I woke up this morning to a tiny streak of red on the toilet paper and immediately felt an impending sense of doom that I couldn't shake. I rolled over for the PIO shot thinking this could be the last one for awhile. But that one streak was it, the rest of the morning was uneventful 'down there' so of course a little hope remained. We got to the clinic around 8:30, got blood drawn pretty quickly and then sat down with one of the nurses. I showed her the results of the patches where they were removed from my lower back yesterday: angry, puffy, splotchy, red skin under where each patch had been. She agreed that was not normal and suggested rubbing My.lanta or something similar on my skin prior to applying the next patches (tomorrow).
We left the clinic to grab some breakfast at a cafe and the nurse called me to let me know she had spoken with the doc on call about the patches. If I was pregnant today, they would switch me to another brand to see if it would help. We then wandered around a local furniture store to kill some time while waiting for the mall to open. And so ends the better half of my day.
We got the call earlier than expected and happened to be walking out of the mall. I've never been punched in the gut, but I imagine this is what it feels like. A mall parking lot is not the best place to get this kind of bad news-lots of people with kids, strollers, babies walking in and out of the mall. Salt in the wound.
I feel so fragile right now, like I could at any moment break into a thousand tiny pieces.
The only other time I can remember feeling this way is when my first dog, Pippen passed away. She the first pet that was all my own, she was my best friend, there through the good and the bad, through different boyfriends and apartments, always there wanting nothing but to curl up next to me on the couch. She had pancreatic cancer and the vet came to our house to put her down. I held her in my arms while the vet injected the lethal dose of poison. I felt her go limp, I felt her heart stop beating, and I sat there quietly with tears streaming down my face. The vet was crying, B was crying. The minute the vet left with her body, B and I held each other and sobbed together. And the house felt empty.
But there are differences between this grief and what I felt when Pippen died. At least I could take comfort in the fact that she was no longer suffering. I pictured her in a doggy heaven of uber-green grass chasing after squirrels. Lying in the sunshine for hours on end. There was no rain or snow, no cold weather in this doggy heaven. I knew she was happier and we had done the right thing. My embryos didn't have a chance to grow into anything that could even be seen by the naked eye. Where did they go? Did they just disintegrate into my body and absorb into the tissue, or leak out with the goop of the suppositories? Regardless of how small and insignificant those embryos may have been, the pain and grief is just as real. Just as deep and raw.
The other difference this time is that this feels like my loss-not our loss. Instead of holding each other and sobbing, B was the one holding me while I sobbed. No tears on his end, just trying to pick up the pieces. I think it's difficult for a guy to get attached to embryos like us women do. We try to nurture our bodies and are constantly aware that they are inside of us and hopefully latching on and growing. We endure all of the poking and prodding, the endless violations of privacy, the ugliness of the side effects, the constant reminders of what we don't have and are working so hard to achieve. Every bit of our mind, body and soul is invested in this process. And that is part of what makes this so hard. I know B feels bad, but I can't help but feel like I'm going through this alone. This is my problem, my defective body, my guilt, and my broken heart.
None of this makes sense. The fact that we can't get pregnant on our own. The fact that the IUI's didn't work. The OHSS, the crappy lining for FET #1, and now this. I wonder if maybe we don't have enough faith in G-d. Maybe this is payback for the crap I did as a teenager, the crap I did in college and my early twenties. For not being nice enough to other people. For not volunteering and contributing to a cause. Maybe I'm not fit to be a mother. Maybe I should have forced B to start trying earlier even though he wasn't ready to be a dad. Maybe those embryos never stood a shot with my anorexic lining and I should have let the doctor postpone the transfer. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
I know in my head that none of this is true. This isn't my fault. I did everything I could. It's just the shit luck of the draw. My heart feels differently. I know I will eventually pick myself up and start all over. And the shit part of this process is that no matter what we've been through up to this point, we are starting over, from square one. There's not really such a thing as a lesson learned with IVF. Your body can react differently to the drugs every time you take them. There's no way to go back and pinpoint what we could have done better, what would have made the difference. And to top things off, there's no such thing as a second opinion when you're supposedly already seeing the best.
When we got home I removed the 4 patches from my belly one by one. I thought how appropriate the number 4 was. As I removed the patches one at a time, I thought of each of our lost embryos. The one that didn't survive the thaw, the one that didn't survive back to freeze, and the two that didn't survive my body. My fucked up, traitor of a body.
I will survive this. I just don't know how I'm supposed to go to work tomorrow and pretend everything is fine. That nothing happened. That my world hasn't just been shattered to pieces.