Attrition

We lay in bed side-by-side this morning, H and I, with my phone next to us, waiting for the call from the Riverside embryologists. At 8am on the dot, I handed the phone to H, because in a sad panic last night, I’d begged him to do the talking when they called.

‘Sure,’ he said. But why? We did flowcharts. We already know what we’ve decided to do in each eventuality.’

‘Because I feel I will panic and make the wrong decision. Because I am not being rational about these embryos. I sort-of want to run back to Riverside and stuff them all back inside me right now.’

‘I’m happy to do the talking. And there’s no wrong decision, darling.’

Oh but there is, there is. Stuffing the lot back in now is a wrong decision, for a start. The whole point of doing IVF was to test the poor little sods and make sure we weren’t offering womb-room to hopeless cases. And to find out if they were all hopeless cases, and whether that was the Grand Unified Theory of May’s Recurrent Miscarriages. Therefore, we were only going to do a Day 3 transfer (today is Day 3 in the Life of the Nuts In May embryos) if there were only one or two left. In that case, let’s not risk poking them about and just go for it.

The other thing is, Riverside charge one price for testing up to 8 embryos, and a much larger price for more than 8. Also, having quite a few embryos means the testing takes longer, leading to an increased risk of missing the Day 6 transfer window and having to freeze the lot for later (which may be a good thing uterine lining wise, but a not-so-good thing for hearts, minds and wallets). So, as I said to H, ‘We really want to lose a few more by Monday morning, but not so many as to break our hearts.’ And then my eyes filled with tears, because doesn’t it suck utter pig cock that we have to consider finances at every fucking step?

So when the phone went, quite shortly after 8am, H answered, and had what seemed to me a weeks’ long conversation consisting of him going ‘yes, I see. OK. Yes, that makes sense. Oh. Mm-hmm. OK. OK. I understand,’ in a calm stern sort of voice while I lay beside him and chewed my knuckle. Then he said: ‘Just to recap, there are six embryos worth doing assisted hatching on and keeping going until Day 5, three good quality and three average?’

And that’s where we are. From nine down to six, which fits our plans perfectly, and leaves us with a reasonable chance of one to transfer on Day 6. If at least one is genetically unbollixed.

We have a transfer provisionally booked for Wednesday in case there are only one or two left by then. If there are more, we test. And hope. And hope so hard.

I feel awful. Why do I feel awful? It’s going to plan so far. I have no business feeling awful. Six whole embryos still chuntering on like good little embryos, dividing and increasing. In IVF, this is good going, and so far, I am blessed (and my first two Clexane jabs didn’t bruise, so I am winning something).

I think, on sitting down and forcing myself to actually think about it, that this is PTSD. My natural, heartfelt, inbuilt reaction to embryos dying off is horror and grief, because for the past five years they have died off inside me, and broken my heart over and over again. In my Mr Spock blue jumper, IVF and CGH screening are exactly the right things to do, and our damnedest effort to stop the Horrible Thing from ever happening again. Also, Science! Knowledge! Information! Yay! In my Captain Kirk yellow and/or Bones version of blue, I’m all *flail flail emote flail* PRECIOUS LIVES *flail flail flail*. And the red jumper with the target on it waits to get shot in the back again.

My poor mindless, brainless, heartless, nerveless, gutless little embryos, mere less-than-a-dozen cells of nothing but potential. You’re doing just fine. You really are. I’m lucky to have you. Your Ma is just being amazingly fucking neurotic again. With any luck, at least one of you will just have to get used to that.

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24 responses to “Attrition

  • Valery Valentina

    Crying with you, holding your hand.
    Who wouldn’t be terrified when after Nine miscarriages there are Nine embryos? And then Six? And then, who knows, Two good enough to put back? and a Twin vanishing? Even for me, with the one unvanished twin remaining, it is still scary. Hope Like Hell.
    and hugs.
    (and belatedly: I Love Pizza)

  • Illanare

    Sending hugs and warm good wishes

  • Amy

    Hoping, hoping, hoping along with you. PTSD makes perfect sense to me, in your explanation. I hope it is only eased by everything you learn from here on.

  • starrhillgirl

    Hang tight, my friend. Just hang tight. ❤

  • Jo

    Six! Very impressive, my friend. Keeping everything possible crossed for you.

  • Betty M

    I hate that money even has to be any part of it at all. Ever. Crossing fingers that all goes well for Day 6. X

  • Amy P

    *holds May and H*

  • minichessemouse

    Six is good, now hang in there little embryos and grow grow grow.

  • Mina

    This post hurts so much. To read it, to feel that feelings behind it, to write it, I am sure… I wish I could hold you and tell you that everything will be alright, but I can’t lie to you. I do not know the future. And so I hope, and hope, and hope harder with you.

  • Sheila

    One day at a time – anything else is too much of a head flock. Deep breaths – you will get through this and you will have a baby….. You are doing amazingly well to get this far – keep going, you can do this.

  • Betttina

    Six is great! I am so excited for your successful transfer on Wednesday. So glad your shots aren’t hurting terribly. It’s great that you have time off this week to rest.

    I totally cried all over the embryologist when he told me that not all of my eggs made it to embryos. It’s so hard and unless you are doing/ have done IVF, it is impossible to understand.

    Six is great. Six!

  • chon

    Six is super amazingly impressive and the PTSD is totally expected.

  • twangy

    I think (fwiw) you’re a very brave and intelligent person doing a brave and intelligent thing. Fear has never stopped you: you’re amazing.

    Yes, PTSD, cursed thing. Fecking Nora. How I hate that dread. So sorry you are being visited by it, though as you say, it is entirely natural. Hugs, May. Good rest.

  • Blanche

    As always you are able to capture the whole fuckery of this process and the emotions surrounding it. Hugs to you and H. Sending my best hopes that you end with six cooperative beauties from which to choose.

  • QoB

    The trick, I have heard, is to keep breathing. You’re doing it. Fingers crossed for good news at the next stage.

  • a

    6 is excellent.

    H – so silly to believe that flowcharts would have any influence on the telephone conversation where you would have to put those thoughts into action. I’m glad he was there to do the talking.

    I’m not much for hugging, but it seems like you could use many, so I’m sending one right over…

  • Emily Erin

    Just being with you, chewing fingernails to the quick as you wait to hear about the 6 embryos who could… My heart is with you, and you are well within your rights to say nothing of this to your mother– it’s so hard to explain ART and somehow folks who aren’t IN IT have a very hard time grasping all of the ins and outs (heck, I do to sometimes!)

  • MFA Mama

    Grow, embryos, grow! Hang in there, my friend.

  • kylie

    fingers crossed. Six is very good. Very good.

    It is going through the process that made me realise what a complete miracle in terms of survival against the odds most pregnancies are.

    And totally understand on the PTSD. The oh so useful therapist that was included in the ivf process pointed out that this is one of the hardest, cruellest things we do to ourselves. worse than going through a cancer treatment (though i haven’t done that so don’t know.)

  • Chickenpig

    Six being left is amazingly good news. Not just because you have YEAH 6 embryos!!! But because the low attrition rate (yes, your rate is low) usually means that the embryos health overall is pretty good. The first time I did IVF I had 21 mature eggs, only 11 fertilized, out of those 11 I transferred 2 and only 4 made it to freeze. That is the kind of attrition rate that bad sperm wonky genes give you. 🙂

  • bionicbrooklynite

    Why wouldn’t you feel upset to find that some of them didn’t make it? I mean, sure, that is logically useful, but that doesn’t mean it automatically feels like good news. They were your embryos, after all. Hugs.

    I am so glad there are so many still growing. Xo

  • Melissa

    AWWWWW sweetie! Hang in there!

  • Anonymous

    Oh May, your last paragraph. I welled up.

    Not to worry, it did me good.

    Bestest wishes!

    K x

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