We’re almost at the 2 year mark of project baby. It’s almost a year since we learned we wouldn’t be able to conceive without medical intervention. I remember that phone call so clearly. I was at a bar in Chicago drinking away the sorrows of losing a team member but attempting to send him off in good spirits both literal and figurative. The phone rang and I stepped outside. The rush-hour traffic was loud. I had to ask the doctor to repeat herself twice. The second time, I had actually heard her, but I needed her to say it again so I could confidently (and drunkenly) turn myself inside out on the sidewalk in front of the bar. My doctor could not hang up fast enough when she realized I was crying. “It’ll be okay, call this number. Make an appointment. You’ll get pregnant. Ok bye.” Yikes, me.

Some time prior to that embarrassing phone interaction with my OBGYN, I was at dinner with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law where they told us about their fertility struggles. They told us they were beginning their IVF journey and I believe I said something along the lines of, “I’m don’t think I could do that.” What a stupid and shitty thing to say. Another cringe-worthy moment, courtesy of me.

The truth is, you never know what you’d be willing to do in any given situation until you’re faced with it. I’ve seriously curbed my judgement of most people in that regard. “I would never…” is not a valid statement in most cases. Unless, you know, it’s something like, “I would never ride a wild stallion naked through a sandstorm.” But even then, you never know. The apocalypse might be more fucked up than you can even imagine.

It’s a silly place.

I’ve been peeing on sticks since Wednesday. In a previous post, I noted that I found this practice to be silly. I’ve since dubbed my bathroom Camelot. (“This seems silly and a little like unnecessary torture to me…” — me 46 days ago. What an asshole!)

Testing helped me get through the week even though every morning yielded a negative. My anxiety is a lot easier to manage without ambiguity. Until today, I kept telling myself, “Not today, maybe tomorrow.” It helped me focus on the day ahead instead of perpetually drowning in what-ifs. Today I ran out of tomorrows, though. The chances of my beta coming back positive is basically zero. I finally cried.

Drawing faces on them was a weird choice, in retrospect.

The outcome of this cycle comes with a lot of brand-new baggage for us to unpack. Lupron was added this time to increase my egg quality. It’s hard to say if that helped or if the better diet helped, but regardless we retrieved 13 eggs and all 13 were mature. Usually a few aren’t mature and thus unusable, so that’s an improvement. We combined 4 eggs with donor sperm and 9 eggs with husband sperm. (If you’re interested in the donor sperm experiment, I explained it here.) All 4 donor sperm+eggs fertilized. 5 out of 9 husband sperm+eggs fertilized. On day 3, we transferred 2 8-cell husband embryos. On day 6, the lab called to tell us that that our remaining 3 husband embryos all stopped growing and none made it to freezing. The 2 donor embryos left made it to freezing. To add insult to injury, they are grade 6AA which is basically a Rolls Royce embryo. Embryo grading is not the end-all be-all of “good” embryos by any means, but it certainly feels like an extra, “Fuck you and your attempt to combine your DNA with someone you love.”

I suppose the good news is that my eggs are good. Egg issues are a lot more expensive to handle. If we wanted to use donor eggs it would cost us about $6,000 extra, whereas donor sperm is about $2,000. The bad news is that Kurt’s sperm is more fucked up than we thought. I’m a Google doctor, and I’ve diagnosed his sperm with fragmented DNA. It seems to add up, though. Sperm with fragmented DNA have a high fertilization rate but don’t make it, ultimately. There might be something we can do about it, but there might not be. We’ll have to wait to talk to the doctor about it, probably in a week or two.

We’ve exhausted our insurance coverage for IVF this calendar year, so any big decisions we make probably won’t happen until next year. I did a little math which means the numbers below are probably wrong, but they’re right enough to illustrate my point which is that I’ve done quite enough to my body the last 300-ish days to warrant a lengthy break:

1,684 supplements
120 self-administered shots
46 vaginal suppositories
39 blood draws
38 eggs
32 transvaginal ultrasounds
23 fertilized eggs
0 babies

There are other areas in my life that could stand some more attention. I’ve lost 30lbs and I have 30 more to lose to meet my first goal weight. Eating healthy has been one of the best and hardest changes in my life. I still have moments of weakness, but the majority of what I put in my body is good for me. Even when I was thin, I don’t think I was able to say that. So cheers to not feeling like a lethargic piece of garbage most days. The next step will be adding more consistent and rigorous exercise. Have I mentioned I hate sweating?