As many of you know our recent FET ended with the loss of our two precious little embryos in an early chemical pregnancy. The grief of this loss is so fresh- and in some ways, I’m still processing through the initial shock of it all. This was not what we were expecting in any way, shape, or form. We believed with all our hearts that this cycle would end in Life- not another heartbreak.
When you face a disappointment like this, you start to wonder- what did I do wrong? What should I have done differently? What did we miss?
We’ll be having conversations with our doctor and other experts on what we could do differently as far as the medical side of things go- but I can say with 100% confidence, that- even knowing what I know now- there are some things we did during this cycle that I absolutely would not change.
It’s easy to give into regrets (I should have eaten this or not eaten that or taken this medicine or not taken that one) and I know that next cycle will look different in some ways- but these things will stay the same. These are the things for which I have absolutely no regrets.
I don’t regret Speaking Life, Expecting Life, and Disallowing all Negative Talk and Thoughts
This was something we started at least a month or so before the transfer. We set a rule for ourselves- no negative thinking allowed at all. I didn’t hedge my hopes with fears. I didn’t counter my own positive expectations with warnings of things that could go wrong. I didn’t rehearse bad things- didn’t allow myself to imagine getting a negative pregnancy test or having a miscarriage. I didn’t allow other people to speak doom and gloom around me either.
Several weeks before our transfer I started speaking out declarations of life and truth over my body and our embryos. I had a list that Andrew and I read out loud every day. We read Isaiah 54:1-6 in the Message Bible and spoke those truths over my life every single day. Some days it felt easy to speak these words, other days it felt more difficult to believe- it didn’t matter how I felt, we spoke them anyway.
When fear tried to stir itself up in my heart (because fear is sneaky like that)- I was aware of it and called it out for what it was– a contradiction to the faith that I am carrying with me.
About five or six days after transfer, I started getting really worried about the idea of facing another disappointment. I found myself crying, imaging another failed cycled. It’s a horrible feeling that most of us who have gone through fertility treatments can relate to. In the past, those feelings would have overwhelmed me. This time I had the tools I needed to overcome it.
I spoke Life. Literally. I would put my hand on my belly and say “Life” out loud. I spoke peace. I would put my hand on my head and say “Peace” out loud. I practiced gratitude, even for the smallest, seemingly insignificant things. I would thank God out loud for the blessings in my life.
Fear came, but it didn’t have the power it once had.
Living in faith and then facing a disappointment is better than living in torment and then facing a disappointment. I’ve done it both ways. You can take my word on it.
This cycle wasn’t about “managing my expectations” or setting the bar low. It wasn’t about preparing for worst case scenario. This cycle was focused on faith and hope and a constant expectation of Life. I don’t know why we didn’t see that life come to fruition in this cycle, but I have no regrets of living in faith for it.
I don’t regret Bonding Hard and Fast with Our Embryos
This one came hand-in-hand with Expecting Life and Disallowing Negative Thoughts and Talk. I bonded with our embryos very quickly and very deeply.
I am a woman who values science. I understand the statistics that show that not every embryo becomes a healthy baby. But science, statistics, and logic don’t rule my life- faith does. Where a scientist may see a microscopic ball of cells, faith sees LIFE.
Through eyes of faith, I saw my children, I gave them names. I prayed specific prayers for them. I bought them clothes and planned their nursery. I dreamed of their lives- from their earliest days, to their toddler years, to their adolescence, and to their lives as adults. I dreamed of all they would do in the world, of how they would love each other, of how they would love God.
I’ve written about this topic before in Becoming an Embryo Momma, but I want to reiterate it again. Love is a risk. Loving these embryos was a risk. I knew the risk. I knew there was a chance that I would never get to meet these babies that I had already given my heart to. I knew that bonding with these embryos meant that the potential for grieving them was far more intense than if I had not let myself get attached, but I knew I wanted to take that risk. I knew that I didn’t want to pass up a single moment of loving them.
Even now, despite the pain of coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never get to meet them and hold them or see a heartbeat or smell their heads, despite the burden of grief and heartache, I can say with confidence, I loved them well- and I don’t regret a single minute of it.
I don’t regret Asking God for a Miracle and Believing it would happen
This is a really raw one. They’re all real and raw, but this one is particularly tough. To thoroughly explain- I have to take you back to beta day. Beta day is the day you go to the lab, get a blood draw, and then anxiously sit by your phone waiting for the clinic to call you.
Are you pregnant, how are the numbers, are they progressing the way they should?
It was a Friday. Andrew and I were together when we got the call. We put it on speaker phone. The nurse told us she had bad news. Our numbers were very, very low and they were not progressing the way they should. Our highest beta was 5, which is the very minimum number they consider a “positive” pregnancy test. At this point after the transfer they would expect the numbers to be much higher. They asked me to stay on my medications and retest on Monday. The nurse said there was a “one in a billion” chance of this being a viable pregnancy, and to be prepared for more bad news on Monday.
It was an absolute punch in the gut. I can barely even explain it, but gosh, it was bad. We were in shock, feeling confused, feeling angry. Hot tears running down our cheeks.
I somehow managed to get out the words “ok God, you’re the God of the impossible, you’re the God of miracles, you need to fix this.”
But it didn’t feel like something that could be fixed. I called my parents in tears. I texted a few friends. I sat in the shock of it all. How could this happen again?
We were in San Diego when we got the call and had to drive back to Los Angeles that afternoon. I don’t remember much about the drive except for the sadness and the heavy weight of having to tell the people who loved and supported us that we didn’t have good news.
We stopped in Irvine to get something to eat and try to clear our heads. As we sat down for dinner, I started getting messages from people in my life- these messages were filled with a strange amount of hope for the amount of bad news I had just received. They were messages that said “I won’t stop believing for a miracle” or “I’m clinging to every low beta testimony I’ve ever heard.” Other messages encouraged me not to give up hope, that it was still early, that anything could happen. These messages that made me stop in my tracks- is there really a chance that this could be a viable pregnancy?
I messaged a nurse friend and fellow IVFer who I knew would be brutally honest with me and asked her if she thought there was any reasonable chance of these numbers coming up. She essentially (and very gently) said no. For some reason, that was exactly what I needed to hear.
I needed to know if I was hoping for a longshot or if I actually needed to believe for a real life, certifiable, water-into-wine, raise the dead, miracle. The answer was the later, I needed a miracle.
I had been listening to Chris McClarney’s God of Miracles song on repeat the day before, so it was stuck in my head, playing over and over again in my mind. As Andrew and I walked around Irvine Spectrum after dinner, I began to feel a very small seed of faith in my heart.
It reminded me of the scene from the movie Dumb and Dumber. Lloyd asks Mary, “so what are the chances of a guy like me and girl like you ending up together?”
Her response is “not good…more like one in a million.” Llyod lights up and declares “So you’re saying there’s a chance!?”
Only my story went a different way- I kept thinking of my nurse saying “your beta is not good- it’s five.” The story in my head changed from absolute devastation to defiant hope “So you’re saying I’m pregnant!?” And the “one in a billion” chance she had given us sounded more and more realistic as I began to meditate on the God of Miracles song. He’s the God of miracles, He’s the God of the impossible, He can do it.
The next few days were hard. I’m not going to candy coat it and pretend that they weren’t extremely difficult, but they also were filled with a very strange calm and peace. I kept up my positive declarations, I kept reading Isaiah 54, and I made a Miracles Playlist of songs that inspired faith in me that I played non-stop, on repeat, over and over and over again.
I asked God to do a creative miracle for my babies. I asked God to raise them from the dead, if that’s what was needed. I spoke life over them. We were joined by people of faith who believed right alongside us. We prayed and believed and truly expected record breaking high beta numbers on our repeat draw on Monday.
Monday came, along with the news that my beta had started it’s descent. There would be no viable pregnancy from this cycle. I don’t know why we didn’t get the outcome we prayed for- believe me, I wish I knew.
What I can say is this- that weekend could have brought me despair and torment- instead it brought me calm, brought me peace, and brought me faith that God is willing and able to do miracles. And I don’t regret it.
A Few Final Thoughts
As I look over these three choices I made during my FET- the choice to expect Life, the choice to bond with my babes, and the choice to believe for miracles- I feel a real sense of confidence in my decisions. I don’t know why we didn’t get the life and miracles we asked for. It’s frustrating and confusing and it’s something I’ve been asking God about every single day. What I do know is that I did everything I knew to do for these little ones. I have no regrets in how I approached this cycle. I fought hard for them and I would do it all over again exactly the same.
End note: Even though I have no regrets in my approach to this cycle, I still have LOTS of emotions I’m working through in processing and grieving this very significant loss.
I’m also wrestling with questions and confusion. It isn’t fun and hurts really badly.
What hurts me even more is knowing that so many of you reading this are going through the same thing.
This is a song that is on my Miracle Playlist. It’s one that I played over and over again in every stage of this cycle. I love the whole song, but my favorite part is probably when she sings “The Waves and Wind Still Know His Name.”
If you’re in the middle of a storm like I am, if you’re facing circumstances that feel like they could take you out,
remember that every single element of that storm pales in comparison to God’s power and His love for you.
I don’t know why you’re in this storm, but I know you’re not alone.
The waves and wind still know His name.