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The Reality of Infertility

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a blog by Genna Banafato, July 15, 2013

In a time where so many fertility doctors are recommending single embryo transfers, it sometimes amazes me that in three IVF transfers, I had nine embryos placed in my uterus. I'm not someone who has good luck with things. There were frequent jokes between me and my husband during our first cycle about our only three embryos all taking and splitting and then we would need our own reality show called something like, "We Should Have Known". But then, despite the pictures I held onto for dear life, those three embryos didn't make it. No baby, no babies. That was reality.

The IVF #2 came around. Once again we transferred three embryos, all we had left on day three. Better results this time. We have a daughter from that cycle and our angel baby, our daughter's twin.

When we decided to cycle again two years later, I wasn't sure what the cycle would hold for me. Coaxing my MTHFR'd eggs out of my diminished reserve seemed to take everything we could throw at them. Being older and expecting a better outcome seemed just this side of insane. But whatever changes I had made in the years separating my last two cycles seemed to have positive results. My third IVF cycle was my best yet. On the day after retrieval, my nurse called me to tell me my fertilization report. EIGHT embryos. Eight. I hung up and called my husband and said, "We're going to get pushed to a 5 day transfer and we're going to get frozen out of this." I could barely contain my excitement.

Day three came around and there was no phone call telling us to stay home, that meant no day five transfer. The embryologist had decided which were best for returning to my uterus. There either must have been clear front runners or the rest of them had died.

Imagine my surprise to get to my embryo transfer to find out that we still had five left. They would watch them and let me know in a few days what the results would be.

Taking the phone call that told me the rest of my embryos had been discarded, I was just heartbroken. My nurse told me that they hadn't died, but they wouldn't survive the freeze/thaw process and she wouldn't want to subject me to an FET cycle, get me to transfer, only to tell me that there was nothing to actually do the transfer with. It was honest, it made sense, but I couldn't help but wonder: If those embryos weren't good enough to freeze, how good could the ones inside possibly be? I was assured that the quality of the ones outside had no bearing on the ones in. That the best were chosen. All i could do was hope.

As I watch my youngest daughter sleep, I know my nurse was right. The best were chosen wisely and one of those three lays next to me tonight. But thinking about how I FINALLY had extra embryos and how they were tossed in the trash like they were nothing hurts. It's a reminder that there is so much loss in the infertility world. More so than just not getting pregnant. The loss of control over your body is just the most obvious one. The loss of our twin, the loss of those embryos and with that, the loss of adding to our family in the future, as we had decided another fresh cycle was just not in the cards for us. Infertility has shaped our reality in it's own way, taking the control completely out of our hands.

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