IVF Round 1 = fail. It’s over. And the feeling was not mutual.

It’s over. And we weren’t ready for it to be.

We didn’t get to experience the sense of completion that follows an embryo transfer or the closure that comes with a negative test result. We simply didn’t get that far in the process. Our only 2 embryos stopped growing after just 3 precious days and didn’t survive for long enough to feel the warm welcome of my eager uterus. All we had to show for our efforts over the past few weeks was one bloated, bruised tummy and two very fragile hearts.

I wouldn’t say I went into this process naive – I knew the odds and I truly didn’t expect IVF to work the first time but I never really considered that we wouldn’t get the chance to at least pretend that it might. It’s hard for me, right here and now, not to feel as though having an embryo transfer – however hopeless – would’ve seemed like a better outcome… I don’t want to imagine which route to a failed cycle is more painful but I’m sure someone reading this knows the answer, if that someone is you – I’m so sorry.

When I was told both our embryos had stopped growing, I wish I could say that my reaction was as per the pre-IVF pep talk I gave myself several weeks earlier – a philosophical perspective with an acceptance of Mother Nature’s criteria…but, of course, that’s not how it went down. I cried, I blamed myself, I felt angry and bitter and devastated all in the space of a single morning. Later on, I managed to venture out to the supermarket and saw heavily pregnant women in BROAD DAYLIGHT parading around their perfect bumps for everyone to see and I honestly thought to myself – how dare you. How dare you be so wonderfully pregnant in my line of vision on today of all days. To nobody’s astonishment but my own, the world hadn’t stopped to mourn the loss of our 2 little cellular blobs and pregnant women were not taking a leave of absence until the news had sunk in.

{I’m aware much of this sounds dramatic and unfair – callous even – and I promise I don’t have some kind of vendetta against pregnant women, I’m just pumped full of hormones and realising that despite an approaching milestone marking 3 years trying to conceive, months of lifestyle changes waiting for the treatment to begin and several weeks of invasive medical procedures, we’re still no further forward in our quest to start a family: no transfer, no embryos, no happy ending to our first round of IVF. Today, I simply don’t have the energy to reframe my scolding face into anything pleasant at the sight of someone carrying what we so desperately tried to create ourselves.}

Over the next few hours my mind drifted to my job and the sad truth that I would eventually have to return to work and not, as I’d hoped, with a growing baby on board. I’d have to fabricate some story about why I’d been off; engage in conversations in the tea room about other peoples’ children and how “lucky” I was to still have my “freedom” and I’d have to give up my seat on the train for those who were actually carrying something inside them other than the sad remains of a few battered follicles. I’d have to go back to my normal routine but this time, minus the hopeful anticipation that I’d left with a couple of weeks previous.

As I’ve said before, I do recognise that far FAR worse things happen every single day – even in the world of infertility – and this is not meant to be a pity party…. But it is shitty and although I tried to think of it as an important piece of our puzzle…… (or another feeble metaphor attempting to cast some meaning over all this) I needed to allow myself some time to feel super sad about it.

Eventually, I was forced to accept the silver linings that came out of this cycle – because there were some:

  • I’m cool with needles
  • I’m cool with any number of messy pessaries administered via almost any entrance
  • Simon learnt to cook lentil ragu
  • I did (albeit unconventionally) respond to the stimulation drugs
  • I have the ability to function without caffeine and alcohol
  • I didn’t soil myself whilst under general anaesthetic
  • All 3 of the eggs collected were mature and normal
  • Simon’s – ahem – ‘sample’ was his best work yet and delivered in record time (which I suspect is due to the fact that the car was parked on a meter)
  • 2 out of 3 eggs fertalised and went on to become multiple cell embryos
  • I found a clinic and team – abc – that I have complete faith in and who now have a much more informed picture of the way my body responds to the medication
  • And I learnt the real value of being so open about all this in the form of one incredibly inspiring, supportive online community and my ‘in real life’ friends and family

I’ve thought lots about the people who don’t share this stuff and go through things I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced myself – multiple rounds of IVF, miscarriage, loss and any number of other devastating complications – without telling a soul, choosing instead, for whatever reason, to deal with it privately. Despite my apparent inability to do anything these days without posting a video, I do understand them and for a good couple of years I did exactly the same. Actually, one of the main reasons I wanted to write about infertility in the first place was for these people – to spread awareness about a deeply personal issue that isn’t always spoken about…

So to anyone whose heart hurts when Margaret from Accounts asks why, after 5 years of marriage, there’s still no baby in the baby carriage; to anyone who has to suppress the part of themselves that wants to weep at pregnancy announcements; to anyone who’s looked in the mirror and imagined what they’d look like with a blossoming baby bump, or who can’t even allow themselves to think of baby names, or nursery decor or absolutely any plans for the future that don’t involve fertility treatment; to anyone who wonders how Mrs-down-the-road-with-6-kids got so damn lucky and to anyone who shouts “oh f*ck off” at the TV when the storyline shows two newlyweds welcoming a baby 9 months after exiting the chapel – I know you, I understand you…I am you.

And to these people (and myself) I want to say this: one day, you will have your own child – be it through natural conception, IVF, adoption, donor eggs, donor sperm, surrogacy or some other route I don’t even know about yet – and when you look into the eyes of that child, you’ll know that the only reason that exact child, that exact combination of DNA and those exact eyes are staring right back at you, is because of every single thing you already went through to get there. And that’s something seriously special.

11 thoughts on “IVF Round 1 = fail. It’s over. And the feeling was not mutual.

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  1. Please stay postive and I have every crossed for you that things will work next time, we recently suffered a miscarriage and its such a lonely place. I think your blogs are honest and it’s good to talk about these things as hard as it maybe, good luck xxx

  2. Oh Lauren, please don’t apologise for how you think you sound because to me you just sound human. Like someone who is going through something that is so terribly hard and sharing it which will be helping so many people who are in the same situation.

    Keeping looking at those silver linings and soon the sun will shine…< I’ll leave the blog writing up to you! Thinking of you both, Faye xxx

  3. I’m so sorry Lauren – it is devastating however far you get in the process. We had the same happen to us during our first round of IVF. I wasn’t expecting it to happen and I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard once it did.

    But as you say, there are positives too and it is just the beginning of a process that will have a wonderful outcome.

    One thing I will say though is take the time you need, including time off work and away from pregnant friends and family if you need to. It takes time to process and to grieve so give yourself that time xx

    1. I’m so sorry. I read your story and just wanted to reach out and give you a big cyber hug. Our first round failed too. We did have 2 embryos that made it to transfer but I think they were pretty pitiful looking ones. Two months later I was guilted into hosting a baby shower at my house. O_O People just don’t understand, but it’s not their fault.

      My problem was egg maturation. It just didn’t happen. The next round was much better. Don’t worry, surely your doctors can improve your odds now that they have seen your reaction. That’s what my doctor always said, unfortunately, IVF is a really good way to diagnose your issues, once and for all.

      Our second round worked! We got a wonderful little boy, well, seven year old now! I lost a fallopian tube shortly after his birth and never expected to get pregnant again. Funny thing about pregnancy, sometimes it fixes your fertility problems. Two years later and surprise! We were pregnant again! Three years after that, while using the rhythm method, it happened once more! God has a wonderful plan in store for you! Just wait and see what he does! God bless!

      1. What a beautiful expression of your experience. Thank you for sharing. I was definitely a person who mourned my fertility privately and it did me no favours. I admire your bravery and positive attitude! I appreciate everyone’s fertility journey is unique, that said, your results sound very similar to mine and I wondered if your fertility specialist had discussed DHEA with you? If not, it might be something you want to investigate. It seems to be what turned the tables for us and in a Hail Mary IVF attempt we had one little embryo make it to blast and now have an amazing 13 month old boy.

  4. You’re writing about your experiences so brilliantly, which I hope you’ll see as another silver lining. It’s overwhelming to read about your experiences, because they chime so closely. It’s cathartic to read other people’s emotions and reactions are so similar in this world. If nothing else it shows we’re not alone. Thank you!

  5. You write so brilliantly about your experiences, which I hope you’ll see as another silver lining. It’s cathartic to read other people’s emotions and reactions, as they chime so closely. If nothing else, it shows none of us are alone. Thank you!

  6. Hi Lauren, I’ve been aware (via fb) of your journey for a while – I’ve also been ardently avoiding it as it hit a little too close to home.

    My husband and I were TTC for 4 years – I can relate to the bitterness with regards to pregnancy announcements, when my best friend called and told me she was pregnant with her second child I congratulated her, finished the phone call, and burst into tears.

    There was a time when I couldn’t walk down the children or baby aisles of the supermarket without getting choked up.

    Every pregnant friend on Facebook was swiftly “unfollowed” once I heard their news.

    When my husband told me he had changed his mind and didn’t want children anymore, I tried to accept it and move on but it was like I was grieving for a lost love one. I felt a lot of resentment towards my husband abd eventually our marriage broke down.

    I am now 17 weeks pregnant with my first child. Honestly it feels surreal. It wasn’t how I planned for it to happen but it feels right and although I’m nervous about the future, I feel happier and more optimistic than I have done in years.

    I never shared my struggles to conceive online but I applaud you for doing so. Good luck with your journey. You are stronger than you know.

    1. I am so very sorry to hear of the heartache you’ve had. I have heard often from people in similar situations that it is akin to grief in many ways. My heart goes out to you.

      So so so many congratulations for your happy news. That is incredible! A complicated route to this point but wonderful, wonderful news and sending you so much love for your next chapter!!!!! Xxxx

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