National Infertility Awareness Week hit differently this year. It came in quietly and then started to sting like a thousands wasps hitting my skin. TikTok was full of stories of hope and happy endings. No matter how fast I scrolled the next video would be a “I beat infertility story.” A story that I would normally cling to as evidence that my turn was coming. As evidence that God grants miracles to the weary. I’d hold their testimony like a blazing torch against the darkness. Except the darkness never broke and my miracle was not granted. God provided a way, yet he held back on the miracle.
On April 17th we were filled with so much hope and in my gut I knew our transfer took. We woke up early and drove to Mayo for our blood test. On the way home I ignored my phone. I wanted to stay in this blissful state of hope. I wanted to continue living in the land of my gut was right. One notification from the Mayo Clinic app ripped us from that land, our beta was less than 0.05, we were not pregnant. Our forth and final transfer had failed. We are the other side of infertility, the side that doesn’t get the miracle that they so desperately prayed for.
This side doesn’t get much attention as broken hearts do not create hope. If you are out of embryos and funds, you are cleared to the side to make way for the deep pockets of the hopeful. IVF is an industry just like any other, selling hope one cycle at a time. It’s a billion dollar business with little to no price regulations. Success stories sell hope and hope + success = profit. To anyone in the outside looking in I am just a mark in the failure column. Yet I am more than a mark in the failure column, I am the story of persistence, strength, and unwavering faith.
We focus so much on the positive outcomes that we forget about the grieving couples. We forgot about the couples stuck in the land of what ifs. We don’t want to discuss the couples who received subpar care or those that didn’t even get to the starting line due to BMI. IVF is not widely regulated and clinics can set their standard, because success is everything to them. Some clinics only take easy cases and turn away the complicated messes like myself. On paper I am a mess. I have complicated anatomy, endometriosis, adenomyosis, with a side of diminished ovarian reserve. I require more care than most clinics want to provide. If you don’t fit the clinics mold of quick and easy cycles you are pushed to the side to find a different clinic.
Mayo was my holy grail. A clinic that was willing to take the extra steps and loaded the deck so I’d have a better chance at success. Mayo was my 4th fertility clinic and the 1st to order an MRI. That MRI is what lead to the diagnosis of endo and adenomyosis. I had excision surgery in October to remove stage IV endo from my body and started a Lupron Depot protocol to prepare for a frozen embryo transfer. Transfer day came in February and we quickly learned that the lab somehow thawed the lower grade embryo instead of our higher grade embryo. I didn’t make a stink, I went with the flow and ok’d the transfer of the wrong embryo. I didn’t want to mess with fate and I felt that fate was a foot that day. We found out on March 4th the transfer failed and we were set for a WTF meeting on the 9th.
I met with a different doctor that day. One I hadn’t seen before. Mayo has a team approach and they supposedly discuss each case at length during lunch so everyone is familiar with all patients. This doctor wasn’t familiar with my case. I had asked for Lupron Depot, he told me it wasn’t necessary. He actually laughed at some of my questions and concerns. When I mentioned vaginal progesterone, he went on to tell me it wasn’t necessary and research doesn’t support it. When I mentioned the other doctor ok’d it he said “oh oh ok, I will write the order then.” I moved forward with the protocol because I assumed he had spoken to the other doctors that were handling my case.
On April 8th we transferred our last remaining embryo and on April 17th we found out it failed. I got a little tipsy that night and fired of an email with a list of concerns as I cried in my bathtub. I’m not proud of it, but it happens. Dr. K responded to my email that Monday and I ignored the response. I had a WTF appointment set for Tuesday and I was still debating whether or not I was going to log on to it. Early Tuesday morning I got an email from billing and that email lead me to open Dr. K’s response. Anger started to boil within me as I read the fist two paragraphs. Fuckery was a foot and I wasn’t having it, not today, not now, not ever.
The doctor I spoke to back in March told Jay and I Lupron Depot was not necessary, Dr. K said it absolutely was and recommended it for future transfers. The reason it wasn’t used this time around was because the doctor told his team that I refused the medication as I wanted to move quickly. Now I’m not an expert but “refused” and “not necessary” are two very different things. I didn’t refuse the medication, I asked about it and I asked for it. He said it wasn’t necessary so I assume he spoke to Dr. K, so I didn’t question it. I went forward on his word. All I know is if my WTF appointment had been handled by Dr. K we’d be on a different path right now. It just sucks that one doctor took it upon himself to make a decision that affected my care and compromised the outcome of my transfer.
It’s taking everything in me to get out of the land of what if’s. To get out of the land of should have, would have, and could have. I cannot go back to March 9, 2021 to advocate for myself and ask questions. As much as I want to I can’t. All I can do is move forward one very slow step at a time. I have to reimagine what this life will look like. One thing I do know is, I cannot imagine this life without children. I have so much love and patience to give to a child. My heart was made to mother. Somehow someway we will complete our family and that child will be so very loved. What’s getting me through the darkness is planning for the child I never imagined. Adventure is still out there and I know in my heart that one day we will have a pint sized sidekick by our side.
Right now I have to believe that God does not turn his back on the weary and that he heard my prayers. He heard every word, yet there was a miscommunication and my miracle got stuck somewhere in the space time continuum. Or just maybe my miracle went to someone who needed it more than I did.