Our Infertility Journey: Failed FET #1, What Now?
Every time I write an infertility journey update, I think that this MUST be the last one I’ll ever have to write. Because surely, next time it will be a pregnancy announcement…right? Sadly, that isn’t the case today. (But I know in my heart, someday I will get to write that blog post and it will be my most favorite one ever!)
Last we chatted, Finn and I had a canceled FET (frozen embryo transfer) because my uterus filled with fluid and it wasn’t a good place for an embryo to implant (more details on that here.) Let me bring you up to speed on what has happened since then…
Frozen Embryo Transfer #1
After our transfer was canceled in April, my doctor tweaked my meds and we geared up to try again in May. This meant more shots, pills, suppositories, and estrogen patches…basically a combo of drugs to get my body to produce a thick uterine lining and a “happy place” for one of our embryos to implant. After about a week, things were looking really good and my doctor was happy with my progress. I was thrilled. The first round must have been a fluke.
But after a few more days of estrogen, my body wasn’t happy (again) and a small amount of fluid was seen on ultrasound in my uterus. Determined to make the transfer work this time around, my doctor aspirated the fluid and we monitored to see how everything looked. I was sad…again, thinking that we would have ANOTHER canceled transfer. But after a few more days, things looked great and she said we could proceed! We were both in shock because, after the news of the fluid, we figured there was no way we would move forward.
I remember running home from the doctor’s office frantically calling Finn telling him we had so much prep work to do to get ready for the transfer. Our house was a mess from our bathroom renovation, our laundry was piled high, our fridge was bare…and here I was going to have a transfer where I’d have to be in our house on bedrest for at least 48 hours. So much work to do, but I was giddy at the thought of finally being able to put an embryo in. Yay…we were making it over the final hurdle!
We had our transfer at the end of May and it was pretty uneventful (picture above was taken right before our procedure. We were stoked!). Our embryo thawed “beautifully” and we put it in there with hopes that it would implant and get all cozy for the next two weeks. I stayed in bed for 2 days (some visitors came over to hang and pass the time), and I was just so happy at the thought that this might work.
It may seem weird, but I felt like I could feel the embryo in there. I felt strange pains that I had never felt before and figured it was the embryo making itself at home. I would talk to it and rub my stomach, thinking…finally, this is going to work for us. We made it!
Then we waited about 9 days…until it was time for blood work to see if our little embryo was still holding on strong.
A Chemical Pregnancy
I’m not going to lie. I cheated and took a pregnancy test the night before my doctor’s appointment. I figured I wanted to know with my husband by my side, and I was confident that it was going to be a positive test anyway. So I did it the old fashioned way and peed on a stick. Only to see that dreaded one line. The one line I’ve always seen before.
It was sad. Really really sad. But I took some comfort knowing that I had a night to cry and get it out before going to the doctor the next day. That next morning, I did my blood work and Finn and I went out to brunch to try to act normal. We then spent that entire day tiling the bathroom, just waiting for the dreaded call from the nurse when she would tell us what we already knew.
The call came late that afternoon and I made Finn answer it because I couldn’t bear the thought of crying on the phone to the nurse. But her news was surprising…my HCG level was at a 13, which technically meant I was pregnant. However, the number should be over 25 at this point, so she told us not to get our hopes up. I was to keep doing all of the meds and shots and return 2 days later to test again and see if the number doubled. If it did…she said this could be a viable pregnancy.
I then spent the next 2 days in a weird limbo. I couldn’t be happy, I couldn’t be sad, I could only wait and hope that that damn number would double. But the number stayed the same, and the doctor said I had a chemical pregnancy (which essentially is a super early miscarriage). The embryo had implanted, but for some reason, it didn’t stay around.
Picking up the Pieces
June was one of the worst months for me and I barely remember anything that happened. I went through the routine of each day, but I wasn’t really there. Instead, I was constantly in my head mourning the loss of the baby I thought I was going to have. I cried spontaneously (like one time in the checkout line of Lowe’s as I picked up more tile for the bathroom. Yikes) and couldn’t go a day without thinking about how my body failed yet again.
It was during this time that we were knee-deep in our bathroom renovation, and it may sound weird…but it kept me sane in a way. The last thing I wanted to do was go out and put on a fake smile, so I stayed in that tiny bathroom every night and weekend working away. I was able to feel what I needed to feel and I got lost in the monotony of small tasks. That bathroom project really saved me. I was a mess, but at least I was making progress and accomplishing something.
Some of you guys noticed my absence on social media since Bridget was picking up the slack on Insta Stories (and so sweet of you guys to be concerned btw). She & Matt headed to a few blogger events that I just wasn’t up for, because the thought of putting on makeup and heading out the door was just insurmountable somedays. I’m so appreciative to have a business partner who is always willing to go above and beyond to keep things running smoothly here.
Eventually, I started to feel better and a bit more like myself. So we went in to see the doctor to come up with a game plan.
My doctor said the best news was that my body was able to get pregnant, so there was something good that came out of that failed FET. But she wanted to figure out why the embryo didn’t stay around, so we scheduled 2 tests.
The first was an ERA (endometrial receptivity array). Essentially you prep the body as if you’re doing another transfer (all the drugs and shots. ugh), and instead of putting an embryo in they take a biopsy of your uterine lining and test it. This tells them if your lining is receptive for an embryo and if they’re getting the timing of the meds right. We figured it never hurts to have more information, so we went for it. Now, I’m not going to sugar coat it. This was the most painful procedure I’ve had done yet. Some women say it isn’t bad, but I screamed out loud in the surgery room. Luckily, it was over in about 10 minutes. But holy smokes, painful!
I also had another HSG (Hysterosalpingography) test done. This is where they put dye through your fallopian tubes to make sure they’re not blocked and they watch it under x-ray. For me, this actually wasn’t that terrible.
Both tests came back normal. Everything looked good. Which on one hand is AMAZING news, but it also leaves us with the question, why didn’t our FET work?
My doctor thinks trying a different protocol (one that isn’t so estrogen-heavy) is the next protocol for me when we go to try again. So, I’m trusting her and hoping for the best.
Taking a Break
But for now, Finn & I are taking a much-needed break from fertility treatments. I’ve been on fertility meds since January, so it’s nice to have some time off to feel normal again. My body kinda forgot what it was like to not be on so many drugs and shots, and I think some time off will be a welcome reprieve. So physically I think it’s for the best, but also mentally and emotionally…I need a break from all of it.
So that’s where we are now. We are doing our best to enjoy our summer, spend time with our favorite people, and pick up the pieces before we get back out there and try again. And we are so incredibly grateful to still have 4 frozen embabies waiting for us when we’re ready.
I’m sure this was information overload for all of you, but I’m committed to bringing you guys along this journey with us. I know that many women out there are battling these same things and they feel alone. So if sharing my story brings them a bit of encouragement or companionship, then it’s worth it for people to know TMI about the status of my uterus.
Plus, I think it’s important to vocalize how HARD this is. It isn’t all rainbow, sunshine, and cute pregnancy announcements. And when there is happy news to share, it will be that much sweeter.
I think Finn may share his side of our infertility journey, because even though a lot of the things are happening to my body…it’s really something we’re both going through together. He has been such a supportive partner throughout all of this and he has some great insight to share. I’ll see if he wants to join in on the blogging action with a post one of these days.
Thank you for your constant support, love, and encouragement sweet friends. All of your kind words mean the world to us.
Our Infertility Journey
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.