Another Day 1 has come and gone.  It’s Day 4 or 5 of this new cycle – the fourth since our first IVF attempt.  B and I had a really wonderful lovemaking experience during the last cycle – maybe the best we’ve ever had.  It happened close enough to ovulation that I had a small amount of hope that we could have conceived.  But I didn’t fall too hard when I got my period. 

We finally met with our new RE (same practice, different doc) and got a little more info about what our IVF attempt revealed about why we haven’t conceived.  I had a really good response to the drugs and the retrieval and fertilization rate were all really good.  But then many of our embryos were multi-nucleated and ultimately we had one top quality embryo and did a three day transfer.  None of our (many) other embryos made it to day six so we have no frozen embryos.  It was extremely jarring that Sunday morning to hear from the lab the outlook had changed so much, so quickly.  At the time we put our attention and energy into the one “perfect” embryo that was transferred that day.  When we learned our attempt did not work we put all our attention and energy into coping with the loss of that embryo and adjusting to life after a failed cycle.  That was three months ago.  At our recent meeting with the RE she explained that the zona – the shell around the eggs – can be too weak or too strong.  With zona that are too weak multi-nucleation can occur.  With zona that are too strong, eggs don’t fertilize.  She kept using the word “egg-factor” over and over and over again.  She’s the first person to use that word with us.  It’s an adjustment.  My acupuncturist talked about follicles and using herbs to improve the quality of the materials we have but she didn’t say, “egg-factor.”  For some reason it wasn’t until that meeting with the RE that I realized that it’s my fault.  That is, as far as we know, the reason why we haven’t conceived is because there is something wrong with my eggs. 

The prognosis was good at that meeting.  She kept saying that age was still the most relevant predictor of success for IVF and I am still “young” on the spectrum.  They want to use ICSI next time to prevent multi-nucleation.  There was no explanation or insight into why that “perfect” embryo didn’t implant.  Unknowable at this point.

All this to say that I no longer have much hope that we can conceive on our own.  I know it’s still in the realm of possibility; the many anecdotes of women conceiving spontaneously even after a poor prognosis and many failed IVF cycles will probably never allow that hope to be put to rest.  But things have changed.  Perhaps in a way that makes this easier.  Before IVF and before our recent visits with the RE and acupuncturist, there was no information or diagnosis that explained our years of unsuccessful trying (three and a half for anyone keeping track!).  Each and every cycle felt like it could be the one to end this suffering and transform our lives.  Now we have an inkling of an explanation and some sense (accurate or not) that if there is hope for conception it mostly lies in our next cycle of IVF.  That is changing how I am experiencing my cycles: My hope is not ranging so high and I am not falling quite so hard when I get my period.  So far.  It takes the pressure off each and every cycle.  I very much hope it can change our sex life which has absolutely been transformed by infertility.  At this point in our journey – I cry after we have sex.  Almost every time.  The sex part is pretty good and enjoyable, sometimes great! and then I am filled with sadness and grief, frustration and anger.  Mostly sadness.    

We are in a holding pattern.  The soonest we will attempt IVF again is January.  I am still recovering and being treated for Lyme.  I am on an intense herbal regimen proscribed by a naturopath Lyme specialist.  I still have symptoms and feel quite unwell at times.  I have yet to begin the acupuncturist’s herbal regimen that may improve my egg quality.  I am learning and thinking about adoption.  I am taking CoQ10 and wheatgrass and prenatal vitamins and probiotics and drinking a crazy amount of water every day.  I am getting acupuncture every other week, going to yoga twice a week, getting massages and seeing my therapist.  She thinks that if I tell my traumatic breastfeeding story (from when our son was born) and heal that trauma through the telling my body may allow itself to conceive again.

Time will tell.  I do not know my fate.  I have no idea what lies ahead.  I read this the other day on abiding:

“Abiding is the sacred art of enduring, of being durable, of waiting without impatience for the fullness of time to reveal things.  It is knowing deep in one’s soul that the permanent state of life is one of goodness and fullness if we can wait and hold on.  It is trusting in that as a innateness and permanence.” – The Parenting Passageway

YES.  I am abiding.  And I am okay.  I am doing my work in the world, I am raising my son and loving him, I am making dinner and cups of tea, growing food and relationships, looking at the sunlight through the leaves…

I read this every day:

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

-Mary Oliver


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