I have been staring at this blank “Add New Post” browser for a few days now. What does one write about after the crushing news of negative beta results following the second and the last embryo transfer with one’s own eggs?
I know I need to write. There were things that happened on the day of the beta test. There were thoughts that passed through my mind, emotions that I felt and processed, and love that I received. I need to document as much as I can, so I will have a chance to look back in the future and know what had happened.
Last Thursday before all the symptoms went away, my friend Jo asked me what my gut feeling was regarding this transfer. I told her my gut feeling was that I was pregnant. After the loss of symptoms on Friday, Bob asked me the same question. I told him that my gut feeling was that, we probably had a chemical pregnancy and now it was all gone. Of course there is no way of confirming any of this. It could well be my mind and progesterone doing tricks on my body. But I would like to think that our embryos really fought hard and tried.
On Monday, I was feeling calm while sitting in the waiting room of the UCSF lab at 8:25am. Instead of staring at my phone, majority of the time I observed the people around me. Didn’t seem like anyone was there for their beta. At 8:49, my number flashed on the board. I went inside the phlebotomist’s room. It was a nice older Asian lady. We talked about the weather and how I was doing. I pointed at my lab order and said, “I’m doing as well as I can be.” She took a look, and asked, “You’re trying to get pregnant?” I said that it’d been over three years. She was busy getting set up, but took one look at me and said, “You know what the key to getting pregnant is?” I was actually quite sure what would come out of her mouth next, which was confirmed by her next statement: “You have to relax.” She went on to tell me that her 30-year-old niece had been trying for five years but still had no babies so she often tells her niece the same thing. After we chatted for a little, and after she finished poking me with a needle, I said, “You know, for people who have been trying for a baby for a while, the one thing that they don’t want to hear is someone telling them to relax. It is a stressful process and they are trying their best to make a baby. So try to support them without telling them to relax.” I felt compelled to say it. I don’t know how receptive she was, but it seemed like she didn’t get upset. I am glad that I opened my mouth and did my part as an infertile.
The rest of the morning I was busy doing work. I was actually able to be productive most of the time. My “village” (namely, my friends in real life and my online community) was getting impatient. Still no word at noon. No word at 1pm. No word at 2pm. One friend asked, “What part of STAT does the nurse not understand?” I was still able to keep my composure at 1:30pm. However, by 2pm, it was getting a little difficult to wait. I had clients from 3pm to 5pm. Getting a phone call with beta results is just not cool during a speech therapy session. I finally emailed my nurse at 2pm. The phone call didn’t come until 2:45pm. What was going through my head? In a split second, I was thinking, this is it. This will determine our fate for the next 9 months. I kind of knew the results, but was still holding out hope. From the way my nurse said Hello, I could guess the results. We exchanged pleasantries. Then she said, “Unfortunately, the results are negative.” She told me to stop all meds and tried to schedule an appointment for me to talk to Dr. No Nonsense end of the week. All I wanted to do was to hang up and be…. because I needed to get myself together before my 3pm client. We settled on a time and I tried to hang up. I could hear her say, “I am so sorry sweetie.”
I was kind of stunned but at the same time not surprised. I was hopeful prior to the phone call but was also realistic. I knew my odds. It would have been a long shot to be pregnant and to stay pregnant with my own eggs. In the next 15 minutes, I notified Bob, my Face.book group friends, a couple of other friends, and wrote the last blog post because I knew that my friends there were waiting. It was almost like I had no time to process this news because I knew I had to put on a brave face so that I could get through the next two hours without being upset or crying. I said a quick prayer for God to sustain me and went ahead with the rest of the work day. Surprisingly, I was quite focused during those two hours. After my 3pm client, I went to make some copies. Pregnant Coworker was standing there in the copy room. She asked me how I was doing. Instead of saying “Good”, I said, “I am alright.” “Just alright?” she asked. Yes. I am not going to tell you that my long journey of trying to conceive with my own eggs just came to an end. After a few awkward seconds of no talking, I commented on her nicely painted nails, to which she responded that her prenatal vitamins have been making her nails strong and fast growing, which enabled her to paint her nails. I regretted saying anything. I just fled the room after I was done.
Maybe things had not sunk in yet, and I knew I wanted to be strong for the rest of the night for my Bible Study group ladies. I went ahead with the rest of the night as planned. I led Bible study and attended the lecture. I felt loved though, as my friends at Bible Study all remembered the big beta day. I received many warm hugs. A couple of my friends were teary. I am thankful that God orchestrated the timing of the beta so that I could focus on Him and others on that Monday instead of any other day. Tears didn’t come until that night when my husband was hugging me in the bedroom before he went to get ready for bed. I looked at him and asked, “Can I cry?” That was a silly question. But I felt so much better and safer crying in front of him and with him while he held me in his arms. Life was so much better after the release of my emotions. I went to bed in peace and had a great night sleep.
I think the reality still had not sunk in yet on Tuesday, as I was feeling fine throughout the day. One of my best coworkers walked in my office in the morning with this:
Such a thoughtful friend and such a wonderful gift. It totally cheered me up. Then in the afternoon, my mom sent me a text saying that someone sent me flowers at home. I knew it wasn’t from Bob because he only sends flowers to work. I had my guess which was confirmed when I got home:
It was from my sweet friend Jane Allen. Thank you so much friend for being so thoughtful and being there. The flowers have been bringing a smile on my face every single day. They also became the topic starter with my mom about what happened. She of course asked me why my friend gave me flowers. I shared with her about the failed transfer. So thank you Jane for helping me with that.
Wednesday, I woke up feeling sad. My original plan was to resume going to fitness bootcamp. I couldn’t get myself up. All I wanted to do was to lie in bed until the very last moment before I had to get up for work. Bob was sweet and told me not to worry about going to bootcamp. He went and did my share for me. 🙂 There were appointments that I couldn’t cancel or reschedule that morning. But I could cancel my afternoon appointments. I made a decision to take care of myself. The first thing I did that morning upon walking into work was to ask my front desk staff to cancel all my afternoon appointments. I left at around 12:45pm, had a nice slow lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, bought a cup of my favorite fully caffeinated coffee, and headed to Tar.get for some much needed essentials for home.
When I got home, my mom asked me about the cost of the cycles. Instead of telling her the cost of each cycle, I told her how much we spent last year for all the cycles. I also shared with her that one donor egg cycle will cost as much as the total we spent last year. After my nap and when Bob got home from work, mom came up from her room and handed us an envelope. I opened it up. Inside was a wad of cash enough to buy the IVF meds for the donor. I looked at her with disbelief. She told me that both she and dad wanted to support us knowing that we worked so hard to save up the money. I looked at Bob and handed him the money to give back to mom. He tried to pass it back to her but she refused to take it. I started tearing up. She teared up and came to give me a hug. My parents are about some of the most generous people I have ever known. I was speechless at their kindness and generosity.
I again felt better on Thursday except for one moment. Lying in bed at night, I was thinking about a two-year-old with whom I work on Thursdays. I think about his smile and how much his smiles resemble his mother’s. Thinking about that, I started feeling sad as I know that I will never be able to see my own smile in my future child. I just let myself cry. Bob was next to me letting me cry it all out. All these tears are doing my heart something good. I need to mourn. I need to grieve the loss of genetic links with my own future child(ren). I am just taking care of my feelings and letting things be. I knew I had to talk to my therapist again in order to move on. Fortunately, she is a few weeks away from her maternity leave (she’s pregnant with her first child at her early 40s via IVF) so she can still see me next week. I happily scheduled an appointment. I don’t mind her big pregnant bump at all.
This morning Bob and I met with Dr. No Nonsense to talk about the next step. I opted for an in-person meeting because it’s often difficult to talk to him on the phone when he puts me on speaker phone. Dr. NN looked at us and asked what we had in mind about the next step. I looked at him and asked him to tell me his thoughts first. He wouldn’t budge! He said, I want to hear what your thoughts are. Ha. So I told him that we are done with our own eggs and would pursue egg donation. He commented how much effort we have put into these cycles. He said that we have done everything that we could. I agree with him. We have. It’s a logical next step to move onto egg donation. Dr. NN looked pleasantly surprised that I had already talked with the donor coordinator and we had met with the psychologist. We could start choosing a donor any time we want to. There were a few things we discussed about. If we want more than one child, fresh cycles are better than frozen cycles. Each cycle he will try to get 15 to 20 eggs. If it’s a donor that has a potential for only 8 eggs, he said, he’d call me and ask me if I would still want to proceed. A frozen cycle only guarantees six eggs. The chances of having extra embryos to freeze will be a lot lower. With the clinical pregnancy rate of 71 to 79% in the last few years, he thinks that our chances of getting pregnant and staying pregnant are high. If we ever have questions about a first-time agency donor, he said he can always look at the testing and paperwork before we make a decision. One way to avoid that is to choose someone who has already done a cycle or two. The discussion of singleton vs. twins also came up. Bob always wants twins but I want to avoid any complications. Dr. NN did say that the pregnancy rate is about the same whether you put one embryo or two embryos back, but the twin rates are a lot higher when transferring two. Bob commented that he had always wanted four children but now he just wants to get a child and be happy. Dr. NN said that once we have one child, we will want to have a second one. So getting ready for that right now will be a wise choice. He said that endometrial scratch isn’t proven to make a difference according to studies. And a lining of over 7mm is good as long as it’s trilaminar. Studies show that a lining of 7, 8, 9 or 10mm does not make a big difference in terms of pregnancy rate. Dr. NN ended the conversation by telling us to find a suitable donor and we can have a meeting to go over the treatment plans. He wants us to be excited about our cycle and be 100% on board. He said he is very excited for us. I am very thankful for his enthusiasm.
My wonderful friends have been checking in on me daily. I am very grateful that every time they ask me how I am doing, they also ask me about Bob. So how’s Bob doing? He felt angry the first few days. I think he’s been feeling better. And after today’s meeting with Dr. No Nonsense, I think he is feeling hopeful again about the possibility of the future.
And I am too. I just still need a bit more time for my closure. I am grateful that egg donation is even an option, and that we started saving up for it since last July. This time I feel a lot better than last year. Last year we didn’t have a plan. I was paralyzed by the chemical pregnancy and couldn’t move on for many months. This time we’ll be able to move on much more quickly.
Finally, to everyone who read my posts in the last week, checked in on me, or commented, please accept my sincere gratitude for being there and showing your support. You all have warmed my heart and helped me get through this difficult time.
Thank you for your love.