Category Archives: Infertility

The Memory of Little Feet

 

I’ve always been dismayed at those bloggers who invite you into the most personal moments of their lives, and then suddenly disappear without a word. So rude! So abrupt! So unsettling. And after letting more than a year lapse since my last post, I became one of them.

I’m so sorry!

It was never my intention. I’ve started writing so many posts in my head, but life has been one big glorious, messy, chaotic interruption. I left my job when I went on bedrest at the hospital, so I no longer even have those moments to steal away for a few tweets or updates.

I’m hoping this time I’ll get to hit “publish” and give you all the long over-due update about what happened after we escaped from the NICU and brought C & S home.

It’s all been so much harder and so much easier than I expected. Easier because C & S are the sweetest babies with such sunny temperaments. Easier because they continue to “graduate” from their specialists, with clean bills of health. Easier because big sister loves them like no others. Harder because big sister at age three is a tough one. Harder because after surviving infertility, five weeks of hospital bedrest and two months in the NICU, there’s the joy and burden of Appreciating Every Single Miraculous Moment.

Sometimes when my three-year old is having a tantrum and screaming so loud that the walls are trembling and her sisters start crying in alarm, or she needs help going to the potty just as I’ve buckled all three girls into their car seats, I marvel how much I went through for the privilege of being in this moment, of being a mother of three who all need me so much. I’d do it all again just to be in this unpleasant moment of wiping poop while everyone is crying.

Though to be honest, in these particular moments I want to tell them, “Hey kids- I’ve already gone through hell and back to have you here, can’t you just give mommy a break now?”

Of course, for each of those moments, there are other moments that make my heart explode with joy: hearing the girls laughing together as big sister pulls a blanket across the floor with her little sisters running to catch her and go for a ride. The twins feeding each other cheese and Cheerios across their high chairs. The girls all dancing together and clapping as the littlest sister learns to twirl. The twins giving each other kisses, waking up from their naps talking in their own little language.

I watch them and marvel that C and S were frozen in a dish for over two years. That they were born at 29 weeks and 6 days, weighing just 3.5 and 2.7 pounds, spending the next two months in a warm little box until they were strong enough to come home. That my determined little C almost didn’t make it that night she was born.

During those days in the NICU, I consoled myself with the thought that my babies would never remember spending their first two months of life in a hospital. That they wouldn’t remember being on morphine, needing breathing support and IVs. Being too fragile for even their mama to hold them until they were three days old. That they wouldn’t remember the pain, pokes and pricks and procedures. Then someone told me that preemies feet “remember.” They are more sensitive to touch, as their tiny feet were used as the point of blood draws and IVs.

The days leading up to the twins’ first birthday this year were so difficult- I couldn’t help but relive each day from July 10th when I went to the hospital to their birthday on August 12th with dread. The details I wanted to forget were still there; how it felt to prepare again and again for their premature birth and the possibility that they might not be strong enough to survive. Fearing I might not be strong enough to survive if they did not. The dire predictions and statistics from the neonatologists who reminded me that even if my babies survived, they could have severe cognitive impairments.

I kept their birthday simple. Just a small family dinner and cake. We sang to each of them, and then let them have the little smash cakes I made. They dove into those cakes with such delight, devouring the whipped cream frosting and giggling with glee as they smeared it all over their faces and trays.

I still smile to think of it. As they smashed those cakes, they replaced my traumatic memories of their birth day with the happy memories of this first birthday.

C and S are 15 months old  now. They still have appointments with the pediatric development team every four months to assess their motor skills, language and cognitive development. They are meeting the appropriate developmental milestones for both their adjusted and actual ages. Their pediatrician said that if it weren’t for their diminutive statures (S is only 16 pounds and C is 18 at 15 months) he’d never even know they were preemies. Their lungs are clear, their vision is fine. Their PDA’s and PFO’s (holes in their hearts, normal for preemies) have closed.

And my heart is healing too. I tickle the twins’ feet now and they giggle. Whatever memories may be in their little feet, they can’t be all bad.

This may be the end of my blog, so I’ll say goodbye for now. Thank you for supporting me through so many difficult, scary days. I wouldn’t have made it through with my sanity (somewhat) intact without you. Your stories and encouragement will be part of me forever. You’ve made a difference in my life, more than you could know.  

With so much gratitude- Jess

bath

The same tubby one year later. September 2014 and September 2015.

 

 

A Happy Un-Birthday

If IVF 1.0 hadn’t ended in a miscarriage at eight weeks, today would have been my first baby’s third birthday.

And if these tiny babies growing in my womb now had been first round picks instead of third round picks by the embryologist,  they would be turning three today. Instead they are 14 weeks toward their new birthday, which hopefully will be sometime at the end of September or early October.

It’s sad, happy, crazy, strange and amazing all at once.

I wonder how I’ll explain this to the twins. That their birthday should have been April 21, 2011. Spring instead of Fall babies. 2014 instead of 2011. Not that I believe in astrology, but I wonder how an astrologist would reconcile their birth-dates.

It’s a brave new world- and I’m so grateful for it all. But I still miss those babies I never met.

My next appointment with the OB is a week from today.

 

Hope and Courage in the Freezer

At the lake

I’m back from vacation- a wonderful two weeks unplugged at my parents’ cabin on a lake in New Hampshire- and I’m still basking in that post-vacation glow. I feel so rested that I finally felt up to making a phone call I’ve been avoiding for years. I called my fertility clinic.

I have two frozen embroys there from the 2010 vintage. That was not a good year, as those who have followed my story know.  

2010, the year of my first IVF cycle, started off with such promise. We had six beautiful embryos including the first 5AA embryos our nurse had ever seen. When the first two perfect embryos ended in a miscarriage at eight weeks, we were heartbroken, but still hopeful. “Just bad luck” was our official diagnosis. When the second two embryos ended in miscarriage, I thought my heart would be broken forever. My hope was gone. And after lots of tests, our diagnosis was again “Just bad luck.”

I couldn’t face the last two embryos from that doomed cycle. When I finally got the courage to try again- I wanted a fresh start and a fresh cycle. That cycle didn’t go well. By Day 5, our embroys were lagging, and none had yet reached the important blastocyst stage. On Day 6, we transferred the only two that made it. One of those is now our tenacious, beautiful little daughter. I’m still wonder-struck.

And yet the grief of those first two losses haunts me. Whenever Mr. T starts talking about going back for our last two embroys, I balk and change the subject.

But on Friday, I picked up the phone and called the clinic. There was a new receptionist there. I felt the familiar pang of anxiety as she took my message, promising me that the embryologist would call me back within a few days.

Five minutes later, the embryologist called me back. I recognized her voice as my favorite embryologist. The caretaker of my frozen “maybe-babies.” The super-hero who helped make my daughter possible.

I gave her my back story; “Remember me? I was the one with the great-looking embroys and multiple miscarriages…It’s been a few years, and I just thought I should check in on our last two embroys… are they still there? Have they been behaving? How do they look?”

I could hear her leafing though my file.

“Yes, you have two from that first cycle. It looks like all the embryos from that cycle had high grades-all about the same. The fact that you had a pregnancy- even if it ended in a miscarriage- is a good sign.”

(I’ve learned the professionals love to say this- as if miscarriage could be comfort.)

“I just keep thinking of these two as the ‘bottom of the barrel’ from a very bad crop,” I explained in my best bravado, my voice wavering with the emotion I was trying to keep in check. “I’m just wondering what you think their chances are…”

Her voice was warm, and I knew she was trying to comfort me, without promising anything (for we all know there’s no guarantee in this business.)

“Well, our freezing process has changed in the past two years since yours were frozen, so our success rates with frozen transfers are higher now than they were with the old process. But the fact that your frozen transfer resulted in a pregnancy, though a miscarriage, is a good sign.” She said it again. I knew she meant well, but fact that my “maybe-babies” were sitting around with the outdated freezing process was unsettling.

“We could do PDG to test them, but since you only have two and it’s expensive, it might not be worthwhile…” she explained, trying to give me the feeling that I had options.

I thanked her for the information, and said that I knew I just had to get up the courage to give those two a try. Someday.

I’m still not sure when I’ll be ready. Whenever I think about potential dates, I find myself thinking “Would that be a good time to have a miscarriage?” I’ve already had a summer miscarriage. That was not a good time. My cousin’s wedding in September? Not a good time. Thanksgiving? Not a good time. Christmas? I’ve done that too- and take it from me- that’s the absolute worst time. Of course, the answer is that there’s never a good time to have a miscarriage.

But tonight we drove by the “Fertility Tower” as I call my clinic, a tall building on the waterfront. I can’t pass by without being so grateful and amazed that our daughter began there- and wonder if she has a sibling or two- who should be older than her by now, frozen and waiting for me to be brave.

So for now, I’ll keep looking for my own “infertility twin” and hope I find my courage eventually.

I will be sharing some more happy-ending infertility adventure stories here soon- let me know if you have a story to share to spark hope for others. Even though it can be scary to hold onto it, I still believe that hope that makes the world go round.

First Time Lucky- An IVF Story

Tina

Tina with her IVF and FET babies 

When I found out that IVF was our only option, I wanted to hear as many stories as possible about those people who “got lucky” on their first try with IVF. In the end, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones myself, but Tina’s story shows that even with severe male factor infertility, and only 20 sperm collected from TESE surgery, there’s hope for “beginner’s luck” with IVF. 

This is Tina’s Story:

My husband and I live in New Zealand. We are both teachers and had always talked about wanting children. My husband wanted to start ASAP after meeting in 1997 but I wanted to do everything the right way. We traveled and lived in London for 6 years, got married in Las Vegas, returned to NZ and bought a house, got two dogs and started trying to conceive in 2005.

After a year or so nothing had happened and I had a feeling something was wrong. My husband had suffered with testicular cysts on a number of occasions so we went to a GP for tests. They all came back in the normal range so we carried on trying to conceive for another year. I took my temperature every morning, I did weekly acupuncture and basically tried every technique I had ever read about.

Finally I admitted defeat and made an appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). It was such a relief after all this time to hand it over to a professional. I had tried everything and we were exhausted.

We were not prepared for my husband’s first sperm analysis. There was almost no sperm found and they froze the sample and unfroze it again and found no sperm had survived freezing. We were told that IVF was our only option. Our RE said it was due to varioceles that my husband had had for many years which had now caused testicular failure. (In easy terms varioceles are like variocous veins in the testicles that cause the area to heat up and this kills off the tissue, meaning it is unable to produce sperm.)

We were told IVF with ICSI was our only option to have a baby but we needed to find sperm first. My husband took fortnightly samples, with a plan to freeze sperm as a backup in case no sperm could be found on the day of egg retrieval using TESE (Testicular Sperm Extraction). Unfortunately, no sperm was found frozen in those samples.

In New Zealand, we have an opportunity for up to two free government cycles of IVF if you meet certain factors eg. BMI, non smoking, severe Infertility, less than 40. So with a bit of weight loss and an 18 month wait-list we were ready to go.

My husband gave me my shots which included him in the process. He found it hard that after the Male Factor Infertility (MFI) diagnosis everything was then happening to me. The cycle brought us closer and we were finally ready for egg collection.

The first hurdle was to get sperm as we had not been able to freeze any as back up. We were brought in early so we had time to try and collect two fresh samples before they would operate on my husband to try and get some sperm from a biopsy. We were elated to get 20 sperm. (My husband had been on a supplement called Menovit which we believed helped.)

At egg collection, we got 12 eggs and 9 fertilized. All 9 were all grade one on day three. I had asked for a day three transfer, but my RE and embryologist convinced me to go to Day five. It was a nervous wait but we transferred one beautiful blast and froze 3 more.

I am a POAS-Holic, so at 6 days past my transfer I saw my first ever second line on a First Response test and I cried like a baby. I woke my husband up and we were so happy. During my time trying to conceive  I had joined many infertility groups online and in real life, and I knew that a BFP (big fat positive in infertility lingo) did not necessarily mean a take home baby, so I was extremely anxious. The beta confirmed the pregnancy and the repeat betas increased as they should.

I managed the anxiety by seeing the pregnancy as a list of hurdles. As we reached each one I looked just to the next. I chose a private OB that worked out of my RE’s office. This was amazing, because I had continuation of care, I could still see my nurses and I got reassurance scans at each visit. I had an anterior placenta so the kicks were harder to feel and i felt them later than most.

I had a sort of survivors guilt, as many of my fellow infertility sufferers were still trying for their take home baby and it had worked first time for us.

April 19, 2010 was the most amazing day of our lives when we welcomed our daughter by c-section due to her being transverse and because I had signs of pre eclampsia. She was everything we had dreamed about and everyday we felt blessed.

As part of our funding we had our blasts frozen for up to 18 months (we would take over storage costs after that) and every transfer would be paid for if we wanted to use them for an indefinite time-frame.
So when our daughter turned one we decided to do a frozen embryo transfer (FET).

Again we were blessed first time and found out we were having a boy. I had a hassle free pregnancy and had same obs who delivered my son by c-section on January the 6th 2012.

I feel incredibly lucky to have my gorgeous children but don’t feel completely done, so in 2014 we will go visit our RE again to see if we can be incredibly lucky and have a third child from one of the two blasts frozen back in 2009. Fingers crossed our luck holds out.

If you have any questions for Tina, you can contact her via her Twitter account: @paul_and_tina or at: http://about.me/tinalouisetaylor

Join the Movement: Drafted but Devoted

resloveApril 21-27th is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). I never intended to join the infertility awareness movement, but like one in eight couples living with infertility, I was drafted. 

In the back of my closet- the bag of IVF needles

Still in the back of my closet- the bag of IVF needles we carried everywhere in our quest to become parents.

After two years trying to conceive “tho old-fashioned way,” we went to a specialist and found out that my husband has congenital absence of the vas deferens. (In simple terms- it’s like a built-in vasectomy- there’s no tubing for the sperm to get out.)

Once we got over the initial shock of our diagnosis, we broke the news to our family as optimistically as we could:

“So….we have some good news and some bad news… The good news is that we want to become parents. The bad news is that the only way for us to get pregnant is with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).”

We explained the “birds and the bees” of IVF to our friends and families, determined to stay positive and show everyone that we weren’t ashamed of our infertility.

Our friends and families wanted to be supportive. But they didn’t always know what to say.

“…Well, you never know.. it could just happen when you just relax and aren’t expecting it,” my well-meaning mother said.

I tried to hide my exasperation.

“No, Mom.  Relaxing won’t get us pregnant. There is zero chance we will get pregnant without IVF. There’s absolutely no way of connecting the sperm to the eggs without help.”

And there were others who gave us sympathetic looks, saying with an air of superiority:

“Wow, going through all that to make a baby? I could never do that. There are so many kids in the world that need homes- I’d just adopt instead.”

Soon we stopped sharing what we were going through- even with our friends and family. After our first IVF cycle ended in a miscarriage, it was too hard to answer their curious and mostly well-meaning questions.

At the time, I didn’t know anyone who had gone through IVF. Struggling through the emotional, physical and financial hardships of infertility was a lonely road without others who understood. I began to blog, and finally found others online and on Twitter who knew exactly what I was going through.

These men and woman knew how to joke about eggs and sperm, about botched hormone injections in parking lots. They knew what to say after the heartbreak of miscarriage. They understood how the desire to have a baby can be a constant ache, a feeling of loss for something we’ve never had and may never have.

That fall there was an article in Self magazine about infertility. My little sister sent it to me along with a bag of Hershey Kisses and a note that said: “I can’t imaging what you are going through right now- but I hope you know I’m here for you.” 

I cried. Her words and the gesture was so sweet. But the article’s topic dismayed me: “Why our reluctance to talk about infertility keeps us from getting the care that we deserve.”   It’s true. While we are going through infertility, so many people don’t want to talk about it. If and when we are successful, many of us want to forget the struggle, as our lives are consumed by the children we worked so hard for. I promised myself that if I got through to the other side of infertility, I wouldn’t forget.

After three cycles of IVF and two miscarriages, after my backside became a perpetual pin-cushion from a billion injections, after our hope had dwindled to nothing and our bank account to match, our last cycle IVF cycle brought us a positive pregnancy test. Nine months later (and I still can’t believe it as I write it) our daughter was born.

To say she was worth it (and we say it all the time) doesn’t even begin to capture all the feelings I have about the journey that made me a mother.

It took me a while to find my way back to my blog. Just as the Self article warned, I was too overwhelmed with the joys and trials of motherhood for the first year of her life. But I knew I’d come back to help others on this path. I’ve started up my blog again to share stories of hope from the other side of infertility, to help others still finding their way.

A friend of mine who also has a baby from IVF asked me if I planned to tell my daughter about her origins. I was surprised.

Why wouldn’t I?

I want her to grow up knowing that infertility isn’t something to be ashamed of. That there are many ways to become a mother. And that no matter what happens in life, there are people out there- strangers even- who are willing to share their stories so that they might help others.

I was drafted to this movement, but I’m here in hopes that one day my daughter won’t need to raise awareness for this disease. I’m here in hopes that her generation will have access to the care and support and insurance coverage for infertility. Most of all, I’m here because no one should have to struggle with infertility alone.

To learn more about RESOLVE, National Infertility Awareness Week or Infertility in general, please visit:

A Pregnant “Surprise” After 8 Years

surprise

Worth the wait- 8 years later.

After 8 years trying to conceive, with a diagnosis of male infertility with low count and low morphology, Jenny’s story gives hope for happy surprises when all hope was lost.

I should note that despite wonderful stories like Jenny’s, I make a point to correct my friends if they suggest that “just relaxing” could be the cure for infertility. But sometimes, “luck can be a lady” after all. 

This is Jenny’s story:

My husband and I have been together for 10 years, and married for 8. Five months before we tied the knot, we decided to throw away the birth control pills. It felt so incredibly daring to do; particularly since I was 23 and he was 21 and we were both just graduating from school that fall.

We knew it might take a few months to get pregnant and we figured it was best to start early. Little did we know that it would take much more than just a few months.

First off, after stopping taking the pill (I had been on it for approximately two and a half years), I suddenly didn’t get a period for four months. I can’t even tell you how many pregnancy tests I took during that time, all of which were negative.

Month after month I didn’t get pregnant. We kept telling ourselves we just weren’t doing it at the right time, or that we weren’t having enough sex. We had absolutely no idea that there could possibly be something wrong, it never crossed our minds.

A year went by. I still wasn’t pregnant, not that we were really paying attention to ovulation or anything like that, which made it easy to make excuses.  Looking back, I marvel at how much we truly didn’t know about conception.

Sometime within the first two years of being off the pill, I went to see a couple different gynecologists. One wanted to put me back on the pill for three months to “regulate” me. I remember getting very upset with him and he nonchalantly said, “Oh honey, when we see you again in five months you’ll be pregnant.” I promptly burst into tears in the office and left.

I then called a second gyno at a different office for a different opinion. I had been reading up and wanted clomid. In going into that appointment, I was pretty forceful and told the doctor exactly what I wanted and basically told him if he didn’t help me I’d seek help elsewhere. He gave me the clomid.

We were so sure that this would be the answer to our problems. I remember taking ovulation tests and getting positives and thinking that this was totally it. How could we possibly fail? But each month provided to be failures.

I was an emotional wreck by this point. And we were reaching the age where our friends were starting their families, so we were constantly inundated with pregnancy announcements and then children’s birthday party invitations. It was depressing.

I remember in on particular instance a coworker announced her pregnancy to us and it caught me off guard. I literally cried for three days about it. My boss and coworkers knew I was a mess and while it was embarrassing, I couldn’t quite tamp down those horrific feelings of being a failure. Shouldn’t having a child be easy?

And in blissful ignorance, my husband and I kept coming up with excuses about why we weren’t getting pregnant. Finally, five or so years into being off the pill and still not achieving pregnancy, I decided it was time to seek a fertility doctor, which was probably the scariest thing ever. Because I was admitting we had a problem.

My cycles have always been irregular and because of that I was certain it was me. I’d done a lot of reading and was pretty sure I had PCOS. I convinced myself that my tubes were full of cysts and that was why I wasn’t getting pregnant.

We went in to do all of our testing, and much to my surprise, all of my test results came back flawless. In fact, my hormone levels and tubes were so perfect it was ridiculous.

And then one day in May the nurse called with my husband’s results. Not only was his sperm count low, but his morphology was .5%. So of the low count he had, only .5% of them were even shaped normally. I was in shock, and the nurse gently asked if my husband was taking any prescriptions that could possibly cause his count to be low. I told her no and then we hung up.

That night I told my husband about his results. He was silent. I remember spending a few days crying quietly to myself. I didn’t want to cry in front of him because I didn’t want him to feel like he was a failure, because even though he had been quiet about it, I knew he was upset and felt as though he had failed us.

We met with the doctor and he gave us a vitamin regime and told us he’d see us in three months. At that point, we were looking at options about what we wanted to do, and realized we had some saving to do if we wanted to have a child.

I’ll readily admit, I went through a long period of anger. Anger because something that so many people have happen so easily was going to cost us thousands of dollars. Anger at what life had handed us.

And I’ll also admit that it was at this point we wondered whether it was really worth it to become parents, particularly at what it would cost us, in stress and money. We put off doing any treatments or even doing a follow up appointment. We kept talking about saving up and trying again, and at one point about two years ago my husband excitedly said he wanted me to start tracking my ovulation so we could start trying again, because he had been taking the vitamins again and wanted to try.

I think that was when I hit rock bottom. Tiredly I told him that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go through the work of trying, it was so much work to track my ovulation each month and sex wasn’t even fun anymore because it was just work. I’m sure I disappointed him but I was just so tired.

In January of 2012, 7 1/2 years after we decided to throw caution to the wind and try to have a baby, I made a resolution to take care of myself. I started eating healthy and going to the gym. In March I signed up for a personal trainer; a year’s contract with two sessions a month. In less than six months I dropped 25 lbs.

When my health insurance was open enrollment I only signed up for $300 on my flex card, because I was going to focus on myself instead of worrying about starting a family. The lady asked me if I wanted to do more in case of potential children and I looked her dead in the eye and told her my husband and I were infertile. She had no response to that.

In the beginning of June 2012, my sister and I had a heated argument about whether I was ever going to pursue treatment. She told me she was afraid I’d put it off too long and run out of time. I told her I wasn’t even sure we would ever have children and I was starting to be ok with that. I wanted to focus on myself.

It was then that I started having weird symptoms. Symptoms like suddenly napping for no reason in the afternoons, yet I was still sleeping 9 solid hours a night. Stuff like my allergies suddenly flaring up when they never do during the summer. And then it was the off and on sore breasts when normally when I’m about to start my period they are sore and then a week later I start.

On June 21, 2012, I randomly decided to take a pregnancy test. I was getting ready to go out of town with a friend for a book conference. I honestly don’t even know what made me decide to take a test. I hadn’t taken one in well over a year. I had just felt off and wanted to rule out pregnancy (like any other month) and move on with my life. I had even went to the store and had bought pads the day before in preparation.

Imagine my shock and disbelief when my test came back positive. In fact, I was so shocked I called my best friend to confirm two lines indeed meant a positive. I was a bawling mess when I called my husband to tell him the news. I ran out to the store to pick up digital tests because I needed to see the word “pregnant.” And lo and behold, when I took that test it came back pregnant.

After nearly 8 years of using no protection, and giving up all hope that I’d ever be surprised with a pregnancy, I was pregnant.

On February 10, 2013, I gave birth to our first child, a son. He is more than I could have ever hoped for. I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to be given a child after all of our struggles.  I stare at him often in wonder and am amazed that we created him. And even though it took us almost 8 years to conceive our child, he was so very much worth the wait.

If you have any questions for Jenny, you can contact her via her Twitter account @jennablooms or on her blog: http://amongblossoms.blogspot.com/

When an All-Natural Girl is Finally Pregnant with her Test Tube Baby

Going from All Natural to All Artificial to what's next?

So what happens when an all natural girl finally gets pregnant with her test tube baby? What’s next?

As I shared in an earlier blog post, I never imagined that my healthy lifestyle raised on organic milk and eggs would ever take such a drastic swing towards to this drug and surgery filled conception process of IVF. I assumed conception would be “natural” and that pregnancy would be a “natural” process as well. Although I wasn’t about to have an at home birth, I expected a “natural” birth with limited intervention and a midwife who boiled water and basically made sure everything was going ok down there as I gracefully pushed out a baby the way nature intended.

I was born in a hospital myself, before my parents made their hippie life in New Hampshire. Two years later my mother gave birth to my sister at home with a midwife on hand. After the delivery, my mother had hemorrhaging so doctor had to be rushed to the house, finding his way through the back country roads to save the day. When my brother came along a few years later, my mother ruled out another at-home birth and researched alternatives nearby (“near” being relative in New Hampshire) to find a “birthing center” in a hospital staffed with midwives in Vermont.

In the liberal city where I live now, I have friends who are midwives themselves, or have delivered their babies “naturally” with midwives. From them all I get an earful about how wrong modern medicine is when it comes to childbirth, that birth is a “natural” process and the increase in c-sections and inductions have made giving birth more dangerous than ever before.

Since I’ve been going through IVF for what seems like forever, their war cry seems irrelevant to me. I’ve had my ovaries pumped up on drugs and harvested, my eggs injected with my husband’s sperm in a lab, grown in a dish for 6 days, and then I watched on a monitor as my doctor and embryologist released these embryos into my womb. Nothing natural about any of that. There’s no possible way my husband’s sperm would have connected to my egg any other way.

Finally graduating from my fertility clinic was incredible, though going from their closely monitored and protected nest into the big world of what comes next has been intimidating. The idea of seeing either a midwife or OB seemed impossible. And I’d have to decide. I put it off for a long time, fearful of the decision as well as being terrified of “jinxing” my good luck.

A couple months ago I was sitting outside in the courtyard of my condo building, painting the flowers that were blooming in the garden. Our neighbor came out with her new baby and preceded to go on and on about her baby, how wonderful it was to be able to walk to the hospital for labor (two blocks away) and how even if she moved back to San Francisco, she would come back to this hospital just to give birth again. At the time I was annoyed. I was fresh off IVF 3.0, waiting for the terrifying first ultrasound, and had no desire to hear her unsolicited advice or answer her questions about my baby plans. I just wanted to paint my pictures in peace and keep my mind off anything baby related.

A few weeks ago I finally summoned my courage, and emailed my neighbor about what doctor she saw at the nearby hospital. She gave me the name of her midwife.

“Did you ever see a doctor?” I pressed her, still feeling unsure if my “brave new world baby” would be safe with a midwife.

She hadn’t seen a doctor, but assured me that they were likely wonderful too.

That night I mentioned to Mr. T that I had made the appointment with the midwife our neighbor had recommended.

“A midwife?” my husband asked, looking horrified. “After all we’ve been through, do you think that’s a good idea?”

“Fine- if you want a doctor- I don’t care. You can call and reschedule,” I said, annoyed that he thought he needed to remind me of the endless worries and all that we’ve been through in this process.

He assured me that if I felt good about it, then he did too. But his reaction struck a chord. Of course I wasn’t sure. After all we’ve been through, we didn’t need to take any chances. I don’t have any pride about having a “natural” childbirth. I honestly don’t care if I need drugs, surgery or whatever interventions they tell me are necessary to have this baby- just so long as we are both healthy at the end of it all.

I called the clinic and asked if I could interview both the midwife and doctor on our visit. The nice receptionist who already knows I’m crazy assured me that I’m welcome to change at any time.

I ran into our neighbor this weekend. She wanted to warn me that her friend didn’t have such a positive experience at the hospital, that the midwife was out when she went into labor and the doctor recommended a c-section.

“Were they both ok?” I asked.

They were. Her cautionary tale didn’t worry me in the least. Instead, I felt reassured that the hospital didn’t have qualms about taking “drastic” measures if necessary. Give me drugs and cut me open if necessary. I’ve been through that already.

So yes, I’ve come a long way from “natural,” baby. I’m grateful for modern medicine and doctors. I’ll do whatever it takes- whatever is necessary- to get you here safely.

For now, one day at a time. Please let Thursday go well. Please let this be the first of many appointments to the midwife- or doctor- whoever we choose.