This time a year ago, I was pregnant and didn’t know it yet.
A year later, I am neither a mother to a 4-month-old nor am I pregnant again. It hurts.
I know, I know, my chance is just around the corner. But it’s just a chance — and fear courses through my veins. I don’t know if this will make sense to anyone who hasn’t done DEIVF, but although I’m comfortable with our decision, it won’t be a consolation until I have a healthy baby (or two!) growing inside me. Because: donor eggs. The bar has been set ever lower. In the Land of IF, people shudder at the thought, preferring instead to do multiple rounds of IVF. It’s never someone’s second choice, much less their first. Adoption is usually touted as the more altruistic choice, but adoption — a family-building option I’ve wanted to do since I was 10 — is not the next step in our journey.
By now, quite a few of the ladies who lost their tiny babies around the same time as me are pregnant again. Some are nearing the end of their pregnancy. Others are over halfway through. Some are just beginning. That hurts too, but it doesn’t sting the way it used to. For the first time, I am able to celebrate their BFPs, their milestones. I still suck in my breath and turn away at the sight of a pregnant woman, but the flood of anxiety doesn’t grip me the way it used to. I am better at telling myself this is a Pavlovian response, better at reminding myself it will be my turn soon. Very soon!
Although donor eggs gives us the quickest and best chance at having a baby, I am not as excited as I could be. The latest SART data we have from our clinic says that the live birth rate regular IVF for a woman in the 35-37 age group is 29.8%; but the rate for DEIVF (fresh) is a whopping 77.2%.
In fact, when you average out the number of fresh donor cycles for the past eight years (735 fresh) resulting in live births, the mean live birth rate is 76.89% (range: 77.2% – 85.1%).
But I’m too primed for bad news to get excited. At best I’m hopeful; at worst, I’m cynical, skeptical, because statistics don’t give me much comfort. These are the words of someone whose genetic issue is so unusual that there are only 50 known families worldwide who have it. (Yes, there are probably others who haven’t been diagnosed yet, but even so. Rare breed.) How’s that for a statistic? And in spite of the odds, I still managed to get pregnant. And on the first proper try, too. What are the chances of that? It must have been a one-in-a-million chance. It feels like a hollow comfort. Technically, I am not infertile, but it’s a label applied to me nonetheless. I don’t like it, but I can’t be bothered to peel it off. I question: Why did I get pregnant then? What was the point of being pregnant in a one-in-a-million chance if it wasn’t going to work out? This question rattles around my skull. There is no answer, but the one I like best so far came from my step-sister: To give you strength now.
Wise DH gave me some words to hold on to this afternoon. He said,
When you were pregnant, statistically everything was going to be fine. We had no reason to worry. Then the bad news hit and you kept falling into smaller and unlikelier statistics — so really, now we are primed for bad news. But now that we’re here, on the cusp of doing DEIVF, our chances are at least as good as that 77.2% — in fact, I have to think they’re better. Number one, your age — you’re seven years younger than the average egg donor recipient. Number two, you’ve been pregnant before — spontaneously. I have to think that counts for something. Number three, I got the impression from Dr. H that he is very optimistic for us. And, babe, I just want to add that it hasn’t even been six months since we found all this stuff out: I think you’re handling everything beautifully. I think I am too. I think we have done a great job at processing complex information — and, you know, it was like, every two weeks we kept getting more information — and making tough decisions quickly. We’re a good team!
I love my DH. Damn, I am so lucky. We are a good team.
In my dark moments, I really do hope that my body wants to be pregnant, and that when two little totsicles are guided into my uterus she will encourage them to bury deep. She’s done this before, maybe she will know what to do again. May she cling to the tiny lives that started in a petri dish.
Oh, and we’ve decided what sex we’re going to transfer — we will know ahead of time because we’re doing PGD. I thought about letting the embryologist decide, so we can have the fun of finding out at a 20-week scan like a normal, fertile couple, but as DH said, we are controlling everything else, why would we surrender this choice to a stranger, even if s/he is the embryologist? Originally, DH was leaning towards having the same sex because he thought it would be more fun to be a twin of the same gender. I argued that same sex twins get treated as a single unit. He made an even better point: after twins of the same gender, how to explain to the opposite sex child/ren of round two that their gender wasn’t the first choice? All along I’ve been leaning towards one of each. I don’t know why and didn’t feel the need to argue about it. But one of each has the added cold comfort of knowing, if only one makes it, exactly who we’ve lost.
In one month’s time, I will be on strict bedrest, PUPO with a boy and a girl.