I have three “friends” (both close friends and acquaintances) that announced their pregnancies this week.  Two naturally, one from IVF.  Despite the fact that we are all pregnant, I only have things in common with one of them.  A dollar goes to anyone who can guess which one!

The simple truth is that trying to get pregnant naturally versus with help from ART (assisted reproductive therapy) is completely different, and until you have been through this end of things, you will truly never know what it is like.

But that goes for everything in life, so I shouldn’t complain, right?  I don’t know what it is like to get the bronze versus the gold medal in the Olympic marathon, or only get elected as the Vice President versus President of the United States.  But I do know what it is like to want something so bad, do everything in my power to make it happen, and still not be able to achieve the final goal.

I envy those who are able to get pregnant both quickly and without distress.  I covet my friends and family who have not struggled to get what they longed for while quietly spiting (or sometimes not so quietly) their easy process.  But at the end of the day, when we are both pregnant, we are not the same, and I’ll tell you why.

Finding out you are pregnant after IVF is so different than I had imagined it all going down two years ago when Gabriel and I first got serious in our talks about starting a family.  I pictured it happening quickly, with me casually taking a pregnancy test one beautiful snowy morning, and although I would be excited, waiting until the perfect moment a week or two later, to surprise Gabriel with a card that said something to the effect of “congrats, Daddy!” and a picture of the positive pregnancy test.  I pictured what I would be wearing (looking skinny and beautiful, of course – hey…it’s my dream, so back off), Gabriel would look at the card, then look at me, then look at the card again, with tears in his eyes, and we would blissfully enjoy the weeks of us sharing the secret before spilling it to family and friends.  Nine months later, a baby would arrive and our story would just be beginning.

And for many couples, I bet this is similar to how their stories play out, beautiful characters and all.

Thousands of dollars, hundreds of needles, 50+ ultrasounds, 20 months, 10 pounds, 2 miscarriages and 1 surgery later, we still have not begun our story.   And with IVF, the story is never the way you picture it.

With natural conception, no one necessarily knows you are trying to get pregnant, whereas with IVF, missing work, injections and the mere process is impossible to keep a secret.  With natural conception, you can take a pregnancy test in the privacy of your own home without anyone knowing.  With IVF, your nurse calls you after you’ve had a blood test to give you either the great or devastating news.  And, even after that, you go for additional blood tests every 48 hours to confirm that your numbers are rising the way they need to be.  With natural conception, most obstetrician’s will see a new pregnant patient anywhere between 8-12 weeks into the pregnancy.  With IVF, you are monitored every week, starting around 5 1/2 weeks.  There are so many “hurdles” that you have to jump over to feel even the slightest bit of relief that the pregnancy will be a success.

So, a natural pregnancy could not be any more different than mine.  While I am excited that we have passed the first 3 or 4 miles in our pregnancy marathon, there are 22+ more to go until we cross that finish line.  Symbolically, we could run out of water, sprain an ankle, hit the wall, or suffer from the ever-dreaded bleeding nipples during this long marathon, so in no way are we placing the medals around our necks and or smashing the champagne bottle at the finish line.

Instead, I am optimistic that my hormone blood levels will continue to rise, assured by every little pregnancy symptom I feel, and hopeful that each ultrasound will show growth week to week.

Because for now, that is all I can do.