woman sitting on wooden planks

This one sucks. Be warned. It’s not a read for those looking for warmth or good vibes.

This holiday season I amped up my Christmas spirit behaviours, arranging Christmas hampers for moms in need, finding ways to connect and help those in my life and by taking on loads of lovely family shoots and holiday weddings. I had such high hopes for my mood, my resilience, which until now has fared pretty well, all things considered. 

None of it worked. 

I was pretty happy with our retrieval results in Late Nov/Early Dec. We celebrated our birthdays, made it out to holiday gatherings and then we got some absolutely shit news. News we never expected to receive. 

On Dec 22 I received a call from my doctor at 7:30am. I missed the call because I was sleeping. He didn’t leave a message. He called back again a half an hour later, and this time I picked up, knowing something had to be going on. It was the day before the clinic was closing for the holiday break for 11 days. I answered the phone. 

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Our egg retrieval cycle in November was impacted by a worldwide embryo culture media recall by Cooper Genomics due to faulty/toxic composition. My heart sunk.

Embryo culture media is the substance they use in the petri dishes they grow and fertilize the embryos in. It mimics the environment of the body so embryos get what they need to grow and thrive to blast stage in those early days (0-7). It’s crucial in the growth of blasts. 

At first I felt torn about it. He said it could explain some of the poor results we’ve had (hey, I thought we did okay considering our last cycle). He said we should have expected more embryos from our eggs and fertilization results. He said that he isn’t sure how our existing embryos are impacted (WHAT?!) and the rest of the ones that were growing likely died due to the recalled media. He still thought we should do a transfer in the new year, but wasn’t sure what the company issuing the recall would end up doing (covering a replacement cycle? Financial compensation?). The only relief I felt was that maybe we could have another shot at our own bio child if another cycle was covered. I hung up the phone. 

Over the last couple of days, time has slowed down. My mind has been flooded with more questions than answers, like what impact that toxic culture could have on our existing embryos and if they are even usable. If I’m running out of time waiting for a resolution from Cooper Genomics, which could take a year or more. If I even WANT to do another retrieval since I had come to terms with donor eggs if these embryos didn’t work for us. I started thinking about the emotional toll this could take. 

Without realizing it over the last few days I’ve been spiralling. My mood is not great. I feel hopeless, despite having embryos, I’m very nervous the recalled media could have totally messed them up somehow, which we have no way of knowing. The genetics might be okay in them, but what lasting effects could this have on a potential baby that results from using them? How much time and money has been spent on this past cycle to potentially have a failure, despite getting embryos? 

My heart feels like it has been ripped from my chest. 

So back to Christmas. This year despite all of my efforts to be resilient, this holiday season I am absolutely miserable. I’m keeping busy. I’m distracting myself but I keep coming back to a complete and utter inability to feel joy. To feel anything but doom and sadness. To feel like I have been cursed with the curse of all curses. Paying for the mistakes of all those who have come before me. Unlucky as shit. 

So for once I’m going to not find the silver lining – not today anyway. I’m going to tell you that sometimes life is just a huge asshole and nothing can help make things feel better or worthwhile. Those of us with persistent infertility keep putting one foot in front of the other. We struggle while all those around us move on, living their lives. Experiencing things, enjoying things, meanwhile we’re sitting in a puddle of our own sorrows, wondering if we will ever get the chance to feel those feelings our parent friends have experienced. To feel the joy our hearts can’t live without. I’m going to keep wading through the shit, but underneath the strong exterior is a person who is becoming more broken with every piece of bad news. Cracked in ways I’m not sure I can repair, whether we have success or not. This process has stolen something from me that I cannot describe. 

So here we forge into the darkness as we watch everyone around us share their joy and happiness. Plastered over social media. 80000 photos of children, babies, loving families gathering together while we sit alone. Today I got an ad for a lifelike baby doll online. That’s where I’m at. 

Infertility is a fucking thief. Of time, you of money, of joy and of hope. It has stolen every bit of it from me. I don’t know how much longer I can do this life this way. 

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