Bad News: IVF #14

– best embryo quality possible after 5 days in the lab

It’s gotten to the point that when I get bad news I tell myself to wake up.  Even though I am beyond accustomed to seeing the words “Not Pregnant” on those cruel and annoying urine tests, I am so confident and steadfast that Craig and I are to be parents again, that it shocks me and I need to shake my head to see if I can snap out of this recurring nightmare.

We had a 70% chance of our latest efforts working. All signs pointed to success along the way.

We had placed 2 of the best embryos ever inside my uterus (picture shown of one of them), both of which had made it to day 5, the magical day by which many embryos have died, deteriorated, or shown fragmentation.

Statistics were on our side.

A psychic who read my Tarot cards at a work party said she was 90% sure that I would become pregnant in June.

My spiritual healer said she felt a strong female presence.

I had pinching sensations in my uterus, an indicator that an embryo is attaching.  (I chose to ignore the fact that this same feeling could mean early miscarriage or signs of my period coming.)

I felt calm and peaceful and confident in our success.

But then on Sunday I took the test, and it said Not Pregnant. I had just chugged a huge amount of water, so I simply decided that the results were not accurate.  I was sad not to be elated with good news, the emotion I’ve been anticipating for.ever. But I was not defeated.

I didn’t feel any responsibility; like, I didn’t question whether I had done everything that was in my control right.  I knew I had done everything I could that was within my control, again, right.  I was confused and startled and deeply, deeply sad.

I drove to the doctor’s office with my little puppy Maybelline riding shotgun.  Maybelline, a puppy that has created so much joy in Craig’s and my life that I can’t even put it into words.  Thank G-d for Maybelline, as without her sitting next to me, with her turquoise little harness, on her green car blanket, with her beautifully deep and brown little eyes and her mushy forehead with the most beautiful Beagle-like brown and beige and black lines you’ve ever seen, it would have been a total deja vu.  Without her, I would have once again been driving on 3 freeways in rush hour Los Angeles traffic to have my skin punctured, my blood drawn, only to have the bad news from that pee stick confirmed.

With her, it didn’t exactly repeat everything I’ve experienced in the past; with her; I have proven what a wonderful mommy I am to her and will be to my next living child; with her and because of her, Craig and I have both been able to give and receive love that we have been aching to give to another for so very long.

It ain’t the same, but it helps.

Lily, the receptionist, took me back and started giving me instructions to go to the bathroom to provide a urine sample. I looked at her with Maybelline in my arms and even through my sunglasses she could see my eyes brimming up with tears.  I shook my head, “No, just need blood taken.”  We made our way to the nurses’ station, where both nurses looked at me, and I shook my head, sad, defeated, forlorn, confused; defeated.

I asked Giselle how often she has seen negative urine tests and positive blood. “Not often, but it can happen. Some women never register in their urine.  Maybe 20%?”  I liked that statistic, and remembered that my friend Lisa had gotten negative urine test and yet been pregnant with twins, only proven by her blood test.  As she took my blood, I went through other facts, knowing both times I’ve been pregnant, the urine test registered the day before.

The female doctor poked her head in, hearing me cry, and the words I spoke to Giselle.  She shook her head sadly; she was speechless.

Maybelline and I headed out, and the woman at the front desk said she needed to collect the $20, the fee for the blood being drawn.  I shook my head definitively, “No, the doctor has waived those costs.

I called my mother on the way home.  She, who is going through her own health issues right now, heard the fear or sadness in my voice immediately; I’m stoic when I have to be, which is more often than I’d prefer, being that I’ve had to go from appointments to procedures to bad news to work way more often than is fair or reasonable; when given the opportunity to just be, well, me, I take it.  I told her the probability of bad news, and I could hear the sadness in her voice.  “I just don’t understand it,” she said.  “You were so confident this time. I know how much you want a baby, and I just want what you want.”

Hearing those words was as good as a hug, and so I held on tight.

I still hadn’t gotten the blood test results that afternoon by 4, so I called the office.  The lab test results were running behind, I was told, so I hung up the phone, prepared to take a valium any minute, and waited.

Dr. K called about 30 minutes later.  I recognized his voice immediately.  “Oh Lorraine, I’m sorry to let you know that the blood results confirmed your urine results.”  Tears welled, and I began sobbing.  “Why?” was the theme behind the barrage of questions I asked.  There were no real answers.  He told me that I’d earned a couple of glasses of wine.  Unfortunately, a recovering alcoholic, that was not a real option

So I popped a valium (non habit forming or mind altering).  And then another half of a valium. And then took a shower in which I cried as I clutched the wall of the shower.  I tried to wake myself up from the nightmare.  No luck.

I climbed back into bed and brought Maybelline up there with me.  It was only the second time she’d been allowed into our bed, the first time being the night before, after I’d gotten those results.  (I maintain that it is important that she is allowed on the bed not because she was crying, but because I was.)

I wrote on Facebook that God and the Universe should get a fucking hearing aid.  I didn’t need to write anymore than that, for a dozen people to send loving messages my way.  I was at the point when I need only allude to bad news for people to know exactly what had happened.

I got a note from a woman I know who had also struggled with fertility, who now has a son who is more than one-year old, who asked me if I’d ever had the NK assay test. I told her I couldn’t remember. She told me I’d likely remember, since it was such an expensive test.  I told her that wasn’t necessarily the reason I’d remember; I’d been poked and prodded and pricked so many times, and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by this point, that a test that she intonated was expensive was just another blip on the map of my living purgatory.

I called Giselle and I asked her if I’d had that test. She confirmed that yes, I had; it was the killer blood test, that assured us that once embryos were implanted I had no killer blood cells that were attacking the embryos thereby reducing their chance at survival.

I told Giselle the following:  I want you to tell Dr. V to scour my records.  All of them.  And then he should call me and let me know if there is anything else we should do, anything we’ve missed; whether we should go ahead and transfer the next 2 immediately, or if there is something else we should try first.

(We currently have 4 cryopreserved (frozen) embryos in the state of the art laboratory in Tarzana.  There are 2 A quality embryos, and 2 a little less than A but still great quality embryos.)

I expected Dr. V to call me on Thursday and tell me that I was just unlucky, again; that I had merely fallen in the 30% and that we should go ahead.  He called; I could hear the devastation in his voice.  He told me that he and his two associates, Dr. K and the female Dr. W, had sat in his office for over an hour and scoured my files.  My file, by the way, is without question among the thickest there is in the world of fertility struggles.  A forest of paper comprises the details of the now 14 IVFs and the innumerable Artificial Inseminations that have all followed the death of my beloved little spirit son, Finley.

He started talking about the shape of my uterus, something we had taken for granted was sort of unusually shaped, he thought, because of the C-section I had in ’09; because Finley was so scared after my water had broken, he climbed up the top part of my uterus; since the moment I could really feel him inside me, he was hanging out and living down low, by my cervix, but on that day – on December 3rd, 2009, he climbed up and tried to latch on to me as tightly as he could, as the water left the sac, thereby making him unsafe.  So when they did the C-section, they had to cut up higher than they do in traditional C-sections that happen at term.  This had caused a scar, which of course all C-sections cause, which in turn Dr. V had thought had made the shape of my uterus different.

But now he was uttering a different thought; was it possible that below my uterus there was a fibroid or some endometriosis that was protruding up, causing this shift in shape, and prohibiting the embryos from attaching?

I almost threw up, nauseous and disgusted and frightened at the idea that we have had all of these failed IVFs because of something that could maybe be dealt with via a surgery or a few months of medication.

“So you don’t think I’m just unlucky, again?”

“Maybe. But I’m not in the practice of presuming anything, and each time we try, we learn more about you, and we have to explore this before we go again.”

He told me that he and Dr. K needed to both be present for my next ultra sound, which should fall on the tail end of my next period.  He suspected my period would come that day, Thursday, or the next.

I now have an appointment to see them on Tuesday together. I respect, no, revere, the fact that my doctor took his associates into his office with him to review my folder.  “He owes us that,” Craig said.  He is right.

I appreciate the fact that when I cried, “This isn’t over,” to my doctor, he confirmed, “No, it is not over. We will get you pregnant.  And this is waaaay beyond doctor / patient relationship; you are family.  We will get through this.”

I am mad at G-d right now, and am not able to pray.

But I have my period now, which means my body is working, and for that I am grateful.

And even though this is technically my 14th failed IVF, since we tried something so different this time (again, something so personal that I don’t want to get into it now), it is really only the 1st failed one.

And we’ve got those 4 beauties frozen in Tarzana.  And I have my loving husband and my fantastic puppy.  And today, I dragged myself out of bed, though I would have liked to stay there curled up for days, and drove to my favorite hike in Malibu, where I walked amongst butterflies and had a dolphin sighting.

And I remembered that all I can do is take one step at a time; and trust in the universe.

Thank you all for your continued support.


2 thoughts on “Bad News: IVF #14

  1. sending so much love and support…as always. you are one of the strongest women i know and i know that you will be rewarded for all you have endured! xoxox

  2. Thank you for sharing this. The fact that your doctor is so extremely dedicated hopefully offers some comfort that you have an amazing team who strongly believes in, and will stop at nothing, to achieve success for you. We love you and will be praying on your behalf.

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