Conceptually, Saturday morning felt like the due-date of my unborn children. It was a day that I had worked for, poked myself for and was broadly enthusiastic for. This was going to be the day that the IVF paid off and Steve and I would be able to secure our future family before chemotherapy began.
On our way to the Doctor’s office, I couldn’t help but feel a similar excitement to what it must feel like to drive to the hospital when a woman is going into labor. Clearly, I recognize that there is a huge difference, but this was an appreciation of birthing our future babies. The clouds were bulbous and the sky was grey, there was a sort of peacefulness to the day; almost as if it were the calm before the storm. The retrieval procedure would be the finishing task in the IVF process, and then the port and chemotherapy would begin shortly after and from there I’d be on my way to mending.
Unlike the port and the chemotherapy, we were thrilled about the retrieval and surely interested in the piece of mind that it would reserve for us and the prospective family we would share together. After all, developing a fertility plan was equally important to Steve and I, as the start of my chemotherapy treatments. It was an essential enterprise to the point where we placed my health and healing on hold in order to go through the process of IVF.
As I was wheeled to the OR, I recalled feeling differently than I did when I was taken for my surgery on July 1st, where I later received my cancer diagnosis. This time around I wasn’t nervous, I knew that the outcome would be the product of Steve and I and a creation of something I could fight for.
In what seemed to be minutes, I awoke from my twilight and was advised by the Doctor that everything looked fanciful and a total of five “beautiful” eggs were retrieved. It felt as though I was being told that my baby had all ten fingers and ten toes. With the confident news, Steve and I were able to go home and enjoy the rest of our Saturday, even celebrating Steve’s Birthday at our local watering hole later that night, with the company of friends.
When Monday rolled around, my high hopes started to feel a little defeated. We were expecting a phone call, per the Doctor’s word, to confirm how many eggs fertilized with Steve’s sperm, thus how many that they would be freezing. Needless to say, when Monday night settled into Tuesday morning and we still hadn’t heard from the Doctor, my optimistic tendencies took a turn for the worst. Awaiting the official count of our embryos became a nail bitter as the day proceeded and the phone still hadn’t rang.
Ah ha! Finally as the sun was setting, we had received the anticipated phone call from the Doctor’s office. Immediately I had a pit in my stomach, bracing myself for the news of our future little babies. As the Doctor proceeded with small talk and how I was feeling since the procedure, I wanted so badly to tell her I had waited for almost 72 hours and to cut to the chase. Respectfully so, I waited for her long-winded chatter to come to a close and hear what she had to say about the “headcount”. The sentence started off with “unfortunately” and instantly my attention faltered. Not more bad news, I thought to myself. When would things begin to turn around? This was supposed to be the positive in all of this and make it worth going through to begin with. The Doctor explained that only two eggs had split out of the five and they didn’t appear to be progressing any further. Yet, they will give it one more day before calling it a futile attempt.
Gasping for air as I hung up the phone, I ran to the living room to cling to Steve. I felt as though my body, once again, had failed me. Hyperventilating uncontrollably, Steve consoled me and I, him. We were grieving for our future together. Nonetheless, despite the unpleasant results of our fertility, we will continue to march forward. I have trust that we can try again, once my chemotherapy completes. In the meantime, I will focus on my treatment and myself, and then we can resume the fight for our babies and our family.