The other side of the mountain

Sorry for not updating in so long. Can’t believe it’s been almost a month. I have no real excuse, other than I just haven’t had it in me to sit down and write a blog post. Sometimes I would start to write something, then just not have the energy to finish it. Forgive me if this post is all over the place and makes no sense, it’s reflective of my head space at the moment.

I guess I’ll cut right to the point because I still don’t feel in the mood to write flowery prose. My FET was a failure. There was no happy ending for me. I am still as barren as ever.

Jelly thawed successfully, went through assisted hatching and was re-expanding nicely prior to transfer. But I never experienced any symptoms the entire two week wait, apart from extremely sore breasts which I was experiencing from the progesterone prior to transfer anyway. There was absolutely nothing to indicate implantation. Both times I’ve been pregnant in the past I’ve felt tugging, pulling, pinching etc. This time it felt like I’d never had a transfer at all. I had a gut feeling right from the start the cycle had failed. Can it stil be called mothers intuition when you aren’t technically a mother? Ha…ha…

So this is me. Here I am. A complete failure.

I am 27 years old and I have now failed 4 fully stimmed rounds of IVF and 2 FETs. I have never reached the point in a pregnancy where I’ve heard a heartbeat on an ultrasound. I have had 51 eggs collected, and only 6 of them have survived. Only 2 of them made it to the blastocyst stage. I have had all 6 transfered, but none have been successful. 0% success rate.

I went through a really low, dark period for a couple of weeks and so did Doug. I felt so lost and confused. I honestly couldn’t find any blogs on the internet written by young women who started fertility treatment when they were 25, had failed 6 cycles of IVF and still weren’t pregnant. All of the blogs I could find were happy stories, success stories; nobody fitting my description.The average number of cycles it takes to get a woman under 30 pregnant in Australia is two.

Two.

I can’t even pretend that I’m anywhere close to that point anymore. I am so far away from that point, I might as well be in another country. I can’t even remember my second cycle.

You know how cumultatively, your odds of success with IVF increase after each cycle? Statistics are different for every clinic, but maybe you have a 30% chance of having a baby after one cycle, a 45% chance after two cycles, 60% chance after three cycles, 75% chance after four cycles, 85% chance after five cycles and so on and so forth (those stats are completely made up for the sake of this blog post, but just go with me here). Each cycle you do brings you statistically closer to the cycle that is going to be successful for you.

But then you climb that percentage mountain, and hit the top. You’re standing at the summit. And then suddenly you find yourself on the other side of the mountain, climbing back down. On your fifth cycle your chance is 85%, but on your sixth cycle your chance drops to 60% and on your seventh cycle it falls again to 40%. Why? Because you are one of the unlucky ones who are way too broken to suceed. You are too infertile. So infertile, not even the doctors can assist you. You are beyond hope, and beyond help. You’re suddenly in that ‘too hard’ basket. You’re over the other side. You’re in that small group of women unlikely to ever conceive ever, ever, ever no matter what medical intervention is attempted.

And I’m afraid that’s me. Is that what I have become? I’m afraid the odds are against me now. I’ve reached the top of the mountain and now I’m climbing back down again. My chances are less now than they were a year ago.

I mean, I don’t know for sure. I don’t know how many cycles a 27 year old has to fail before she is statistically unlikely to ever have a child. But I’m worried I am that anomoly. Only a small percentage of women ever need IVF, a significantly smaller number are aged less than 30, and a terribly tiny group of them never succeed. Is that me? When I look into the mirror am I looking into the tired eyes of a young woman who will never achieve her dream of being a mother?

I’ve been seeing my therapist and she has been helping me. I told her I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Not death in the sense that I want to go out and drive my car into a tree or overdose on metformin (can you even do that? I suppose you can…) but I just mean that throughout the day these morbid thoughts pop into my head like “I just can’t do this anymore, it would be easier if I wasn’t here” or “I wish the ground would open up and swallow me” or “If someone told me this was my last day on Earth, I wouldn’t be sorry.” Just depressing thoughts like that. Thoughts that demonstrate I am simply tired, and frustrated, and worn down by my life. I’m certainly not suicidal, just feeling so down trodden. Does that make sense?

It’s been helpful just to have my therapist there. I can talk to her and I know she won’t judge me. She won’t tell me something hurtful like “Well Sadie there are people dying of cancer and I’m sure they’d love to have your problems” or “At least you have food on the table, there are children starving in Africa and that’s much worse than infertility.” She just listens to me.

The other day I sat down in her office and vented for about half an hour. She didn’t try to interrupt me or offer suggestions, she just let me blather about every little problem in my life and let me get it off my chest. I was speaking so fast I honestly don’t even know if she could understand me. But she told me I can call her anytime, and not to let myself get to the point where I am too desolate to be brought back.

We’ve discussed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and she has told me she will support me whatever I decide to do. We’ve found a few that would fit with my current medications, and offer little risk to me if I was to ever fall pregnant. At the moment I don’t feel like I need them, but I’m glad I have her support if I ever get to that point.

I know that probably doesn’t make sense. How can I not need anti-depressants if I’m thinking about death? I can’t really explain it. I feel like I’m strong enough to push through this with the support of my family and my therapist. I am down, but I am not out yet. I am open to the idea of medication if I do get to the stage where I need it (previously I haven’t been receptive to it) and just knowing I have that option on the table now makes me feel more determined to get through this. I know if I feel like I can’t get back up, there is medication that can assist me when I need it. I am buoyed by that fact. Again, I’m not sure if I’m making sense…

I have also arranged for Doug to see a therapist. For the first time in almost three years he lost hope. He stopped believing we would ever have a child. He has been crying, and he never cries. He has been so stressed and upset he hasn’t been sleeping at night, and has muscle aches all over his body. It’s amazing to see the physical affect his depression has had. He’s even been running fevers. It’s especially shocking because Doug is normally so strong and stable. He’s my rock. I rely on him for support. It’s been hard knowing he isn’t coping either. I feel so responsible because my body is letting us both down.

Doug didn’t want to see my therapist because he was scared about a potential conflict of interest, but we both agreed he needed to see someone. My own therapist helped me find a male therapist for Doug who also deals specifically with infertility. This guy seems so great that when Doug phoned the reception to make an appointment, the actual therapist phoned back the next day to have a chat with Doug. They discussed his circumstances, and the therapist was super understanding and supportive. I saw an improvement in Doug after just one phone call, so I’m eagerly anticipating his first actual appointment.

We have also decided we are absolutely done with Doctor Holiday. She kept me waiting for over an hour for my transfer. That is two transfers in a row that I have had to wait over an hour with a full bladder. It’s just unacceptable.

This time it was so bad I was actually crying from the pain in my bladder, and could barely walk into the transfer room when my name was called. My mother, who had accompanied me to the transfer because my husband had to work, had to physically support me just to get me into the room. When I told Doctor Holiday, with tears in my eyes, that I couldn’t walk, she was very dismissive and told me I had to change into my hospital gown before she would even scan me to check if my bladder was over-full. That was the final straw.

I spent the second week of my two week wait researching new clinics, and setting up an appointment to see a new IVF specialist. When I called Doctor Holiday’s rooms to ask for my medical records, the nurse was very stand-offish and told me to go through my own records to find what was missing and only those missing documents would be provided to me.

But how will I know if something is missing, if it isn’t there? Does that not defy logic? I’ve had hundreds of tests and scans and procedures over the past few years. I’ve been admitted to hospital 7 times in the past 7 months alone. I’m not going to know if one set of test results is missing. Isn’t that obvious? Am I entitled to my own medical records? Apparently not.

Not knowing what else to do, and not having the energy to spend hours going through my huge stack of fertility papers, I went back and saw my GP. She is a very expensive women’s health GP so I don’t see her often. She charges $125 just for an appointment, so she certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill GP.

I explained the situation to her and she so very kindly said she would piece together the important parts of my medical record that Doctor Holiday’s office had forwarded to her, and then send them on to my new doctor. Then when I went to pay for the appointment, I found out from the reception staff that the doctor had insisted on waiving the fee for my visit. I am so thankful for the kindness of the few individuals in my life who are helping instead of hindering. I was so very grateful to my GP.

Speaking of money, that’s a whole other blog post topic that I won’t get into now. We are running extremely low on funds now, and it’s one of the factors driving Doug’s depression. Six cycles of IVF have completely drained us of our life savings. We don’t know how we are even going to afford any more treatment at this point.

My parents are more than happy to lend us the money, but Doug is scared that if we do six more cycles we’ll then be $50,000 in debt and still not have a baby. Spending $50,000 of your own money on a faraway dream is different to spending $50,000 of someone elses.

The doctor said it’s a sad but true reality that older couples are much more financially stable and able to afford more treatment, but often it’s too late for them because they have diminished egg quality. Whereas younger couples are physically more likely to succeed, but don’t have the funds to do it. Nobody wins I guess.

I think I have rambled on for absolutely way too long. If you have read all the way to the end you get a gold star. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a handy summary:

1. My 6th cycle of IVF failed

2. I am seeing a therapist because I am sad

3. My husband is also seeing a therapist because he is sad

4. We have no monies left

5. We are going to see a new IVF specialist at a new clinic, because even though we have no savings we are still desperate and childless. And clearly insane.

I really want to say I’ll update again soon, but I’m making no guarantees. If I feel up to it I hope to tell you all how the appointment with my new specialist goes. I’m hoping for good news, but I rarely receive it so who knows…

Sadie xx

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17 thoughts on “The other side of the mountain

  1. I’m so sorry for thi FET. I totaaly understand you for the psychological part: I’ve thought about death, but stronger. There was a time I didn’t trust myself to be near a window because I was afraid I’d be tempted to throw myself through it. Other times I’d think I would hurt or kill an animal being if I had one. The mind is very powerful – as I felt incapable to grow a baby inside me with my failed IVF & FET, I ressented that I’d hurt other outside my womb as well. It’s complicated. My therapist told me I wans’t mad. She offered me anti-depressants. But I declined them. I feel better but think I’ll go back to see her if I need a 3rd IVF.

  2. My heart goes out to you… I really don’t even know the words to say…

    First though, you are 100% entitled to your medical records, they cannot deny you. It’s sad they even tried, as that should be the least of your concerns when you already have so much going on in your life. The nerve of them!

    Second, I am in no position to offer medical advice, although I must admit that I’ve been taking just 50mg per day of Zoloft, which I’m told is one of the safest anti-depressants during pregnancy, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel on it. Honestly, there is still a part of me that hates taking a medication each day, I hate thinking I need medicine to feel normal. Of course, I also believe in therapy, but the medication has been just really wonderful for me. In fact, I didn’t realize how wonderful until I tried to go off of it and then realized how great I felt on it. It’s like I’m better able to handle everything, I don’t feel so overly stressed, I’m relaxed, and I’m actually excited about my future. Just something to think about.

    Good luck with everything, I’ll be praying for you.

  3. Wow girl I am so sorry!! While reading your post I kept thinking of Matthew 19:26which says “Jesus looked at them and said, “with man this is impossible. But with God all things are possible.” The doctors might be at a loss and your situation might look hopeless from our view, but it’s not with God. Hugs girl!!

  4. I’m am so sorry Sadie. It’s hard when hope is gone and you feel like the medical community isn’t supporting you. I hope that therapy is healing for both you and your husband. Give yourself some time and I’m sure you will uncover the answer to what the next leg of your journey should be. Hang in there.

  5. Sadie, I’m so sorry your FET didn’t work, and that you are both feeling so depressed. It’s a really great thing that you are both getting help, though. You’ve been through so much heartache. It’s not fair. ((hugs))

  6. sadie, i’m so sorry to read this. i am happy to read, however, that you are talking with someone regularly (and that doug is too). i had that on the fence feeling of “do i need anti-depressants/do i not need anti-depressants”. in january, i went for it. i was exactly the same as you not wanting to actually kill myself but feeling like it would be better if i could just die. i personally chose to just take the hurt away with the medication. i am not taking it now (wanted to be off for my surgery) but the month or so i was on them was relaxing. i finally told myself “ya, i can be strong, but fuck it, i’ll take the help!” haha it worked well for me. i am proud of your choice to leave dr. holiday. i hope you find a great new RE! i don’t want to be another “just keep trying, it will happen!” person because i get the reality of it all but i will never give up hope for you and doug. stay strong and continue to take care yourself. on a completely non infertility note, how is the house coming along?! take care hon.

  7. It’s awful, I know. I realize I’m not under 30, but your feelings about facing this kind of abject failure despite being in your twenties–it’s not that different from how I’ve felt having started promptly at 30 with a few years of haphazard birth control before that. I always bristled at being lumped in with the AMA group thinking, “I didn’t wait. I’m sick! The ovary fairy screwed me.” The stats for a 31 year-old doing her first IVF are pretty overwhelmingly encouraging, but I’m with you in the statistical sliver, digesting the injustice of it. Of course that’s all magnified the younger you are. So I empathize. It’s not fair. Hang in there, Xo

  8. I’m so sorry to read all of this. You have been so strong and still are. I’m glad you are getting help. Dr. Holiday sounds incredibly rude, inconsiderate, and frankly incompetent. It always seemed to me that infertility practitioners should be particularly versed in empathy given their patient population, but unfortunately, I never found that to be the case. Here’s to an easier, happier year from here on out.

  9. I’m so sorry your FET didn’t work and that you’re feeling so down. This process is just the worst. Also sorry Doug is struggling. My DH had taken it hard this time and is so hard to see xx

  10. I am so, so very sorry for this. I am sorry that your husband has been hit so hard and all of the devastation you both are going through. Sending prayers for some better days, for some healing.

  11. Have you looked into immune issues which might be preventing implantation. I am 29 and recently diagnosed with immune issues…I am hopeful the treatments will work…check out the book by Dr.Beer called “Is your body baby friendly”

  12. I don’t think anything anyone can say can make you feel better but all I can say is were are all here for you and big hug! We will be here if and when decide to write again.

  13. Sadie, I just wanted to say a huge heartfelt THANK YOU for writing your experience. You are really helping others learn about the whole painful infertility process. But most importantly you are showing your feelings in a honest and open way. It’s a rare thing.

    Have you thought about becoming a writer? You touched me. You are really good.

    I’m struggling with infertility too, and can empathize with feelings of death, loss and hopelessness. So I guess it’s good to know we are not alone, right?

    I deeply feel for you and for all women in this rough journey.

    May you find peace and continue to build a fulfilling life, no matter what happens regarding pregnancy.
    I am eager to read more about your findings.
    Sending you love.

  14. I think you should become a writer too. I have never read any blogs as good as yours, seriously. I am so sorry for this heartache that you are going through – but let me tell you, you are not a failure. Update us soon on everything if you can – I would love to read it. Much love to you xx

  15. i’ve been thinking of you lots lately. hope everything is okay with you and you’re taking care of yourself. miss you on here.

  16. As someone for whom fertility treatments aren’t working, who is also in her 20s, and has been trying for 6 yeas, I just want to say thank you for continuing to write even without a bfp. I too find it hard that most bloggers seem to get their bfps and sometimes it seems so quick. Thanks for showing me I’m not alone x

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