Your frozen embryo transfer didn’t work – now what?
You put your heart on your sleeve and went for it – only to get a negative pregnancy result. Whether you are an infertility pro at getting the news of a BFN (Big Fat Negative)….or this is the first time you’ve gotten the “I’m so sorry…” call…the cycle of grief contains the same phases. Before you swan dive too far into the grief, guilt, and donut box…please let me take your hand and remind you of a few things….
- You did a great job.
Goals are attainable, but dreams are dependent upon factors outside of your control. Did you reach your goal of giving those adopted embryos a chance at life? Yes – you did it! You crossed the finish line and completed a frozen embryo transfer. You did everything you possible could including shots (ouch), appointments (never-ending), diet modifications (your barista has considered reporting you a missing person), and a slew of embarrassing procedures (#stirrups) to get there. If this was an Olympic sport, you would get the gold. The results of the procedure were out of your hands. Nothing you did or didn’t do kept those embryos from implanting.
- You were really brave.
You took a risk, you stepped out in faith, and although you didn’t get the great result you wanted; you were really courageous and that is something to be proud of. One result from your bravery was that those embryos were released from being frozen in time, to finish the time purposed for them here on earth, and enjoy the splendor of heaven with their Creator….all because you loved them enough to give them a chance. You put your heart on the line for the chance to give life to another, and that’s commendable purple-heart material right there. “Even though life is sometimes wounded, sometimes shorter than we’d like it to be – it is still bigger than death.” Jenny Schroedel, “Naming the Child.”
- We might never understand “why” on this side of Heaven. Claudia Mair Burney put it best by saying, “You can ask why, but don’t be surprised if you never get an answer. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it’s just life on the wrong side of heaven, Sweetie. It’s tainted over here, and it can get really dark and cold sometimes. And don’t go looking for a lesson in all of this. God doesn’t need to take away your baby to teach you something.”
- “Not now” doesn’t mean “Not ever”.
Jackie transferred two embryos on her first FET and got a BFN. Then her second transfer resulted in twins! Rebecca put in 2 embryos that were great quality and got a BFN. Then she put in one embryo that was not as good of quality as the previous two and got her beautiful daughter. I could tell stories for days of the third transfer being the one that worked, and I hang onto those stories for hope. It brings me both comfort and anxiety to realize that there is no perfect prediction or science about embryo donation. Your chances of success on the next transfer are just as high as they were on this one. As Mary Kay Ash put it, “Never give up, because you never know if the next try is going to be the one that works.”
It’s okay to be sad, to grieve both the loss of potential life the embryos could have held and the dreams you had for them. The fact that you may have already a child, children, or remaining embryos doesn’t erase the disappointment you feel. In the midst of grieving this loss, just don’t forget to acknowledge these truths:
You did everything you could.
You were brave and sacrificed for another.
You don’t have to figure out “why”.
“Not now”, doesn’t mean “not ever”.
From Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘In Memoriam’ ~ 1850:
I hold it true, whate’er befall,
I feel it, when I sorrow most,
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
More information on why fertility treatments sometimes fail, look here.
Charis Boone Johnson is the Executive Director of The National Registry for Adoption and has received a graduate degree from the hard knocks school of BFN. She enjoys browsing Pinterest, attempting Pinterest projects, and then appropriately posting the results as #PinterestFail.