I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our IF past anymore – it’s been over four years since we first started trying to have a baby. That number surprises me, because although it seems like a lifetime ago on most days, it feels like just yesterday on others.
Today is one of those days that it feels like yesterday.
When we did our first IVF cycle, I didn’t think we could fail. I spent tons of time researching success rates with our IF factor, I specifically researched and memorized the stats from our clinic, and I built spreadsheet after spreadsheet so that I could track my cycle and not miss a single thing. In my mind, we were going to be the, “one and done,” because our diagnosis was clear. Our diagnosis was easy to treat. Our diagnosis was the one that people wished for.
I get really irritated when I read comments on people’s blogs saying to, “think positive – positive energy goes a long way.” As my RE says, positive thinking does not get you pregnant. If it did, we would have been the, “one and done.” I truly did not think we could fail. I thought that we would walk out of the RE’s office 8 weeks later with at least one healthy baby in my uterus. The thought that our cycle could fail never occurred to me.
It should have occurred to me that things may not be perfect when I stimmed way too fast over the weekend just before egg retrieval. My dosages of Rep.ron.ex and Follis.tim were cut in half on Friday afternoon and by Monday, I had at least 13 follicles at target size or larger for trigger. I didn’t worry too much because we were told things looked good – and they did. By the time we did our egg retrieval, we got such glowing reports that there was truly nothing to worry about.
Our RE retrieved 16 eggs. This cycle was already looking perfect. By the next day when we got the fertilization report, I was convinced all over again that we could not fail. Of the 16 retrieved eggs, 15 were mature and 11 fertilized with ICSI. There was no reason to worry – they had plenty of embryos to choose from. I was excited for the transfer and I couldn’t wait to see how many embryos made it to day 5. Instead of worrying about my embryos, I challenged them to all make it to the freezer. It was a game in my head.
We could not fail.
By transfer day, I was hyped up on positive mental energy. WE.COULD.NOT.FAIL. We arrived and were told that we had 9 strong embryos and the two being transferred that day were both graded 4AA (“Perfect” by all REs’ standards). I smugly grinned, thinking to myself, “one and done.” When we went in for the transfer, I asked how good our chances were and our RE said well over 75% – and the embryologist held her fingers up signifying that she thought both would stick. That is what I wanted to “hear!”
The transfer was done and we were told that 3 “wonderful” blasts were already frozen and that they thought the other 4 would make it to freeze as well. We were on cloud nine. Not only did we have 2 perfect embryos where they belonged, but we also had 3 in the freezer for when it was time to persue baby #2 (the other 4 were frozen the next day). Cue another smug grin.
I spoke with my little sister on transfer day as I did my obligatory bed rest. When I said, “I can’t believe it, I may actually finally be pregnant,” she quickly responded with, “I have something to tell you I’m 12 weeks pregnant.” I was stunned, shocked, bitter. How could she tell me this on the one day I’d worked so hard to get to? What was she thinking? She took the wind right out of my sails.
She wasn’t the only one.
My two week wait was hell. I promised B that I wouldn’t test, but a friend of mine convinced me to test at 8dp5dt in the evening and the test was negative (it was digital). We chalked it up to being too early to test (not to mention not using FMU), but in my heart I knew it was probably right. My friend and I were stunned because we both thought that there was no way this cycle could fail. I got a non-digital test, and with not enough urine in my bladder, I tested again – BFN. I knew I couldn’t trust that one because I hardly peed on the stick. But… I kind of knew. I told B when he came home that it was negative and he said to wait until Saturday for the real answer.
I was struggling with my little sister’s (MLS’s) announcement. Here she was, with one baby already, and had already lapped me again and was pregnant with baby #2 with only one ovary? How, how, how? My mom was in the thick of my cycle and driving me nuts with questions and the such. I emailed her the night before my beta that MLS’s announcement was hard on me, that I knew it was wrong to be struggling with it but that I was. My mom knew I’d had the BFN’s earlier that week. Her response was, ‘you can’t focus on MLS’s good news right now. You’ll get your own good news tomorrow.’ She sent me a “suck it up and get over yourself” lesson via email.
I did not get good news the next day. We went to the clinic for my beta and I just had a bad feeling that we’d failed (I mean, I already had 2 BFN’s under my belt), but tried to remain hopeful. The waiting room was packed and I looked around, guessing at who would get BFP’s and who would not. That’s just terrible of me – but I did it. I lumped myself into the 50% of people who ‘looked like’ they’d get a BFP.
We were told we’d get the call by noon. B volunteered to take the call and that made me happy. We had a two story townhouse at the time and he locked himself upstairs in his office, waiting for the call. He didn’t want me to hear the phone ring when it did. I sat on the sofa downstairs and obsessed. As time went by, I knew we were going to get bad news. I was convinced that they saved the BFN calls for last – that they liked to call the BFP’s first and get their follow-up betas scheduled before they called the poor gals who weren’t going to get to schedule follow-up betas.
And then I heard the phone ring.
And then I heard B slowly walk towards the stairs and take a couple steps down them.
And then I said, without looking at him, “It didn’t work.”
And he said, “It didn’t work.”
And I sobbed. I sobbed more than I’ve ever sobbed in my life. Just writing this makes me cry now – 2.75 years later.
B came over and held me on the sofa as I sobbed and sobbed. He cried too. It felt like that lasted forever. It was the darkest moment of my life (and still is).
I pulled myself together long enough to send an email to my family with the subject line, “it didn’t work,” and simply wrote in the body of the email that I wanted time alone and to please not call or write. That wish, of course, was not respected – but I knew it wouldn’t be.
I texted my dear friend, M, who had been through the exact same thing just one month prior. She called me immediately and we cried together on the phone. She couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe. We had both failed. We had both not beaten the odds and would have to try again. She confessed that she didn’t have much hope for herself anymore – that she needed this to work for me so that she knew it could work for her, too. We were both beside ourselves.
B and I decided we needed to get out of the house. We headed to a convenience store to pick up some soda and snacks on our way to rent some movies. We went to a gas station that we had never gone to before – one that had never crossed our minds. Why we chose to go the way we did is beyond me because it wasn’t the most direct route to the movie store. When we pulled into the parking lot, I saw a familiar car.
My friend, M, was there. My friend – who helped me navigate the IVF process and cheered me along even after she had her first failure*, who was the only phone call I took after my official BFN that day – was at the same convenience store as us. M and I met on her way out and my way in as our husbands waited in the cars. She held me for quite a while as I cried on her shoulder, and she cried on mine.
A few days later, after the storm had passed, M and I talked about how neither of us ever went to that particular gas station – ever. That that night, it was out of the way for both of us – yet we both ended up there at the exact same moment when we needed each other the most. I’m not religious (but am spiritual), but to this day, I truly believe that that chance meeting of ours was not by chance.
I drove by that gas station/convenience store on my way home from lunch today. I have never stopped at it – not since that night when we found out that we’d failed our first IVF cycle. In my mind, I refuse to go there. I’ve never said that out loud to anyone, but I will NEVER go there. Driving by it is one thing, but going in would tear my heart out.
It’s been more than two years since that awful day, but I am still brought to tears when I think of B coming down the stairs, echoing me saying, “it didn’t work.” We are fortunate in that we have a very happy ending with a beautiful little boy who wouldn’t be here if that first cycle had been a success, but the memory of that moment – that moment when I realized that WE FAILED – will always emotionally bring me to my knees.
* M’s next cycle was cancelled but she was successful on IVF #3 and is once again pregnant now with baby #2 who will be born a week from TODAY!