July 19th 2012
To some people, the definition of “waiting a lifetime” means years, decades, or more; for others, a lifetime is 7 months of excruciating emotional rollercoasters, fake smiles, and weekly counseling sessions. I haven’t pretended to have endured a “lifetime” of waiting for my baby, but I’ve certainly been through my own lifetime supply of heartbreak.
Today, there was a break in the clouds for us when we witnessed the implantation of our precious little embryo into our carrier’s uterus. Before I explain that process, let me give an overview of my own procedure last weekend.
On Saturday July 14th, exactly 7 months to the day after I lost what I thought was all hope, the angels-in-disguise-as-doctors at the REACH clinic harvested my eggs. I had been prepping my body for months; I quit drinking caffeine a month before I started injections, and rested every day like they instructed me to. I kept my stress as low as possible, and diligently injected myself 4 times a day with insane amounts of hormones. All for the glimmer of hope at having a baby! The procedure went smoothly, partially because I was under IV sedation. I had forgotten what a Godsend that medication is, because truly I wouldn’t have been able to lie on the table during that procedure without it. I was a nervous wreck before they even took me back; wondering how many eggs they would be able to get, how many would be “good”, what it would feel like when I woke up, etc. A little bee sting and a syringe of sleepy-juice later, I was waking up from a great nap with the anticipation of learning how many “egglings” I had produced. The magic number was 17.
If you’ve read my previous entries, there is one specifically detailing the mathematical madness behind egg retrieval and fertilization. What it boils down to is that we started with 23 total eggs before my harvesting. Of those, 17 were mature enough to retrieve and then 14 of those were acceptable for fertilization. After fertilization, 11 made it through the first night and continued to divide and grow into embryos. Unfortunately, only 2 embryos made it to the optimal stage of development for implantation or cryofreezing (storage). IVF is a numbers game, and it’s the risk you take when going through the process not knowing exactly what to expect. But, we remain optimistic and hope that God’s plan for us is two successful pregnancies resulting in our biological children.
((Quick side note – if you’re reading this, and you’ve ever suffered a miscarriage, please understand that this “numbers game” applies to all women! Getting pregnant is truly a timed miracle, don’t give up. Your little eggling is in there J ))
So today, Dr. Wing (ironic name, we know) explained which of the embryos was the farthest along in maturation and why it was the best to transfer. We were given pictures of our precious embryos from the embryologist, and I was even allowed to go back into the OR with Kristen for the transfer. The minute I walked through the doors, my palms got sweaty and I felt the hot stinging of tears filling their stations ready to be released. I looked up at the operating room TV screen to watch the embryologist prepare the embryo into the transfer catheter, and then changed my focus to the other screen monitoring Kristen’s uterus. I watched as the greyscale tones changed on the screen indicating that the catheter was in place, and I could see the tube in its final position for transfer. A split second trigger and my precious little ball of cells was officially in its 9 month 98.6 degree oven for baking. I completely and totally lost it and cried my eyes out in front of the doctor and nurses; I’m sure it’s not the first time they’ve seen it, but it was such an emotional release. I’m sure I was squeezing Kristen’s hand harder than she was squeezing mine, but I was so thankful that I got to be there and witness this miracle.
After 30 minutes of resting, Kristen was released from the clinic and able to go home and enjoy 24 hours of bed rest.
My aunt said to me tonight on the phone, “some people don’t realize the true miracle that a baby really is, but the two of you get to witness every stage of it”. It’s true; I’m still in shock that I saw everything I did today. The miracle of life itself was on a TV screen in an operating room, and I have the pictures to prove it.
Now, it’s a waiting game. Kristen will come back to the clinic on our scheduled day (which will remain a mystery, sorry!) for her pregnancy test. The blood test will take about 2 hours to process, which will be the longest 2 hours of my life. I’m excited, hopeful, optimistic, but still cautiously realistic. There is no guarantee in life and I understand that all too well, but I truly believe this is our time, and I’m more than ready.
And here it is…
We make some cute embryos!