FET #2 looks like it was a bust…

Sometimes the universe can seem so cruel.  We had our second frozen embryo transfer last Tuesday.  That same day, my grandfather was moved to hospice care. The next day, he passed away.  I spent days 1-6 post transfer prepping for and attending his wake and funeral service. Today is 7 days post transfer, and it looks like this cycle was a bust.

The past week has been a roller coaster.  I fluctuated between hope and doubt every day.  It didn’t feel like last time. My body felt….different. I also didn’t have the same degree of hope and anticipation that I did with the first cycle. I didn’t feel as excited at embryo transfer. I didn’t feel the same attachment to our embryo. Everything just felt…off.

The biggest struggle was deciding if and when to take a home pregnancy test. As always, I am my own worst enemy.

Last time, with Brodie, we had a positive FRER and Clear Blue Digital five days post transfer.   There was no guesswork, just an immediate answer. I wanted to test early again this time. Probably because I was secretly hoping for an early positive. But also because I hoped an inconclusive early negative wouldn’t be upsetting. I could just retest later, or wait for my BETA.

But then I realized that my grandfather’s wake fell on 5dpt (five days post transfer) and his funeral on 6 days post transfer. I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what to do. I was afraid of having a complete meltdown if I tested and received a negative result before the wake or funeral. But I was also too chicken to wait until 7dpt – I figured at that point, a negative may very well be a negative.

I hate to admit it, but I succumbed to the madness that is early pregnancy testing. First mistake: I ordered a ridiculous number of pregnancy tests from Amazon. When they arrived on Saturday, I somehow rationalized that I would just “try them out” to get a “baseline.” Sure, Jenny. That makes COMPLETE sense. So, I got my first BFN (big fat negative) on a Wondfo & First Response 4dp5dt (4 days past 5 day transfer).

Even though I said I wouldn’t, I tested again on Sunday morning. That test, 5 days post transfer, was also negative. At this point, my whole “it’s too early to get upset” logic was thrown out the window. I had a  mega-meltdown and cried for about an hour. I pulled myself together and went to the wake for the rest of the day. Alex and I agreed we would not test again until after the funeral.

Fast forward to Monday night: 6 days post transfer. Last time, I had strong positive pregnancy tests at this point.  Now that the funeral was over,  Alex and I were starting to process the idea that this cycle may not work.  Around 10:30, we decided I should take a First Response test.  We agreed that if we got a negative, we’d start preparing ourselves for bad news.

So I took the First Response test. I watched the dye wash across the screen – but a second line didn’t start to from.  Not even a hint. I left the test on the counter and let Alex know it was probably going to be a negative.  We were sad, but had figured this might be the case.

At the end of 3 minutes, I checked back to find…a maybe line?Alex came over and took a look. And he saw it too. We had a super-duper, barely-there, second line. It was definitely pink, but REALLY light and faint.

Cue confusion, hope, anticipation, and fear. We weren’t sure WHAT to think. The logical side of us knew that this might mean chemical pregnancy or a failed implantation. Sometimes the embryos try to implant, start to secrete HCG, but ultimately fail. I figured that there couldn’t be much HCG in my system with that squinty faint line. Just for kicks, I tried a digital: a big fat “not pregnant.”

Confused, but a little intrigued and hopeful, we decided to go to bed and retest in the morning. Even as I warned Alex that we had probably caught the end of a failed implantation, I secretly hoped that we had caught the beginning of a pregnancy with a late implanter. I can be pretty jaded sometimes, but I think a big part of me really believed that I would wake up the next morning and get my real BFP.

As you can tell from the title of this post, that didn’t happen. I woke up and tested Tuesday morning – 7 days post transfer. This time, the faint barely-there line was the same, if not lighter. This was not what I had hoped for.

Tuesday, I completely lost it. I didn’t cry or melt down. Instead, I obsessively googled faint BFP’s, late BFP’s, late implanters, FET chemical pregnancy, etc. I took my remaining ClearBlue digital test (also negative) and two more Wondfos.  I scrutinized evap lines on the wondfos and drove myself crazy.  By the time Alex got home, I was a basket case.

At this point, I was out of pregnancy tests. So, we went out to the store and bought a few more. We decided that we’d retest at night. I usually get my best positives at night anyway. If I still had that super faint squinter, or if the line disappeared, it was probably a chemical pregnancy.

In the end, I took two sensitive tests – FRER & EPT – at 8:30 at night. No line whatsoever. Nothing.

Of course, we are going to continue with my meds & the PIO shot until the BETA on Thursday.  I guess you never really know until BETA confirms it. But I am 99% sure that this cycle is a bust.

It was kind of brutal. June was the month we were supposed to become parents. June 8th was Brodie’s due date. Instead, we watched that due date come and go. We lost my grandfather. We threw ourselves into another FET. And we lost that embryo too. The faint positive the night of the funeral just seems like a cruel joke.

I’m sad, but also feeling more centered now that I am not vacillating between hope and despair. There will definitely be some pity-part moments. And I do feel very discouraged. But, as always, I want to end on a positive note.

It is easy to start linking events together and creating a narrative. Our cycles failed, grandpa died, nothing is working. The universe is out to get me. You know, all that pessimistic bullshit. It’s easy to get sucked into that thought process when so much shit has gone down for the past 2.4 years.

But, I have to remember: I can’t tell the future.  Trying to piece together a narrative when you don’t know what is going to happen a week, a month, or a year from now is just plain DUMB.

This is what I believe: We are going to find our way to our child. This embryo was not meant to be our child. Maybe our baby is one of our remaining 7 frozen embryos. Or, maybe the picture is even bigger. Maybe we will end up adopting. And if not for this failure, we may never have found our way to our baby. I know our baby is out there somewhere. So, Alex and I are going to stay strong on this journey and keep moving forward. Good things have happened, and good things will happen. I know it.

 

 

 

FET Cycle #2 Starts…Now

I’ve been ambivalent about writing a blog post for a while now. With FET #2 looming, I’m afraid of getting sucked into that mindset where I live and breathe infertility.  Been there, done that. I don’t want to do it again.

“Just Relax”

If only it were that easy.

Early on, before I had the official diagnosis of infertility, I encountered the advice to “just relax.”  The conventional wisdom boiled down to this:  Don’t think about it. Have some drinks, chill, enjoy your time as a couple.  Go on vacation. Don’t plan. It’ll happen when you aren’t even trying.

Obviously, this is terrible advice for those experiencing infertility.  But, in defense of my friends and family, their advice really wasn’t that bad for a normal, fertile couple.

I would love to live my life according to the “just relax” mantra. It’s a pretty sweet deal. You mean, we can just go back to our normal, care-free existence, and still get pregnant in a year or so? Sign me up!

Infertility Demands Your Attention

 “Just relax.”

“Stop trying so hard.”

This one-size-fits-all advice starts to lose its relevance once infertility is thrown into the mix. Infertility demands your attention.

When we were diagnosed with infertility, we entered into a bizarre world of uncertainty where statistics offer guidance but no guarantees. Every day, we try to balance the hope that the latest ART (assisted reproductive technology) will work, with the reality that no acronym (IVF, ICSI, PGD) can predict the ending to our story.  After a point, it boils down to trial and error.

Despite this, we have to move forward. And moving forward often means making too many decisions with too little information.

  • Should we spend $4,000+ to have our embryos genetically tested? Will this decrease our chances of having another miscarriage?
  • What if the miscarriage was caused by my screwy body and not a chromosomal abnormality?
  • In that case, is it better to save $4,000 toward adoption?
  • How can we afford adoption?
  • Do I have the emotional grit to withstand more failed cycles or miscarriages until we  choose the”right” embryo?

Moving forward also means hard work. It’s difficult to stay detached and unemotional when you find yourself…

  •  waking up at 4:30 AM  to get blood work and ultrasounds
  • giving yourself daily injections  & taking a ton of pills
  •  waiting for the nurse to call when you’re at work and not knowing if today’s voicemail will be neutral, hopeful, or devastating.
  • spending hours on hold with the insurance company
  • scheduling an endless line of saline sonograms & minor uterine surgeries

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Alex and I are lucky enough to have embryos in the freezer and insurance coverage for infertility. I would imagine that list only becomes more complex for the many couples who are not as lucky.

Crawling Across the Dessert

The winter that I was diagnosed with infertility,  I was kind of obsessed with Joanna Newsom’s song, Only Skin. As with everything Joanna Newsom writes, the lyrics are lengthy and cryptic. Despite  having no fucking clue what the song was actually about, I latched on to one line at the end of the song:

but I’m starving and freezing in my measly old bed
then I’ll crawl across the salt flats to stroke your sweet head
come across the desert with no shoes on
I love you truly, or I love no-one

Dramatic, I know. Penchant for drama aside, though, the imagery of crawling across the desert resonated with me. If my second year of infertility had a theme song, this would be it.

I refer to infertility at that point in my life as a desert, because that’s what it felt like. I didn’t like being there. It was barren, harsh and alien compared to the life Alex and I used to lead. I know it’s easy to see the past with rose-colored glasses. But, the period directly before our infertility (2012-2014) was an overall happy, carefree time for us. Once 2014 hit, we entered a world of uncertainty, which was only further exacerbated by Alex’s unexpected job loss and subsequent hell-commute to his new job in the city.

By 2015, I wanted OUT of this desert. With a year of hardship behind me, I couldn’t turn around.  I sure as hell didn’t want to stay where I was. So, I just kept on crawling forward.

You can’t “just relax” your way out of infertility

Alex and I spent most of 2015 pursuing fertility treatments.  Meanwhile, everyone on earth seemed to be announcing pregnancies or having babies.  I often felt I was crossing a metaphorical desert.

After we miscarried, we spent November 2015-June 2016 waiting to try again. First we were on a break, then we were waiting for surgery. Meanwhile, everyone on earth was still announcing pregnancies and having babies.

I still feel like we’re crossing that metaphorical desert.  With two and half years behind us, we can’t turn around. So we just keep trudging forward.   Trudging forward has meant giving up our apartment and moving in with my parents to save for adoption. Trudging forward has meant a third surgery and two saline sonograms to be extra sure that my septum can’t cause a miscarriage.  And as excited as we are to FINALLY be in FET Cycle #2, we’re still trudging through that desert. I’m going for monitoring 1-2 times a week, taking 9+ oral meds each day, and injecting 1 ml of progesterone in oil into the muscle of my butt every night.

There’s just no way  around it: Infertility changes your world.

Infertility has profoundly shaped the person I am today. It has been a part of my life experience for over two years now. I can’t just pretend my infertility doesn’t exist and carry on with life as normal.

Tending our Garden

So, yeah: We’re still in that desert. But that doesn’t mean life has to suck.

This summer, Alex and I applied for a community garden. Even though we were late in the game, we acquired the last 15’X30′ plot.  A few weeks ago, we planted 30 different types of vegetables and herbs: bush beans, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, radishes…you get the idea.  Even though we are relatively new to gardening, we are having a blast.

So, being the English teacher I am, I’d like to add to the desert metaphor for 2016: We may still be in the desert, but we are going to plant the shit out of that sucker this year.

Infertility is part of my life, but it doesn’t rule my life. Infertility is part of who I am, but it doesn’t define who I am.

In the past year, we’ve done IVF, miscarried, moved, had more surgery, waited, watched our our would-have-been due date come and go, and still have no resolution.

However, in the past year, we’ve also acquired a lot of positives:

  • Alex snagged a job 5 minutes away from home. No more hell commute!
  • I’ve started yoga classes again at a great studio
  • We’ve been hiking more
  • We have time to brew beer again
  • I’ve been reading, writing & listening to podcasts a hell of a lot more
  • And, last but not least, the community garden plot

The truth is, we don’t know how long it’s going to take us to cross this desert. So we may as well make it as pleasant of a place as possible. I have a lot of good feelings about 2016. It’s been a tough year at times, but it’s also been lovely, with a lot of bright spots. Let’s keep those bright spots coming.