It’s been three days since I got the news that our frozen embryo transfer (FET) with our one and only normal PGS tested embryo did not work. It was surreal getting that call. I wasn’t even very anxious that day because I really though it had worked. I thought I was pregnant. Quite the vast contrast with my first IVF 3 years ago when I was absolutely sure it didn’t work, and had just finished writing a list of questions to ask my doctor about why it hadn’t worked, when I got the call from the nurse giving me the shocking positive news. This time it was devastating falling from a place filled with potential and excitement, to a place of confusion, anger, sadness, and loss. I wanted to run away.
The day after the news I leashed up my dog and headed out to the trail through the hills behind my house. And I started to run. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t run in years and on that day it was pretty brief and mainly downhill, but that’s not the point. Alone out there under the blue sky with only the sounds of birds and my dog’s foot steps, I found the beginning of a release. I initially wanted t run to escape my emotions, the pain that I was feeling, but through my strained breath and sweat, I felt my emotions without judgment, and I began to let them go. This process is far from over, I know. But another thing I realized during this run is that movement felt good. I used to be a pretty physically healthy and strong person. But after some restrictions during pregnancy, and traumatic birth, and then 2.5 years of getting about 3-4 hours of broken sleep a night due to a baby that didn’t sleep well and nursed every 1.5 hours all night long even as a 2 year old, I was physically exhausted. I felt weak in my body. It was like my whole body atrophied. After my daughter finally started sleeping through the night and not night nursing, about 6 months ago, I had difficulty finding the motivation to exercise and really move my body again. I knew I needed to. My job is sedentary and I felt sluggish. But I just didn’t do it. I made excused for not going to yoga classes – no time, work schedule, my daughter’s schedule. There was always something. But after that first run, I realized something. I can’t keep waiting for the perfect time to take care of me.
After the news, I felt betrayed by my body. A perfectly healthy embryo was placed in my womb at the perfect time, and my body failed to do its part. After slipping into research mode yesterday, I realized that my expectations about success with PGS testing were too high. In my defense, my expectations were set by my doctor. He didn’t warn me that PGS testing doesn’t ensure that the embryo is healthy from all conditions or that it has the energy needed to continue dividing and growing. And sometimes it’s just bad luck. Maybe my body didn’t hold up its end of the bargain, maybe there was something about this embryo that wasn’t compatible with life, maybe it was both, maybe it was neither. But over the years, and in the future to come, I’m asking a lot of my body. I want a long and healthy life with my daughter and husband. I hope to be able to make more healthy embryos, and sustain a pregnancy and birth. My body wants to move again and feel strong. I want that.
Last night I walked into my old yoga studio for the first time in about three years. Prior to my daughter’s birth I attended multiple classes per week and loved it. It was strange to be back, but also comforting. It felt good to do something for me. For my health. I felt so bloated and sluggish from all the progesterone I’d been injecting and wanted to help move it out. It was a candlelight yin yoga class, so nothing rigorous, but just want I needed at the time. I felt tightening in my throat and tears in the back of my eyes during most of the class as I stretched my body and processed more emotions. At the end of class, after savasana, as we sat there cross-legged, eyes closed, hands in prayer position, the teacher asked us to consider what had to happen to bring us here to the mat that night, in an effort to help us recognize and honor all the little things it took. But for me the answer was concise and simple. It took a failed FET.
I thought about that as I drove home in the darkness. I saw the beginnings of the new crescent moon raising in the night sky. It was beautiful. The waxing crescent is a time for new beginnings. I also pondered the synchronicity with the solar eclipse, which occurred on the same day I got my news. Darkness, confusion, disruption – giving birth to light, shifting paradigms, new beginnings. I was expecting good news that day – no darkness, no disruption. But I got just that. And now from the darkness of this pain, some light will emerge. I will continue to honor my body with movement, fuel it with healthy foods, and connect with the Divine and my guides. I have not been abandoned. I know there are still more emotions to process. There are more tears that will be shed, and I do plan on doing a ritual to honor this baby that will never be. My path toward healing and well-being is just begun. We will continue trying for a second child. I have a consultation with my doctor scheduled in two weeks, and barring any devastating news, we will do IVF again. But whatever happens along this journey, this loss has given me the gift of honoring myself and taking better care of my body that does so much for me. And I thank that little soul for what she has given me in the brief time we were together.