On our way to the clinic for our transfer this morning, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds, directly over the building where my “maybe babies” have been hanging out for the past four years. I hoped it was a good sign.
Mr. T and I walked into the hospital hand in hand, as we had for so many years before. As we took the elevator up to the 10th floor, I remembered how embarrassed I was to get off at the “infertility” floor for the first time. I’d watch the others getting off at floors like “cardiology”, actually jealous of them.
Now, the 10th floor feels like home. Even after all these years. I look around the waiting room and wonder about everyone else’s stories. I want to hug them all. But in real life, we all sit quietly, avoiding eye contact.
In the embryo transfer room, I sit on the table with my paper skirt, trying to peer into the embryology room next door as we wait.
“What do you think their accommodations look like?” I ask Mr. T. He knows I’m talking about our “maybe babies” and the place they have called “home” for four years.
“I think you’d be disappointed,” my practical husband responded. “I doubt there are flowers and gardens. Probably just a freezer full of test tubes.”
The embryologist finally came in with her clip board. With the experience of an infertility veteran, I look at her face, trying to gauge her expression before she speaks. Good news or bad new? She looks neutral.
“You had two day six embryos frozen…” she began. My heart skipped a beat as I honed in on her use of the past tense.
“….it looks like they both survived the thaw,” she finished.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
She went on to say that they looked fine, but that “it’s always hard to tell,” and asked if I had any questions.
Do I have any questions?
YES! I want to know everything about them! Their favorite foods, their favorite books, what they want to be when they grow up. What color eyes and hair and who will they look like.
But of course she doesn’t know any of this. Instead I grasp around for questions I can ask, anything to help me get to know these tiny maybe babies from the only person who might ever see them.
I ask about the shell. (still intact, not hatched yet.)
Do they both look about the same? (one looks a little better than the other.)
And finally: “If all the other embryos in batch result in miscarriages, by the laws of the transitive property, does that mean that these will end in miscarriage too?”
She doesn’t know. But she also says the laws of transitive property as I’m describing them don’t apply to embryo cohorts. So that’s good.
She leaves us, and the nurse comes in to offer apologies for the doctor running late. It’s going to be a bit longer. She asks if I’d like to “half” empty my bursting bladder. They still need it to be full for transfer, in order to see the uterus.
I knew that there would be no stopping if I “broke the seal” now, so I soldiered on. More concerning was the thought that after making them wait four years, my “maybe babies” were hanging out in a dish, just waiting. I just wanted them home.
Finally, 45 minutes late, Doctor L came in. We still send him Christmas cards with pictures of our daughter every year- with the words “so grateful to you” scrawled on the back. So knowing the care and time he gives his patients, I forgive the delay.
At this point though, my bladder feels like a baloon ready to pop. Mr. T holds my hand and coaches me to think “deflating thoughts, like a popped balloon.” Not helpful!
After everything is rigged up, my legs and but almost falling off the table, Dr. L says he has a great view of my uterus thanks to my ballooning bladder.
I confirm my name again to the embryologist through the window of the lab. And then finally, my “maybe babies” are home.
We wait for the required 30 minutes after the transfer, reclined on the table. I clutch the photo they gave me of the embroys being released into the womb. A dark universe with a commet streak. There they are.
Mr. T holds my hand and asks me if I’ll be ok. If it’s ok if E ends up an only child.
I’m surprised to hear this question coming from my eternal optimist husband. At such a hopeful moment. But I understand where he’s coming from. He’s seen me at my most heartbroken moments, and doesn’t want to repeat that again.
Neither do I. I can’t predict how I’ll feel when this chapter is over. For now it’s about hope.
Mr. T kissed my tummy with our two “maybe babies” somewhere in there.
Beta day (pregnancy test) is Valentines day.