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I guess it's all relative.

"Hi, Julie. Can you give me a call back?" said my doctor on the answering machine. "It's not bad news — in fact, it's relatively good news — so I'd like to talk to you in the next eight hours or so."

Relatively good news. Now, normally when I think of good news, I think of things like a big tax refund, or a relative's cancer going into remission, or an out-of-work friend getting the great new job she'd hoped for.

Relatively good news would be, you know, breaking even on taxes, or that the chemotherapy isn't making Grandma sick, or that at least the friend is getting unemployment payments.

The kind of things that make you say, "Well, at least..."

So last night's "Well, at least..." was this: Well, at least we have one decent-looking embryo.

Despite the chipper message he'd left, when I finally talked to my doctor, the news overall wasn't good. That is, perhaps, an understatement, since I am, after all, characterizing a conversation that included the phrase, "donor eggs." The general drift was that my egg quality is poor enough that future attempts at IVF might not be worth it, considering the odds.

I asked a lot of disorganized questions and took very poor notes. Here's what I took from the conversation:

If your egg quality is made worse by a particular drug protocol, that can be manipulated a bit. And if your egg quality is decent at the outset but your embryos degrade, there are games you can play with the culture medium. But if you're seeing intrinsically bad eggs across a couple of cycles, there doesn't seem to be a lot they can do.

It's not normal for a 32-year-old to have a pelvis full of rusty scrap metal. I do try to be original.

Beyond the egg quality/donor egg issue, about which I will obsess at great length in the future, there was the news that one of our embryos is looking good. Yesterday it was a 4-A — 4 cells, grade-A quality, right where they want to see it. That was the good news. The other, however, looks like embryonic shit.

Must take after its mother.

But if the ugly one hasn't arrested by then, we'll transfer it anyway. Who knows? The good one might implant. And the mangled one could still turn into...the evil twin.