I’ve been putting off publishing an update on our latest IVF cycle, mostly because I’ve been trying to wrap my own head around it myself for a few days now.
If you’ve been following along on instagram, you know that this month I had- by far- my best cycle to date. My doctor was able to retrieve 15 eggs, 11 were mature, but they were able to perform ICSI on all of them. The next day we had 12 fertilized embryos- 9 that looked really good and 3 that were lagging behind, but still had a shot at developing more. We were thrilled with these results and very hopeful for our best yet Day 5 report.
Saturday afternoon I got the email I was expecting from my nurse, informing me of our Day 5 embryo update. Two of our original 12 fertilized embryos had made it to day 5. The others had stopped growing.
This is the same number we got the past 2 cycles, when we had a much less impressive retrieval and initial fertilization report. I was honestly expecting and hoping the number to be so much higher.
So many thoughts came swirling through my head.
Two little frozen embabies, who are so precious and who we love so much. I should be rejoicing and celebrating, right?
But what about the others? We lost 10 in the lab.
This isn’t a first-time thing for me. During the past 2 cycles we’ve lost other embryos before day 5. I know that is to be expected, but losing these 10 had an even deeper impact on me than past cycles. I felt such a deep sense of loss.
So what’s a girl to do when she gets really amazingly incredible news and just absolutely gutting, awful news at the same time?
Well, she bawls her eyes out for one. Gosh, I cried so hard. I cried for the embryos and I cried for myself and I cried for the high hopes I had that had been squashed to the ground. I cried in my car and in my kitchen. I cried on my couch and cried in the shower.
I cried because I could and because I needed to. And I didn’t let the voices of shame in my head that say “why are you crying, you should be grateful for the 2, other women would love to have 2” condemn me into forfeiting my mother-heart grief response.
Because as much as it hurts, I never let myself go into a cycle with anything but a positive outlook. And when we had our best retrieval ever so far last week, I let myself feel even more hopeful than before. It felt so good to have such an amazing response! I was so proud of my body for responding the way its supposed to respond to the medications. It felt like the perfect ending to our IVF journey.
To be so hopeful, have such an incredible response, to celebrate so joyously, and then be left with the loss of 10 embryos, hurts.
(And maybe it was the perfect ending, we have yet to decide if we are doing another retrieval or not. We’ll see…)
The horrible part of the Good News-Bad News scenario is that the bad news takes away from the initial rejoicing of the good news, because you really do just have to let yourself grieve. The great part of the Good News- Bad News situation is that as your tears begin to dry, you find that you have something to truly rejoice in.
As I’ve recovered from my initial grief, these two little embryos have become such a point of comfort for me. I can only imagine they are incredibly strong, and that makes me smile. I love them and I am grateful for them and I rejoice in their teeny, tiny little lives. I think about them and I can’t wait to meet them. (Cue more tears, happy ones this time.)
Grief can be a tough pill to swallow, and it leaves a taste in your mouth that doesn’t just go away because you chase it with good news. I think it’s important to acknowledge that grief and work through your own grieving process. And yet, I know that as life moves on I get to make a choice- between grief and gratitude which do I want as a more constant companion? One of them I will acknowledge and give due time to, the other I will feed and watch flourish.
The obvious answer is gratitude, but it’s not a decision I make lightly. I know that clinging to gratitude and therefore to joy and hope and all it’s friends leaves me open to be hurt again. Some might argue that staying in grief, staying hurt, is actually easier than risking feeling new hurt again. But, I honestly don’t know how to live any other way than clinging (however tearfully) onto fresh hope and faith and believing that the pain I am feeling now can not compare to the joy that is coming.
So if you’ve been following my story- please feel free to cry and grieve with me over the bad news, but cling even harder still to the good news- we have 2 precious embryos, and we are so grateful.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with
the glory that is to be revealed to us.
I also want to say a BIG thank you to each and everyone of you who have been praying for us, thinking of us, and checking in on us. The messages and comments I’ve received have been so so sweet. I am constantly grateful for the incredible amount of love and support. Thank you!