With only enough embryos for a single transfer, this negative pregnancy test marks the completion of our first IVF cycle - it's probably also our last IVF cycle. While I reserve the right to change my mind over the next few months, I don't think we'll try again. Infertility is an intensely personal experience, and each couple has to make the right decision for them. While I can understand why other couples try multiple cycles of IVF, I don't think it's the right choice for us.
A friend of mine thought of her first round of IVF as a trial run to make sure everything worked properly. I found this approach comforting, but unfortunately we finally discovered there were problems.
The chances of IVF working are always slim - with something like 30-40% chance on any one cycle - but a single IVF cycle will hopefully include multiple embryo transfers. Unfortunately I didn't respond well to the medications, so could only harvest a few eggs. This meant we had just one transfer and thus our chances drop even lower. While many point out that a second cycle of IVF has just as much chance of working as our first did...I'm not sure we'd have tried in the first place knowing our chances were so poor.
It doesn't help that I've never been entirely comfortable with our decision to try IVF; I have financial and spiritual concerns that I never properly resolved. I also can't ignore how much time I've spent in hospitals over the last year. In addition to my general poor health, the ruptured ectopic pregnancy came close to killing me and just a few months later we spent weeks worrying I might have thyroid cancer. And there's also a strong probability that I'll still need thyroid surgery within the next year. It's hard to justify even more medical interventions, especially when you see the effect the stress is having on my body. Just yesterday I had to apologise to my hairdresser, as I'm losing so much of my hair that it was covering her hands and combs.
There's also a sense of timing involved in our decision. For the last three years we've always had a healthy supply of prenatal vitamins and pregnancy tests in the house - and as the end of the two week wait approached I realised these supplies were at their end. I was on my last box of tablets and had one final pregnancy test. It was like we'd reached the natural end of our journey.
So now we're trying to decide what we'll do instead. Every decision we've made the last six years was with our future family in mind, now that's not achievable we have to find something else to fill our lives (previously I'd have suggested travelling around the world, but unfortunately that doesn't fit with our recent low-carbon commitment). But suddenly there are no strings, we could move anywhere in the country. In many ways I want to run away, our family is so child focussed that there's not much room for those without -so it feels like family will be a constant source of shocking insensitivity or unwanted pity. It's our challenge to find a way of protecting ourselves and coping with this, be it with a physical change of location or simply a behavioural one.
That said we'll not completely give up just yet. We can try naturally for a few more months, hoping that the IVF drugs may have given my system a bit of a kick start...but we're letting go of our dream.
So where would you go or what would you do, if you needed to build you life over again from scratch?
This was originally written for the Emma's Diary Blog