Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Houston, We Have a Heartbeat(s)

Actually, we have two heartbeats. Two perfect little flickering heartbeats. Two thriving embryos inside of me. It was like seeing a miracle.

Here’s how it happened. I was flat on my back on the table waiting for the doctor. Nervous doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling. Even with the calming, steady presence of Nicole, I was close to losing it. The doctor swoops in at 7:30, looks over my chart, and after some pleasantries and an overly exuberant hello to Nicole, he comes out with the “you’re going to feel me touching you” prelude to the sonogram insertion. (Why they need to narrate these things I’ll never know.) I think my heart stopped. I know I stopped breathing. And I didn’t know what I was supposed to look for, despite my best googling efforts. I was in the dark and scared out of my mind. All I saw was fuzz. Lots and lots of fuzz. And then a sac. After maybe 5 seconds the doctor points to a corner of the one of the sacs showed us the flickering. That, he says, is a heartbeat. He wiggled the wand around to find the second embryo who was, according to the doctor, tucked away in a corner (my uterus has corners?) and points out another flickering heart.

I don’t remember what happened immediately next but I know I felt such relief and gratitude. And that lasted all of a minute.

As the doctor was leaving, I panicked and tried to spurt out as many questions as I could muster under distress. Were they flickering enough? Were they flickering in the right place? Do they look normal? What about the yolk sacs? Do we need to worry about those? What about the size of the embryos? Did he even measure then to see if they were perfect 6w1d? Rapid fire questions of which none he really answered except to say that he was pleased with how everything was progressing and we’ll see you next week. Underlying context: Relax, silly girl. He quotes my chances of a negative outcome (I can’t write out that word) as between 5 and 8 percent. That’s 92 to 95 percent chance of everything turning out ok. Yet I am not comforted at all. I can find pessimism in optimism. It’s a gift.

So it’s another week of fretting, googling, stressing, distressing, and general all-around freaking out for me. Nothing like a few failed pregnancies to ensure that you don’t take anything too lightly. It’s Wednesday now and I realize that there is no way I can make it all the way till next Monday before I see what it going on in there. Next step: Making sure the sacs are growing at the rate they are suppose to and monitoring the heartbeats in terms of beats per minute.

We’ve become attached already. I want these babies; both of them. We’ve picked out names and designed how we are going to build the babies’ bedroom. We’ve picked out the crib (Stokke) and the stroller (the new double-decker Phil and Ted) and wardrobe (they will dress like Casual Weekend Nicole regardless of sex, so that means khaki pants or critter pants and Ralph Lauren button downs).

We tried for so long and suffered so much and endured so much pain and loss and put our relationship through the wringer and spent so much money…we are ready for this to work. I pray this is going to work. Yet I am looking over my shoulder every second of the day, questioning every twinge, waiting for something bad to happen. What a way to live.

I read a quote the other day and it has become my new mantra: It will all be ok in the end. And if it isn’t ok, it isn’t the end.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Path of Least Regret

The transfer was almost an out-of-body experience. Since Nicole was in Texas, I had to remember on my own white-gown-opening-in-back under blue-robe-opening-in-front myself. That is challenging for someone with a full bladder, a tenuous grip on her emotions, and a girlfriend 3,000 miles and a time-zone away. Then for the good luck charms: Nicole’s picture in my blue skid-proof booty; Jen’s medal safely safety-pinned inside the robe; Mina’s Mom’s ring on my pinky finger (the only finger it would fit considering The Bloat) and a picture of Leif and Skye too. I felt that I smuggling contraband (a.k.a., liquids onto an airplane).

While not-so-patiently waiting for the doctor I vaguely recall talking on my cell to Nicole, who was delayed at the airport (thank God, so we could speak before the transfer). I had on my cumulous hair net, which makes me look ridiculous. I guess we need to protect my uterus from stray migrating head hairs. My only solace is that everyone has to wear the hair net, doctors and nurses included.

When he came in, I couldn’t read him at all. Did his face say Sorry, all of the embryos are gone? I recall him introducing himself (he is the director of the practice and one of the doctors I rarely met with during monitoring) and I stupidly said “I’m Jennifer.” Which he probably knew. His news was good; I was relieved. Nine embryos made it to Day 5. We discussed how many to put back and decided on three. Icy terror coursed through my veins as I recalled Nicole’s Absolutely No More Than Two rule. But the doctor seemed confident that this wasn’t a triplet event; just an increased-chance precaution. And this is what happens when I have to voice opinions/decisions on my own. There is a reason why I shouldn’t do these things alone!

We went back down the hall together to the operating room, which is almost romantically dark. The nurses and lab staff were moving about in such Official Business way. I settled onto the table and after a flurry of activity (confirming my name on all sorts of documents, seeing the embryos for the first time on the video screen on the wall, watching them getting sucked up the tube) it was all done. Three embryos are happily looking for real estate in my uterus. I am, as they say, pregnant until proven otherwise.

I was then wheeled on the bed to recovery. The short trip there was in itself surreal. We moved at a dizzying pace that was compounded by the fact that there was something metallic in the lights on the ceiling that reflected my imagine back to me. I have never seen myself from that birds-eye view before, and probably never will again. There was something sobering about seeing myself laying there with the hair net on and tucked into the nubby white blanket.

As soon as I got to recovery I reached for my phone and asked the nurse if it was ok to call Nicole, who was still delayed in Texas. I placed the phone on my stomach and she gave her what is now sadly ritual pep talk to the embryos.

No coffee. No strenuous exercise. No heavy lifting. I can’t take baths. I can’t sleep (insomnia). I can’t concentrate for more than three seconds on anything.

As much as I complain I am happy to sacrifice baths and coffee and bleu cheese and strenuous activity and even Ambien for this cause. After all, when I look back I want to think I made the right decisions so I can live with no regrets.

And that—as Mina I hope prophetically said—was the most beautiful day of my life.