Both of my children were conceived via in vitro fertilization. This is not a secret and I have written about it before. What I have not written about is our Leo Lion’s conception. I have known what my beauties looked like from 3 days post conception. Amazing! This is our lion’s story.
The transfer process is less clinical than the egg retrieval process. The embryo(s) is/are unfrozen and sometimes they need to give them a bit of time to acclimate. For whatever reason, my precious embryos often did not make it after unfreezing. I said a prayer for each one. I mourned each one.Then I had to move on because there was always (thank you God) another one/baby waiting for its mama to be there. Just like our sweet Teddy, Leo Lion was the last embryo we had. Leo was different. When you are in the advanced maternal age group of at least 35, your embryos go through “assisted hatching” where the embryologist helps the shell open to release the embryo. Quickly after unthawing, Leo Lion was bursting through his shell ALL on his own. We all laughed at the eagerness of this tiny, precious embryo ready to go. He was moved into my womb and the waiting game began.
Have you waited to take a pregnancy test after disappointing months? I have. It is awful. This time, I skipped to the bathroom to take the test, 3 days early. I had a secret. I knew I was pregnant. I knew the day after the transfer. I KNEW. I FELT that tiny and blessed embryo burrowing deep into his home. He made it.
A few days later, the blood test confirmed my intuition and the home pregnancy test. I was VERY pregnant.
Skip forward to the delivery room…..Leo Lion came roaring out of the womb. He roared and roared and roared. I actually started to panic because I knew I was in for a much, much wilder ride than Teeny gave me.
He wanted to nurse immediately and with great intent. He fought going to sleep at night. He roared letting me know he wanted to be held. His pediatrician said he was “very alert.” Leo does not do anything halfway. Even when he is just observing, his little limbs are moving as though he can move himself into the middle of the action. He is vocal about what he wants and does not want. There is nothing casual about Leo Lion. He has been this way since conception.
I find it fascinating that from 6 days past creation he has exhibited very clear personality traits. We did not choose his name based on its meaning, but it is very apt. While IVF is considered a liberal choice, viewing and participating in the process of scientifically creating life has made me very conservative. I have known my child since conception, and I have seen his fierce determination since his cluster of embryonic cells forcefully left their shell. This is a gift and significantly cemented my view on when life begins. My child’s personality began at conception. I know this.
I love you madly Leo Lion. May you always live life fully and fiercely. I will roar behind you, my darling.
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.
My brothers and I fought, a lot, as small siblings. My mom had a friend who was a psychologist and she told her to simply remove herself as an option the next time we were fighting. She followed the professional suggestion and locked herself in her room while the 3 of us argued over something. Apparently we knocked on her door asking for a referee and she told us to work it out ourselves. As the story goes, we stopped arguing, she heard a chair being dragged across the room, a phone being picked up and dialed and then a self righteous voice speaking. This is what she heard. “Hello Operator? My name is Katie Goeschel. My dad works at the hospital and I need you to call him. My mom locked herself in her room and won’t come out.” Enter sprinting mother and CLICK.
The tiny one needs a sibling. He needs a confidant who doesn’t have to go to his own house at night or follow a different set of rules. He needs a last option when no one else is available to play. He needs someone to teach him how to deal with confrontation and to side with him when parents are being unreasonable in his child mind. He needs a best friend and a best enemy (at times.) I may have fought with my brothers, but I cannot imagine a better life without them in it. I may or may not have been convinced one of them was a serial killer while he was going through puberty, but I am entertained and proud of the man he became.
We cannot make our own child without the help of science. We committed emotionally a while back to try in vitro fertilization again, and finally pulled the financial trigger last week. I thought I would share with anyone pondering this way of baby making, and anyone else who is curious, what the process entails as we go along. To anyone who has been told to “just relax” or “go on vacation and it will happen,” this is for you. There is nothing visually sexy or spontaneous about this. Oddly, I find it very sexy to watch my husband prepare my subcutaneous injections, but perhaps this is just me.
We ordered over $4000 worth of medications from one of the few labs who are able to provide. Everything shown in the picture is the medication that covers only 1 cycle of treatment.
Yes, it is that expensive, and yes it is mind blowing and kind of painful to stomach when most people just buy a good bottle of wine before making a baby, but it is worth it and I am grateful that there is an option that provides the lifelong joy of a child. They have to overnight the medications because some must be refrigerated. We met with our reproductive endocrinologist for an ultrasound to make sure I was physically sound to start the process this morning. Our doctor was very excited about my ovaries and I was absurdly peacocking around today because of it. It took about 30 minutes to review the medications and reteach us how to administer all of the medicine that will stimulate my ovaries into making LOTS of eggs. We have to inject the medication at the same time each day, and we chose 9:00 pm as our shot time because my husband thought he could be home by that time to administer the shots.
I choose not to give myself the shots for 2 reasons: I feel very connected to my husband when he gives me the shots, and they burn and make me queasy, so it is best if he does them. As the medication kicks in and the days continue, I will bloat as the eggs push against my abdomen, run out of non-used injection spots and bruise because of it and possibly become somewhat emotionally irrational as I have excess hormones running wild in my body. The emotional part did not happen last time, but I will no doubt blame any moodiness on it. I think this is fair. We have 1 day down and about 11 more to go before I undergo surgery to retrieve the eggs in hope of creating beautiful little embryos. Maybe it will work and our tiny T will have his own brother or sister, but maybe it will not.
Our doctor feels good about our chance of success and gave us a 50/50 chance. This is high in the world of ivf. It is not in our hands and we have accepted that whatever happens in this next year is ok. Our small boy is enough, but 1 more would make our cup overflow with joy.
Last year Patrick and I decided not to celebrate Mother’s Day. We thought it could jinx our pregnancy. We had lost the tiny one’s twin early on, and he had been in jeopardy as well. It was too raw for us to celebrate with any confidence. This year, I cannot wait, but I don’t see it as a day about me. I see it as a day dedicated to being grateful for the opportunity to be T’s mama. I see jokes online about how it’s a day to not have to wipe rear ends or be awakened early, and I know there is truth there, but I see this day differently. Maybe it is because aside from a no napping stretch early on, T is an easy baby. Maybe it is because I only have 1 child, which is infinitely easier than 2. Maybe. I think it comes from all the stress, prayers, and the emotional roller coaster ride we took to create this beautiful baby boy. My greatest luxury is this wonderful little family I am a part of, so today my post is in answer to the trite articles written about the difficulties of being a mother. I can tell you that there is a vast population of would-be mothers out there who’s greatest desire is to clean poop off their own child’s bottom or live with sleep deprivation.
• Today I want you to wake me up in the middle of the night from a deep sleep. I am grateful to be the person you want to comfort you. This time goes too fast and I will take any opportunity to spend time with you when the night is dark and still.
• Please twist on the changing table while your bottom is still dirty. It makes me laugh to see you curious about your world and lets me know that you are growing stronger.
• Please make a big mess today with your food for me to clean up. It is better than any movie I could be watching to see you discover how to squish watermelon and then drool it out.
• Please cry a few times today and reach for me. You will not always want me this much and I savor it.
• To my husband: please do not buy me an expensive gift. I stay home with our child every day. That is the best gift you have ever given me, including my Manolo Blahniks and UCLA gymnastics tickets. Besides, when do you have time to shop? You work constantly to make sure I can stay home. Thank you.
• Please chuck your toys across the room. I have been waiting to see your arm strength.
• Please don’t take a nap today. It will panic me enough to research a million things online and learn something I did not know. It may even help me get in touch with friends I haven’t communicated with while seeking their advice.
• Please bite me while nursing. You are the only human in life who has been able to teach me patience. I love you.