The 5 Stages of a Failed IVF Cycle

5 STAGES

It’s been a little over two weeks since my last post.  I wasn’t sure what to write or say.  We had to take some time to digest and decompress.  I officially got my BFN (Big Fat Negative) on February 17th at 8:45am.  It will be one of those life moments I won’t forget.  Somethings I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks are the different emotions one goes through after receiving a call that starts out “Unfortunately, I do not have good news today…”

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance as stated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying, are the five stages one experiences when grieving. I can’t speak for everyone who has been on this journey but the emotional stages I’ve been through recently mimic what many experience with grieving.  I guess in a way I am grieving. I’m grieving the loss of what could have been a potential pregnancy, the tiny embryo that didn’t make it.

Denial

“Maybe it’s too early.  Maybe it came up negative because it has only been 8 days. Maybe there is still a chance.”  I began telling myself it could still be possible and began Googling for any glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, someone was told they got a BFN but it turned out they were actually pregnant.  However, there wasn’t.  There wasn’t such hope.  Who was I kidding? These are doctors, fertility specialists even.  They know what they are talking about!  Denial is a defense mechanism when our body and mind takes over because it doesn’t know how to comprehend the news.  It doesn’t want to believe what is true and fact.  The fact is, I wasn’t pregnant.

Anger

Quickly, I changed from trying to gather hope and not willing to admit the truth to being angry.  Along this journey, I have been in a variety of IVF Support groups on social media and found a few IVF Buddies who had transferred on or around the same date so we could compare and talk through our symptoms and questions.  My first bout of anger came the same day I got my BFN when I made the mistake of jumping on social media and found out that multiple of my IVF Buddies had gotten BFPs.  It wasn’t fair.  We did the same thing. How come they are pregnant and I’m not?

The second bout of anger came unexpectedly after hearing encouraging words from people close to me and those who have supported me.   You see, I woke up extra early to go have my blood test done, like I was going to sleep anyway, right?!  I got to the lab right when they opened at 7:45am.  I was in and out in less than 3 minutes and I made the 25 minute drive home.  Hubby was at his weekly coffee gathering with his guy friends from church and I prayed that I wouldn’t find out until he got home.  Instead, not more than an hour after I gave up my blood to the vampires, I got the call.  I texted Hubby and asked when he was coming home because I had just gotten the call.  He replied he was on the way and I realize now I never said the result to him in that text but looking back now, I think he knew.  When he got home, I just looked up at him and said, “Well, it’s negative” and then we sat in silence for a long time while he hugged me.  I didn’t even cry.  Then, came the anger.

Buzz. Buzz, buzz. Buzzzz.  Buzzzzz, buzz.  

Many of my closest friends and family, blog followers, twitter friends, IVF buddies all were rooting for me and our little embryo and knew that the big day was here. All were sending me positive thoughts via texts, emails, posts, tweets, etc. My phone wouldn’t stop vibrating.  However, what they didn’t know was I had already gotten the results.  I felt my face get warm and I lashed out “I’m going to have to post something because they won’t stop!! PLEASE STOP!”  Let me say, in no way was it actually their fault nor was it fair for me to get angry at them.  They were doing exactly what I had asked and wanted them to do.  They didn’t know yet and that wasn’t their fault.  I was more angry the hope was gone.  I didn’t have to hope anymore because I knew the result and for some reason having to tell everyone was a harsh reminder this had failed.

Bargaining

After I made it known on social media, Hubby did what he does best and tried to make everything better.  He whisked me away to a place where he knew I could decompress doing something I loved and we spent the remainder of the day at the zoo.  I love animals and being around them and watching them was a great distraction.  I was worried at first being around kids would make me more upset but luckily it was a little cooler that day so the zoo was practically empty but warm enough all the animals were visible.

Once we got home, I began to think more and thus the bargaining began…

“If only we had transferred two…”

“If only I had eaten healthier…”

“If only I had prayed harder…”

I began to react to my vulnerability and helplessness with the situation while trying to gain control as if anything I would have done different would have changed the outcome.  What I realize now is it doesn’t matter if I would have changed anything, the end result could have and mostly likely would have remained the same.

To be honest, I dip my toe back into the bargaining waters occasionally when I find different studies discussing the newest holistic therapy, methods, health craze, etc.  Not knowing the exact reason why our IVF cycle didn’t work makes it hard to grasp that exact concept, it just didn’t work.

Depression

I feel this stage needs no introduction.  It’s no surprise that a person like myself is sad with the outcome. However, I recently read on a website (psychcentral.com) where they discuss two different types of depression in terms of grief.  The first being the practical implications of our sadness fueled by guilt.  In my case, the first thought I began to think about was the amount of money we spent.  Thousands of dollars gone with nothing to show for it.   It was heartbreaking to not only think about but also to know we are going to have to clean out accounts again to do another cycle, didn’t help any.

The second type of depression as stated by PsychCentral is more of a private one.  This type in a sense is very personal and is something only I can work through.  While it can be very saddening to think this part of our journey is over and deeply grieve the thought that our IVF cycle didn’t end up in a pregnancy, I can say I am still working through it. I find myself periodically just heartbroken and downright sad.  Almost as if I’m in a slump I can’t get out of.  To know it is normal to feel this way is reassuring.

Acceptance

Many say this stage is exhibited by a calmness and understanding however, acceptance is not to be confused with a form of happiness, it is still a form of depression and grief.  This stage came quicker for me than I expected. I accredit my faith in God with this stage.  I have said before, my faith has grown greatly since we started our search for the last key. Overall, knowing I trust Him and His plan for us has kept hope alive for me.

If I’m completely truthful, I knew what our results would be a couple days before I got them.  I knew I wasn’t pregnant.  I didn’t have any symptoms, thoughts or feelings that I should I think otherwise.   Friends would ask if I was feeling certain ways or had certain symptoms and I didn’t have anything similar.   Many people would talk about how they may knew they were pregnant.  I felt the exact opposite.  I just knew I wasn’t.   I don’t think it was because I had given up hope or that I was being pessimistic, instead, I believe it was because God was preparing me for the road ahead.  I had already started researching to see what I could do differently for our second round, questions to ask the RE, etc.

trust in youMusic has always been an outlet for me and many times I find myself confiding in certain songs to know He is still working on me and His plan for my life.  On the way home from my Beta lab work I heard two songs on the radio that immediately gave me a sense of peace.  “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle and “It’s Not Over Yet” by For King and Country (click for YouTube videos to hear songs in length).  Since then, anytime I feel myself going through any of the above stages, I turn on the radio and to no surprise one of those songs is always playing.   I know it is no coincidence.

Anytime I find myself back in a depression slump or struggling with denial, anger or bargaining, I stop to pray or spend time in the Word.  I instantly feel at peace and accept I can’t change what has already happened.  I can only look to the future and I know wholeheartedly it is in God’s hands.  To say this is huge for me and is only showing how my faith has grown.

What now?

The same day we got our BFN I wasted no time in making what many “IVFers” call the “WTF Appointment” where you discuss with your RE about your cycle, what happened and what we can do differently next time to help increase chances of success. Ours was scheduled for 2 days after our results and I was ready.  We discussed my egg quality, diet and supplements that can help increase our chances of having good quality eggs to use and freeze any remaining.  We also discussed not being as conservative on dosages of meds and trying a different (and shorter) protcol the next time.  This past cycle they were apprehensive about how my body would react to meds and were concerned about Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome so they started me on a smaller dose of stims.  Knowing now how my body responds they may start me on a higher dose to try to get a higher quantity of eggs to increase our chances of success.

To give ourselves (and wallets) a break, physically and emotionally, we have opted to wait until around August to start our next cycle. Six months seems forever away and at times I find myself not wanting to wait that long.  On the other hand, this gives me 6 months to lose more weight, continue to eat healthier, take supplements and get my body in prime condition to house a baby!

I’ll be continuing to blog to document progress and share any news.  Thank you for your support these last few months.  We are so grateful to have each of you in our lives!

 

its not over yet

Until next time,

Jackie

 

 

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One thought on “The 5 Stages of a Failed IVF Cycle

  1. Pingback: New Cycle, New Plan | The Last Key

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