Moo: July is for IVF

Remember the show Malcolm in the Middle? You know, before Brian Cranston was a psychotic meth head and back when he was just a suburban dad trying to make ends meet while honing his speed walking career…


Regardless of whether you remember it, there’s this excellent line that Reese, older of the middle two brothers, had in one episode that my friend and former roommate Steph and I (Steph-and-I… Steph-an-ie… Stephanie…) just adored that went a little something like this:

“My God. Women are the cows of people.”

As I chatted with my cousins-in-law this afternoon (because Seth’s cousin Meg says she and I are cousins-in-law, and Gary and Holly are Seth’s cousin and Seth’s cousin’s wife, respectively, so by extension, also cousins-in-law to me…), I realized how very true that is. Gary, the Gary of Gary’s Dairy in Halder, WI, was super inquisitive about my IVF drugs, you see… because it’s the same stuff he gives his ladies. And all of his ladies (with the exception of the lovely Holly and their crazy baby girl Ella) are cows.

My God. Women are the cows of people.

I mean, of course they are on account of bull : cow : : man : woman (thank the good lord I never have to take the SAT again), but the fact that me and the cows are kinda doing the same dang thing? Well. That was something.

Perhaps if I mosey my way into a stanchion, Gary can give me a hand with some of the injections…


So, yeah, all that to say… July has begun, and so has IVF. It’s been super stressful and emotional and crazy already. I won’t bore you with the details, which have been stressful and emotional and crazy really only to me (what do you mean you’re not shipping one of my drugs, pharmacy?! also… I got super defensive during a mandated appointment with a clinical psychologist and made Seth very uncomfortable), but no matter, it has started.

On Sunday, I took my last birth control pill. On Tuesday morning, I got up at 4:00 am and drove to Madison for my baseline ultrasound and blood work. Tomorrow morning, I start injecting myself with some stuff. And on Saturday evening, I add more stuff. Four injections a day plus lots and lots of ultrasounds until they tell me to use what I can only describe as “the big needle” to deliver a trigger shot (go eggs go!!) and then surgery. They say I can expect headaches first, then bloating, then hot flashes and tiredness and moodiness and breakouts (and probably freakouts) and so on until the week of the 19th when I have surgery to retrieve the eggs my body is supposed to be cooking up. Followed by fertilization, implantation, and the dreaded two-week-wait.

That stanchion, a nice pile of hay and oats right in my face, access to water ad libitum… it’s all looking pretty good right now. Better than living real life around all of the above, don’t you think? I wonder if Gary has some space… moo?


But, I guess, in that respect at least, I’m not a cow. And I have a lot more control, a lot more space to emote, and significantly more complex responsibilities (p < 0.05).


The craziest part of it all is the uncertainty. I don’t know how I’m going to feel or how I’m going to react and I’m not super great at dealing with uncertainty or with feelings. So. There’s that. Also, I tend to be very black and white with myself — I’m either doing awesome or suck, suck, suck at everything, which leaves very little room for grace.

So what to do about all of that? I don’t really know. I can’t run (original title of this post: Fat Girl Walking, but I’m gonna go ahead and save that for another day) or do yoga. I have been spending a lot of time eating lactose and being sorry for it later, but I suspect that’s also a bad plan and maybe even some sort of subconscious punishment for not doing as well as I want to be doing. But I am trying (trying) to do some productive and healthy things — I read Brene Brown, I subscribed to Headspace and practice mindfulness, I listen to Dean Koontz books while taking long long walks around town, I keep a gratitude journal, I read Shauna Niequist’s Savor over breakfast every morning, and perhaps most importantly, I sometimes find the strength to say these words:

I’m scared. I’m sad. This is hard.

And Tom replied, “here’s a picture of our niece’s disturbingly realistic horse:”

Tom's Text

And I smiled even though I was scared and sad and this is hard. Where “this” refers to IVF, not the horse’s genitalia. Obviously.


This afternoon, I had a meeting with a child and adolescent psychologist. It was a legit work meeting, not actually a therapy session (as I’m neither child nor adolescent), but the psychologist I was talking to went through IVF herself and knows about my deal so we spent the first couple minutes talking about that. Free therapy — woot woot! Seriously though, my favorite thing she always says is that despite all she went through (and it was a lot), if she could go back, she wouldn’t change a thing. Not a single thing. Not the procedures, the dollars, the injections, the travel, the stress… nothing. She says that every step was necessary for the next step and that she learned something every day and that it was all worth it.

Come to think of it, even though I don’t have what I so desperately want, the thing that’s supposed to make it all worth it, (yet), I already kind of agree. Every day I am better at handling the unexpected. At appreciating my strength. At giving myself grace, patience, respect. At giving my body grace, patience, respect. I appreciate better the complexity of fertility and family and adulthood. I am more empathetic and sympathetic. In spite of it all, I am growing and learning and playing the hand I have been dealt. July is for IVF. It’s a chapter, a lesson, a small piece of what will ultimately be my narrative. It’s a scary, sad, hard piece. It’s a piece a cow wouldn’t have to deal with. But I am only like a cow, not an actual cow.

Moo, anyway… and hand me that syringe, I’ve got some injections to do.

12 thoughts on “Moo: July is for IVF

  1. Rachel, you are one of the bravest and honesest (is that a word?) t people I have the pleasure to know and be related to! Megan is lucky to have you in her life too, since you ‘get’ her! We are 100% behind you and Seth in this journey! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make this better for you! We will be praying for a good outcome!

  2. You – are – so – strong! Speaking as the mom of the world’s most amazing kids, it is worth it all. I love you much – see you son!

    1. I love you gangster your typo makes you sound — see you SON! Love you, mommy dearest, and I’m so happy you’re coming over to my side of the lake!

  3. Wishing you the best……and will keep following for updates………you
    are a remarkable and brave person……

    1. Thanks so much, Linda — updates will come. My philosophy: read along and you can fret with me, celebrate with me, grieve with me… all of the above. Despite being an introvert, on the internet, I don’t do anything all by my lonesome.

  4. We love you. And while your scary and sad and hard is so different from ours (other than the cow part because I was a cow today too), know you can always be those things to me or along side of me or with me. And Gary’s Dairy will always be willing to share cow health with you. 🙂 Praying for you.

    1. Reason #346 it’s great to be a Stankowski — being compared to a cow is 0% offensive. And kind of cool.

      The more I share my story, the more stories people share back and everyone (ev-er-y-one) has their own special brand of scary and sad and hard, no one’s immune. But we can love each other through it!

  5. If there is anything we can do to help you along the way, please let us know, ( but probably not giving injections, neither one of us does well with needles. 🙁 . Praying for you.

    1. You guys are the best — I know I can always ask you for just about anything, sans needles, of course. Thinking of buying a new light fixture for the dining room and asking bob to come hang it with Seth… yes… new home decor will definitely help… love you!

  6. Don’t forget: you can be brave and afraid at the same time. Brene said that! I’m amazed at your courage to write openly about all this. It speaks to me– even though we’re not going through the same things, we’re all going through something. I’m here for ya too and I’m up late.

  7. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart with us Rachel- you are brave and beautiful. If you have seen Inside Out yet, you must feel so supported- knowing all those emotions interplay and react in and with each other. I can’t wait to see your post about that one! Much love!

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