I could not sleep Saturday night. I had decided I was going to take an at-home pregnancy test Sunday morning and the waiting was getting to me. We had our FET (frozen embryo transfer) October 17th, and like this entire process has been this time around, it did not go off without a hitch. Our first embryo did not make it through the defrost, so we had to thaw a second, leaving us with only 2 precious embryos left. The day after the transfer, I caught a particularly vicious and humbling stomach virus that left me 8 pounds lighter of water. How in the world is a tiny embryo supposed to implant in a water free, roller coaster ridden body? I was heartbroken. It felt as though we had taken every dollar spent and flushed it down the toilet along with all the water I was heaving.
Despite all of this, I had hope. Isn’t it amazing that the basic human response to a situation is still hope for the best? I did not verbalize this, I remained outwardly cautious, but inside I was glowing with hope. This WOULD work. We have been through so much, the month was ideal to start a pregnancy and I am strong enough to handle this. I felt twinges in my body like I did when the Tiny One was busy burrowing into his first home. I rested my hand over my belly in hopes that the precious, growing human would feel my warmth and presence and know all was all right. When the Tiny One would wrestle and accidentally kick my belly, I wondered if that was the beginning of the sibling relationship and it made me smile. I was sure it was going to be a girl.
Sunday brought a negative test. Today has brought a negative test as well. I am waiting for the Tiny One to arise and start his day so we can go confirm this with a blood result. I am aching with sadness, but the funny thing is, even in the reality of what I know to be true, I still have a tiny shred of hope waiting for the final results.
It is common knowledge that teenagers have no sense of mortality. What I learned last week is that not all adults do either. I know that I will age. I know that I will not live forever. I thank God for my strong and imperfect thighs when I run past someone who is struggling to simply walk. I knew these things but I had not viscerally felt them until last week.
Our in vitro fertilization journey has been very different from the first journey when we had the tiny one. The drugs are different; the time line is a different. The medication made me sicker than I could have imagined. I sobbed uncontrollably from the hormones. I saw the needles being prepared and would sit, shake, and sob all the while knowing they were not that bad. My husband would apologize as he shoved 1 of 3 needles into my belly. I was awake most nights trying to breathe shallowly so I would not vomit. It was not like that last time….
Like last time, I produced a gazillion eggs. I am a hen. I was ridiculously proud of this. They cut short my injections and scheduled my surgery. I bought an US Magazine and looked forward to being in bed because, at my core, I am lazy. They retrieved 24 eggs during surgery. 16 were mature and I happily went to bed. I remembered the last recovery being palatable, so I forced my husband to take our tiny toddler to run at the park after his long and boring morning. They left and I read. I started to not feel great, so I went to get my anti nausea pills, which were no more than 15 feet away. I fell. I could not get up. Please Lord, do not let me vomit. The only thing worse than vomiting would be pooping my pants in public. Ok, let me vomit if it means never pooping my pants in public. I crawled back to bed and called Pat. It got worse.
I never know when it is appropriate to call the doctor so I waited. I could no longer stand up without dizziness and nausea, and pain started spreading all over my torso. I could not sit down, lay on my back, or on my right side. I knew it did not make any sense, but wondered if it was a heart attack. Ok, perhaps now it is ok to call the doctor. My doctor said I needed to come back to his office. I had to kneel in the back of the car because I could not sit and I said things that were not nice at all whenever my husband hit a bump in the road. Really.Not.Nice. The doctor sent me across the street to the hospital where we waited for 7 HOURS to be admitted. This entire time was spent on my left side. They were unable to do a cat scan because I could not lie on my back, even after 3 rounds of intravenous pain meds. I waited 6 more hours to be told that I had fluid and most likely blood in my abdomen from an ovary follicle that failed to clot during my egg retrieval surgery, and now I needed more surgery to fix it. They thought the surgery would take 15 minutes. It took 2 hours. My sweet, precious husband was in a full panic mode waiting to find out anything. He said he was so desperate he asked a maintenance worker if he could find out what was going on in surgery. They removed 2 liters of blood from my abdomen. I could finally rest on my back and sit. It was glorious until a few hours later I was too weak to move at all. I am not sure which situation scared me more. I needed to decide if I would accept a blood transfusion. The people in my life who know me deeply know I am terrified of this. I have irrational fears of diseases and am also a control freak. I had to let go and trust because otherwise I would not be leaving the hospital anytime soon. The beautiful view out my hospital room window of the foothills, bright blue skies, and wide lanes where I could walk and run convinced me just as much as my father’s voice over the phone to embrace the transfusion. I left the next day.
My husband asked me if I thought God was punishing us for being greedy and wanting another child. That probably saddened me the most of anything we had gone through during this procedure. I do not think we were being punished. I, too, lost faith briefly, but looking back, I think a small gift was being in that room with the beautiful view. That was a small nudge to remind me what waited for me outside those walls. Life. Running. Hiking. My family. More time to depend on my body while I am young. And just maybe in a year or so, another baby. Maybe. Hopefully.
I take videos of Teeny all day long. When he naps, I watch them. After he goes to bed, I watch them again. I email them to my mother and father and expect responses so I can revel in his wonderfulness over and over. There is probably not a full 60 seconds that I do not think about him. He is 16.5 months and I still cry once per day thinking about how much I love him.
This is not an activism post, but something I have been thinking about for a while and simply wanted to say aloud. I am generally socially liberal, and I used to be pro-choice. I do not like government butting into peoples’ lives and this seemed more of a personal matter than governmental. I believe in the right for all humans to be able to marry and I believe in kindness for animals raised for food consumption, but I no longer believe in the idea of pro-choice. I remember discussing this with my best friend’s husband saying, “Who am I to tell someone else what they can do with their body?” Do you know what changed this? I could not have a baby.
If you know me or have read my blog, you know that we could not have a baby naturally. Every step we took up that giant mountain of infertility treatments changed my opinion. If one woman who was not ready to have her child would just let me have that baby…. Rational or irrational, suddenly all potential babies seemed like my potential child and the idea of someone not wanting that child, not knowing that I would travel and do anything to have that child was unbearable to think about.
We finally did get pregnant, and pregnancy through in vitro fertilization is a very different process than regular pregnancy. Everything is monitored from the moment the embryo is placed in your body. When we lost one of the embryos, we did an ultrasound at 6 weeks. Guess what, we saw a little fighter with a strong heartbeat. The doctor did not think he would make it, but he fought. I was barely pregnant in terms of time, but I was already a mother. That little heartbeat in a yolk sac has grown into my entire world. It is an unrealistic fantasy, but I would like a whole brood of them running around (provided they all slept at night.) I can think of nothing better than just being at home with a whole team of tiny Szurpickis; breaking things, running experiments in my brand new bathroom, locking each other out of the house. These small people are so much fun! Seeing him at 6 weeks, intent on making it to full life solidified my earlier belief that I am 100% pro-baby growth. Pro-life is a rotten term. We are all pro-life.
This change in mindset came from my own experience. It is just personal. This is my general opinion, knowing that each situation is different and shouldn’t be judged. It is simply something to think about.
There are needs and then there are wants. I count my blessings, when I run, that all of my needs are provided, along with many of my wants. I am still greedy. Here are my wants:
- A new couch. Mine is repulsive.
- An outdoor rug for my courtyard.
- To live in a stronger school district for the tiny one.
- Hair extensions.
- In all honesty, I desperately want a Chloe handbag.
- To win the lottery even though I don’t buy lottery tickets.
We just met with our fertility specialist who told us that we have roughly a 0% chance of having a child naturally. Suddenly, my wants change, and unfortunately they are wants.
- A second child.
- Another happy and HEALTHY tiny one.
- More belly laughter from someone under 1-year-old.
- More diapers to change.
- More croup to keep me awake at night.
We have decided that there is another round of ivf left in us. There is another round of injections, potential surgeries, emotional hurt, financial (God awful) stress, and weight gain (forgive my vanity) in us to try. If you have not been through this, let me give you hope. It can work. I remember sitting in my doctor’s exam room, crying that I could take no more after having to cancel our second round of ivf in exchange for a second surgery. It takes you to the depths of despair, but I had an incredible partner to catch me in those moments. Surprising no one more than myself, every day I thank God for how hard it was to have this tiny bundle of joy. I am more patient because of our struggle to conceive him. I value each repulsive diaper because I wanted him so badly. I see beauty in a sleepless night at 4 a.m. because I so desperately wanted to rock my own child. Truthfully, the money we spent seems like a bargain because of what it gave me emotionally in return. I can only say this after the fact. Had it not worked, I would have been resentful of forgoing numerous glamorous vacations and Chloe handbags. The glorious side of today and not yesterday is the worst case scenario: if the tiny one is the only child we are graced with, he is enough. Enough joy, enough laughter, and enough love to share. He was our need.