We retrieved FIFTY-FIVE eggs from your egg donor today, so we got a very large group of eggs today. We’ve already cleaned them to look at their maturity… There are currently 40 mature, with a chance of maybe up to five more maturing in the next few hours. We’d love to discuss with you how you’d like us to inseminate those. Our recommendation is to freeze some of those unfertilized.
This was the voicemail I got from embryology four years ago today. DH and I had driven to the clinic to drop off his sample. I remember clutching the small white paper bag as we made the 35-minute drive, wishing our donor well and hoping she was okay and wondering where in the egg retrieval process she was.
“Both genetic parties have done their part, the rest is down to me”
An hour later, we were eating katsu-don in a Japanese supermarket. I was hungry, but my stomach lurched every time I thought of what was about to happen. I was on tenterhooks as it was, but as our cycle had been very nearly cancelled, my anxiety was through the roof. A bowl of sticky rice with breaded pork over caramelised onions was the only thing I felt like eating.
My phone rang and I scrabbled about in my bag, but it went to voicemail. As I listened to the message I relayed snippets to DH. “Fifty-five! Forty-one mature!” I could hear the incredulity in the embryologist’s voice. I stepped outside to call them back. As I listened, I paced along a red curb in a parking lot, back and forth in front of birds of paradise plants. And as I talked, I found myself sputtering with shock and relief—and surprise that for the first time in my life I was crying happy tears.
We transferred two embryos, a boy and a girl. Let’s see who shows up. At first, twins. Then, one heartbeat, and I thought, That’s my girl.
I couldn’t have known then who one of those little eggs would become, but there were hints a few months later.
During my pregnancy, I had vivid dreams in multiple languages. I wasn’t surprised to dream in French and Spanish (my university degree), but dreaming in the few words or sentences I know in the smattering of other languages—mixed in with the brain-created gibberish that approximated the sounds of German / Italian / Japanese / Bulgarian / Portuguese—made me laugh. And I thought, I think she will be a linguistic child.
Feeling her kick angrily when I was hungry, and quieten when I spoke to her or played music, told me she would be a child who would get ‘hangry’ (truth) and who would be attached to me (truth) and who would love music (truth). And somewhere I felt that she would have a fiercely independent child, mellow until pushed (oh, truth!).
That was all I knew of my little Embryo 4 who is now a girl of three who dazzles me daily. My home is strewn with toys, dried out Play-Doh and markers, and scribbles. She is like me in so many ways—is it nurture or coincidence that she is supremely unathletic, but loves language, music, and art, and is a sensitive soul? Nurture can’t explain her good ear for mimicry, but she comes out with Japanese phrases like her [bilingual Japanese] friend. I wonder how much of it is epigenetics. She still looks nothing like me—except for when she frowns—but as a wise friend recently said, “She also doesn’t not look like you…”
Four years later, I am on the cusp of my 6th FET. (I’d thought it was my 5th, but technically it’s my 6th because the first natural one, back in September 2016, was cancelled.) Two cancelled cycles, two BFNs, and one chemical pregnancy. I never imagined being here—and you’d think I’d have learned to adjust my expectations by now!
In many ways, I have no expectations. Despite losing momentum with Lupron, I’ve insisted on as natural a cycle as possible. (An “Un-der-medicated” cycle?) I haven’t given up caffeine or alcohol. I haven’t been religiously going to acupuncture or Mayan abdominal massage. I’m tired of being jabbed and rearranging my life and spending money on things that don’t manifest. I’ve hardly told a soul what we’re doing—I haven’t even told some of my closest friends, let alone my fabulous MIL, that, after a
rocky fluid-filled start, as of yesterday, I’m boasting a tri-laminar 8mm lining (the highest I get) and a 20mm ovary. Hell, I whipped out my Ovidrel last night and, cool as a cucumber, injected myself in the belly, and DH didn’t even notice.
At my last lining check, I asked to see the embryology paperwork that DH and I signed in November, ahead of our post-Lupron FET that was cancelled. I changed a 1 to a 2, and wrote “One of each sex” in the appropriate box.
Like our fresh transfer back in 2014, we will transfer two embryos. One male and one female. On February 26th. And we’ll see who shows up.