I was numb with shock when I started spotting. No, this absolutely could not be. It was the day before my blood test at the clinic and I was so sure my first cycle of IVF had worked. In a mad panic, I called my husband on the phone and frantically asked him to buy some digital tests on his way home. He did…and I tested. There it was in black and white ‘Not Pregnant’. I just stared at the stick in disbelief. This could not be! I had probably tested too early. The spotting had stopped, so my husband convinced me to go to bed, since I was due to test the next day anyway. So I proceeded to ‘go to bed’…except that I didn’t close my eyes the whole night. Morning eventually rolled by and, and off I went to the clinic. The blood test confirmed what the digital home test had already told me. I was not pregnant. To add salt to injury, no sooner had gotten home did my period start, fast and furious.
I can’t put into words what the heartbreak felt like. It didn’t feel like just a disappointment, it felt like a loss. It was a painful end to 2 months of hard work. All the injections, all the procedures, all the build up, all the emotional investment…all for nothing. My beloved embryos were no longer with me.
The days that followed were rough. Every time I tried to pick myself up, every time I tried to gather the pieces of my broken heart, one of the well meaning people that knew what I was doing, would innocently inquire about how everything had gone. As I repeatedly had to tell these lovely people it had failed, their pain and disappointment would inevitably rekindle mine.
You see, when I opted for IVF, I thought it was a sure banker route to baby for us. From the minute I signed the hospital papers, I had already started working out what month my babies would be born. Most of my friends…the close, and the not-so-close, knew what I was preparing for. When my 3 embryos were transferred, I lovingly named my triplets. I envisioned 2 boys and a girl. I even went as far as browsing online for my maternity wardrobe. I wasn’t prepared for failure at all. In hindsight, I see that was definitely preparing TO fail.
After two weeks, thanks to my husband who tirelessly tried to piece me back together, I went for my review appointment at the clinic. If you have read my testimony, you will know that I have been very vocal about the shoddy manner in which I was treated by this hospital, so I won’t rehash that here. All I will say is that there was absolutely NO counselling offered me, and their post-care was zero. I was pretty much on my own.
I thank God for the online forum I was a member of at the time. That was the closest I got to any form of counseling. But I still needed to TALK to someone at the very least. I googled, but didn’t even know what I was googling for. In the end, I confided in a colleague because I knew her sister had had several failed cycles before her successful cycle. I guess I was hoping to be able to speak with said sister, directly or indirectly. But all I got out of that was becoming fodder for office gossip. And I never got to speak to this sister.
For the two months after that failed cycle, I tasted depression raw and bitter. If I didn’t have a rock solid support system in the form of my husband, family and friends, I don’t know how it would have ended.
Eventually, I had to find the strength to pick myself up. I knew I had to get right back on the baby wagon. I knew it was time to quit wallowing, and start doing! It was time to move on.
The first thing I did was e-mail a stinker to the clinic. Oh, it definitely wasn’t their fault that my cycle had failed, but I needed to let them know, in clear terms, that it wasn’t right to treat people the way I was…like a prized bride before the deed, and like yesterday’s newspaper afterwards. The e-mail was probably useless to them, but it was darned well the closure I needed from that experience.
The next thing was to decide when, and where, my next cycle would be. I knew I needed to start as quickly as possible. In the end, I went back to my longtime Ob/Gyn. I got my body into shape, and did everything Dr. Google said would improve my egg quality. I also made sure only my husband and best friend knew what was going on. Nobody else, not even my Mother, knew we were cycling again.
But, most importantly, I got my MIND into shape. I had to dispel that fantasy of IVF being success guaranteed. I knew only too well that failure was a possibility. I already had a plan for the remaining embryos to be frozen, and to proceed with the frozen transfer as quickly as possible, in the event of the cycle failing. I also started making mental plans for quickly raising funds for a fresh cycle, if the frozen transfer failed as well. During my two-week wait, I took things as e.a.s.y as I possibly could, caught up on my favourite movies and series, and prohibited myself from any form of symptom spotting. As soon as it was reasonable enough for me to test, I did so and got the very first positive result in almost 3 years of trying (I went through all 4 test sticks that night, just to be sure).
What a joy it was to break the news to our family, and subsequently our friends. What a joy it was to carry that pregnancy to term and give birth to our two bundles of joy. Joy so inexplicable, it totally erased the heartache from the failed cycle.
My dear friends…if you have just had a failed cycle, my heart goes out to you. It is a pain that very few, even the most well meaning ones, can understand. Take some time to heal, take some time to mourn, take some time to regroup…and pick yourself up. The journey doesn’t end with failure. No, instead look at it as a small hurdle in your journey. Hopefully, you will get there. For some people, it takes longer, I will definitely admit. I have a friend who just had a 5th failed cycle. But I also know someone who got pregnant after 8 cycles…and she has beautiful twin boys now.
Of course, the harsh reality is that finance can be a limiting factor and could prevail one from proceeding with multiple cycles. If that is where you find yourself, you must still find a way to keep up the faith. I know someone who conceived naturally after several failed IVF cycles. I also know people who have progressed to other options, such as adoption, surrogacy, etc.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t matter what mode of transportation you use. What’s important is how you handle your journey, and that you get there in the end!
Good luck, dear friends. If you need a human being to talk to, do get in touch! You can send me a message here.
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