I’m thinking I might just play that Gloria Gaynor song on loop for the next couple days.  It does help.  In case some may not already know, IVF 4 ended in a whopping BFN.  Initially, I was so shocked and surprised.  I felt that horrible pang in my gut that you get when the nurse calls with that hateful sad tone in her voice.  And then I was momentarily confused.  I was so certain it had worked this time that I almost asked her if there had been some mistake.  Let my situation be a cautionary tale to all.  Symptoms mean NOTHING.  Symptoms you hadn’t experienced in a previous cycle mean nothing.  Implantation cramping and spotting and weird stomach stuff – nothing.  Lightheadedness.  Nothing.  Whether you feel hopeful or positive or “feel pregnant” or not – means nothing.

After getting past the initial shock and stupor of the news (I don’t think I left the couch for most of that day, unless it was to stumble to the kitchen for another unhealthy snack) I asked J how he felt about our next step.  He said that this was so hard on both of us, and that he really wanted to move on to a place where we’d have a better chance of actually, finally coming home with a baby.  He’s being very sweet and supportive, and he made it clear that he’s willing to try again with my eggs if I feel like I need to.  I don’t know that I want to put either of us through that again, though.  I think we’re done. We’re exhausted.  IF has taken so much from our lives.  We need to get our lives back.

My initial reaction to this tentative decision to move forward was a feeling of relief.  It felt so freeing to imagine not having to stress about making my body do something it doesn’t seem to be good at.  I don’t have to try to take magic supplements or eat magic foods or try to send encouraging thoughts to my ovaries anymore.  I don’t have to be disappointed by my body anymore.  It made me think of my junior high graduation photo (I know it seems like a tangent, but go with me here).  I grew up in Los Angeles, and at that age was still desperately trying (unsuccessfully) to live up to the California beauty ideal.  So, there I am in my graduation dress (it had shoulder pads, of course), with lobster pink skin because I had attempted to “tan” for the event, pale frosted lipstick, and straw colored spray-in highlighted hair.  It’s not a pretty sight.  I was much happier once I embraced my own beauty – the petite, curvy, fair-skinned kind.  Of course, this is on a much less superficial – and much more heart wrenching level – but it will be a relief to stop trying to expect stellar eggs when there don’t seem to be any there.

I was in a lot of pain after my third failed cycle.  The fact that we had persistent fertilization problems even after multiple tweaks to the protocol seemed to indicate that we were likely one of those couples who just weren’t going to get a break.  I knew then that my eggs might never work for us, and I was devastated.  This time around, I have to admit I hoped I had already gone through all the grieving.  I so badly didn’t want to experience that pain again.  The day after beta I busied myself making appointments and contacting people.  I made follow up appointments with my REs, found a therapist specializing in DE and surrogacy, and investigated DE support groups.  I even made initial inquiries about a donor J and I really like.  It felt good to be proactive, and it felt even better to imagine that I might actually be pregnant by the New Year.  I even felt a little excited and hopeful.

Then we went away to Montreal for a long week-end.  It was exactly what we needed.  Exploring the city was a great distraction, and we had a wonderful time.  Poutine is clearly the king of all comfort food.  J was patient and kind when I had moments of sadness, and even humored me by going with me to the botanical garden (most of these pictures were taken there).  I think it helped to start slowly letting in our new reality away from home, bit by bit.  It’s not surprising that right before coming home things got more difficult for me.  There’s something about going back to your real life that makes it all surge forth in an overwhelming way.  We went to Vietnam before our first IVF, and I absolutely BAWLED the first part of the flight home.  It certainly didn’t help that a sweet, pretty, very pregnant Vietnamese woman sat next to me.  I guess there’s no avoiding it.  I have to mourn this huge loss:  I won’t have genetic children of my own like other people do.  I know I’ll love a DE baby and that I’ll be its mother.  I’ll carry it, give it life, nurture it, and teach it.  But I also have to grief for what I’ve lost.  I was foolish to think I could skip over that part.  I’ve submitted to it, and admitted I should go back to my last Zoloft dose.  My muscles were tightening up like they did last time, so the physical pain made it hard to deny that I needed some help.  And unless I want to grind my teeth down to little stubs in my sleep, I might as well support myself through this.

 

While we were away, a bunch of thoughts popped in my head.  I felt dread for the moment when my adolescent child wants to know about the donor, and perhaps diminishes my role as his or her mother (because aren’t all adolescents a little cruel?).  Luckily, J said he’d throw the kid out on his or her ear in that situation (jokingly, of course, but it made me feel better to know he’d fiercely protect me from potential teen insensitivity).  Then I wondered if I wanted to change my last name. I didn’t when we got married, but would I prefer to have that additional connection to my child since I won’t have the genetic one?  If I’m the “odd man out” in our family genetically, do I want to have my name make me more so?  I don’t know if this will seem less important as I get used to the DE idea, or not.  I know I’m still working through a lot, and I still have tons of of questions and fears.  What if there’s something else wrong with me and we can’t even have success with someone else’s eggs?  Will some of our friends pity us for having to have a DE child?  How will J’s family feel about it?  Am I crazy to be interested in a non-proven donor (she has had a previous pregnancy, but no prior donor cycle)?  I guess these questions will keep surfacing over time.

I’m contemplating getting a tattoo.  I think J thinks the idea is a little silly.  I’m 38 after all.  There’s something about making a mark to commemorate all I’ve gone through, some kind of badge, and a reminder of the fact that I survived it.  It’s a little tough to think of something that’s meaningful to me and not cliche, though.  I guess that’s why I’ve never gotten a tattoo before.  Maybe that urge will pass, too.  Today is the first day of my post BFN/IVF diet.  I’m going to exercise every day, cut out sugar, and eat a low carb, healthy diet.  I’m hoping to be able to wear my jeans comfortably again in a month.  If I can’t be pregnant right now, I at least want to feel good about myself.   I’ll dismantle my “injection station” and maybe I’ll get some semblance of a sex drive back soon.  Maybe we will get our life back, and maybe soon – one way or another – a baby will be part of it.

– Patience


 

 

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