Their due date was nearly one year to the date that we found out it was unlikely – no, impossible – that we’d be able to conceive on our own. “You have a zero percent chance,” our infertility doctor told us, without intervention. I was 26. We’d been married – and counting and calculating and hoping and praying – for six months. Not only had I not seen a positive pregnancy test, but in the month before, I’d gone through three boxes of ovulation test sticks (and at least as many tissues.) No positive there, either. The doctor confirmed that I wasn’t ovulating AND that my husband had a low sperm count.
After six months of blood work, ultrasounds and tests whose names I still can’t pronounce, including a Hysterosalpingogram – which took X-rays of dye flowing through my fallopian tubes – our only hope was IVF with an option called ICSI. This procedure took the normal practice of fertilizing as many healthy eggs as a woman could produce during an IVF cycle to a more intimate level: each egg was individually injected with one single sperm.
Thirteen eggs and a retrieval procedure later, we had eleven healthy embryos. On the morning of the transfer, we were down to TWO. I couldn’t hold back my tears and questions about how and when we would plan our next cycle, and what more we could possibly do. I was certain we’d already failed, as we finished the transfer and began the two-week wait until my pregnancy test. There was no way I could possibly be pregnant, since nine of our fertilized eggs had “died,” and the two we had weren’t perfectly formed.
But they were perfect enough.
My initial pregnancy test revealed that my hormone levels were high. A six-week ultrasound revealed not one heartbeat, but two. On February 7th, 2008, my little girls were born via C-section. Tiny and six weeks early, but breathing. Healthy. Here. And as in-my-arms as they could be when one’s arms are strapped to an operating table. For real.
The last five years have been a wild ride, to say the least. My H and S have turned our worlds upside-down, inside-out and have brought joy, love, hope (and a good night of sleep) to a depth I never imagined possible. Even when, at times, I wonder what the heck I got myself in to (starting our first night at home from the NICU, when the girls threw the nurses’ lovely little schedule to the wind) not a day goes by that I don’t think about how easily we could have missed out on the experience of parenthood. How, even with the ultimate in intervention and technology, it could so easily not have worked.
I’m just so grateful that it did.
I’m grateful for H’s random middle-of-the-night visits and hugs, and chatter about the picture she drew last week at school, what she wants to build with her Legos in the morning, and what restaurant she wants to go back to the next time we’re in Disney World. After which she is immediately and totally asleep.
I’m grateful to wake up a few minutes before S, so that I can catch a glimpse of her beloved stuffed giraffe tucked under her arm, as the day’s first smile reaches her eyes when she looks up at me.
As we celebrate the last five years and the path that led us here, my heart is with the moms and dads who are still holding on to their dreams of becoming a family. I wish them strength, peace, love, and all the support they need for their journeys. And I’m praying that their happily-ever-afters will be here soon.