Wednesday, May 19, 2010
May 20, 2005. The Day We Picked Up the Kids.
A picture might be worth thousand words but this one cannot be measured. It is the first picture of my daughters as they were delivered to me five years ago. To understand the glory of their story we have to start at the beginning.
A Look Back.
In 1987 my husband, then 17, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. Prior to starting chemotherapy his oncologist urged him to freeze a sperm sample in the event that the treatments compromised his fertility. The day after surgery and in a snowstorm he did what the doctor ordered.
Thirteen years later we got married; committing to each other and to the idea that we would create a family. Our efforts proved unsuccessful so we found our way to the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility. There I met the second doctor who would help us on our quest, Dr. Kligman. He reviewed our files and promised this would work. I stopped researching outcomes and trusted his words.
IVF was incredible. I moved closer to the city for the duration of cycle so I could utilize mass transit. Grand Central became a portal of hope. The subway system: not so much. I gave myself the nightly injections and hoped at each ultrasound my ovaries would reveal growing follicles. Meanwhile, we had Kent's adolescent sperm sent up and waited for the retrieval. Dr. Kligman ordered a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) a process where a single sperm is isolated, analyzed and injected into an egg. On May 17, 2004, I had my third and final retrieval. Annabel and Willa began their first day of life that afternoon...dividing into two then four cells..and so on. On May 20, with the help of Assisted Hatching (a tiny bit of acid is applied to the shell of an embryo prior to transfer in hopes that the embryo has an easier time getting out and implanting), I was prepped for an ultrasound guided transfer. The technician directed my eyes towards four white dots traveling through the catheter and spilling into my uterus. Those, she said, are them. My hopes, my dreams shining like stars as they found their way home. I whispered, "Please stay. Please." I stared at the picture of the transferred embryos all the way home
My pregnancy was confirmed two weeks later. 31 weeks later, on Christmas Eve, my doctor told me that we would be delivering the babies the following morning. Six weeks early. Like a child about to receive the bounty of the holiday, I barely slept. Instead, I listened to all three of our heartbeats on the fetal monitor. With each beat, I thanked the three doctors who helped us get here.
At 10:31 and 10:34 AM on Christmas morning Annabel and Willa were born. At 10:31 and 10:34 so was a family. Down the hall our families gathered and sung, "Joy to the World"..."Let heaven and nature sing" they crooned. I gave a fourth nod to science.
When I saw the girls I understood what all of this was for. The waiting, the emotional and physical pain and, the Hodgkin's. It was about their gift to us. I sighed. I kissed them and whispered words of gratitude to the people who helped us on our way. Those might have been the first words they ever heard.