On June 3rd, 1996 my husband and I started ‘dating’.
On October 3rd, 2002 my husband proposed.
Interestingly, the proposal involved my magic number. It started with a question.
“How many children do you want to have someday?” I asked him.
But not wanting to influence his decision, I insisted we write our responses on post it paper and trade off.
He handed me his paper. It said. “Will you Marry Me?”
Mine said: “3”.
So there you have it…our future began on the question of our future children. As the years passed and I battled through infertility, the sweetness of that proposal became steeped in pain and irony. Three. I wanted three…and yet, I’m blessed to have one and have so many people ‘reminding’ me that I’m blessed to have just one...and yet, I wanted my three, damn it. I didn’t want to just be grateful. Maybe it’s greed. I got my miracle.
But I am. Greedy. I wanted more children with such a desperate longing that it drove me to see doctor, after doctor, after doctor, after doctor in multiple states. If you had told me to stand on my head to get pregnant, I’d do it.
This year, I reached my crossroad. Oh, there have been plenty of family and friends who told me to ‘stop’ long ago. Family planning, however, is something terribly personal and intimate. No one else can tell you when it’s time to ‘stop’...or move on to plan B. Unless you are infertile, you can’t understand that. I moved onto the next doctor. I sat across from him, Dr. L, who listened to our story, read our file, and then set it down. He was not arrogant or cocky. He didn’t promise to succeed where others had failed, as those other doctors had….he was honest. He said. “It would take a lot of hubris on my part to believe I can succeed where others have failed. But if you want to do one final round, I will support you.”
This round was our good-bye. This was an acceptance of our fate. After five years I was finally managing to lay to rest my anger, and the bitterness that consumes me every time I see a pregnancy announcement or baby picture posted on Facebook. This is, my life. Rather, this is OUR life and I’d finally found peace in that. Oh, the hurt will never, ever go away but there is peace.
We put back two embryos and when the phone call came, I knew with the sickening pain in my gut that had followed me for many years. It was a chemical pregnancy. I locked myself in a bathroom stall because I happened to be in public and cried until my body hurt. I turned to the wonderful IVF support group I had and they railed alongside with me. They allowed me to ask the age old question: “Why?” And cursed and cried with me.
With three embryos still frozen, our doctor called us in. There was no explanation for what happened…which is probably one of the hardest things about being an ‘unexplained’ case of infertility. My doctor said let’s throw everything in the book at it this time. So we did. I had acupuncture twice a week for two months, I took vitamins, enzymes, I went for almost daily massage. I changed my diet. I lost weight. I had two uterine scratches (yes, you are awake for them and yes they are as painful as they sound). I ate pineapple core…you know, that hard piece at the center. I slept on my left side. I worked to improve my circulation by keeping my feet warm; I kept a heating pad on my feet. I wore socks in June. And I gave it to God.
In June, when the phone call came, this time, I knew it with the same intuition that had dogged me in every cycle. I knew what she was going to say. I knew before she said it.
My babies at 100+ cells
Just like that, my world stopped and spun, this time with the same giddy, dizzying joy I had known when I learned I was pregnant with my first child. This was my second pregnancy but this feeling was not less…it was profound, and moved me to the point that I needed the support of a wall to stand.
But the journey doesn't stop…because when you are an IVF patient, you have labs every other day to make sure your hormones are rising appropriately and you wait for ultrasounds. When other, typical woman find out they are pregnant and celebrate, IVF patients, we still are clinical. There is no immediate congratulations. It is a waiting game to see what happens. My levels weren’t just rising.
They. Were. Rising.
Ultrasounds are exciting for most women. There is nothing more terrifying than that first u/s in your IVF pregnancy when they check to confirm a pregnancy. Is there a sac? Is there a heartbeat? It’s kind of like a ‘what’s behind door number 1’ moment?
In this case, what was ‘behind door number one’ happened to be two. I’ll forever remember the moment the doctor held up two fingers in a V sign. I had two.
Just like that, I had my three.
Of course, it hasn’t really been ‘just like that’. The journey is still hard. Even at 14 weeks 3 days, I’ve been on and off bedrest for complications. Every day I hold my breath; praying for these two warriors; praying they stay, praying they're healthy, praying for the day I get to hold them.
Yet, I have my three…
and for now, nothing else matters.