Sometime before dawn today, a bird began singing right outside our window. It was a clear and sweet song and loud enough that it woke me up. The bird happily warbled on and on, and in my dream-like state, I felt like it was trying to tell me something.
Please little bird, can you check on my embryos across town? Do I have a baby-to-be waiting for me?
I fell back asleep, feeling more calm, and slept deeply until I was woken sometime later to the jarring sound of my phone ringing. I leaped out of bed, my heart thudding in my chest. If it was our clinic, it could only be bad news.
Grabbing the phone, I realized it was only the alarm I had set the night before. I crawled back in bed with T, my heart still pounding.
“You’re trembling,” my husband informed me. “It’s going to be ok, really. I love you and no matter what, it’s going to be ok.”
“I’m just so ready for this to be over,” I cried into his shoulder.
We checked into the clinic, and I was disappointed to find that Downer-Debbie nurse instead of Favorite Nurse was on call.
“How are you doing today?” She smiled, friendlier than usual.
“Nervous.” (About to have a panic attack)
Mr. T helpfully added, “It’s a good idea to check her blood pressure,” as nurse wrapped the cuff around my arm.
“Well, you have some beautiful embryos waiting for you!”
“I do?! Really?”
“Yes, a 5AA and a 4AA. We almost never give out a 5AA rating so they must be really special ones.”
“Are you sure that’s my record? That doesn’t seem right.”
She showed me the record, and there they were. But from our 14 eggs, down to seven embryos, only these two had made it. The others had either arrested or hadn’t made it to blastocyst stage. Two others were morulas, which meant they were in the process of becoming blastocysts, but hadn’t made it yet. Not a good sign by Day 6.
Here’s the problem. I love the underdog. These two morulas could be just like me, I reasoned to Mr. T. They haven’t qualified for the Boston Marathon yet, but they haven’t given up yet, right?
The embryologist had just finished explaining our embryo report and given us a basic primer about how embryos develop, expecting me to take his recommendation to just transfer the two blasts without question. He didn’t realize I knew the terminology and the success rates- or that I liked to question everything.
“But if these morolas are unlikely to develop, why can’t we just give them a chance? Why not put in those two morolas with one of the top blasts and save the other blast for later?
He didn’t understand my question or my reasoning.
“Because we want you to have a healthy baby. Mulitples bring so many risks…”
“I understand that, but you also said that it’s unlikely the morolas would make it. We know they won’t make it to freeze. I just want to give them all a chance. And we’ve been through so much. The last “perfect” embryos didn’t end up as our babies- so maybe these slow-pokes would.”
The nurse understood what I was saying. She tried to explain my reasoning to the embryologist, but he didn’t want to “think creatively” about the situation. Finally Dr. IVF came into the room. (My favorite doctor, the only one who is a woman.)
She had been there when we discovered our second loss after IVF 2.0. She understood what we had been through.
“Why don’t we give you and your husband a few minutes to talk it over. You need to really think about the risks of triplets and what you would do if all three were to develop, but I understand what you are saying,” she said as she left us.
By this point I was in tears.
“What do you think, T? I just want to give those little ones a chance- and give ourselves the best chance.”
My husband, always calm and comforting, held my hand and carefully gave his opinion without sounding like he was on their side.
“What if we transfer the two best and just ask them to give the morulas one more day in the dish to give them a chance to develop? Would that make you feel better?”
I nodded. I knew he was right. I’m not greedy. I don’t need triplets or even twins. Just one healthy baby.
The embryologist agreed to give our slow-poke morulas another day, reminding us again how unlikely it was that they would make it. I hope they prove him wrong.
I dried my tears and prepared for transfer, watching the monitor for the third time this year as my “maybe-babies” were launched into my uterus.
Mr. T held my hand and we talked about life beyond IVF during the required 25 minute wait with my legs up. We were old pros at this now.
Now I’m home, imagining my two perfect blasts- my “maybe-babies” exploring their new accommodations. I hope they feel at home in there. I hope that years from now, I can read this back, and remember today as the day I first brought home my baby.
But either way, I’m already living my “happily ever after.” And I’m determined to give this story a happy ending- one way or another.