It took a few months for me to recover from my second brush with OHSS. Another year had passed by with no pregnancy, no baby. We headed towards Christmas with the now familiar sense of dread for that time of year. Everyone around us was excited about Christmas whilst I just wanted it to be over so that we could get on with our next cycle. I struggled through, pretending as best I could that I was ok and coping with what I had been through. That’s one thing infertility had done to me, it had made me able to survive, able to cope, just about. 2012 came and went, another year of heartache. At least we had 6 embryos in the freezer. We were ready to start our family and get on with the rest of our lives.
Early in 2013 I started the familiar routine of injections to down regulate my system. It had just become part of who I was, what I did. Injecting each evening became my new routine for a few weeks until I was ready to start the meds to build my system back up again ready for transfer. I was having acupuncture, this too had become my routine for our FET’s. It relaxed me, I felt less stressed and more hopeful after each session. That alone meant it was worth carrying on with the acupuncture. It was my time to try to get some perspective and calm in my life.
So, meds were added in and as in my other cycles the lining was good, so we were ready for transfer. I started to take the steroids in the hope that they would stop my body rejecting our precious embryos, if in fact that was the cause of our continued inability to conceive. I didn’t feel too many effects of the steroids other than being hungry and craving salt. I had noticed over the last cycle that my weight started to increase, and eating because of the steroids only added to my weight gain. I didn’t actually care. I had one focus and that was having a family. Everything and everyone else in my life was irrelevant, just as I felt that I was irrelevant in everyone else’s life as they got on with things and I struggled in a place where I felt stuck.
The day of transfer came, the phone call came…they had thawed 2 embryos and both had survived the thaw and were looking good. We travelled the 35 miles to the clinic, full of hope that this would be our time. Things were different, the extra treatment would make the difference this time. I don’t remember where I was on the list, I didn’t care. I just wanted our embryos back where they belonged. I was called into the sterile room and I started to go through the paperwork with the nurse. She asked if I was ok, yes was the reply. She looked through my notes and said:
“I don’t need to tell you what happens next, do I? You have done this a few times.”
What. The. Actual. Fuck. I just wanted to scream at her…yes I’m here again because your shit useless clinic can’t get this to work for us, that’s why I have to keep doing this bloody awful process. I was shaking with anger and hurt. I was hormonal, hopeful, nervous and most of all scared that this was never going to work for us. How dare she be so insensitive? I got onto the bed still shaking with anger. The embryos were brought into the room, the catheter inserted into me and we looked for the white flash. There it was, the fourth little flash of hope that we had seen in the last 3 years. How could this not work? How could we keep going through this? This had to work…
I walked out of the hospital, even though we still had 4 embryos frozen I told C that I could never step foot in the hospital again. It would be the last time that I ever went to St Mary’s in Manchester. I didn’t know what would happen to our embryo’s but I knew I couldn’t keep going to that hospital. I was done with them. We travelled home and hoped and prayed that this would be the time it worked.
This was the only two week wait where I worked all the way through. I knew it was a risk, I had a stressful job, a demanding boss, a big team to manage but I needed the distraction. It was March and we were due to test on Easter weekend so we would have some time to deal with the outcome if it was negative. I got through the first week, full of hope, a few wobbles with Dr Google but on the whole it was ok. I entered the second week and the doubt started to creep in. Maybe I just knew, I seem to always just know. A few days later and there is was…the bleeding started. On the same day it had on my previous cycles. It was over and I knew it was. I went into work and phoned my manager. I told her I had just found out that our latest cycle hadn’t worked, she told me to finish anything urgent and to go home until after the bank holiday so she gave me a couple of days off. I didn’t make it through the two week wait again. Another failure, another negative, another piece of my heart gone with our precious embryos. There was no build up to testing, I knew it was negative. I had no idea how I would even start to recover from this. What else did we need to do to get this to work for us? What had I done to deserve this? There was going to be no baby for us in 2013.
I contacted the Dr about coming off the steroids, she told me just to stop taking them because I hadn’t been taking them for long I wouldn’t need to taper them down. I stopped taking them that day. By the afternoon I felt utterly dreadful. I sat slumped in the lounge next to the radiator. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t focus. I felt numb, I felt nothing, I felt really unwell. I decided that it was the fact I hadn’t had any steroids so I took half a tablet. It seemed to help so I tapered off them over the next few days.
Easter weekend came. How was I supposed to take part in family life when we had just been through yet another failure. I was a failure. What was the point in any of it? I don’t remember what day it was but what happened next shook me to the core. Taking a shower and I just stood under the water, as hot as I could stand it. Tears rolled and I couldn’t stop them. I huge ball of rage welled up inside. I started to panic, my mind racing. How could I stop this whole thing? How could I stop going through this? Then in an instant it hit me, there was no point to me being on the planet, I needed it to be over and the thing that came to mind was that I shouldn’t be here any more. It was there, I needed to end it all. Holy shit, what just happened.
This thing called infertility had driven me to a place where I thought that I was of no value to anyone, I had no purpose. If I couldn’t be a mum then what else was there. If I kept failing then what was the point of me being here. I had no future. There was just nothing other than a black hole. I was angry at everyone around me, at the world but most of all at myself. I was full of sadness, for me, for C, for the family we did have that didn’t know how to talk to me or help me. I was utterly depressed and anxious. I had no clue what to do, where to turn. No-one to ask for help, there was no-one that could help me. C suggested counselling. Why did everyone keep suggesting counselling? How many times could I say that a counsellor wouldn’t make me get pregnant? A counsellor would not and could not help me. I would see a counsellor when this whole sorry mess was over after all the treatment was done and I had really failed, but not now. Just no.
I called the clinic to let them know it failed…AGAIN. Condolences, blah blah blah. No I didn’t want to speak to the flaming counsellor. I explained that I had been here before and that I would be fine, I always was. She said I could call back to request treatment when I was ready. I told her that I wouldn’t be having another cycle with them and that I was looking into moving our embryos to another clinic. That was it…that was the new plan.
I think that is how I got through, I lunged from failure to a new plan. If there was no plan, there was no hope. If there was no hope then I had nothing. I was worthless.
Everyone around us carried on with their lives, We tried our best to move through the grief and heartache. We booked a holiday to Sorrento, something to look forward to and something to try to help us rebuild ourselves. The year before we had been to Sri Lanka & Tenerife. Comments about the number of holidays we had really started to hurt. Yes we had nice holidays, but why couldn’t anyone see that it was how we escaped life around us and tried desperately to keep our relationship in tact. Why couldn’t people see that we were struggling and needed something, anything to look forward to. After all, it was becoming more and more unlikely that we would have a family. That dream was drifting further and further away with each passing year.
Within a few weeks, I had researched how to move embryos, I had done more research on immune issues causing implantation failure and I had found a new clinic. I wasn’t interested in anything else. Infertility had destroyed me, the essence of who I was. It consumed me, it controlled me. I had nothing if I didn’t have hope. I had to keep going. And that’s exactly what I did.
I will leave it there for now. It has been hard to write about yet another failure. Yet, here I sit with hope in my heart, thinking about doing it all again.