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Coping after a failed transfer

Infertility – the heartbreak of waiting
March 2, 2017
Advice to help your friend who is going through IVF
March 30, 2017
Coping after a failed transfer is like grieving for a loss. A loss of hope, a loss of a precious embryo and the loss of future life that you had planned out in your mind.

During my stimulation stage I overstimulated and ended up with OHSS. I was told that I would have to have all my embryos frozen until my body had recovered. On top of feeling awful physically, I felt really upset that I had to wait even longer until my transfer. I would have gone ahead with my transfer despite being ill if it meant less waiting, but luckily the doctors were in charge and put my health first.

By the time the time came for my transfer I was feeling much better and excited about it. Maybe we’d finally get a positive result. The transfer all went well, I took the day off work and took it easy at home.

I had a big presentation at work (on the day of my results!) so I had to get back to work the next day to do all the prep work. Unfortunately this did mean 14 hour days to get it all pulled together. I tried not to get stressed, but the nature of the job and the fact I wouldn’t be at the presentation wasn’t helping my anxiety levels.

The day of the results was also our wedding anniversary, so I naively believed it was fate that the result would be positive.

We went for the blood test in the morning, and then began the agonising 4 hour wait for the results. We had both taken the day off and decided to go to Hebden Bridge for a look around and for a nice breakfast. I was so on edge all morning, I was dreading every time I went to the toilet in case I started bleeding, and I felt sick about making the call to the unit.

Time seemed to tick by at a snail’s rate, but it was finally 12pm and time to make the call. The first time I called it was engaged, someone else making that call to find out if their life was about to change.

We had found a quiet little street to make the call so we were in private getting the results. What we hadn’t realised was that just as I got my devastating news Prince Charles would walk round the corner being filmed for the news, visiting a school affected by the flooding. If you look closely at the footage you may see me sobbing in the background.

When I finally got through to the unit, I had to give my name and wait what felt like forever for them to find my results and deliver the heartbreaking news. What an awful or amazing job for the nurses. Just luck of the draw which call they answer.

I felt my heart break as they told me the result was a negative. I was so convinced that it would work, I felt like my whole life was riding on this result. The rest of the call was a bit of a blur, and I remember finishing it and not knowing what to do next.

We hadn’t told many people we were going through IVF – just close friends and family, and we hadn’t told anyone we were getting the results that day. It did mean that we had to tell them that it hadn’t worked, which was really difficult, but fairly obvious given my tear stained face. We went to see my mum so we could tell her in person and have that special comfort that your mum can give.

Luckily our result day was a Friday so I didn’t have to go to work the next day. I spent the weekend struggling to hold it together, everything was a reminder and every reminder broke my heart again.

My hubby booked for me, my mum and my sisters to go to a spa on the Sunday so I could relax and be pampered. It was lovely to be surrounded by the people I am closest too, where I knew I was safe, but I did feel a bit out of it from crying so much, and it felt very much like I had experienced a loss that I kept suddenly remembering, and feeling the pain of.

I struggled through the following week at work, having to run off to meeting rooms to have a cry when it got too much. It was difficult to act normal when I felt so raw.

I found it quite difficult that after we got our results it was like an IVF cold turkey. You are at the unit every day in the run up to the transfer, then during the 2-week wait you are clinging on to the hope that the embryo is making itself comfortable. But after your result you feel very alone and that negative result signifies the loss of hope in that round (and I felt a loss of hope in it ever working).

A negative result can leave you with lots of questions around why it didn’t work, is there anything I could have done differently, what are the next steps, when can I start again, what can we do differently. Unfortunately the assisted conception units are busy, and it can seem like forever until you can have a follow up appointment to get answers.

It is difficult having to wait for even more time, whilst dealing with the emotions of IVF not working. I felt lost and that there wasn’t any form of support after the result – no one else seemed to understand why I was so upset, I was grieving the loss of my embryo and the future life it had represented.

It took a long time to get over it. Eventually I picked myself up and did what I could to move forward, so I wanted to share some ideas that may help you in the same situation.

Ways to cope after a failed transfer:

- Allow yourself time to grieve. Its ok to feel sad, it’s perfectly normal so don’t fight it if you do. If this continues for a while and you are frequently feeling depressed, it is worth speaking to a counsellor for some additional support.

- Take care of yourself. Take some time out to look after yourself emotionally and physically. Do something that you enjoy that will help you relax and feel nice. Don't see it as a luxury, look at it as a necessity.

- Take some time out with your partner to talk about how you are both feeling after the result. What you would like to do next and what you would like to find out. Use the time to connect and support each other.

- Plan in some nice things to do with your close circle – your partner, your family, your close friends. This will give you something to look forward to, and means you get to spend quality time with those people that you love.

- Attend support group meetings. You will be supported by other lovely people that know exactly what you are going through.

- Ask questions. Get answers to all your questions so you can feel fully informed and able to make decisions about your next steps – whether that be another round of IVF, some time out from the intensity of fertility treatment or investigating other routes to parenthood.

If you are struggling you are welcome to join my support groups online (the links are on the support group page of my website). It may feel like you are alone, but you’re not xx

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