So I just went through another round of IVF – our official re-entry into the hopeful halls of infertility wards in Denmark. Operation: Give Leif a Sibling has commenced. And apparently, it will be quite the battle.
We are back at Trianglen Klinik, under the auspicious care of Dr. Jens (and Dr. Betina). We just finished a long protocol of IVF, with priming through Synarela, followed by 13 days of stimulation shots (300 iu of Pergoveris). The plan was to be a total duplication of our last successful round (more than 2 years ago!), which ended in Leif. A long protocol, aiming for Day 5 or Day 6 blastocysts, doing a “Freeze-All”, then transferring whatever blasts we get two cycles after stimulation, once my body has recovered from the rigors of the hormones.
At egg retrieval, Dr. Betina managed to get out 6 follicles. They looked good in her opinion, and slipped out of their follicles nicely during the aspiration procedure. The cocktail of Propofol and Morphine did their usual bless-ed pain management trick – providing a momentary, 5-minute high that leaves the patient feeling like a sparkly, pregnant unicorn bouncing on clouds (and realizing why some people become opioid addicts. Sorry, just sayin’).
Then, there was handover to the skilled embryologists who were now custodians of any potential future babies of ours. We got periodic updates from the lab in the days that followed: 4 fertilized well through ICSI, and they were dividing nicely. Three looked good. On Day 5, we had 3 embryos in the pre-blastocyst stage called “morula.” They would call us on Day 6 with the final report of what would be put on ice.
That evening, Martin and I felt optimistic and giddy. “This round has been pretty easy,” he said, earning a semi-snort-laugh from me. But he was right. All this time, we never had three embryos still with us on Day 5. Never. Things were looking terrific. But I tried to temper my expectations, reminding him that we should be thrilled if we have even ONE embryo that makes it into the freezer.
Every challenge I’ve gone through in our infertility (IF) battle has taught me to manage (ahem, keep low) my expectations. Nice and low, lest they fall deeper down through the soil of the Earth.
Yesterday, the embryologist called and said she was so sorry to report that we now had Zero blastocysts. All embryos “arrested”. Meaning, died. “We don’t believe in them,” she said. “They must be discarded.”
Discarded. All those shots, those swollen lumps, those hopeful pleas to God, those nervous prayers to Mother Mary and hopeful squeezes of Leif’s lucky cheeks…discarded. All of it. Gone.
“What if I believe in them?” I pleaded. “Can’t you give them another 6 hours to see if they reach blastocyst stage.” “We can’t,” she said. And that was it.
Another round. Game over.
Another gut-punching phone call that leaves me slumped on the bathroom floor – wanting to punch the tile with my clenched fist.
The arrival of Leif into our life has been a healing balm on the wounds Martin and I suffered through the many years trying to get him. The wounds have now become thick scars. Healed, and closed over, but still hanging around on our weathered souls. And yesterday, in one quick second, the wounds were re-opened again. And I felt awash in all the sadness and hopelessness I knew so well.
As Martin aptly put it last night – as we whined in bed together, holding hands – it was our old, unwelcome friend, barging back into our lives once again.
We are so damn familiar with this friend. And she hurts us so much. But somehow and some way – for as long as we try to build and complete our family – we have to make peace with her presence in our lives.
As much as I thought I’d become inured to all this infertility pain – as much as I believed that having Leif would mitigate the pain of more IVF failure – I simply got it wrong. It still hurts. I’m still grieving over how uncooperative my body can be. I’m still jealous of the gals who get pregnant so easily. Especially those who couldn’t care less…
And life continues to be unfair and hard and amazing…and all these things I already know and must graciously accept.
The one saving grace in this latest crummy turn of events is…
We bought an IVF punch-card at our clinic, so we will be coming back for more.
Don’t ever count us out. 😉