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!
November 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm
Reading this brings tears to my eyes, those feelings are all too familiar. I hope I can look back one day and know why we have gone on this journey. I’m happy for both you and your friend, it can work!
November 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm
It will work for you – I know it will.
It’s so hard to appreciate the journey when it’s happening, but it all makes sense (at least to me) when we look back on it. That doesn’t take the pain away, but it makes it easier to accept later on.
November 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm
OK Can I just say I sobbed through this whole post. It brought back so many distant memories and some really fresh ones. That feeling that it should work, there was no way to fail, and then the feelings that completely take over when it does the impossible and fails. My first failed cycle which I was so sure would work was in December of 2008. That was 4 years ago and yet every year on December 22 (ironically that was Raegan’s due date) think about what happened. The feelings of failure still haunt me today. And then to go through a successful IVF cycle on the first try with a single embryo transfer no less was an amazing feeling….and it gave me a false sense of hope. It it worked on the first try, it surely would work on the second. My FET cycle was perfect. Literally perfect. My RE said it was text book ideal. And it failed…it didn’t work….and now we wait. I have no idea if we’ll get lucky again. We have 2 more shots at this. I hope and pray at least one of them works…but that feeling of failure is so fresh….
I love the part about meeting M at the gas station….I believe in fate…And I believe that was definitely FATE….
Thank you for this post…
November 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm
It was time for this to be written… lots of old memories swirling around in my head this week.
November 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm
This is so beautifully written. Wow. I’ve never been through IVF and hope and pray I won’t have to. You women are so strong who do and I admire you so much. The emotional roller coaster IF treatments play is so cruel, even on the strongest, and best of us. I was reminded yet again today by a friend who recently was chosen for adoption…then found out she was pregnant. The kids will be 2 months apart. Babies are miracles, plain and simple. I’m so glad you were able to have Matthew and now be pregnant again! I think it’s always important to remember where you started from, but to celebrate where you are today! You made it, you are among one of the lucky, chosen ones that IVF worked for twice!!!
November 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm
Congrats to your friend – that is so exciting!
November 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm
You definitely hit home with this one. I am at work so I was fighting back tears reading this. I love that you saw your friend M that day. It was meant to be. I am very similar to you. I was upset with our diagnoses but I too thought we had an easy fix with IVF. I thought I would be the one who got pregnant on the first try…second try…and here we are now on our fourth. Perfect blasts, plenty of frozen embryos, tests all showing nothing wrong with me, a ton of tears and 3 failed cycles. I am so happy you have had a good outcome after all of this. It gives me hope!
November 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm
You will have a great outcome too. Most of us do and you have to believe that you will be one. I believe that for you, anyway!
November 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm
That was a really sweet story and one I think a lot of people out there will be able to relate to. I wish we had you on the podcast when we discussed what happens when IVF fails. It’s such a hard thing to process, though as SIF pointed out, everyone goes into IVF thinking it will work – otherwise, why do it?
November 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm
Exactly – it’s supposed to work. IVF is the “Big Gun” of IF. When you get to that – it’s your last hope, and you convince yourself it will work… because it has to.
But it doesn’t always work.
November 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm
Despite knowing all of this already, and knowing how it all turns out, my whole chest just clenches when I read this. Even more so now that I have seen your faces and heard your voices – and held your child. These moments are flashbulbs and always leave us temporarily blind. It’s amazing how clear they are, years later. Love you, my friend.
November 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm
I love that metaphor – I will remember it always. So true.
November 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm
Reading this today, after our IVF consult, makes my chest tight. I am so happy things turned out how they have for both you and your friend and glad you had each other to lean on during your difficult times in your life. hugs
November 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm
Discussions of next steps, “in case this latest step doesn’t work,” are so scary. I’m sorry you had to have that discussion today. I am hoping it was a waste of time and that this current cycle is the one for you!
November 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm
Wow. This snapshot in time is so… VIVID. And so very heart wrenching. Having our children in our arms now can never erase these moments in time when we didn’t know if we would ever have them. It is so sad, and yet so beautiful the way you have captured this moment in your history. Hugs to you.
November 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm
Thank you. I really appreciate how you put that – “Having our children in our arms now can never erase these moments in time when we didn’t know if we would ever have them.” That is so incredibly true. That is exactly it!
November 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm
This bought back a lot of emotions. A lot. Even now remembering cycle after cycle of failures I go numb.
I’m not a religious person but I thank someone for finally giving me Molly.
What is it with sisters that lap us????
November 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm
Did you know my younger sister then had a surprise pregnancy 8 months after that baby was born? She’s the most fertile, one-ovaried woman I’ve ever heard of. I actually didn’t speak to her for 3 months after the incident I wrote about above – not as punishment (for what, really?) – but because I just couldn’t. I still feel bad about that – but she understands why I couldn’t go there at the time.
November 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm
I’ve always imagined that doing IVF and having it not work would be one of the most earth shaking things possible, and your post made this vivid. I’m so sorry you went through this.
November 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm
Don’t be sorry – I’m not! All of this got me to my boy – and I’d do it all over again to get to where I am today.
November 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm
I’m not even sure what to write about this post, but I just wanted to say thanks for writing it. How powerful.
November 13, 2012 at 11:19 pm
You’re welcome 😉
November 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm
This is such a good post. Not to discount my hell of RPL, but I cannot fathom going through IVF just for the *chance* it might work. You’re all so brave. I’m so glad you have happy moments now to dull (a little) the ache of the worst times.
November 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm
Funny – I think it would be harder to go through RPL. Isn’t it funny how we all discount our own experiences to feel compassion for others? That is what makes us human, and thank God for that 🙂
Back at the time, as we were doing IVF #1 – I never viewed it as just a *chance* at getting pregnant. Every cycle after that, though, was viewed that way and still is. It’s so true – there are no guarantees with any of this IF stuff.
November 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm
A truly touching story, thank you for sharing it. You really captured the emotional swings this journey puts couples through. And the devastation we feel when it doesn’t work.
November 16, 2012 at 9:49 pm
Thank you. It’s interesting how the emotional swings take hold and how they drive our every move.
November 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm
WOW… this post was so beautiful and so touching. Thank you for sharing.
November 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm
Thanks. It was easy to write – it just poured out.
November 15, 2012 at 12:32 am
You went deep on this one ❤
I've had a similar feeling throughout my life on a bunch of different things– the afterthought "But don't worry! This will probably work out fine. Most things do, for me." And I also felt like Clomid would do it for us, and then Clomid plus IUI, and then injectables and IUI (which did). But it took almost a year and a half to really get going at the RE's because I was so sure that just *one more cycle* it would happen. Even on a more specific level, there was a real hope/disappointment cycle that wore me out– "My temp is down today, but it's just a slight fluctuation!" "My temp is back up again! I knew it!" "Damnit. Spotting… but sometimes that happens even with a positive cycle… there's still a chance!" "Nope."
I can't imagine having to go through a whole IVF cycle again. IVF is INTENSE. It's a world apart from the sort of stuff I had to do.
I'm so glad that you've had the successes you did since that cycle ❤ Especially because it means Matthew pics show up in my reader!
November 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm
The head games are the worst, aren’t they? All the things we do to convince ourselves of what we want to happen, or what the worst could be so that we’re prepared. I just thought the other day that I will NEVER have to stim again for an IVF cycle… and that made me so very happy! Those were the worst days.
I love seeing photos of your girls in my reader. I share them with B all the time. We love their nicknames – they crack us up!
November 27, 2012 at 4:31 am
Wow. Just. Wow. You should write more posts like this because you clearly have a gift for story-telling. I could imagine I was sitting there on the couch with you (I wish i had been to hug you tight!) or pulling into that gas station. I am glad to have this glimpse into your pre-blog days, as every little bit I see of your story makes me love you more. Your honesty is moving.
November 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm
Thanks! You are the person who encouraged me to write about this stuff, so I’m glad you enjoy reading it. It has been good to get it out there – to release it. You were right!
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