If you want to know if I am alright. I am not. You don’t think it’s possible to have your heart broken as many times as you do going through IVF. It breaks into a million pieces and slowly, you piece them back together just in time for your heart to shatter again. I am still picking up those pieces today. I recently shared that my Embryo Transfer got cancelled because of Covid-19 and was patiently waiting for my fertility clinic to open back up. When I finally got the call that they were opening, I scheduled to start treatment ASAP. I quietly prepped the whole last month and a half for a Frozen Embryo Transfer on June 8th. After the most excruciating 10 day wait, it’s with a heavy heart that I tell you our transfer didn’t work. Not pregnant. Let me rewind to give you a little insight into this FET cycle.
Frozen Embryo Transfer Prep
The process was relatively easy considering I had just completed the majority of it with my cancelled FET cycle. I knew what to expect. I was in the groove. I had my eye on the prize. I think the scariest moment of prep is always the day I start progesterone injections. That scary long needle that gets injected into your butt. But like anything, after “pulling off the bandaid” and just getting through the first night, it all just becomes part of your routine again. I will say the injections aren’t even that bad compared to how your butt starts to feel after a few days. I remember telling Blake it’s like I have two bruises on my butt the size of tennis balls. Sitting is uncomfortable. I was doing them once in the morning and once at night. But regardless of any unpleasantness, you grit through because that precious progesterone is for your baby. So it’s all worth it. Once I started the progesterone, we were locked into a embryo transfer date. It was on.
Embryo Transfer Day
Given the state of the world, our transfer looked alot different this time. While Blake was allowed to come with me to the procedure, he could not because he had to be in the car with Otis since we are still fully quarantined at home. Since I have been doing my medical treatments, it was important to me and our family that we continue to be as safe as possible to protect my health as well as that of Blake and Otis. Since we are without childcare help and we aren’t having contact with anyone to watch Otis, he had to support me from the car instead of in the room. I am so lucky to have gone through a transfer experience before in normal times so I could at least know what to expect. I can’t imagine other woman having to go through this process alone. It weighs heavy on me thinking how hard the process can be for everyone.
Blake gave me a kiss, I kissed Otis on the forehead and I headed into the facility. I wore a mask, had my temperature checked, and answered a slew of questions pertaining to Covid-19. Besides the obvious precautions, everything was just as I remember. I met with my embryologist who went over my info, talked to me about my embryo and got everything set up to go. My doctor came in and I was able to ask to video in Blake during the procedure. But of course, with Blake watching a wild toddler in a car seat that didn’t want to be in his car seat, he had to mute his own audio and he ended up not really knowing what was happening as I tried to communicate with him, wearing my mask and giving hand signals. I think in a way, But, regardless we did our best to create our own sense of normal. I had my music playing and just like that, we were done. It’s a super quick procedure and after I lay down for 30 minutes before I am allowed to go home. It’s also to note, they give me valium before so I am SUPER relaxed but do need to be driven home because of it. We drove home and I got ready for my 3 days of bedrest. I queued up my favorite rom coms, wore my coziest pajamas, and had more time to myself than I remember in a long time.
The hardest part about the bed rest was not really being able to hang out with Otis. I missed him terribly. My little buddy 🙁 We tried to have him come into bed when he was in a relaxed mood or it was time for his milk before bed and a lot of time, it would be a little complicated because he’s a toddler that wants to be on the move and I need to be very careful and not have any pressure on my stomach. That was the toughest thing. Not getting many cuddles and hang time with Otis. But luckily he had a great time with Dad and I cherished the time I did get to spend with him.
2 Week Wait
I thought the 2 week wait (or 2WW) would be easier this time around because I have been through it twice before so I should basically be an expert. WRONG. There is so much PTSD when it comes to infertility and IVF treatment. I feel the 2WW was even worse this time around. Day 2 I was already off to doctor google looking up implantation signs, symptoms, you name it. I knew it was bad. I knew I shouldn’t read, but damn guys. You ALWAYS READ IT. The first couple days were rough. Especially with the state of the world, I tried to disconnect myself from all social media as much as I could but it was also a time I could NOT look away. I think in hindsight I blame myself… maybe I should have truly disconnected more. Maybe I caused myself stress when I should have been more positive and focused on myself. Once I got to day 6, I started feeling better about being closer to blood test day. I was leaning into the “I’m pregnant” mentality and doing my best to be as positive as possible. Fast forward to the night before my blood work. I have not been that anxious in a LONG time. I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned all night. I had a million things going on in my mind. Blake was trying to get me to take an at home pregnancy test from day 7 but I held out. I didn’t want to torture myself with any false positive or false negative results. I was going to hold on until blood work day.
Blood Work Day
I tossed and turned all night before my blood work. My eyes were awake scrolling my phone before my alarm went off at 6am to get up, shower and head to the doctors office for my blood work. Anxious. Nervous. Excited. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a solo cup to save my morning pee to test it with an HPT (at home pregnancy test), did my business, and showered to get ready. It was a misty June morning, softly raining and eerily quiet drive. A huge pit in my stomach. I did my quick blood drawl and I was back in the car on the way home.
Luckily it was Thursday, TRASH DAY, so I could distract myself with chasing trucks with Otis. Before I left on my routine walk, I had Blake go in and do my pregnancy tests with my saved urine. Did I tell you how much I love Blake and how he is the freaking best partner in the world? The idea of doing a HPT and seeing a negative result would destroy me so Blake was on duty. My last successful FET (which I wrote about here) I did a HPT after my phone call with the nurse to find out it was positive. My hopes were high. Until Blake came out, “All 3 are negative.” I could see it all over his face. The look I have seen before. Devastation. My heart sunk. But then just like that, I had to bring Otis to go see the trash trucks. Going through fertility treatment with a toddler is a very different experience. Less time to process. More distraction. Just different. We talked as I strapped Otis into his blue car that I pushed him out for our walks. “I’m going to pray that my beta comes back positive. Maybe it’s too early for my home test. There is still a chance.”
I left for my walk, where I always meet my friend down the block to take a socially distanced walk with our toddlers. With every step I took, it became alarming clear that, fuck. This might not have worked. I continued on with our convos focused on Otis and our kids and just hoped that she wouldn’t bring up whether I went in for my blood work. I could feel the tears just creeping up in my throat. It was my most heart wrenching trash day. A day I always look forward to. Now riddled with worry. It’s a blessing sharing our process with friends and loved ones, but when things are bad… they become epically worse when you need to report bad news. Thankfully our convos were light and I headed home. To continue to wait.
Since the negative HPT, the knot in my throat, and the tears just swelled but never poured out. I needed to know the truth and wait for the blood work results. But Blake and I had pretty much come to the realization that… this didn’t work. And here we were again. HOW DID WE GET HERE. I sat at my desk sitting next to Blake. I was NOT going to answer my phone. I knew I would break down and Blake needed to be the one to field the call from our doctor. I felt like throwing up. The wait was excruciating.
The Phone Call
My phone rang and Blake picked up. I could hear my doctor’s voice and instantly knew… it was bad news. Our hearts were broken. She explained that she was so sorry to have to share this news with us. And that I didn’t even have a bio chemical pregnancy, it was nothing. I am thankful for that at home pregnancy test. To be able to diffuse our initial shock, and make me more lucid for that phone call than I would have been going in blind. It’s the unfortunate thing about IVF. While it’s this wildly incredible beautiful thing, it’s not 100%. Nothing is. Everything was perfect. My lining was AMAZING and probably the thickest it’s been at transfer at a 9.2. Everything went perfectly. But in the end, it wasn’t enough. After 10 days going to sleep staring at my photo of my embryo and the ultrasound showing the transfer, our precious embaby was gone.
Processing Our loss
I was pretty open with family and close friends, and some of my fellow fertility warriors about our FET. The joy that comes along with sharing my experience and being able to connect with people during such a hard time also turns extra hard when you are left fielding texts from people who know you had a transfer wanting to know what happened. I talked about how to support a friend dealing with infertility and IVF and I think the hardest thing is that people just truly want to support you and don’t know the pain that comes behind some of their interactions. While innocent, those convos are still a bitter pill to swallow when you are dealing with mourning a loss. There is no perfect way to reach out. But let me tell you… those conversations were many. I basically had to go through my head and think about who I told and who I wanted to cut off from sending me that inquisitive message. I just couldn’t take that. I texted a lot of my friends my bad news, and politely let them know I did not want to talk about it. But to be honest, today is Tuesday, nearly 6 days later, I am still fielding texts or dms from friends who are checking in. In those first few days… it was unbearable. And I will be the first to say, I know all of these messages from friends come out of love. I know that. So if anyone reading this is feeling awful for reaching out to me, please don’t. I sincerely appreciate every message, everyone checking in. Because in the end, it’s more important you be there imperfectly than not at all. I think that in the current state of the world, that statement holds true in so many ways. I think that next time around, we will tell way less people because the repercussions of having to live through this experience of failure is more easily mourned without having to do damage control for my own sanity. If that makes sense? Damn infertility is fucking hard guys. Really fucking hard. And when you are down, you are really down. I knew I was committed in sharing our story with you all but it doesn’t make it easier sharing these huge dark times in such an open forum. But I do this because it’s important to see all sides of this journey. The good, the bad and the ugly.
I blamed myself a lot. Wondering if it was my fault for not creating a positive enough environment for my embryo. Was the state of the world creating more stress and worry and keeping me from being the warm receptive place for new life? I think it’s hard as a woman going through this process. You blame your body. You blame yourself for the things you just aren’t able to do. Those moments are hard. The fact that while people everywhere around you are seemingly sneezing and getting pregnant. Without a fleeting thought about it other than they were ready to start their families. The joy it must be to be blissfully unaware of these struggles… but sadly that will never be me. My path has been much different. The pressure you put on yourself. That strain is unfair. You have to remind yourself that you did the best you could to create a loving welcome environment and there is so much out of our control. But the guilt is always there.
One of the hardest things after finding out I was not pregnant was not being able to mourn properly. What i mean by this, is that being a mother of a toddler, I can’t just drop my role as a mother just to mourn our loss. Motherhood goes on, and in this pandemic world, we are still just Blake, Otis and I. I can’t just stop to be sad, and cry my eyes out. I have a tiny person to love and care for and the last thing I want is for my sadness to make him sad. 3 days after the news, I was sitting eating breakfast with Otis in the kitchen and I started hysterically crying. Hand up to my face as the tears streamed down. I didn’t want Otis to look me in the eyes and see the pain. Otis put his tiny hand on my arm and with the saddest whimper in his voice, I could just feel how confused and concerned he was that I was so sad. I wiped my tears on my shirt and wrapped my arms around him. “Mommy is going to be ok Otis.” I think that has been the strangest part of my mourning process is that you don’t just get a break from motherhood when things get tough. So it’s been a much different process altogether. I know everyone experiences these things different and we don’t have to be so strong all the time. I read something recently and it resonated so much. You don’t need strength. You need courage. Courage to keep fighting. Courage to be vulnerable. Courage to grow. And courage to look a sad situation in the eye and see the hope behind it. You never forget these losses. I still think often about our first embryo transfer that failed. It’s something that you live with. And something you hold in your heart forever.
So what is next for us? I will tell you what, WE KEEP FIGHTING. I am so thankful to say we have 2 precious embryos left. We fought hard for those precious embabies and when the time is right to try again, we will try again. Blake and I are both committed to not forgetting our past or what we have been through, but to fully put our hope and love into our next chance. To see Otis’ face everyday this past week (and really everyday) is a constant reminder of the beautiful miracle of IVF, what comes from never giving up, and just how sweet life has become with him in it. To all of my fellow IVF ladies (and partners) out there, I know just how dark some of these days may be, but please don’t give up. Otis has changed our lives forever. My biggest joy is being his mother. And each moment in the day is made better because of him. I know this fight seems isolating, especially in this pandemic world, but you are not alone. There is an army of women behind you just like me. While my heart is still picking up the piece, it’s here with you. Still filled with hope. To our future family, I will be patiently waiting for you.
I wrote a few posts on infertility and IVF and you can find them below:
Photo taken by my dear friend Alison Conklin a few months ago