While we were in Texas awaiting our embryo transfer, my husband and I decided to visit the Gulf of Mexico. When we arrived, I took my shoes off and dug my toes into the sand, while Chris took pictures of the ocean. As we walked the shoreline, I stopped periodically to inspect different shells that had washed ashore. I found two perfectly intact seashell halves, rinsed them off in the water and palmed them as we continued the length of the beach.
I showed them to Chris. “Look, two of them,” I smiled. “Two for the two embryos we are hopefully going to transfer next week?” He humored me by agreeing and snapping a picture of me posing with the two of them.
The following Wednesday, when two embryos were safely scooped out of their lab environment and placed into me, the vision of the two shells tucked into a slot in the rental car for protection was not lost on me. They became my little talismans, the embodiment of the microscopic babies inside me, and I had decided when we returned home, they would be placed somewhere where I could see them every day, the reminder of the hope we had for this cycle.
At the end of our trip, we arrived at the airport to drop off the rental car. “Don’t forget your shells,” Chris reminded me, and I carefully grabbed them, placing them in the side pocket of my purse. We were through customs when I went to unzip the side pocket of my purse. I saw the crumbles sitting at the bottom, shell dust coating my Chapstick.
“Oh no.” I stopped right there in the middle of the walkway. “The shells broke. They shattered.” I looked up at Chris and felt this ridiculous urge to burst out crying, “What if this is a sign? What if this doesn’t work?” I fought back tears, and Chris soothed me that of course not, this isn’t a sign, it just means I had delicate shells in my purse that got smashed going through security.
Maybe all this infertility crap has started catching up to me and is making me nuts, but what if that was a sign?
When I found out November 12 that this cycle didn’t work for us, the nurse told us that our doctor would be calling the next day to talk. So that Thursday, I stayed home from work and made a list of questions to ask Dr. G. when he called. Chris was working from home that day so he could be there.
One of the things I love about our doctor in Texas is how he genuinely cares about us, and understands how much we have been through. I asked him if the beta number was indeed zero or if it was just really low. I told him how confused I was because I was having cramping and pulling in my lower abdomen, plus I got a faint positive home test on day 11. He told me with symptoms like that, it made him think that there was implantation, but that we lost them. That there was a pregnancy, albeit a very brief one. To put it medically, he thinks it was another chemical pregnancy. And as relieved as I am, as important as it was to be validated that these were in fact pregnancy symptoms, all it really means is that I lost two more babies.
We discussed further testing before moving on to another treatment. He wants to work me up for blood-clotting disorders and start me on a daily baby aspirin. He wants to rule out problems with my blood that could be preventing embryos from implanting fully and developing. I’m grateful for this, because I don’t want to continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars on treatments while my body just keeps rejecting embryos. On the other hand, it’s scary, wondering now if another wrench could be thrown into all this, further preventing me from having a child. It’s maddening, the complete lack of control I have over any of this.
A couple days ago, I was cleaning out my purse, and discovered slivers of shells left over in the pocket. The physical ache in my chest was almost too much to deal with. I can’t believe this cycle didn’t work. I can’t believe I had another chemical pregnancy. Maybe I should have saved those fragments, kept them as a reminder, but I didn’t. I can’t dwell on this.