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Despite the failure of our first egg retrieval cycle, with 7 embryos and 3 transfers (2 failed implantation + one 7w miscarriage), I went into this cycle with so much hope. I surprised myself sometimes with how I was able to let the past go and really be positive about the future and our outcome. In cycle 1 I was sure it would work for us. We had beat the attrition odds, we had 2 normal embryos (they say by transfer 3, 95% of couples have a live birth). I didn’t let being in that 5% get me down. Upward and onward.

I went into stims with enthusiasm and I brought that same vibe to my second egg retrieval. I basically hopped and skipped into that procedure, knowing what to expect now. I had the same number of follicles as last time, similar sizes and I was on a so-called miracle drug called saizen/omnitrope which I was sure would bode well for us given our previous outcome). We just needed a bit better quality and we’d be golden.

As before, my husband dropped me off, waiting with me until it was my turn to go into the procedure area. He stuck around for his part, did the job and left. I took my ativan since I’d be having another IV placed. I was in a nice daze as I awaited the okay to head into the operating room. Things were light and easy this time. My nerves were low, and we chatted about the hoopla of the Taylor Swift Eras tour, even getting the doctor in on the chatter. It was another doctor I hadn’t met before. But all was well. I was ready to do the damn thing.

I faded out a bit – didn’t quite fall asleep, but remember time warping slightly and we were done (thanks meds!). They walked me out and the embryologist came shortly after to give me my news.

We had 13 eggs retrieved (same as last time!), 12 were mature and would be fertilized using ICSI. I was over the moon.

I received a call the next day at 8am sharp. Out of the 12 mature eggs, 10 fertilized normally.

Looking back, I felt a little sad about this. Our first cycle just 9 months earlier was:

13 retrieved, 13 mature, 13 fertilized, 7 made it to blast on day 5/6. I was still super hopeful. Quality over quantity I kept saying! Our first cycle yielded just the two normal embryos after testing, so I wanted this cycle to be better quality even if it meant fewer embryos.

The wait until day 4 after transfer was painful, but we had friends visiting and I took every opportunity to enjoy myself. We went to a music festival two days after my retrieval. We celebrated my best friends birthday. We came home and I caught up on work. Doing a retrieval mid wedding season is no joke!

Day 4 I got a call. We had embryos!!! I’d be heading back for a fresh transfer that next day. I booked the ferry, we left at 6am and we’re ready to meet our embryos! This time we had planned to transfer two, in lieu of testing. Due to the added cost, we didn’t want to bother and discard anything. We decided each untested transfer would be a double transfer.

I arrived at the clinic with so much excitement. I was so damn ready. So damn positive. My husband donned his hazmat suit and I changed into my hospital attire. We were sent to the little waiting room we’d been in countless times before and we sat for a bit and waited for the embryologist to come give us a report before we did the transfer.

After about ten minutes she entered. She was so hard to understand, with a very thick Eastern European accent. I had to clarify a few things because it was hard to hear every word. She told us we were ready to go, and we’d be transferring 2 embryos – a 3BA and a 2AB….

Say what? I was confused. Last time we had a myriad of 4-5s (further along basically I’m growth with more cells), and some AAs. These were the two they wanted to transfer? She said yes, and proceeded to tell us how the others were doing. I barely understood her, but from what I gathered, a few were growing normally, just behind, and the others were trying to catch up.

Okay… so we had two, and that’s all we knew so far. Last time we had 6 full on blastocysts by this stage on day 5. I was worried.

While my legs were splayed and my drapery open, I asked the doctor if we should transfer two after all given this news. What if they were our only shot? She assured me that embryos do much better in our bodies than in the lab, so yes we should! (I found out later that the 2BA was something they wouldn’t even normally freeze, so this is likely why she urged us to transfer).

We went ahead with the transfer but the mood had changed. I was scared. Another 20 thousand dollars was on the line. I was told to stay hopeful, to keep positive. We had two embryos on board and that’s all that mattered. We travelled home immediately after the transfer – went to the ferry early and waited. I had a slice of pizza and an egg salad sandwich for dinner.

The next morning at around 9am I got the final call. Day 6 report. None of our embryos had made it. None. Not one. It was the same embryologist who delivered the news the day before. Her bedside manner was lacking, the way the news that we lost everything except the two embryos in me came across was appalling to be honest. She said “they are all discarded, ok? Anything else?” when I asked for clarification. I held back tears.

I hung up the phone and texted my husband from bed. I couldn’t handle speaking the words out loud. He came rushing into the bedroom and found me sobbing in a puddle of tears. I was hysterical. I couldn’t stop crying. My world stopped in that moment. Hearing every single embryo had either arrested or was such poor quality that they couldn’t be frozen was one of the most upsetting moments in my life to date. This moment was harder than the miscarriage news. It was almost as hard as hearing my little sister died in a car crash, over the phone nearly ten years prior (that one takes the cake). It broke me in some deep way. All the hope. All the positivity. All the parts of my that had convinced myself that I deserved a family of my own were fractured into a million shards. I began to spiral, and I wondered why me. Why the hell couldn’t I just have anything without fighting so damn hard for it and suffering so much over it.

I’d love to say this had some silver lining, but for once it just didn’t. Maybe that’s why it hurt so unimaginably.

People kept saying “but you still have two!”, “be positive for those embryos inside you!”. I couldn’t. I was convinced it was over.

We waited 8 more days until our beta test. To be honest though, I tested every damn day from my transfer onward. I did a HCG trigger again, like the first retrieval. So my tests were positive for many days. I wanted to test that trigger out. The tests got lighter almost every day, until they didn’t. They kind of went stagnant, with a faint little pink line for about 4 days straight. It was beta time and I actually thought, despite my pessimism that I might be pregnant. That they were slow to grow and probably slow to implant. I went for my beta and I got my results.

<1. I was not pregnant.

20k. 8 weeks of my life. Pain. Bloating. Excruciating waiting. For nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It was September 2. We had been trying for 1 year and 9 months with nothing but heartache and loss.

I called my clinic to make a follow up appointment with my doctor to find out how, why… they couldn’t get me in for a phone call for 6 weeks. 6 WEEKS. 6 weeks to ponder my failure, 6 weeks in the dark. 6 weeks of doing nothing to move forward. They didn’t seem to see the problem with this. They had made their money and that’s all that mattered to them.

I made a very crucial decision that day. I decided to leave my clinic. The clinic where I only ever spoke to my doctor 4 times in over a year. The clinic that screwed up and gave me someone else’s PGTA results and all their personal information. The clinic who I had to babysit at every damn turn. We only have two clinics regionally where we live, and I decided I was burning the bridge and jumping ship. Nothing can change if you do the same old things over and over. I wasn’t about to risk more money down the drain, it was mother effing go time. I wasn’t getting any younger.

Exactly 3 months before my 39th birthday I got my period and I got myself a new doctor.

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