Today I was at work. As I was about to leave, a nurse tells me that a patient's daughter wants to speak to me. As I go to leave the office, my phone rings. It's the IVF doctor, with my PGS results. She recaps my figures. 12 eggs collected, 6 fertilised, 3 blastocyts. Of these 3, one is good for transfer, the other two are aneuploid. I discuss the timing of transfer, thank her and ring off. I take a breath and square my shoulders. I go directly to see the patient and his daughter. I assess the patient, come up with a diagnosis, reassure the patient and his daughter, ask them if they have any further questions. I wash my hands, leave the building and go down to my car. I was on autopilot but felt a strange sense of unease as I drove away. I had a think. Oh yes. That.
I had a big old cry in my car going down the road. I wiped my tears and snot on my sleeve.
After all of the extra hormones and their side effects, the pain, the fatigue, one little embryo.
I have some papers to write, and had been planning on going and doing that, but that would involve going to see and be around people. Instead I went home. I had jam and butter on white bread toast for lunch, it seemed appropriate and comforting. I have learned to cut myself some slack when I need to and when it's possible.
I have spent the afternoon in my tracky daks and furry slippers, variably on my bed and the couch, alternately reading, researching fake tans, looking at clothes and surfing the socials. And thinking. Lots of thinking. I am nothing if not a thinker.
I never thought I would be a person who would consider surrogacy or egg donation. I am still not, but I am now beginning to understand where that drive comes from.
I think I am adult enough to appreciate that, for few people, life turns out the way they pictured it. Nevertheless, there are things I always saw myself doing. Having a baby, but all the other things that go with it. Taking maternity leave. Picking a school. Choosing my tribe of school mums. Dealing with midnight fevers and nightmares.
I am getting my head around the distinct possibility that motherhood may not happen for me. People may shout "oh no, don't worry, it will happen", but I am a realist (and also a medic). My very experienced initial fertility specialist said that 90% of my eggs are aneuploid. He is about bang on the money, so far. Another FS has told me that each cycle is a statistically independent event (ie that a failed cycle does not make it more likely to have a successful cycle the next time) and that euploidy (ie a set of 46 chromosomes in an embryo) is necessary but not sufficient to create a live birth.
Intellectually, I always understood these concepts, and set limits around the time and number of cycles of IVF I would do.
Emotionally, it's about the potential loss of what you thought your future might resemble. The maternity leave and the breastfeeding and the picking of the school. The normal things.
There is not a single point at which you have all the hope in the world and put the energy into IVF and have the good thoughts and good vibes, and then suddenly draw a line under it when you decide to discontinue IVF.
It's a parallel process of maintaining some hope, but also grieving and letting go. A process of getting knocked down but getting up and moving forward as best I can. This is emotionally tumultuous, even without the large doses of mind-addling hormones. It's strange and it's tiring.
Still, there are things to do and things to look forward to. I have been productive with my writing this last week. I wrote and presented three talks last week. I have crossfit WODs to smash. I have just started Yin Yoga; a great combination of mindfulness and stretching, my sole concession to anything "alternative". I have made appointments for waxing and fake tan ahead of my trip to Bali (if you can't reduce the chub, paint it brown, amirite?). The wild hormonal and emotional eating (I can't even tell you) has been reined in. I have been seeing my friends and (gasp) family.
As much as I hate the cliches, it's one step at a time, tomorrow is a new day, one foot in front of the other, fall down seven times and get up eight times. I could really do with less of the falling down at the moment, but that is par for this course, I've accepted that.