conductor made my heart literally soar.  As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was flying.  Sometimes fast, or slow, darker, then romantic, surprising, running, walking, waltzing...flying. It all felt like flying.  It's such a small room that every person was a part of the energy. No microphones just incredible acoustics. - Suzanne

Dreaming of : Positive vibes and the stars aligning. - Mike & Suzanne

Exploring: The Torture Museum (Prague's darker side) with our friend Janna from Sweden.  It was a tiny little place with an odd narrow hallway. A short walk through a weird part of humanity. Better to look toward peace. - Mike

xoxo
Suzanne & Mike

One of my favorites from Berlin, a few days before coming to Prague. 

One of my favorites from Berlin, a few days before coming to Prague. 

Fertility Vacation // Day Three of Injections

I’m feeling fine. Who would have thought? I am a little tired and think I have a slightly bigger appetite. But overall, I feel fine. I can’t tell if I’m actually happier or if it’s the sheer relief of not falling apart or having a scary reaction to the hormone injections.

I remember the naturopath saying one of my hormone levels was slightly low and that we would need to address it while I was trying to get pregnant.

I wonder if my body needed this hormone and that’s the root of this joy. I’ve noticed that I’m feeling my highs with greater intensity. It’s a crazy, beautiful, traveling, vacation, amazing landscape, inspiring architecture, good food, long conversation kind of elation. I’ve been having the type of days you wish for with friends that you love and support. I’m always searching for clues of how I feel. How I sleep, what I eat, the weather, my candida; the root cause of what I feel is wildly illusive.

So I’m happy now, and I can’t help but smile while writing this. Even though I’ll take another hormone in a week and this could all wear off tomorrow. Either way, being happy right now feels profound.

Fertility Vacation // 8 Hours

We walked around Prague laughing and taking pictures. Three seemingly carefree tourists with tiny bottles of alcohol in our winter jackets. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

8 hours of freedom. 8 hours before my first injection.

My happy place is walking around and falling in love with a new place. It makes me feel positive and at peace. I feel a deep sense of contentment knowing that I’m not taking my life for granted. One of the easiest ways I can show gratitude for my life is to travel to the world’s meccas and pay tribute to how beautiful the world is.

Hi Universe, I see you. I'm profoundly grateful for your accomplishments and these pockets of peace that you have created all over the globe. I see your light and I'm doing my best to reflect it in my images, my open heart, and the soft, happy smile I pass to others enjoying your beauty.

We wandered into Shakespeare's old book store and took photos of the picturesque buildings. We asked tourists to take our picture in front of the river with the Charles Bridge behind us. We saw the Lennon Wall which felt peaceful and open. Alongside us were families, school groups, travelers, Instagrammers, Facebookers and lovers from all over the world, all walking by and talking pictures.

We stayed a while, sipping whiskey and indulging in Vanessa’s deep love for St. Patty’s Day (she’s from Chicago). We had a pub lunch. We passed the river again and saw a boat pulling a life-size inflatable pastel tank with a giant sign that read #MakeLoveNotWalls. I'm glad that someone felt like making floating art with that message. I didn’t let it cast any shadows of reality.

I still had two more hours until I would willingly give myself a shot. Two more hours before I would find out how the hormones would affect me. Two more hours to not be afraid of the possible disruption in my mental stability.

Medicine and I don’t typically get along. When I was in Africa, the malaria medicine made me hallucinate spiders. I took antibiotics 10 years ago and my GI tract has still not recovered. In fact, one of the effects of the antibiotics was temporary infertility, which is why I'm waltzing around Prague in the first place.  Why would I willingly shoot hormones two inches to the right and one inch down from my belly button?

Eventually we made our way back to our Airbnb apartment. About a block away, time ran out.  As always, I’m able to completely ignore something until a few minutes before it happens, and then panic sets in. All of a sudden my mind was shouting, “No, no, no, don’t do it!”. My head was shaking back and forth as I told Vanessa and Jenny that I didn’t want to do it. I really didn’t want to do it.

As we approached the door, my heart was running a full blown hundred-meter dash.  I knew it was unreasonable, but I had no idea how my body or mind would respond. Neither were interested in finding out.

Vanessa was sweet and tried to think of calming techniques. She told me to focus on my belly because one day, it might grow a baby.

My mind desperately tried to find something to hold onto. “The sooner you do it, the sooner it’s over”.

That I could get behind.

Fertility Vacation // Relax

I went to the clinic to meet with my doctor and pick up my hormone shots. The doctor seemed generally a bit cold. He told me that there was nothing I could do to increase my chances of getting pregnant, other than positive thinking. He then smiled strangely, as if smiling wasn’t an everyday occurrence. As if, he only smiled in this type of an instance.

It was funny and a little unsettling, but I’ve opted for positive thinking.

At least he didn’t say relax.

Well meaning people say to relax all the time. The little stick figure in my head violently punches them repeatedly in the face while I smile and nod, knowing they have good intentions. If relaxing is a criterion for something, I’m unlikely to sign up. If consistent effort and hard work is at play, put me at the top of the list.

Eventually after mapping out an estimate of my schedule for the next couple weeks, he sent me to the nurse’s office. The nurse, I liked immediately. This was not her first rodeo. She is the kind of lady I want on my team. An Eastern Bloc type of mom with no nonsense. I could feel a mutual understanding that we were surrounded by ineptitude, but that she would make sure my ship stayed on course.

She demonstrated the procedure to me, while my translator, whose entire outfit I have pinned at one time or another, made sense of her words. It was clear that the nurse had zero confidence in my translator and made her explain it to me several times.

In all fairness, I was a little distracted by my translator’s vibrant outfit amidst the stoic environment. I would totally wear that to a bar. I wonder how comfortable it is to wear a leather jacket indoors? I want to ask her where she got her shoes. Maybe it was the nerves about willingly giving myself a shot that had my mind wandering. Luckily she translated everything several times and my trusty friend Jenny was there to witness the procedure.

// Insert a vile. Dial it to the correct number. Insert a needle. Lean forward and relax my stomach. Pinch a “muffin top” (her words) and insert the needle two inches to the side of my belly button and once inch down. Push the pen until it won’t push anymore. Do this every night, between 6pm-8pm. \\

I looked at the nurse. She looked at me. The gravity of the situation passed between us. The translator mentioned something about YouTube videos, but I didn’t break my gaze with the nurse. We both exhaled a small sigh. A deep resolve and understanding that despite the incompetence of others, we’ve got this.

I shook her hand. It felt like we took this first monumental step together. She made me feel like everything was going to be okay. I felt grateful to have found someone who gave me strength and made feel grounded.

She was the type of person who would never tell someone to relax.

Fertility Vacation // 10% and all the Emotions

Today I had my first IVF appointment where the clinic re-did a few tests, including checking my current hormone levels. The doctor said we actually have a 10% chance of getting pregnant, not a 30% chance like we had understood on the call, because I’m 41. I was told to come back in two days to pick up the injections and learn how to give myself a daily shot. Yikes. She said that some follicles were visible which is good for our chances.

I left the clinic and walked for an hour to the Old Square. When I got there I realized I was hungry. I sat down to order and felt that I was near passing out. Not exactly fainting, just falling asleep without control. Is there a difference? I think I was a little bit in shock. 10%?

There is always a delay with me. My natural reaction is to be strong and say, “I can handle this”. What follows is an unexpected falling apart.

We had planned for 30%. We would try three times in the next 12 months with a 30% chance. I realize now that we actually have a 10% chance each time. How do I have hope every day in the process? What’s it like to keep going?

After lunch I walked around some more and then posted up in a lively cafe. I peered out the window, drawing, writing, collecting my thoughts, and wondering, how do I feel?

I’ve entered some kind of beautiful dream full of uncertainty and perhaps some inevitable heartbreak. This dream has the potential to burst my heart wide open by putting one or two more Ofeldts on this earth. It’s a dream I am absolutely made for.

I’m vacillating between feeling incredibly strong and heroic, and feeling like I may have a panic attack right here at EMA Espresso bar. A duplicity that seems to be the new normal.

I wonder about the people I’m watching and drawing. I wonder about their story. Do they have something exploding out of them as big as invisible sunbeams, or are they just having a regular day where all of their emotions are in the normal range?

Fertility Vacation // The Past & Choosing Prague

I’m pretty comfortable at 30,000 feet above sea level. Although, as I pack my bags for this month-long adventure, it feels different. A fertility vacation in Prague; this trip has more unknowns than ever before.

Quick backstory to catch you up. Up until I met Mike, I could never mentally picture a husband in my vision of my future self and family. I would see other people getting married and think, how could I ever love someone enough to spend my entire life with them? After I met Mike, that vision changed almost immediately. His mom sent me a card one day and taped to it was a picture of Mike as a baby in the bathtub.

I want to have a baby with this man.

Mike and I have been trying to start a family since 2013. It’s been devastating. I can’t possibly be dramatic enough with words. It’s been hard to be strong everyday and make this dream come true, when everything feels so hard. It can be easy for some people, but it’s hard for us.

It was really surprising to me that we couldn’t get pregnant, and something I never expected with life. I always knew I wanted to be a mom and have never doubted this is something I will be. I always just thought I would get pregnant right away. When I didn’t, it made me question myself and my choices on such a fundamental level.

IVF was always something I thought about, even as a kid. But as reality set in as an adult, Mike and I discovered that it was out of our price range.

My friend Nicole enlightened me to fertility vacations in Prague. This of course got my heart pounding with interest. Prague has a good reputation for IVF, is considerably more affordable than IVF in the U.S, and is a beautiful part of the world.  Check, check and check.  

I feel comfortable in Prague. It’s a photogenic, walkable city. Being in Prague, away from the financial pressures and the stress of everyday life will help me stay relaxed. As a person who values freedom and exploration, being in a different city feeds and calms me. I am my truest self while traveling.

In real life, I run a photography business and “adult” everyday (well, mostly everyday). On vacation, I get to walk around all day and take photos, eat lunch outside, visit museums, and feel the energy of the city. Days full of self care and relaxation.

A fertility vacation in Prague makes perfect sense.

The process as I know it so far will consist of hormone injections every three days for two weeks. There will be more appointments, and then eventually they will remove my eggs and put Mike’s sperm and one of my eggs together. And then, they will put the embryo back inside me.

I’m sure there will be a little more romance and details involved, but I’ll focus on that once my feet hit the ground.

We will try IVF three times in Prague over the course of this year. We will then try adoption. If not adoption, we will be Big Brothers and Sisters.

I am a little nervous, but mostly hopeful. We know that ultimately we will be parents, we just don’t know the path quite yet.

And now to finish packing. Three suitcases, art supplies, and movies. Journals and soul books. Everything creative. I wish I had more time to pack, but I guess it wouldn’t really matter. I'm not sure I'd ever be ready.  Time to jump.

xoxo
Suzanne

4 Things // Gratitude in the Struggle

Watching : Picasso at the Lapin Agile at The Old Globe. Find out what Picasso, Einstein and Elvis have in common. - Suzanne

Loving : 9 to 5 The Musical. #yearofthewoman - Suzanne

Inspired by : John Wick : Chapter 2. I'm inspired by the character; his determination and will. I love the idea of doing anything you can to help a loved one. Also, it inspires me to be in shape, to dress well, and be prepared for whatever life brings. - Mike

Excited for : An adventure with Suzanne in Prague.  I'm excited for taking on new projects, and not being afraid, but rather embracing the struggles that come with any new chapter of life. Trying to have a family, a child, a future - this I am very excited about it. Life has kicked us around a little, and I have let it take some of my happiness through anxiety, but now I'm turning the tables. I am finding gratitude in the struggle. - Mike

xoxo
Suzanne, Mike and the Wanderers