Our first embryo transfer with our donor embryos was a rather long but interesting process. Our clinic worked with both of us to coordinate our cycles through medications up until the embryo transfer. During month one, the medications set us up to synchronize our menstrual cycles. This allowed us to be working in parallel in month two so that she could go through the IVF and egg retrieval process, while my body was being prepared for the embryo transfer as soon as the embryos were ready. While this feels like a complicated process for the patient, our clinic has the scheduling and coordination down to a science. Although it is a bit nerve-wracking to think that not only do I need to be on top of all the correct medications every day and coming in for doctor appointments on specific days, but my donor has to do that too. On top of which I knew she had flights to coordinate for the trips to our clinic for various steps of the process. I kept thinking to myself, “Please don’t let her have flight delays or canceled flights! Get her to the clinic safely! She’s carrying all my eggs! Her ovaries are saturated with my dreams!” One of my biggest fears was that something would not go right with one of our bodies and we’d have to abort the process and start all over. But it all went like clockwork and my donor was amazing! Her body made 42 eggs, 38 fertilized and 31 became high quality embryos that we would now own. My husband and I felt like we won the egg donor lottery! And all went as planned. My body was ready to receive an embryo on day 5 of their development and that was it. And then we waited…those 9 excruciating days to see if all that work (and money) created a pregnancy. During those 9 days our brains do amazing things to make us think we are pregnant or make us think we aren’t pregnant so that we will be prepared somehow for the outcome. Every time, I tell myself not to look on the internet for ANYTHING. But somehow I end up looking up every site that I can find that talks about early pregnancy symptoms and embryo development during those 9 days post transfer. The symptoms are evil tricksters because the medications to help foster the pregnancy (progesterone and estrogen) will also give you pregnancy symptoms. In this case, I thought for sure I was pregnant. And then for the fourth time reading the lab results (where our last two tries were negative) looking for an HCG level over 50, we saw zero…AGAIN. Three times in a row, not pregnant. It’s like running full force into a brick wall. That moment is one of the most painful, excruciating moments in the process. I try not to get my hopes up, but of course I do, because the dream of having a baby is just darn overwhelming and exciting and joyful. But every time I’ve seen the lab test come back as “not detectable,” it becomes the darkest, deepest, most intense moment of sadness and heartbreak. And for me, my brain tortures me with re-living the loss of my first pregnancy where I not only see visions of the horrific loss of our baby, but also start remembering the wonderful details of what it felt like to be pregnant. And all of it hurts. And it feels so far away and maybe even impossible to see a positive pregnancy test and fill the desperate need and desire to be pregnant again. So, here I am sitting in my car with this piece of paper in my hand that just shattered my world and now what? How do I get strong enough to put myself through this again? Do I want to? But then all I can do for that moment is just cry while everything else in the world disappears except for that one thought…that I just lost this dream again. And then I pull myself together for enough seconds to realize that I better call in sick to work because I know the tears will not stop today. And I can’t bear to look at my husband through my tears because I know I’ll just see a face of helplessness, because he can’t fix it either and he just lost his dream too.
Then time passes…and somehow we do find the strength to try again.