A Window Into The Ups and Downs of Trying to Conceive

conception family fertility infertility infertilityjourney ivf motherhood Mar 04, 2021

It was Sunday at 10 a.m. when my husband Alex and I got the call. I picked up the phone and put it on speaker. I had received many calls from nurses over the past year to inform me of negative pregnancy test results or with the results of the bloodwork. This call felt different. This was the beginning of a real shot at finally starting a family.

The excitement was palpable. I had visions of kids running into our bedroom on Saturday mornings, waking us up and demanding pancakes in the shape of their first initials. We would dance to music in the living room as we prepared dinner and read books outside under the trees in the front yard, waving to neighbours as they passed by on their bikes. It was a beautiful life we were going to build, and we were so, so close.

We had retrieved 8 eggs during my IVF egg extraction the day prior, and the voice on the other end of the line was to inform us how many of those had fertilized. It had been a year of active fertility treatments and three years since we started trying to have a family on our honeymoon. At 32 years old, the chorus of people around us continued to remind me that 'we had lots of time'. It certainly didn’t feel that way.

Today was the day that we would know what our chances were to have a biological family of our own. We had done everything in our power to get pregnant. We ate the right foods, took the right vitamins, exercised, tried to reduce stress, you name it. After three failed medicated intrauterine inseminations, which is a minor procedure where they insert sperm directly into the uterus via a catheter, we were advised that IVF was our best option.

After all, we had been through already, I often wondered if we would ever have kids. I wondered if I deserved to be a mother.

It often felt like we were on a rollercoaster ride that we didn’t remember signing up for. Up until now, we had traversed the ups and downs at the beginning of the ride that helps the passengers get acclimatized. Now we were tracking up the steep incline that brings the coaster to the launching point for the big descent, finally delivering the rush that is promised when entering the turnstyle.

I held up the phone and propped myself on the edge of the couch in our West Toronto home. 

The voice on the other end of the phone proceeded to tell us that no eggs had fertilized. There would be no further calls this week to inform us of how our embryos were growing and progressing. There were no next steps. 

I imagined my eggs shriveling into dust as the sperm was inserted. They weren't viable. The rollercoaster had broken down, and we were left hanging on at its highest peak, without anyone coming to save us.

All the hope we had, was dead. I suddenly felt as though I was floating through the room, looking down at two strangers who had no one to turn to but each other. This news wasn’t on the list of outcomes that I had prepared for. We had nothing. We had to start over. Even worse, we had no idea what the problem was or why this was happening.

With eight eggs we expected that we would at least have one embryo at the end of this procedure. It was a complete failure.

I was a complete failure.

The universe was telling us to accept that we were not meant to be parents. It wasn’t working. It would never work.

We sat in silence for awhile, staring into space, holding hands.

Our worst fears had been realized. There was something really wrong. Even IVF didn’t work. What was wrong with me? What could I have done differently? What would we do now?

I had nowhere to hide and nothing to do but to grieve. While grief had become a monthly exercise, this felt more permanent. This time we had no next step, no better option. This was our chance and it was ripped away with one Sunday morning phone call.

I poured a glass of wine and ran a bath. For now, we would wallow alone in our quiet home, waiting for the day that laughter and life filled the space we had reserved for our future as a family.  


Kaitlynn Furse is a writer and communications director living in Toronto. She is working on her first book, about her IVF experience, the drive to start a family, and finding happiness. After a second round of IVF, she gave birth to a daughter in August 2020. She shares her experiences as a mother on Instagram @madamefurse.


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