Thirty-eight year old Karen has 8 frozen eggs, retrieved when she was 36. Married in September 2018, she decided to save the frozen eggs as a contingency plan and try to conceive naturally. She did conceive, but it was short-lived. It’s called a chemical pregnancy when a woman gets a positive HCG, but the levels decline over the next several days and the pregnancy is no longer viable. This is one of the first summits in family building, followed by an emotional plummet aka the roller-coaster.
Karen knows she will conceive however, recovers her emotional strength and pursues IUI. Like most women going through difficult conception, this is not the only thing going on in her life. Karen lost her cousin in 2018 to a stray bullet, a sweet and energetic man who gave generously to the underserved community. Her 3 month old niece was diagnosed with brain cancer. She has a demanding job in the finance industry. She’s trying to be healthy, eat wisely and exercises in order to conceive, and of course, prioritizes her marriage. Social activities take a back seat when your energies are focused on creating new life. Real friends will understand and be there when she’s ready to come out and play again.
After three failed IUIs, Karen and her husband decide to move on to IVF. It’s not that Karen is undaunted by these unsuccessful attempts and disappointments. Each month that she doesn’t conceive is a kick in the gut. Fortunately, the characteristics that keeps her going, are resilience and determination. Most women I work with who are trying to conceive are determined. But its resilience that picks her up, holds the obstacle or disappointment as long as she needs to uncover any secrets that it has, builds that into her life model and moves on. She has been an inspiration to me.
Now the IVF is behind her. The doctors retrieved 15 follicles on September 29. Twelve were mature and nine fertilized. Pretty damn impressive. But doctors call this a numbers game. Only three embryos survived and divided properly and were sent for PGS (genetic) testing. Only one embryo tested normal. Out of the very exciting 15 that were retrieved, she was down to one single possibility for conception. One, out of 15. She was devastated. How does this happen? Why? She did everything right, she ate right, took her supplements, came to acupuncture, was managing her stress quite well. WHAT THE HELL!
Karen took her frustration to the bike, spinning. Angry, trying to work through this outcome, sobbing that she only has one chance to make this work, to first get pregnant and then to successfully carry for 9 months, one chance. One single, tiny little embryo. The strongest of the batch has already survived surgical removal from the womb, an onslaught of chemicals and handling to coax it along, frozen, transported from one place to another, invaded by tiny instruments to determine its chromosomal make-up, and frozen again.
In a moment, she realized that this tiny little potential has already been through ordeals enough to exhaust its life energy. Yet it thrives. Alright then. In her fashion and characteristic nature, Karen decided that this tiny one, with all that it has already survived, deserved everything that she can possibly give.
After a short visit to Margaritaville and taking comfort in French fries and chocolate, Karen reigned in the indulgences, is eating her vegies, proteins and healthy fats, exercising, coaxing her stress levels into manageable chunks and “rests when tired, drinks when thirsty”. She’s going to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with her family and when she returns, will transfer her one, tiny possibility, after giving it everything she’s got. That’s how she rolls.