It was not the kind of phone call anyone would want.
Last night right before bedtime, I turned to Bob and asked, “What if our egg doesn’t fertilize?” It crossed my mind not only once yesterday that there was a possibility for the worst case scenario. We talked a bit about it. The conclusion is that we did give our best for this cycle. If the egg didn’t fertilize, we still have a lot to be thankful for as we have five embryos in the freezer. But of course it would sting but I did mentally prepare myself for that possibility. I prayed for my heart to accept anything that would come our way and fell asleep.
I knew that the phone call would come at any time. The clinic usually calls between 3 and 6pm on a regular work day. However, we got our first fertilization report with them on a Sunday at around 10am. On a holiday I would expect the phone call to be earlier. I got up from a very good night sleep. I made breakfast, cleaned the shower stall, and started sorting all of the mail from the last couple of weeks while having Christian contemporary music on. At the moment when my kitchen counter was filled with bills, statements, and letters that I was sorting, the phone rang. It said “UCSF Reproductive Health”. My heart skipped a bit. I quickly walked away from the music and headed to the stairs. I pressed the answer button and sat down on the steps. This cheerful voice said Happy Thanksgiving to me and asked me how I was doing. After the pleasantry, she said, “Unfortunately I don’t have better news to share. The one egg that you have didn’t fertilize. I am sorry. So there will be no transfer. Please contact your care team next week in regards to the next step.”
I said my goodbye and just sat on the stairs. I was just in shock and felt stunned. Bob came right next to me. He asked if I was okay. I just couldn’t speak for the first few moments after the phone call. I wanted to cry but I had no tears. This was such a familiar feeling. I remember how I felt during our second cycle when Dr. E told us that the one and only embryo that fertilized didn’t grow further. I felt that big lump in my throat that I couldn’t get rid of. This was the same feeling. Bob asked me to come down from the stairs and gave me a big tight hug. I needed that hug. I needed that extra strength from my husband. I numbly went back to my original task and felt that I couldn’t stop to think for a moment because I might burst into tears. I robotically continued my sorting but my mind wandered. I started second-guessing myself for this cycle. And then I scolded myself for second-guessing our steps. I asked Bob if we shouldn’t have proceeded with this cycle. He answered, “This is a very difficult question to answer.” It was a wonky cycle. Bob had not only once told me that we could just wait if this wasn’t going to be a good cycle. My wonderful husband did not talk further. He didn’t say I told you so. We just reiterated our gratitude that this was not our first cycle with UCSF and that we have five frozen embryos. I think Bob just wishes that next time I would listen to him more when he wants to be conservative with a cycle. I am also surprised to hear that he’s okay with us not limiting ourselves to one more cycle. He thinks that if I feel that I could use another cycle after the next one, we can totally do that.
We have experienced all sorts of outcome for our IVF cycles. We had some eggs fertilized but not others. We had some eggs lasting until day five but not others. We had some embryos that lasted only until day three and arrested. We also had good outcomes the last two cycle. We just had never had one egg only and now that egg didn’t fertilize. I guess the second-guessing part comes from the cost of the cycle, feeling hurt that I am gambling our money away. However, no one could have ever possibly known the outcome. We would’ve never known if we didn’t try. Dr. No Nonsense always says that we expect zero, one, or two embryos for each of these min-IVF cycles. We happened to have exceedingly good results with three and two embryos. So this outcome is within our expectations. Still, it stings.
I thank God for allowing me to be calm. Don’t get me wrong. It hurts and I am sad. I may even cry later if I feel I need it. But at this moment, I am thankful that God is helping me through this difficult day with love from friends, love from my husband, and the reminder that we are fortunate to still have the funds to try again. I am also thankful that the phone call was received on Thanksgiving day and not a typical work day so I don’t have to deal with work after bad news. And like what Maddie said to me, that the ovaries were working overtime last cycle so we can enjoy having those extra bonus embryos in the freezer. It is a nice perspective and it eases the sting a bit.
Sorry I don’t have better news. This is the nature of fertility treatment, right? Good news and bad news. We have to accept it all and move on. Happy thanksgiving to you all, and thank you so much for your support.