Picking Up the Pieces

Is it possible to mourn for something you never had to begin with?

The day we got the negative test is basically a blur.  I honestly don’t remember how I got home from Pita Pit or what happened next.  I do know that I ended up curled in the fetal position sobbing in our bed.  It just felt surreal.  Did this actually happen?  We had put everything into fertility- physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and financially.  The science behind it seemed so logical and the doctor’s were so optimistic with our case.  Hell, from the start, we didn’t even think we had fertility issues.  Yet here we were.  Broke, devastated, and an a completely empty uterus.

I stayed in bed with a cocktail of anti-anxiety meds and kleenexes for the next couple of days.  My mind just could not compute that this had just happened to us.  It was so easy to be angry with the rest of the world and adopt the ‘poor me’ mantra.  How could women who didn’t want or care about their children continued to be blessed with them?  How could the rest of world take for granted the miracle of life that was being with held from us?  It just didn’t seem fair.  We are a young married couple who are unquestioningly in love.  We have good jobs, a loving home, supportive family and friends, and so much room in our hearts to dedicate ourselves to our child.  Yet, here we were at a dead end.

It feels utterly impossible to describe in words what it feels like.  My heart was broken.  Completely shattered… and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to piece it back together again.  To make matters worse, Dan, who had always been my optimistic rock, took it just as hard.  He tried so hard to keep it together, to put on a smile to encourage me to come back to the living… But this blow was just too hard to take.

That evening, we just lay in bed together with our faces inches apart, crying.  Our dream, a simple dream of having a family, was over.  No words could console us.  We just needed time to mourn.

 

Day 3: The third day after the news, I pulled myself together, put on dress clothes and tried to return to work. If I could just get back to the business of every day life, then perhaps I could give my brain (and heart) a rest to try and forget… even just for 7 hours a day.  I put everything into my work, but I just couldn’t keep it together.  My colleagues, most of whom knew what was going on, came by to give me a hug or say they were thinking about me. I couldn’t even fake that I was ok.  I’d burst into tears at the drop of a dime.  I was hvaing problems concentrating, making decisions, and was just utterly exhausted. 

At lunch, I decided to walk to Pita Pit so I could at least get a comforting hug from Dan. We share our building with public health and they had just put up a several posters that morning in our elevator.  With one look, I had a complete break down and ended up sitting in the corner of the elevator bawling my eyes out. 

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Am I pregnant? No. I am not.

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I just couldn’t do this.  I lasted three hours and I just couldn’t do it.  I went down the parking garage to drive home… but was far too upset to drive.  So instead, I reclined my chair in my car, and laid down there in the dark trying to relax. 

I made it home and emailed my manager to let him know that, again, I’d need to be off sick again.  Work had been so supportive, however with each day I took off meant that someone else was stuck trying to cover my work.  We are all so busy so I felt like I had to come back. 

Day 4: I tried working from home.  I was trying my best but wasn’t doing great- my thinking was working a little was better than nothing, right?  That afternoon, a colleague called my cell.  She has had some medical issues herself and wanted to chat with me re: sick time.  Known for her bluntness, she gave it to me straight.  Work would would survive if I got hit by a truck tomorrow and never returned.  I needed to stop thinking about work, and instead focus on me.  Focus on healing.

I needed that kick in the butt- I needed someone to tell me that while I did a good job, work wasn’t going to fall apart without me.  I emailed my assistant and my manager and let them know that I’d be going off sick… for at least a week.  I would check back in later and let them know how I was doing.  Looking back, I am so thankful to my colleague.  I definitely needed some time to grieve. 

Day 5: I just could not shake this terrible grief that I felt.  I felt alone.  Powerless.  Furious. Defeated.  Angry.  Misunderstood.  Depressed.  Anxious.  Distressed.  Heartbroken.  Miserable.  Things were not getting better.  But how could they?  My body, and now my mind, was broken… and I wasn’t going to be magically fixed.

Day 6: I decided I needed help.  I called my family doctor and got an appointment for that afternoon.  When he walked into the room I just burst out crying and told him our sad story up until then.  I asked him for more anti-depressants because these ones were obviously not working.  I couldn’t kick this.  I couldn’t just cheer up.  The future seemed dim at the very best.  We chatted for an hour in his office.  We talked about my support system, my future options, and how to best move forward.  That’s when he said it… Adele, you are in mourning- the same you would be if you lost someone close to you.  Mourning?  To mourn, didn’t I actually have to lose someone?  If that someone was never even born, how can I experience mourning?

We talked about the five stages of loss and grief and it fit perfectly.  I had been in stage one- denial and isolation for the first couple days.  I was so overwhelmed by my emotions that I questioned if this was even possible.  It felt like a bad dream that I would one day snap out of.

Stage two- Anger had reared it’s ugly head.  Anyone who was having a child, had a child, or once was a child was on my list of people I hated… everyone. It just wasn’t fair that I was here and others weren’t.  

As we continued to chat, I realized I was somewhere between stage 3 and 4.  Bargaining and depression.  I had spent my last days re-thinking my cycles and wondering if there was anything we could have done differently.  I was also questioning our decision to stop trying… I remember we had good ideas on why to stop then, but now, I couldn’t help but think ‘what if’ we just tried one more time?  The depression had hit at full force and I just felt like I was stuck in the bottom of a deep cavernous pit with no hope of climbing out.

My doctor prescribed a heavier dosage of my already high amount of anti-depressants and asked me to check in with him next week. 

I went home and tried to process how to mourn for something you never really had.  Not an easy task.

I booked another appointment with the clinic to discuss what had happened and what to do now.  We needed to have some closure and I hoped that the doctors could provide us that.  The WTF appointment was next week. Next steps seemed too far away to think about, but we also needed to hear medically what went wrong.

 

The Test(s)

frozen

Day 6 of 14

Six days post 4 days transfer (in fertility lingo that would be 6pt4dt)… This means that the egg was fertilized and then grown, outside of my body in an incubator type thingy, for four days.  After four days, they transferred the embryos.  They’d been in there for six days.  In this case, there was the cryogenically freezing part, the thawing part, but in the end, it all sort of equals the same.

Why does this matter at all?  Because 6 days post transfer plus 4 days incubation meant the embryo should have implanted in my uterus by now and started emitting some HCG… the hormone that pregnancy tests test for.

Ten days was the magic number.  When the above numbers add to ten is generally the earliest time that you will get a BFP (Big fat positive!) on a home pregnancy test.  Infertiles know the dumbest factiods of information.  But this one… this day 10 mark was big.

The pineapple cores had been eaten, I was still going to acupuncture ($87.00 bucks a pop), but ultimately, I just wanted to get to day 10.

Dan tried and tried to convince me to wait.  Wait until the blood work he’d said because you can get false negatives on the HPT (home pregnancy tests).  Why put yourself though this every morning?  Just wait.

Easy to say, not easy to do.  Do I? Or don’t I?  Frankly, if he really wanted me to wait, he would have confiscated the neat row of HPTs, organized by expiry date, in our master bathroom.  He didn’t.  That meant he secretly wanted to me to do it, right?

Day ten.  I woke up an hour before I needed to because I just couldn’t wait a second longer.  I sat there awkwardly trying to rip the packaging open so not to wake Dan… didn’t want to be busted.  I peed on the stick.  I caved.  Then I waited…

One line appeared… Please God, please.  Just let me see a second line.  Hadn’t we been through enough?  …and waited.

And waited.  No line appeared.  It was most absolutely negative.

I actually chucked the recently peed on stick across my bathroom and burst out crying. Out of protest for the test that had just ruined my day, I wanted to leave it laying the on the ground, but my dogs were fairly interested in it thinking we were playing fetch, so I had to go back and retrieve it.

Dan had told me not to do it.

I crawled back in bed and cried as silently as I thought possible.  However the crying breathing, the one where your chest pumps up and down, was shaking the bed.  Busted.  Dan tried to comfort me and made me realize that most pregnancy’s wouldn’t show up this early anyways on a HPT.  In fact, we were still 4 days before I would even get my period.  So let’s be optimistic, focus on the good, and say a little prayer that it was just too early.

I composed myself… and did what every infertile does when they get a negative on a HPT.  Go onto every forum and read about how this person had a negative test but was really pregnant with twins!  And that one didn’t test positive at all but the beta test showed it was positive.  Ok, good thing I woke up an hour early, I needed the hour just to convince myself to make it another day.

I kept a smile on face for the rest of the day.  Yes, it was too early to test and being negative wouldn’t help my little embryos grow any faster.  When I got home that evening, I read the next page in my book about the embryo development for today.

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I kept up the positive mantra for approximately another 24 hours.  It was the morning again and the first pee was the best one to test with as it would have the highest concentration of HCG for the test.  To test?  Or not to test?

Day 7 of 14

This was honestly torture.  I decided that I wasn’t going to test again until I went for my beta testing.  The HPT tests was enough to make you miserable and frankly, they still could be wrong as it was so early.  Dan was right, I was going to wait.

Day 8 of 14

Eight days post four day transfer…. I can’t wait another second.  I NEED to pee on that stick to see the second line.  Every penny in our savings account was gone form fertility.  We had put everything, and I mean everything into this cycle.  This was our last shot.  We were not going to try again.  It had to work this time.  It was going to work this time.

I peed on the stick.  Dan had already left for work so I didn’t even have to sneak around. So I waited…. I sat on the bench at the end of my bed with the test perfectly level waiting for the second line to appear.  Now according to  the “Countdown to Pregnancy” website (http://www.countdowntopregnancy.com/pregnancy-test/brand-chart.php?hptbrandid=41), 87% of people that are pregnant show a positive 12 days after ovulation.  Well using my scientific dates, I decided that the day the egg was fertilized would be day one.  87%!!!  I was one of them, right?

Wrong.  One f’ing line.  The test, again was negative.

My breathing started to get heavier, and before I realized it I was having a full blown panic attack.  This could not be happening.  I did everything.  I even ate the stupid pineapple cores.  Dan and I would make amazing parents- it’s all we want in the entire world!  This just cannot be happening.

An anti-anxiety pill and an hour later I was calm again.  There was still 13% of persons who were actually pregnant that at day 12 still got a negative reading. PLUS, these were dollar store tests… who knew if they even worked anyways.  Right.  I’m pregnant.  I know it.

My boobs were aching, I was emotional, no period yet, and my lower back was throbbing… I AM pregnant.  With that, off to work I went.  I called Dan and admitted the test and the meltdown.  He listened and tried to encourage me that it wasn’t over until it was over- the blood test.  Think positive.

And I did.  Fake smile and all.

On my drive home I had to pick up some groceries and found myself in the pharmacy aisle looking at the First Response 6 Days Sooner tests.  Study after study had shown that these were the most responsive tests and detected pregnancy the earliest… so maybe that’s all I needed.  I ignored the price tag and figured our entire lives was dependent on this one test so we could afford it.

Day 9 of 14

9 days post transfer… and another 5 days until I am able to go and get my beta test.  Armed with a new, better (!!), test and ignoring Dan’s protests I walked proudly into the washroom and peed on the stick.  Dan came to observe as we stared at the test.  We decided that watching it just made the time go painfully slow so we tried to make casual conversations about our scheduled days ahead…. the time was up and I raced to see.

One fucking line.  One line. This just cannot be happening.  This was supposed to work!  How, after them literally putting live babies in my damn uterus, was this even possible?

Dan, the calm and ever optimist, reminded me that only the beta blood test would tell us the truth.  We had to wait for the beta test.  It was that exact second that I called the IVF nurse at my clinic and explained that there was no way I could wait another second.  I was going crazy.

She knew what we had been through and knew all of the struggles (and the price tag!) of the rounds we had gone through.  She also knew that this was our last shot and gave me some hope.  She said that even though the clinic liked to wait until 14 days post transfer, if the test was positive, it would be positive tomorrow.  She warned however, that the levels of HCG might not be enough to detect if it was a viable pregnancy yet, but it would for sure tell us if it was negative.

Done.  I was now going for my beta test four days early.  Tomorrow morning I was going to waiting at the clinic when it opened for my test.  The sooner I got in, the sooner the results.

Trying not to think about if I was pregnant or not was impossible.  I tried to work, but luckily had no meetings booked.  I was being cautiously optimistic and trying to think positively, but I was going to be no use at work today.  I called in and took a comp day and spent the rest of the day researching beta tests, HPTs results, effectiveness of each test, what a good HCG level was for 10 days post transfer… you get the point.

Day 10 of 10

Ten days post four day transfer.  This was it.  By noon, I was going to know.  I drove to the clinic and got the blood test.  I was a wreck. I was so nervous that I could barely speak (and those that know me know that that doesn’t come easily).  The lab tech gave me a hug and wished me the best.  She let me know that she had been praying for us and had a good feeling.

As I walked through the hall back towards the waiting room, the women who dispenses the drugs came out of the ‘pharmacy’ room and gave me a big hug.  With tears in her eyes, she told me that Dan and I deserved to be parents, and she knew that everything would work out.  This woman was also the one who apologized to me daily as she continued to charge my credit card for the latest conglomerate of medications I needed.  She gave me one last hug and said she’d say a prayer for us.

The two receptionists stopped what they were doing with other patients and both said good luck with an encouraging smile.  Everyone knew today was D-day.  Today was the day that would change my life.

I’d gotten to know so many of the employees at the clinic now after spending more time then any other patient they had ever had with them.  When my cycles went on and on for months, I needed to be there every day.  I felt like I had developed this amazing secondary support group- and they were rooting for me.

I just couldn’t go to work.  So instead, I drove to Pita Pit and laid on the couch in Dan’s office.  I needed to be close to him.  Dan continued with busy work and continued to come in and check on me.  We knew that the call would take a couple hours to come.  And so we waited… and waited.

At exactly 11:37am, I got the call.  Dan was out front serving customers at the time and I was in the office alone.  It only had to ring once before I picked it up.

I could tell the second the IVF nurse said hello what my fate had in store for me.

“Adele, I’m so so sorry.  The test came back negative.  You’re not pregnant.”

My first thought through my mind was that I actually felt bad for her.  This poor nurse had to call me to tell me the most devastating news I’d ever get.

It then sunk in.  I will never, ever, ever get pregnant.  Ever.  We were done.  It was over.

its-over

It. is. over.

Our Last Shot

This is it.

This is the last one.

The more I rationalize it, the more I realize that this is for sure going to work.  Isn’t that how life works?  Right when you finally give up, everything falls into place?

I’ve been going to fertility acupuncture three times a week and after waiting what seems like forever… my uterine lining is finally thick enough to get going with this frozen transfer.  We have two popsicles left (aka frozen babies).  The transfer is going to be on my Dad’s birthday, September 3rd so that has to be good luck right?

September 2nd, I get the call from the clinic to update me on the status of the thawing of our children.  Bad news.  Again.  Why this continues to surprise me, I’m not sure.  But sometimes it makes me laugh that I think something is going to happen how it is supposed to.  One of the two embryos has all but died in the thaw.  The other, however, is doing great.  Well… we’re down to 1 embryo.  But that’s all it takes, right?  Dan spent the next several hours trying to calm me down.  We only need one embryo to make this work.  This IS the one.

September 3, 2013- I head in for for the first of the two acupuncture appointments.  These are ‘special’ so of course they cost extra- 2 treatments in one day for only $325.00.  Well, considering we’re paying $1500 for the transfer, another couple grand for the fertility meds, we’re paying storage for the embryps, plus $250 a week for acupuncture this far… what another $325?  It’s only money… right? :s

The traditional Chinese doc says to stay warm and to drink warm fluids. Ok, off we go to Tim’s to wait until it’s time to head to clinic.  I have a French Vanilla Cappuccino and try to relax.  Dan hops back in the car and we cruise on over to the clinic.  Holding hands the whole way, we do the hand squeeze- you know, the holding hands hand squeeze that is means we have each others back.  And we do.

The transfer was fairly uneventful.  I changed into the hospital gown, Dan helped me onto the table and into the leg straps.  In proper FET fashion, I was about to pee my pants due to the required full bladder.  They confirmed the embryos were ours and the ultrasound tech started to manoeuvre the wand around my abdomen.  My favourite RE (other than our doc) was on, and my favourite ultrasound tech was in the room with us.  This had to mean something positive right?  With Dan holding my hand, the doc inserted the catheter into my uterus and with the tech’s guidance, measured the perfect distance from the top of my uterus to place the embryos.

They told us where to look and counted to three.  1, 2, 3…. out came a burst of white just a couple millimeters from the top of uterus.  They transferred both embryos.  The one hadn’t officially ‘arrested’ yet so there was no harm in placing that one in too. It was over faster than it started.

There.  Done.  I was now officially pregnant. 😀

After waiting a minute of so for everything to settle, I hopped off the table and ran to the washroom to empty my bladder.  I felt so cheery and excited.  I went to the tech to get our ultrasound of the babies, and she said she hadn’t realized that we wanted one.  Looking disappointed I looked at Dan- with an encouraging smile he said we had pictures for the other rounds, so maybe this round was going to be different for us.  Yes, we’d done this several times now. .. I just knew that this was the one.  The transfer went so smoothly and the 1 embryo was top quality.  Dan drove me back to the acupuncturist and he completed the second treatment for the day.

As I lay there on the bed listening to calming music my mind drifted to all of the excitement to come.  The announcements, the nursery, would it be a boy or a girl?  After an hour in the dark room with needles sticking out of me every which way, he came in and instructed me to stay warm.  Whatever that meant.  I went home and rested for the rest of the day.  I had minimal cramping and stayed all snuggled up in cozy pj’s and in my bed.  Keeping warm as instructed.

Since this was the last shot, I was pulling out all the stops- women on fertility forums always were talking about eating a pineapple core after the transfer.  Apparently some nutrient in the core is supposed to aid in the implantation of the embryo.  Yep, you know you’re officially desperate when you are crunching down pineapple cores swearing it’s going to help you get pregnant.  If there was a chance it was going to help, then sign me up.  We bought two pineapples and cut the cores into 5 segments for the 1st five days after the transfer.

I spent the next day taking it easy and working from home.  I wasn’t going to risk any extra stress or activity for this one.  It was so hard to keep focused on work.  Suddenly, everything baby was so much more interesting than grievances and LTD appeals.  Gender reveal parties (yes- I secretly want one- I’m a loser!), baby shower themes, and what to pack when you’re heading to the hospital were suddenly priorities.  One day down… thirteen more to go until my beta test.

I went back to work the next day. Trying to keep myself busy enough to forget about the miniscule baby who was either digging its way into my uterine lining… or not.  Impossible.  Still eating my pineapple core, I was also continuing to go to acupuncture on the schedule the traditional Chinese doc had recommended.

By 3 days post transfer I found myself wandering through the pregnancy section of Indigo.  There were so many books to choose from.  To be honest, I already owned several of them.  But I was sucked into the aisle and couldn’t leave.  I picked out the most detailed book I could find (which my friend later referred to as ‘the encyclopedia of all things pregnancy’).  It was pricey, and knowing we were seriously short on cash I had a sudden pang of guilt.  I called Dan and asked if I could spend $60 on this amazing pregnancy book that I absolutely needed(!). My rationale was that it started from the last day of your last cycle- so I would get an entire chapter of my ‘pregnancy’ day by day.  Even though a lot of the things described were forced through science (egg retrieval, fertilization, transfer) I could read all about the development and what was happening inside me.  I walked to the cashier and she smiled and asked if the book was a gift- I said no not really getting where her question was leading… She suddenly had this megawatt smile and said, “Congratulations! It must be SO exciting! I love seeing newly pregnant women when they are buying their first book!”.  Unsure what to say next, I smiled and muttered a thank you and avoided eye contact at all costs.  Was I a fake?… there was a baby inside of me, I just wasn’t sure whether it wanted to stay yet.

book

I got home and instead of making dinner I became fully engrossed in the science and miracles behind pregnancy.  The neat part was that this book actually talked about IVF and what stages lined up with the natural cycles etc.  I was legit allowed to read the whole first chapter in ‘preparing’ yourself for pregnancy etc and caught up to seven days after fertilization.  Crunching on a pineapple core I was fascinated by the corresponding pictures and details.  It just seems so crazy that a person can actually just have sex and make a baby- all the moving parts that have to align so perfectly, it baffles me.  Here I am with science doing every single little thing for us, all my body had to do was accept the little guy and let it burrow into my uterine lining.  The more I thought about it, the more I was certain this round was going to work.  My new nightly routine was set- I was going to read where our embryo was in it’s growth each night before bed.

Days four and five post transfer were fairly unexciting.  I continued eating the pineapple core and reading about the development of our embryo.  On day six, everything changed.

Difficult Decisions… What Next?

We had our quick WTF (‘follow-up’) appointment with our RE.  He, again, gave us no answers.  He said they didn’t have answers.  My body was just not accepting the embryos.  It could just be bad luck, but could also be something wrong with me.  We knew the PCOS was what was screwing up the egg production, but my body seemed to not want to get pregnant either.  Great.  Onwards we go.
In my rollercoaster phase leading up to Sept 3rd, our new start date for another FET round, Dan and I were struggling with the biggest questions of all… when was enough, enough?  How many more rounds do we do?  How much money do we spend?  When is the emotional and physical turmoil too much to continue with.
At this point, we had spent 1.5 years dedicated to fertility.  To be fair, the first several months were simply appointments.  However, my life had consistent of nothing but fertility hell since January 2013.  It was like putting our lives on hold.  We were unable to do most things due to my daily appointments requiring us to be in proximity to the clinic, the shortage of money (which was all spent on fertility) or me being too sick or too sore to do anything.  Our quality of life had been decimated.  Yes, having a family was important to us, but at what cost?
Perhaps it was time to start looking at other options.  Other options… wait, did this mean I wasn’t going to be able to get pregnant?  I will never be able to feel a baby grow inside me?  I will never be able to feel the those first flutters that all pregnant woman talk about?  Did this mean that we would never be able to have our own children?  Would we ever get to have a newborn baby at home?  What were these ‘other options’ anyways?
And so I started to research to see what was out there.  To be fair, we still had two frozen embryos, and they were obviously going to work… but a back up plan was my way of staying in control.  At least we had a Plan B.  Or one could say that we’ve probably already used up the Plan B, C, D, E, F, and G.  So perhaps I was drafting a Plan H.  Nonetheless, a worst case scenario back up plan.  It was so incredibly important to me to have a plan because if our next round failed, we were back to square one.  No more embryos.  No next steps.
My best friend Jen* and I were talking through this all one day while I was driving to a meeting (on speaker phone!!).  She was great at the balancing act between staying optimistic, being realistic, and listening to my concerns.  She was honest and told me exactly how it was.  She was also amazing because, somehow, after all this, she was still willing to listen to be go on and on about fertility.  There was a reason she has been my best friend since High School (welll… except for a minor bump in the road where I hated who she was dating and refused to talk to her… Forgive me?) After analyzing every piece of our crappy fertility puzzle, she suddenly became serious.  “Adele, I know we’ve talked about this before and you keep blowing me off like I’m joking… but you and Dan can make great quality embryos.  It seems as if the only part not working now is that your body won’t carry them for you.  I know there is a lot to think about and understand, but Adele, I will carry your baby”.
Ummm… Cue me laughing nervously.  I start to stammer and say how Dan would probably faint before that happened plus that it is actually kind of crazy…. And she stopped me.  “Don’t answer me now.  You need to do another round, and we would need to seriously look into it and understand everything before making a decision, but just know that I’m serious”.
We then continued talking about life, our jobs just normal stuff but I couldn’t quite get this out of my head.  Jen, carry our baby?  WTF!!?… Would it actually work?  And is she on crack- this was actually crazy!
We hung up the phone and I immediately called Dan and told him we had to talk and rehashed the entire conversation that was just had.  Dan listened quietly then said how amazing it was for her to offer, but then asked if I was seriously considering the offer.  I told him I didn’t know, but I had never actually really thought about surrogacy as an option.  Dan said to focus on our next round.  Then said he didn’t think that was something he’d ever consider… it was too, well… weird.  This incredible offer that came out of left field that I didn’t know if we’d even need, just got shut down so fast I didn’t really have any more time to think about it.  Yah, I guess it is weird.  Fine.
If surrogacy was out, then what else did we have left?
1. To keep trying.  Do another round of IVF… but when do we stop?
2. International Adoption
3. Private Adoption
4. Public Adoption
5. Accept that we couldn’t have kids and enjoy our child-less lives together.
Dan and I had a long talk that night.  Tomorrow was September 3rd and I was starting another round of FET.  I made him promise me that we would set aside an evening with no distractions- just us- and work through the different options and figure out where we would go next if this round didn’t work out.  These were not going to be easy choices… but they needed to be made.  The deadline I gave him was that we needed to have our Plan B (or H or whatever we were at now) decided before they transferred our two last embryos.  He agreed.
Holy crap this sucked.  FET you better work!
*Names changed for the potentially not so innocent 😉

6 Weeks of Waiting…

The good news: It was summer and I could head up north to the cottage (in Muskoka) to try and get that rest and relaxation that I so desperately need.

The bad news: I couldn’t get fertility and baby making off my mind! …every. single. thought. was on my empty uterus.

As a 26 year old woman it is pretty much impossible to get away from pregnancy announcements, baby bumps, baby showers, and adorably cute kids.  Perhaps the worst place to be is the wonderful- yet terrible place if you’re barren- Facebook.  Without a word of a lie, I believe that at least one person, a week, was posting cute news ways to announce they are pregnant- screw you Pinterest for your awesome pregnancy announcement ideas.  The worst part was the the stupid announcements were awesome- photo shoots, older siblings with signs, and baby bumps galore.  I full out admit, I was so green with envy that some days I threw my lap top across the couch.

It seemed to depend on the day… Some days I could actually manage to ‘like’ the post and think like a normal person and be happy for them.  Other days a pregnancy announcement would immediately reduce me to tears.  How was it possible that every other person in the entire world looks at a penis and gets pregnant when we actually put two living embryos (babies!) in my belly and it still didn’t work?

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Minus the 30s part…. My life!

Dan would tell me to maybe take a break from Facebook… try to focus on other things and enjoy our small break.  Yes, a break.  Well it took a good couple weeks for me to start to feel normal again.  By about 2 weeks after our BFN (big fat negative), the hormones were officially out of my system and my distended belly had shrunk back to it’s chubby (but normal) size.  (Thanks to IVF, I’d definitely put on an additional 20 or so pounds by now).

We tried to make the most of this time, however, this was also the exact time that we were officially opening the doors to our Pita Pit!  An incredibly busy time for us but also a huge step forward- Dan’s hard work and business sense had finally taken form and we could open up the doors!

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Pita Pit Dundas- Opened in July 2013

Deleting my Facebook account wasn’t going to happen.  I enjoyed connecting with friends and family that was living away from Ontario ( Hi Amy! ).  And I couldn’t exactly block any person that could potentially become pregnanct bewteen the ages of 18-40- there goes 90% of my facebook…. This is when I had my fabulous and genius idea that we should be able to have a timeline blocker- put in keywords that you do not want to hear about, then it automatically hides those from your timeline.  Seriously Facebook… an awesome idea!  LOL

And perhaps there should also be a way for me to be forced not to click on the ‘kids’ subsection of Pinterest.  Oh, and stop reading magazines with every star’s new baby announcements.  Ok… I get it.  I need self control.

But alas, it appeared I just needed to focus on the good things in our life.  We were starting a new business, had great jobs, a beautiful new home, two of the cutest dogs, not to mention an amazing base of family and friends.  Focus on the good, not the bad.  We had so much to be thankful for, just focus on that.

Easier said than done.  The empty hole in my stomach seemed to take over everything.

Around this time, my Aunt sent me ‘The Serenity Prayer’ which became my new go to in times of sadness and jealousy.  We can do this…!

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr

2WW… Number 2 (Two Week Wait)

After the devastating result of our first IUI, I was being cautiously optimistic after our IVF.  The clinic ended up transferring 2 top grade embryos.  They were both Day 3 embryos meaning they had a good growing start.

 

Generally speaking, you can have either 3 day embryos, or 5 day embryos to transfer.  The older the embryos are, the better the chances of success.  The problem is that the longer you grow the embryos outside of the body, the larger the chance of them arresting (dying).

 

Because we were only able to fertilize 6 embryos, we decided to play it safer with what we had and grow the embryos to 3 days. We were lucky and all 6 survived.  5 of the 6 were great quality, and the other was still above average.  Even though we have every problem in the book trying to create them, our embryos were great quality.

 

I was pretty good for about 2 days after the embryo transfer.  I took the day after the transfer off of work and rested as prescribed.  My goal for the next 14 days was to try to relax, keep my stress levels down, and focus on being well.

 

I had to take progesterone suppositories 3x daily to continue to support my uterine lining.   Suppositories… such an innocent name for such a crappy thing!  Basically shoving giant white chalky circles into my vagina… three times a day.  Not fun.

 

The issue with the progesterone was how evil it really is.  Taking progesterone mimics pregnancy symptoms.  My boobs hurt, I was bloated, I had nausea, and my stomach was a mess.  Plus, my body still wasn’t over the fertility medications so insert massive headaches, cramping, and muscle aches.

 

I hung the ultrasound picture on the fridge at our house and had it as a pic on my phone to look at.  I was absolutely amazed by it.  The whole science and craziness that is fertility was finally hitting me.  This was actually crazy!…

 

By about day 6, I was back to being best friends with Google.  I was now Googling everything from the best pregnancy tests, accuracy results of pregnancy tests on what day post transfer, early pregnancy symptoms, success stories from IVF, IVF odds for young couples…  you get the point.

 

This is about when I started getting creative with math.  Well if my babies were already 3 days old, plus I waited a whole 6 days… doesn’t that make them 9 days post ovulation?

 

I was once again pretty sure I was pregnant.  Perhaps this seems silly, and Dan tried his best to keep me realistic, but this time, the odds were in our favour!  We had such a great chance… plus our embryos were fantastic.

 

Day 7: … ok now I’m Googling and planning for twins.  How can you breastfeed with twins?  Do you keep them in the same room?  What if they are different sexes?  How would we tell our friends about two babies, not just one?  Although it was exciting, I was looking at the health risks for twin births and risks to the mother.  Knowledge was power… the more I knew, the more I could prepare.

 

Another major question- what colour would I paint the nursery?  Do we find out what we are having (yes!).  What hospital would we deliver in? 

 

Day 8: The scariest part of waiting for these 14 days is going pee.  It sounds stupid, but every time you go to the washroom, you say a slight prayer before you wipe.  Please God, don’t let there be any blood!  My worst nightmare came true… it was just a spot, but a spot of blood was not good news.  I immediately started crying.  This couldn’t be good news.  Back to Google I went and started reading all the posts by women who started to bleed and turned out to be pregnant.  Ok… this might not be the bad news I originally thought.  After all, it was simply one spot.

 

Day 9:  I’ve never been so scared to use the washroom.  I continued praying and tried not to read into my symptoms too much.  They were the exact same… no, wait, maybe they were getting stronger!  Probably just the progesterone, but what if it wasn’t.

 

We had invested so much into this cycle.  Not just a whole lot of money, but we were now going on over 2 months of straight treatment.  Two months of monitoring appointments, needles, poking, prodding, tears, and pain.  This was all worth it.  We were going to be pregnant.

 

We went to Costco after work that night to pick up a bunch of stuff.  I was getting cramps and getting really worried.  I went to the washroom and found that I was now bleeding.  Not just a spot anymore. 

 

I walked out of the washroom like a zombie and walked straight to Dan.  I was in tears and whispered the news in his ear.  We left before buying anything and went to the car.  I made it to the car before breaking down which was a feat in itself.  I was just exhausted and knew this wasn’t great news. 

 

I couldn’t wait any longer.  I could not wait another 4 days to find out if this worked, especially now that a period had started.  We were going to the clinic tomorrow morning to find out.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I went straight to bed and tried to calm down.  Dan continued to Google and found some hopeful posts, but I wasn’t feeling hopeful.

 

Day 10: June 15th. Beta Day.  I went into the clinic at 8am with Dan and got my blood drawn.  I walked out quickly and we drove home.  It was Father’s Day and I was really hoping for great news to give to our family.  Realistically, I was already talking myself into what might be the reality.

 

Around noon, they called.  It only had to ring once as I was holding the phone waiting.  The IVF nurse answered and said she had bad news.  After that, I have no idea what she said.  I just mumbled uh-huh, uh-huh and needed to get off the phone ASAP.  I hung up and broke down.  Even though this was the news that I was trying to tell myself might come, it didn’t help.

 

My body had failed us again.  Another 2.5 months had gone by… plus thousands of dollars and we had nothing to show for it.  Again.

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2WW (The dreaded two week wait)

 

Ahhh… the best part about trying to get pregnant. The two week wait (2ww).  The time between when the sperm and egg meet, and you can have enough HCG in your blood stream to detect a viable pregnancy.

 

You’d think with all of the medical advancements that the artificial reproductive technologies have given us, they could hurry up the waiting a bit.  Alas, no.  From the date of your IUI, you have to now wait 14 days to get your ‘Beta’ test (aka your blood test).  The beautiful thing is that if you drive into the clinic to get the blood work done, they call you around noon with your results. 

 

The fate of your future then relies on one phone call.

 

I’m getting ahead of myself.  After sitting on the couch upside-down for a full day, I began the longest 14 days of my life.  It’s practically impossible to pay attention to anything else in the world.

 

I spent my days trying to immerse myself in work so I could stay occupied on anything but baby making.  As soon as I got home from work, I’d hop onto google and search for the most un-scientific things.  “Early pregnancy signs”, “What to do during your 2ww”, “How to increase your chances of getting pregnant”, “How early is an at home pregnancy test accurate?”… you get the picture. 

 

It was during this wait that I discovered www.ivf.ca.  It’s the most amazing board with thousands of people experiencing infertility in Canada and abroad.  Many of us went to the same clinics, had the same questions, and gave each other support in this process that no-one else could really understand.  I’d never been one for anything else but my email and facebook on the internet, but this was pure gold.

 

While I admit, I have the most amazingly supportive family, friends, and husband, it’s impossible to describe what this process does to you to someone who hasn’t been through it.  As if the financial, emotional, and physical symptoms/implications aren’t enough, add in massive amounts of hormones into the mix and you get a pure crazy woman.

 

Even for Dan, who had to continue to put up with me on a daily basis, it was a completely different experience… While being surrounded by supportive people, I felt completely alone.  I was dealing with the biggest, hardest, most fundamental question: what makes you a woman?  Up until now, being a woman was distinguished from being a man by one thing- the ability to have children.  If my body wasn’t cooperating doing the most basic function of being a woman, what did that mean? 

 

While Dan was always careful to refer to anything to do with fertility as ‘us’ or ‘we’, the fact of the matter was that this was MY problem.  Everything with Dan was A-ok.  It was me that was the stumbling block to us having our dream family. 

 

Did he regret marrying me now?  What did this mean to our relationship?  How could he not blame me.  After all, it is my fault.  The only way I could prove my worth as a wife was to get pregnant and show him that I’m not useless- I’m a woman!  I can have a baby!

 

Fast forward about 9 days.  I’m feeling great.  No period symptoms and every twitch or cramp I felt had to be our baby growing!  Dan laughed at me a lot after I continued to tell him about each and every feeling in my belly.  “Adele… it’s probably gas pains”.  The worst times were when he was right! :S

 

At night, we’d lay in bed and talk about baby names.  I had some ideas, as did he.  He mostly threw out 90% of my ideas, but we were narrowing the choices down.  I recall one night actually talking to my stomach saying “grow, baby grow!”.  While Dan was positive and supportive, he tried to keep me balanced. 

 

The realistic part was that the percentages say that IUI from our clinic is successful about 30% of the time.  Not the best odds, but better than an average couple trying (around 25% per month).  I was convinced that since I endured pure hell trying to get this darn follicle growing, this was for sure going to work.

 

I was having early pregnancy symptoms- my boobs hurt and I was feeling a tad nauseous…. However, I was also peeing on a stick every morning and was getting just one line each time.  Not pregnant.

 

I’d call Dan with the news, but then again, it was still a couple days before my period would even come.  Probably was still too early to show up.  Trust me, I was pregnant.

 

14 days after the IUI, I rushed to the clinic early to get my blood work done.  I had had no signs of bleeding, no signs of cramping etc for my period… I had a smile a mile wide.  The staff at the clinic- who knew me well by now after my extremely long cycle- asked me how I was feeling.  Pregnant, I told them.  They wished me luck.

 

I had the blood drawn, then went to work.  The clinic always called between 11:45 and 12:15.  I had specifically booked myself to work in my office until 2pm so I could get the news, then I had a grievance meeting I had to go to.

 

The clock ticked by even slower than I could have imagined… Noon came.  Then 12:30… 12:45… 1:00.  What the heck… this was torture.  Giving up, I called the clinic and asked if my results were in.  They flipped me to the nurses and I left a message.

 

I left for my meeting and got to the hospital site at 1:45.  I still had not received a call.  I got my meeting materials ready, met with the member and union rep and was about to start the meeting.

 

At 1:58 I got the call.  A nurse was on the other end and gave me the news that was about to change my life… But then she said it.  “I’m sorry Adele, but the results of the test were negative”.  I was standing just outside the door where the meeting was about to begin.

 

“Are you sure?”, I asked.  Yes, I had no pregnancy hormone in me she confirmed.  I explained my symptoms to her.  The nurse went over my blood work with me and explained because my estrogen was so high, I was experiencing pregnancy symptoms, but they had nothing to do with pregnancy- just a result a very high estrogen.

 

I thanked her and started to cry in the hospital hallway.  I was SO sure…

 

I dialed Dan and he answered after the 2nd ring.  He was expecting my call.  I gave him the news while drying my tears in a few short sentences.  Told him I was about to start a meeting, then hung up. 

 

I was utterly shocked.  I was so sure… how could this happen?  More importantly, it was now 2:06pm and my meeting was to begin 6 minutes ago.  I had the employer and my membership waiting for my arrival.  I wiped my face, swallowed hard, then walked back in the room.  I blamed my crimson face on allergies and used a Kleenex to blow my nose.  Back to work.

 

The meeting went fine and I got back into my car about 3:30pm.  Before the door was even shut, I was crying so hard there was no way I could drive.  I was devastated.  I called my Dan and asked him to let my family and Janica know.  The thought of talking to anyone that I told that I had to be pregnant was heart breaking.  We had put so much into this process… and had nothing but bills to show for it.

 

Fast forward a couple of days.  I had talked myself out of the slump I was in thanks to my amazing husband.  We could do this again.  Also, although this process was nasty, the docs had learned a lot about what didn’t work for me so the next round was sure to be better. Right?

 

The only problem was that my period still had not shown.  I had called the clinic after about 5 days post beta results, and the nurse had told me to wait.  On the first day of my new cycle, I should call the clinic to come in and get a new baseline test done.  I continued to wait…

 

10 days post beta results…. Still nothing.

 

15 days post beta results… Still nothing. 

 

20 days post beta results… Still nothing.  What is wrong with me?  I called the clinic and they were also unable to explain what’s going on.  They told me that if after 25 days there was still nothing, to come in and chat with our RE.

 

25 days post beta results I came into the clinic with Dan by my side.  The re-did my blood results- perhaps I was pregnant after all?  Did I dare get my hopes up?  I had another transvaginal ultrasound and was ushered into the clinical room to meet with our doc. 

 

He reviewed the results, my uterine lining was thin again.  I was definitely not pregnant.  However, the perplexing part was that he wasn’t exactly sure where my uterine lining went to.  It was thick… and was now thin.  Normally that meant it was shed- aka a period.  He questioned me again, was I sure I didn’t have a period?  Ok, I appreciate I don’t know a lot about fertility, but I was sure about not having a period. 

 

He wasn’t sure… he hadn’t seen this before.  Great- another medical mystery.  But the important part was that my lining was thin again.  He had a new plan for medication and this time was going to have me switch to a different drug called Menapur.  Still an injectible medication, it was a tad different and he was hoping my body would like it a tad better than Puregon.  He said we’d have to wait until we got my blood test results just to ensure everything was back to normal, but if it was, I could start the medicine tonight!  IUI Round 2, here we go!

 

April 26th we were to start our second cycle of IUI.  The fact that we were now 3+ months from when we began the first cycle didn’t escape me.  Most fertility patients had now completed, and gotten the beta results from, THREE different IUI rounds.  Breath in, breath out.  The end result would be worth it!