I went to the clinic today, and had my mock transfer, which went very well. I also acquired a whole suitcase of medications, including injections for the frozen cycle, which is a new thing for me. We normally used a nasal spray to put me into fake menopause prior to giving me the estrogen to prime the uterine lining, but this time there is a worldwide shortage of the spray, so I will have to jab a daily needle into my uncooked side for 24 days in a row. My doctor, the perpetual optimist, gave me a 63% chance of success, and a 25% of twins, but then again who believes him, after so many other failed cycles with similar preceding hopeful statistics.
Which takes me to today's post, on the pain of a failed IVF. I am writing this not only for myself, but for all women out there undergoing IVF who have had unsuccessful cycles at some point in their lives. I felt the need to share with the world this important piece of information: FAILED IVF CYCLES HURT. A LOT. There are events in life such as miscarriage or stillbirth, which are universally perceived as painful events, and that generate societal support and empathy. Unfortunately, a failed IVF is not seen as the tragic event that it is by anybody other than the couple to which it has happened. Sometimes even other women who went through IVF but had the luck of getting pregnant at some point cannot understand the desperation of facing repeated failed in vitro cycles.
Most couples going through IVF have no chance in hell of getting pregnant without assisted reproduction. Since IVF has an air of finality to it (as in, beyond that, there is nothing standing between you and the abyss), one does not come easily to the decision to start this kind of treatment. It is expensive (our last cycle cost 13000 canadian dollars, plus the unpaid time off work for both of us) and it is hard on the body (did I mention the weight gain which I am still struggling to take off with repeated juice fasts and dieting?) and on the mind (we won't even go there). The cycles only happen about two to four times a year at best, if one goes through the drug cocktails easily and if one is financially solid enough to afford it.
Given the investment and the hope that accompanies each cycle, a failed IVF is a massive letdown. It is not like a normal month in which a woman tries to conceive and gets a period. That is painful too, I know, I have been there. But at least once the disappointment is past, one can move on to the next month's hope right away. With IVF, a woman has to wait before trying again. There is also a limit to how many times she can try, depending on finances and emotional strength, and of course on medical factors. Each failed IVF takes one closer to that limit, and closer to the above-mentioned abyss.
Which is why I would like to extend a big hug to all of you out there with failed IVF cycles. Do not give up if it is not time to give up yet. Don't worry if you think that nobody gets your saddness. You are not crazy, you should be very sad, very distressed, and a little desperate. These are appropriate feelings. And if you feel like nobody out there understands why you won't get out from underneath the covers for one whole week, please read this post again. I get it. I have been there. Eventually I got out of bed and went on living, and guess what, I am going back for more! You might too. Or you might decide to do something else instead. Regardless, realize that living through a failed IVF is a sad, sad thing, and that it is ok to grieve, even if your mom, sister, friend, dog or even husband does not get it.