~ There is only one journey: going inside yourself. ~
- Rainer Maria Rilke


La Vida in Vitro, Part 3 ~ Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Waiting Game

At this point, the roads haven't yet diverged. They're still running in parallel--a full-time course load on the one hand, and a pregnancy, on the other. Though now, I've gotten into two upper level courses, so I've got a half course-load, which I hope to keep, even if I get pregnant.

For whatever reason, I found it difficult to write about the treatments as they were going on. I suppose part of it may be that as a fiction writer, I like to know what's going to happen next in the story--that's the only way that you can craft in foreshadowing, and proper setups with characters and situations.

But, given that I actually still don't know the outcome--whether or not the treatments worked--there may be more to it than that.

It might well be that the process was taking its emotional toll. See, the funny thing is that I'd reached a certain stage of resignation with IVF, back when we were entering into the cycle. I figured there was a good chance that it wouldn't work. So, I felt pretty equable and unruffled about the whole thing. But sangfroid only took me so far, and after a few days of doing my injections, the hope began to seep in.

I managed my hope in the same way I've managed my physical and sometimes emotional pains in the past: via meditation, though such a notion may sound odd. Manage hope in the same way one manages pain?! It's true. That's because hope, if it's subsequently disappointed, can be just as devastating--or much more so--as expected pain and loss. It is, after all, a kind of loss, when you dream of a certain future and then learn that it will not come about. And, you're starting from a higher emotional point than you would be, if you had no hope, so there's a far steeper, more precipitous, fall.

And so, while I was both happy and surprised to find that tendril of hope creeping in--it felt good--I also knew that I couldn't lose myself to it. Not with the stakes this high, because if things didn't work out, I'd be all the more bereft by the end. I'll still be bereft if it doesn't work, but there are degrees of bereavement, degrees of desolation.

I suspect the ultimate consequence of this all was that while I remained pretty calm for the most part (aside from the occasional meltdowns that I attributed to the hormones I was pumping into my body each day), I think there may have been a hidden toll exacted, and that manifested as a deep reluctance to write about the treatments while they were happening.

So, a few updates.

Within a few days of starting, as one of the eggs started getting really large, they had me start injecting a second hormone to prevent that one big one from ovulating. It brought my grand total of daily injections up to $475 per day (none of it covered by our--or any other--drug plan we could find).

There were two other, smaller, ones they were hoping to grow large enough to use as well. It took about two weeks. But, for much of that two weeks, there was doubt about whether to go ahead with the retrieval or not. Usually, they like a minimum of five--four at the very least, in special circumstances. Otherwise, they call it off and start again. We were able to sway them to proceed by pointing out that we didn't have that option. We had gone forward at maximum, so calling this off and initiating a second cycle with the same protocol--maximum dosage--wasn't likely to yield different results.

I suspect they could have insisted, but they were kind enough to let us see it through.

Thirty-six hours before the retrieval--which I sometimes refer to as "the harvest", where they go in with a big ol' needle and drain the eggs out of the sacs in which they were growing--I had to inject another hormone that would trigger the final maturation of the egg and stimulate ovulation. The idea is that they go in just before ovulation and take the eggs out themselves. Then, the party in the petrie dish begins.

At the retrieval, after the three sacs were drained, they found a fourth! This was greatly exciting for us, increasing our chances by a significant amount.

Three of the four fertilized. Given my age and precedent, they agreed to put all three back in. They also took a lovely picture of our three little zygotes and printed it off for us. It's pretty cute.

It's one of those things that will be really adorable and funny if this all works out, and unbearably poignant if it doesn't--rather like the fuzzy, early ultrasound we have of the little fetus I miscarried before. Somehow, it feels so much more real with the images in hand. That tiny, curled little creature would have been a baby, then a toddler, then a child, and so on, if things had worked out differently.

But, I'm really glad to have those pictures. They're an affirmation--a testament to the fact that we hoped, and we tried, and to the fact that those little zygotes, like our little fetus, existed, even if they never reach a stage of development in which they'd be viable and able to survive in the world. After all--it's a struggle for all of us, sometimes, isn't it?

Lastly, they are a record. These attempts may be the closest I ever come to being a biological mother. And that alone is worth cherishing.

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::Posted by Anduril Elessar @ 8:21 AM::::


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Anduril Elessar
Susan Deefholts

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The Way We Are from CTR Press
La Vida in Vitro, Part 2
La Vida in Vitro, Part 2 - Follow-up
La Vida in Vitro, Part 1
La Vida in Vitro, Epilogue to Part 1
The Song of the Open Road
Mum on CBC Radio, aka, you know you're famous when...
How a notion becomes a meme, or, your Morning Smil...
"That's an arcane question": Prentice on the Copy...
Seizures induced by music

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