As part of National Infertility Awareness Week, I will be hosting a series of posts from various contributors. This is the first post in series by Mrs ICSI. Sign up for the email above for daily NIAW updates.
What is it like to do a post-IVF Pregnancy Test?
Three minutes and our lives could change forever…and it feels like the LONGEST 180 seconds of our lives. I set down the test on the bathroom sink and nervously return to the bedroom, perched on my side of the bed, phone in hand with a timer counting down. My husband is suddenly very busy opening the blinds and pretending that this isn’t one of the tensest mornings ever.
My phone buzzes a number of times, friends know that today is the day and wait eagerly for my elated response. I notice my hands are shaking as I consider typing my replies to the good luck messages.
My mind starts to race with countless thoughts. “Do I call the clinic and tell them this morning? Or, do I wait for two more days, until the official test date? Oh god, we will know soon. The result will be there in black and white (ok, pink), waiting to give us the news that we are going to be parents! How mad is that?! Something you pee on tells you your future, like a urine sample fortune teller”.
The alarm goes off – FUCK, its time!!
We both run to the bathroom and grab the test. I hold my breath, my husband holds me. We look down at the First Response together. All I could say was a defeated “Oh”.
There was only one line. It was over, this IVF attempt was a bust, the embryo transfer didn’t work. Big Fat Negative, failed cycle, unsuccessful, they all mean one thing. You. Are. Not Pregnant.
After those three minutes had passed I started to realise that it was all for nothing. The weeks of injections, swollen ovaries, bloating, mood swings, invasive scans, egg collection, fertilisation updates and for us, even genetic testing. It all felt pointless and endless.
We were lucky enough to have 4 beautiful frozen embryos from the initial part of our IVF treatment, which were unaffected by the genetic condition we carry (Cystic Fibrosis). When the time was right we transferred one of them back to me, but now it had gone. A piece of me and a piece of him, which should have been a baby. It was gone. I didn’t matter that it had taken years to get to this point, or that we had such belief in that little embryo. It was gone and would never come back.
After that negative test result, I did as any self-respecting woman going through IVF would. I went back to bed and cried. I laid there for a few hours after my husband has gone to work and bawled like a tragic character in a rom-com, screaming “Whyyyyy?” at least 25 times. I felt angry, raw and so miserable. I also had the overwhelming urge to punch something.
After some time I was numb and found myself nonchalantly watching Modern Family, whilst building an IKEA shelving unit. It was grief in its truest form. Changing and adapting – tears and anger, followed by feeling nothing.
Then the worst thought of all hit me. We were going to have to go through this all again!? More needles, more appointments, more nurses having a peak at my lady-parts…though by this point I am pretty sure most of the NHS have seen what I have to offer already!
Most people know what happens in IVF; from a medical perspective, they know the basics of what it involves, that it’s a tough process, with the end goal of having a baby.
What people don’t always fully understand (hell, I didn’t until it happened to me!) is the grief of a failed IVF cycle. For those with infertility, you can’t simply try again next month the good old fashioned way. Instead, you have to again muster the optimism (and, in many cases huge amounts of money) to do the same thing over and over again, with the vain hope that the result will eventually be different….I am pretty sure that is the definition of madness, right? You start to believe that you will never carry a child, or see two lines on a pregnancy test. You become hard and cynical.
It is shit. Such complete shit. BUT….you carry on, because giving up just isn’t an option.
Eventually, you start to feel stronger and whilst still guarded, you realise you can do it again. Frankly, there is no other way to cope than to just power through and take things a step at a time. You have come this far and don’t want to turn back now because the fire to become a parent burns so strong. Your injection bruises heal and so do the emotional scars, so you start again and give it another go. Attempt number two, or three, or ten. Whatever it takes.
And that’s where we are. Whatever it takes! After all, what would our three frozen embryos do if we left them behind and quit now? One, or all of them could be our future babies and, in the end, that thought is the only one that matters.
About Mrs ICSI
Writer & blogger