One year ago today, our boys were conceived. This isn’t a story that people usually recount, especially on the Internet for everyone to read, but our story is a little bit different and the special moment involved Mike and I and at least 5 other people.
As you probably know by now Mike and I went through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant and that day, one year ago, was far from the dream that we, or anyone in our situation, would have imaged for the start of our children’s lives.
I made a conscious decision not to blog about our infertility while we were in the thick of it because it was too fresh and I would end up writing harsh rants that I would most likely be embarrassed of later. I knew that I wanted to share our story one day but I didn’t know when or how it would be. I’m sure that little bits of our story will continue to trickle out in the months and years to come, but today I am sharing about the day our boys were conceived.
Mike and I drove to Omaha the morning of our transfer, which was at 10:45 am, with positive feelings. My retrieval five days earlier had gone well (after Mike and the doctor had some heated words in the hallway) and they had retrieved 13 eggs and a good number of them had fertilized, so we felt confident that we would be able to transfer two and have several leftover to freeze for the future. They always told us that quality was better than quantity and we felt that we had achieved that this time around after retrieving 20 eggs the first time and having no luck getting pregnant after three different transfers.
We also knew that I had a chemical pregnancy in January, so my body had a taste of what it would be like to be pregnant, so hopefully it would know what to do this time.
When we arrived at the clinic we checked in at the front desk where they already knew who we were just by looking at us since we had been there so much. We paid the transfer day amount and waited in the waiting room for the nurse in scrubs and a hairnet to come call our name. By the end of our trips to the clinic we could pretty much guess what people were there for based on which nurses called them back into the clinic.
Once we were called back we went to the dressing room to change into our blue paper outfits complete with hairnets and shoe covers. I of course just had a sheet covering me from the waist down.
Then we went to the “holding area” where you wait in a comfy chair covered with a warm towel while the person before you is in the operating room. This is where our day turned a shade of gray when the doctor told us that we only had three embryos left. He recommended that we transfer them all because they likely wouldn’t survive freezing and thawing for future transfers. One of the embryos looked very good, one of the embryos looked okay and the third embryo had an area that looked like a bubble on one edge, which wasn’t the best. Of course we took the doctors advice because there really isn’t anything else you can do at that point.
While we continued to wait and stew silently about the news we had just been told, the anesthesiologist tried to make small talk, which put us in even a worse mood since the guy clearly had no clue who we were. He thought I was a 6th grade teacher and tried to joke about how crazy kids are. I didn’t expect him to know all of our history because they see a lot of people, but I had just talked to him on the phone twice the week before, he put me under five days earlier and this wasn’t our first go around. This is why we felt even more frustrated when he explained that we would be fine during this procedure because it was just like an IUI, which he had assumed we had done before. Mike and I were very polite and didn’t say much but we were thinking, “of course we know what it will be like because this is our fourth time in this room for this procedure, not to mention the 4 IUI’s before that.“
Finally it was our turn to go to the operating room. I’m sure every clinic has a slightly different way they do things, but at our clinic you laid on the operating table. They get you all set up. A nurse comes to ask your name and birth date to make sure it matches your wristband so you get the right embryos. They start an external ultrasound, which is slightly uncomfortable since you have to have a full bladder and they keep pressing on your stomach. The doctor gets everything set and the catheter into the uterus, which you can see on the ultrasound. They call for the embryos and a lab person comes into the room announcing her entrance. She stands on a stool next to the operating table and assists the doctor in getting the embryos into the catheter. Once you see the little sac of air register on the ultrasound they tell you the embryos are in. Then the lab person goes back out of the room to examine the straw with a microscope to make sure all of the embryos were expelled while you awkwardly wait with your legs in the air. Then the lab person comes back into the room and gives the “all clear”. At this point the room clears out and you get to wait for 5-15 minutes, while holding your still full bladder, as a precaution to make sure the embryos stay where they are suppose to.
For us everything was business as usual except I remember it taking the doctor longer to place the catheter than it had during past times and there weren’t many encouraging words from the nurses while we waited in the operating room after the procedure. They knew we had done this many times before and knew that we didn’t need to hear the “it will happen if its meant to happen speech.”
I’m not sure what Mike was thinking during the procedure and while we waited, but I had little hope. My thoughts consisted of the following: “this isn’t going to work,” “we are going to have to do IVF again,” “we are going to have to go to Denver or Las Vegas or farther to get pregnant,” “we are never going to get pregnant,” “how much of this can we afford,” “how are we going to know when we should just stop,” “we are going to have to pursue a surrogate,” “I am done with this clinic,” “I’m not coming back here again.” These are thoughts that I never voiced out loud or even admitted until after the boys were born and well.
On our way out of the operating room they gave us a picture of our embryos. A picture I studied on the way home like I had done before and superstitiously carried around with me in my purse for weeks so they would be close to me.
If you would have asked me that day what my life would look like one year from then, I would never have imagined that it would include these faces.
But I’m so glad it does.
I don’t know if I was at the end of my rope or if I had been tested to the point that I couldn’t be tested any further, but I do know that I have enjoyed every moment and have not taken a single second for granted with my boys because of the road I traveled to get here.