We’ve officially made it to 20 weeks. I’ve been both dreading the anatomy scan and looking forward to having it behind us, petrified that something would go wrong and this would be the moment we received the Big Awful News. Yesterday, however, we saw the high risk doctor, a genetic counselor, and a sonographer to look over every centimeter of our girls and all looks good. That makes this my final post as the Belle of Infertility and I’ll be launching this blog and linking it to my main blog, belleofthelibrary.com. It’s been an awful ride and I can’t say I’ll miss it.
Jake and I had our first ultrasound with my OB on January 7th, at eleven weeks and two days. It was the first one he was able to attend and it was wonderful for him to hear the heartbeats and see them moving around, since he hadn’t gotten to be a part of pretty much anything, beyond payment. When I asked when we’d be able to tell gender, the doctor verified that we wanted to know and told us she thought they were both boys.
I felt terrible, because I found myself upset, no matter how hard I tried to get excited. I knew how much Jake wanted a boy, but I just really wanted there to be one girl, not just so I could have a daughter, but because I wanted to pass my Gramma’s name (my middle name) on, before she dies. She’s 86 and we’re in a pandemic. While I knew she’d prefer a boy, as she’s always favored my brother, I still wanted her to have that. After we sent off my bloodwork, to check for trisomies and verify gender 100%, I researched how accurate such an early guess could be and overwhelmingly found that it was really too early to tell. Since the doctor had seemed so certain that one was a boy, I just hoped that perhaps the other guess was mistaken. Eleven days after that appointment, I received a call that the trisomies results were negative and we were having two girls.
If I’d been able to choose the genders of my children, or rather had taken the option, because that was a possibility, I’d have decided on one of each. However, always having wanted closer and more plentiful family relationships, I suppose it will be nice for them to be the same gender. They’ll have more in common and share more experiences… and I get to have two little girls. I’ve wanted a healthy, normal mother/daughter relationship my entire life, even if it means being on the other side of it. I get to break the cycles my mother created and be the mom she never was, to not one, but two, little girls. Those little girls each get to have the sister I always wanted, as well. I’m confident that I’d have been able to get there with two boys and was genuinely disappointed when I realized the boy that had been so certain wasn’t coming, but now that I’ve adjusted, I’m thrilled to be having two little ladies and just hope they’re strong and healthy and have no mental or physical issues.
Jake truly is the go-with-the-flow man he claims to be, though. While he never made me feel bad for wishing for a girl, he insisted he wouldn’t be upset if the doctor was wrong and has given every indication of honesty with that statement. The only drama we faced, after the big reveal/correction, was choosing names, as he’d decided over night that he didn’t like any of our previous choices. After weeks of calling them Mando and Grogu or Elsa and Anna, of debating and his vetoing literally every name in existence, we landed on two classic girl names with our grandmother’s middle names. They’re old, as is trendy, but have cute, modern nicknames. For the sake of this blog and the fact that I use only pseudonyms, I’ll refer to them as Violet and Scarlett, both of which were on the table, but ultimately vetoed, because we didn’t like the inevitable Scar and Vi. The actual names have the same number of syllables and sound good together, but stand up on their own. They don’t rhyme and aren’t themed (like colors or flowers). Naming humans is tough, but even that seems to be out of the way.
I’ve yet to share any of this on my main blog and I’m not totally sure why. For starters, I’m not telling the general population the genders until Easter, when we can tell our families, and a few friends read my blog. I did cave and let Jake have his Christmas announcement about the pregnancy (partly because I’ll be clearly showing soon), but he wants to share the genders in person and we’re hoping I’ll have my Covid-19 vaccine by then. It’s more than that, though. I’ve seen the ultrasounds multiple times, recorded them on my phone, so I could watch them later, watched my belly grow before my eyes, and still… I’m terrified that something will happen to my babies, a fear I hear never quite dissipates and I’d imagine that is even more true with IVF conception. So, I’ll keep it a secret from my readers just a little bit longer, since there’s no way I could have done so with anyone who has seen me in person.
My hCG levels doubled properly, at 917.5, which means I’ve been scheduled for my first ultrasound on December 7th. I’ll be 6 weeks and 6 days. Here’s hoping for a heartbeat or two.
I’m in this awful place right now, where I’m just dreading testing. I feel like it’ll be the final nail in the coffin. This will all be over and all of our money will be gone. Not only will that be devastating, but then I’ll have to inform the few people who knew what was going on, that it didn’t work. They’ll either be horribly disappointed on their own behalf, with secondary consideration for Jake and me, or I’ll become the IVF Failure story they tell anecdotally.
I’m so angry at Jake right now. I didn’t even tell my Gramma that the pregnancy test was next week. I told her that she’ll find out when I want to share, one way or another. Jake, after agreeing not to give his parents this detail, told his mother last week. Now his parents, substantial investors in our fertility, will be waiting for an update… as I’m sure will his sister, since his mother tells her everything. When the test is negative, Jake will have to tell them all right away, because they’ll otherwise assume it’s positive. I won’t even have a week to grieve and process, before everyone wants an update on our next steps or feels they should share input for how this effects them. That is everyone’s favorite topic, of course: how our infertility impacts their lives.
I don’t particularly want to consider that the test might be positive, but if it is, then Jake’s parents will assume as much, because he won’t tell them otherwise. Regardless, they’d demand to know, since they paid for over half of the treatment. His parents have no idea how this process works. His mother spelled S-E-X a few weeks ago. There was no reason to tell them we’d know so soon. He could have bought us a minimum of six weeks and now there’s even more pressure on me than I already felt. If we lose all of this money, it’s because my body let us down. When we lose our babies, it’s because I failed. All I wanted was a few weeks to process this before having to tell everyone and he took that from me. At this point, I’m just ready for this whole thing to be over.
I’ve been crying on and off all weekend, petrified that something happened to our embryos over the last two days, torn between a single embryo transfer and a double embryo transfer, devastated at the thought of the embryos not taking and my body killing our children. Morally, ethically, and scientifically they’re alive to me. I’d have all seven of them over time, if I could. It’s not up to me, though. Whether or not the transfer takes is entirely out of my control. I can eat healthier and drink more water and cut the caffeine. I can pray exhaustively, until I’m in tears. That’s… pretty much it. Whatever will be, will be, and I have it on good authority that these things rarely happen on the first try.
Also, if my husband tells me one more time that I shouldn’t stress out, because it’s really bad when trying to breed cattle, I’m going to punch him in his useless testicles.
It’s over. The process was… quick, to say the least. I thought I’d get the chance to sit down with my doctor and discuss our embryos, but I didn’t see him until I was naked from the waist down. It turns out, only two of the seven made it to Day 5 blastocysts, one in excellent condition and the other in good condition. Since we thought we’d have some to freeze, we’d already decided on transferring two, and since Jake was in the car, we didn’t get the opportunity to reevaluate together. My knee jerk reaction was to go with what we’d already agreed upon. Going through all of this without Jake is so awful, every step of the way.
The procedure itself was awkward and painful. Women talk about how it was enjoyable, but my ovaries were so swollen, I found it to be anything but, especially with five people looking at my vagina. I tried to show Jake the ultrasound on video call, but he couldn’t really make anything out. For that matter, I could only tell that the little white dots were embryos when the nurse pointed them out to me. They gave me photos of the embryos, but I immediately asked them to put them in an envelope, since I don’t want to look at them unless I know if they’ve survived to pregnancy. Everything felt rushed and uncomfortable and then… it was over. I’ll either be pregnant or I won’t and there’s nothing I can do about it, other than to plan financially for a second cycle. I’ve agreed to do another, if Jake can fund it. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him and it’s not like I have an abundance of choices. Now, we wait.
One nurse who doesn’t know how to read an embryologist’s report.
I was devastated yesterday, when the nurse called and told me that we “only” had seven surviving embryos, because Jake’s sperm was so poor. I assumed that meant those wouldn’t make it, either, since I’m pretty limited in my knowledge of… embryology? Apparently she was, too, however, because when Jake called the clinic today, because his wife wouldn’t get out of bed, he was told that we were doing well with just under half of our mature eggs making it through ICSI. Our embryos hadn’t been graded yet, but they weren’t concerned that they’d die overnight. Meanwhile, I was Googling sperm donors and trying to figure out how we’d come up with another $15,000 to try again, between naps. I was certain we’d been through all of this for nothing and I was still in a lot of discomfort from my retrieval.
The nurse called me in the afternoon, however, with the results of the embryo grading. Apparently they never give A’s and we had three. Most pregnancies are from B’s and we had two. We’re scheduled for a Day Five Transfer and won’t hear anything else over the weekend.
21 Eggs Retrieved
7 Fertilized Normally
This was all for nothing.
The standard requirement for fertility testing is to try for one year without pregnancy. After twelve attempts, the situation finally warrants further inspection. Why? Why one year? Jake and I are in our thirties and want more than one child. Why were we required to try for a full year before finding out if we were going to have problems? We’d have wasted even more time and just started this journey. To whom can I send an angry letter?