I have learned a lot about myself in the past 48 hours.
1. I have tough skin.
No, unfortunately not metaphorically, quite literally. The nurse anesthetist had quite a time getting my IV going on Friday and, after telling me the first one “burst” and I told her that the word burst made me anxious, declared that despite my being a dainty lady (fairly certain that will be the only time in my life that I hear that), that I have tough skin. After several tissues worth of palm sweat my husband wiped off my hands, providing much-needed comic relief, laying me back to prevent a further vagal response, and a couple tries later, we were in. I, as usual, was a high maintenance patient as my anxiety got the best of me. I wish it were figurative, too.
2. I am a curious anesthetic drunk.
My friend Laura warned me that she was a sobby and sappy anesthetic drunk, that all the emotion of IVF buried deep emerged as she came out of the anesthesia post-retrieval. Me? I was that before it even started. As the nurse walked me back to get changed and Hubs left to provide his sample, I broke down crying. It all rushed in. I gathered myself, read Scripture on my phone (coincidentally the passage of the day was II Corinthians 1 on “The God of All Comfort), and again resumed crying when Hubs returned. And then when the nurse came back, and the anesthetist, and my RE. It was all a bit overwhelming. For some reason I chose to wear a ring Hubs gave me for my 20th birthday that I hadn’t pulled out in a while. As I looking at the thing, I couldn’t help but think back to those two innocent kiddos and how they had no idea what the future had in store. Certainly infertility is not the only thing — most of it has been great — but we had no idea we’d be in that room, doing this wild thing 11 years later. They somehow managed to get me back to the operating room and my RE and the nurses wished me well on my trip to the beach and requested I bring a drink back for them. Have I mentioned how great they are at my clinic? They were all so understanding and comforting with me and all my emotion and wispiness. I was awakened when they brought my husband back and quickly began asking him questions about when had I woken up, how did they wake me up, how many eggs (of course), etc.. Not a single tear, I was fairly clear-minded, super relieved that part was over, and wondering why the heck I still felt so full in the ovaries (apparently they pop the follicles to retrieve the eggs, and the follicles become cysts — great).
3. I like dried prunes (and I cannot lie).
No need for a lot of details, but did you know they taste like those Whole Foods fruit leathers? Yum! I can be so close-minded with my produce selections. I still lament all the years I spent without avocado in my life.
4. My friends are amazing cooks.
They (you all) have brought us the most delicious meals, it is no wonder we live in the foodiest small town in America. Quinoa and roasted vegetables, lentil and rice soup, extra-ginger carrot soup, vegetarian ziti, spinach enchiladas, southwestern grits, Dahl and brown rice, sun-dried tomato artichoke quiche (dairy-free!)…and lots and lots of chocolate and cupcakes which I have been eating indiscriminately but don’t tell Julie the acupuncturist. Biggest thanks for all of this love. And I am proud of you, my community, for your incredible cooking skills and being the hands and feet of Jesus. You people have even taken our terror of a puppy on hikes — that is love.
5. I am a mother.
Lastly and most importantly. It feels weird to have been chipper in this post so far, because I’m actually very very worried and sad and scared. The low-down on the retrieval: the procedure itself all went very well, they harvested 13 eggs as we had hoped, the sperm report was perfect. We got a call Saturday, though, that only four had fertilized normally. Of the 13, three weren’t mature (in line with the 80% we predicted), and of the ten remaining, five had signs of maturity but did not fertilize, one fertilized but abnormally and so would not result in a baby, leaving our four embryos. That is a low fertilization rate of 40% when you’re usually looking at 70%. Our RE said that we should realistically hope for just the one fresh transfer.
The blastocyst conversion rate — how many day-1 embryos make it to a day-5 blastocyst — is 50%, meaning statistically speaking, we are hoping for one to two embryos by Wednesday to transfer, likely none to freeze for later. What a blow after all of that work and pain and time and hope. It is bad enough if we are not pregnant this cycle but have frozen embryos to thaw for a later attempt, but so much worse if we are not pregnant and that was our only shot after this long and grueling process.
As many have reminded me lately, it only takes one. I am praying for this and was encouraged today to hear a story of a friend’s friend having one embryo and now having a rambunctious five-year-old girl. But, more than that, I am incessantly praying for our four babies.
This morning I couldn’t help but realize that I am, in fact, now officially a mother. I just felt different in my love and concern for them. I feel desperate for them, want to fight for them, be with them, do anything I can for them. Of course at this point that is next to nothing except for prayer.
I realize that it is highly unlikely statistically, but I am praying and asking others to pray that all four would fight and make it and be strong and healthy on Wednesday. That the Lord would do that fighting for them. “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). This verse hung in my sister’s twin’s nursery who were conceived with the help of fertility meds and sustained after being born 8 weeks early. Today in church we sang “He is Able.” This is true and I believe it. All four may not make it, but it will not be for me not having asked. And, on the other hand, they just may. I am that persistent woman before the judge this weekend, asking this of the Lord over and over and over again.
We’ll get a report on them midday tomorrow. It has driven me crazy today to think of them, 20 minutes down the road, not knowing how many are still there, how they’re doing, if they’re growing. But I am believing in my babies and my Father who is with them, hoping they have tough skin like their mama. Praying that the Lord would see them through. I’m very aware that they are ours, that we are their parents and love them already.