Monday, April 23, 2012


I have always been fascinated by pictures of embryos.  There is something amazing, surreal almost, and then a sense of something really special.  This is not a picture most parents ever see or have in a baby book.  I vacillate between feeling privileged to have these beautiful photos and bitter that I can't live the land of  "babies come from sex".  This picture is of our snowbaby, embryo c, AKA Hope.  After going through the emotional calisthenics of  'should we have our embryo tested?  should we proceed with this FET at our clinic or go to CCRM?  should we let her go and move on to donor eggs?...' after making peace with our original decision to pursue our FET, we felt that we were given a shot at a whole new miracle.  As I mentioned before we were given the responsibility of bringing our little one to the RE's facility in a nitrogen tank.  It was an emotional day to say the very least.  One minute I was carrying the tank into the ARTS facility where we had left Hope nearly 3 years ago.  A bit later I was starring into the tank at a cup.  The cup was holding a straw with my name, social, and a date on it.  The date was the day after Miller and Savannah were transferred, the day Hope was frozen.  Through tears I confirmed that, yes, it was me.  She was mine.  And with that, Pierce I strapped her in to the belt in the backseat of the Explorer.  I sat in the middle, one arm around her in the tank and the other, ironically, in Miller's car seat.  I cautioned Pierce to drive carefully and made nervous conversation the less than 10 miles nearly due north.
At the clinic we waited for the embryologist to come out and speak with us.  She had the report that showed all of the embryos that had been retrieved during our cycle.  She smiled, pointed to the paperwork, and said, "I did these."  Her smile was comforting, and she seemed genuinely thrilled to be reunited with an "old friend".  I remember thinking that she wasn't a typical science geek.  She had such a heart and spoke of my embryo as well...I'll get back to that thought.  Anyway, she asked to see the picture of our embryo.  I told her that I knew Dr. B had one in my file but that the hospital had not given us one when we picked her up.  She explained to us that in her notes from May 2009, she had graded our embryo with two letters, separated by a comma.  Yes, I had seen that on the report.  This means, she said, that this embryo is two babies.  She wanted to show us on the picture, but since we didn't have it I had to take her word for it.  She said that it was very rare for this situation to actually turn into the live birth of identical twins, but she felt obligated to let us know as they had recently transferred an embryo like ours, and the couple did in fact become pregnant with identical twins.  I dared to let my mind go there.  Pierce and I picked out names for two girls and then two boys.  I considered nursery logistics, maternity leave, potential bedrest issues and the ugly drama that would no doubt arise in the workplace.  I pictured Christmas morning with my gorgeous, nearly-three year-old and two little bundles in matching My First Christmas onesies, all with little blond heads and pale, curious eyes.  I dared to dream.  I believed that God had this miracle saved up just for our little family, that he would not allow my father's bloodline to end with Miller, that my shred of 39 year-old fertility had been carefully preserved to carry out this blessed mission.  And just like that, Hope and Grace were gone.

This is how it all went down.  March 16 was Cycle Day 1.  March 17 I started taking Estrace.  March 28 I had a lining check, and all was wonderful.  Lining measured 13, which is textbook I am told.  Apparently it is noted somewhere in my file, "Patient always makes good lining".  U/S tech did note that I had a few cysts, so I had to give blood to ensure that I had not ovulated through the Estrace.  If I had we would have scrapped the cycle and started over.  Dr. B discussed dates with us, and we all decided on April 3.  We ended the appointment with my first IM shot of progesterone.  All was going well.  The next day my bloodwork results showed that I had not ovulated, and all systems were go.  We continued the progesterone shots every night.  Pierce was actually quite good at them, despite the fact that I had started to develop bruises and hard knots on my hips.  The day before transfer I stressed all day that I would receive a call that she had not survived the thaw.  I couldn't focus on anything.  I found myself in silent prayer nearly all day.  Transfer day came, and after signing a bunch of releases and handing over our tax refund, I undressed and waited.  I had a full bladder, but I wasn't uncomfortable.  Even before the valium I had an odd sense of calm.  It was out of our hands.  Only God could determine the fate of our snowbaby now.  I watched the flickering light on the screen above my head as Dr. B guided her to the top of my uterus.  The embryologist checked the catheter to make sure that she had not gotten stuck and confirmed that yes, Hope, was back in her momma.  I felt such a sense of victory!  We had come so far.  39 year-olds never have embryos make it to freeze, and many embryos do not survive the thaw process.  Identical twins are extremely rare, and yet we made one of those rare embryos.  We, who can't make babies the old fashioned way, made a miraculous embryo at advanced maternal age, froze it, thawed it, and brought it back home. 

Eight days later I peed on a stick, no two sticks, BFN times 2.  Two days after that I went for my blood draw with a heavy heart.  The idiot that drew my blood asked me if I was nervous or if I thought I already knew.  I told her that I was pretty sure it would be negative.  She then proceeded to ask me if I was bleeding and I said no.  She then said, "Well that's a good sign."  I wanted to respond, "OK, you fucking moron.  I am on hormones that are preventing me from bleeding.  It doesn't matter how not knocked up I am, I will not bleed until my husband is instructed to stop stabbing me in the ass with large needles every night.  Now, shut up, and take my blood because clearly you know nothing else about what goes on around here", instead I said, "Sure, I guess so".  Pierce got the call around 3:00 that afternoon.  No surprises, no miracles, no numbers to analyze.  It's been over a week.  I miss Hope.  I feel some comfort in knowing that she made it home to me alive, but what was it about my body that couldn't sustain her?  What bigger purpose did God have for her to fulfill?  I knew going into this that this might not turn out well.  Somehow that knowledge doesn't make it easier.  Where does one turn when hope is gone?

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