The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart and all they can do is stare blankly.
– The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
“I’m so sorry, Ashley. It was negative.”
And with those words, any hope we had for our first embryo transfer came to an abrupt end. I knew it was over the moment I picked up the phone and heard our nurse’s somber tone on the other end. Forty-one seconds. It wasn’t a shock, but it left me shocked. The tears began to slide down my face before I even had time to process the emotion, and the only coherent thought I could form in my brain was, “What are we going to do now?”
I don’t know.
Kyle came home a short while later, still unaware of the final verdict. I met him by the doorway to the kitchen and shook my head sadly before walking into his open arms. We stood there in the door frame for several moments, completely severed from the world around us. The sound of his rapidly beating heart reverberated in my ear as I rested my head on his chest, and I briefly wondered if it was caused by the hope that I had been about to tell him we were finally, finally expecting our first child.
“What are we going to do?” I asked him as I pulled away and walked over to the stairs to sit on the landing. But all he could say was, “I don’t know.”
For so long now our only focus had been getting to the transfer; we had been unable to plan for anything that followed. Now we had reached the other side and it was a bit like falling off a cliff into nothing.
Later that evening I laid in bed listlessly, feeling as though someone had carved out all of my insides and left me hollow. I didn’t know what to do next or where to go. How do you mourn an embryo? We had already lost a long line of them prior to this one, the sixteenth. But still, this loss felt different than the others. We had seen this embryo, we even have a picture of it. This embryo was supposed to be our Thanksgiving baby. And now, it’s gone. Forever.
I don’t know how much longer we can keep doing this. Maintaining hope requires you to keep an open heart. It means not being able to let yourself fully start the healing process and holding yourself back from taking the first step in acceptance. It means staying in the very same place for more than three years and not knowing when, if ever, you can leave. How do you know when it’s the right time to give up? And then, how do you let go of the only thing you’ve ever really wanted?
I listened quietly as Kyle tried to process out loud what had gone wrong. Could we have done something more? Were your dosages so high that they affected the egg quality? How do we know that our doctor really knows what he’s doing?… I didn’t give him answers because I knew he wasn’t really asking me, or anyone else. We both know by now that there is no way to be sure about any of it.
I don’t know. I just don’t know.
So, I did the only thing that made sense to me at the time: I picked up the overflowing laundry basket and resumed the motions of life.
It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.
–Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll