Following her very personal story reflecting her decision to try and become a single mum by choice in ‘Desperately Seeking A Wombmate’ Angela Hatem tells us what happened next.
It’s hard to be a competitive person and be subpar egg creator. But that’s what I am. I am basically a dilapidated hen. You can give me all the stim drugs and I will make follicles like nobody’s business, but I won’t make enough eggs for even a small omelette. I usually make 1 extra egg to make egg plural.
I never thought that was going to happen. My levels weren’t complete garbage, I started doing paleo months earlier and had dropped 30 plus pounds, I was taking high doses of stim drugs, I did weekly acupuncture, I went on leisurely walks, listened to fertility meditations on Spotify, all I needed was this little push and all this work, effort, time, tears, and money would pay off.
I was 2 IVF cycles in, resulting in a combined total of 4 mature eggs. All my eggs were meh quality. You wouldn’t send them back to the kitchen, but you know you have had better. None of my embryos were sticking. All of my hopes were as meh as my eggs.
The money I had scrounged up from driving for Uber and schlepping the occasional pants less man around Indianapolis plus the cash I had acquired from refinancing my house was running out. It was a dark time with a very small night light at the end of the tunnel.
After my 2nd failed cycle I had my WTF call with Dr. Kiltz with CNY Fertility in Syracuse, NY. We had a quick, compassionate, straight shooter talk about the state of the union. We decided to take a less is more approach and give my eggs one last try. Less meds, hopefully better quality. I also decided to throw myself all in on his Keto plan. One meal a day at dinner. Beef, butter, bacon, and eggs. I figured I can’t completely control the mehness of my old eggs, but I can control my feeding regimen. It’s amazing how much time you free up when you are only eating once a day.
In a moment of realism with myself and my bank account, this was probably fiscally and emotionally the last cycle I had in me for now and possibly forever.
With that in mind, I received an amazing gift from a dear friend. My good friend since high school had embryos on ice. The Cadillac of embryos is what I called them. All high quality, and ready to drive off the lot into my empty womb. She offered these supped up Caddies to me. She not only offered them, she and her husband jumped through all the hoops and paperwork needed to make them available to transfer from Florida to NY. Accepting this offer wasn’t necessarily a no-brainer. I was worried about my friends, their kids, me, and the baby I might have with their embryos. Is this a gift they can truly give and one I can fully accept? After lots of talks and visiting a therapist the answer for us was yes. It was both stressful and comforting to know that I had this state-of-the-art high-quality safety net waiting in the wings.
I began cycle 3 in a headspace of optimism splashed with mindfully low expectations. I knew going in we were expecting less follicles and less eggs. Knowing this helped me. I continued my usual prep of acupuncture and walks with the added features of carnivore Keto. It was a pretty similar scenario as my 2 prior attempts, but something was…different.
I was thinking of those differences one night as I was taking my evening walk and a bird shat on my head. Someone told me this is a sign of good luck. It felt more like bird shit in my hair.
I was thinking of those differences again when I went in for my follicle monitoring ultrasound, and it looked as if my uterus was smiling at me. Almost like it knew something I didn’t. A friend told me my ultrasound looked like a mere cat. In a side by side comparison, it did indeed look like a mere cat.
If this wasn’t going to be my best cycle it was going to be my funniest.
Following the mere cat ultrasound I was told it was time to head to Syracuse. Armed with my best friend from 1st grade and a bottle of holy water her mom gave her for long car trips, we set off from Indy.
Our visit to CNY went smoothly. We sat in the waiting room splashing holy water like I was about to have an exorcism prior my retrieval. When I woke up, I was told they retrieved 2 eggs. One egg enough to make it plural. I ate a ginormous Burger King cheeseburger and milk shake, slept and waited.
The CNY report call came the next morning while I was in the shower attempting to smuggle high value Marriott shampoo into empty water bottles.
Both eggs mature, both fertilized. It was awesome news, but news I had heard before.
I returned home with my moderate optimism, my carefully kept expectations, a ½ used Dasani bottle of holy water, and 6 ounces of stolen hotel shampoo and conditioner.
I returned home to wait for my period, to wait for my 40th birthday, and to wait my final transfer.
A few days following my return I was 39 and 349 days old, dancing in the middle of a field to Paul Simon’s “Call Me Al.”, whilst wearing a captain’s hat, hugging a cardboard cut-out of my high school Glamour Shots photo, surrounded by about 40 of my family and friends. I was bidding ado to my 30’s and saying what are you all about to my 40’s.
Meanwhile in Syracuse, NY my 2 embryos were literally chilling. Waiting
While I revelled in my 40th birthday party, I was apprehensive about turning 40 and what that all meant. I had a lot of preconceived notions about what 40 was, and a lot of these notions centred around my ability or my lack thereof to have a baby.
These were some pretty deep thoughts for someone who was nursing a Sangria induced hangover.
While my 40th birthday wasn’t “The” change it was “A” change, and I was scared. People kindly lie to me and say I don’t look 40, which though lovely to hear didn’t make my innards any younger.
I tried to keep that comfort feeling alive as much as possible. I avoided google, I avoided asking about the grades of my embryos, I avoided input. For me, knowledge wasn’t always power. It’s like the Jurassic Park principle. Just because you can make a dinosaur doesn’t mean you should. In this case, just because I was allowed to know something didn’t mean I ought to.
After surviving my 40th birthday party I had a few days to prepare before my return to Syracuse. I was planning to make this trip from Indianapolis Han Solo. I was picking out podcasts to listen to, making virtual lists of must have snacks, and then one night over dinner a travel companion tipsily presented herself.
My mom’s youngest sister, which technically makes her my aunt, which per the roman calendar also makes her just 10 years older than me, which means you are doing the simple math, which means by now you have figured out that she’s 50, which also means she’s going to kill me for announcing her age, which really has no bearing on the story other than it’s my longwinded way of telling you she’s my friend and my aunt. She’s my Fraunt. I am her Friece.
The night before my drive back to Syracuse we were having a nice Fraunt and Friece dinner. This dinner featured some delicious red meat, a savoury appetizer, a side order of wine, and a huge helping of won’t you drop everything and go on a Thelma and Louise-eque road trip with me? One Coors Light later, we were getting permission for her to miss work, and the blessing of her husband, my Fruncle, to abandon her family for a few days. I was stuffed.
We packed my Accord with the essentials every girl needs for an embryo transfer; transfer meds, comfy clothes, snacks, a cardboard Glamour Shots cut out, and once again a Dasani bottle of holy water.
I arrived to my transfer as peaceful as a person who is about to hopefully change her life can be. I was scheduled for some pre and post transfer acupuncture. What I wasn’t scheduled for was the CNY courtesy transfer Valium. I usually turn this offer down, but in my attempt to be all in I thought I would give it a try. As my friends that received a facetime call from me 30 minutes later would attest, best decision I ever made.
So there I am, naked from the waist down, relaxed by Valium and acupuncture, and being doused with holy water by my Fraunt. I talked quickly with Embryology in which I told them I wanted no info on grades. I didn’t even want to see the picture of the embryos. I just wanted to know that we were good to transfer. Her response, “I think you will be happy with them.”
On August 3rd, 2018 at 10:48am, I transferred my 2 embryos.
I carried on with my life as best I could during the 2 week wait. My actual 40th birthday passed me by, my nephews had their first day of school, I think I saved money on car insurance. The world kept turning.
My beta was scheduled for August 14th. I promised myself no pee sticks. No pee sticks until a blood test could tell me I would see a positive. I had one test in the back of a closet and that’s where it would stay.
On August 9th I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like if I even rolled over last nights dinner would become this night’s blanket. I felt like hell. It had only been a few days since my transfer, and I refused to let my stomach bug trick me into false hope. I felt like hell for a couple of days and then I was fine again.
On August 12th I went to the pool with some friends and kept running to the restroom as I had developed the bladder of a sparrow. My friend commented on this bird like bladder, but I refused to allow my over abundance of water drinking trick me into false hope.
On August 14th I took the day off from work as I always did on beta day. I went in at 7am and had my blood drawn. I went home, climbed back into bed, and cried. I felt no symptoms. Those blips I had a couple of days ago were gone. I was still me. Nothing felt different. Everything felt very sadly the same, and I was preparing myself for many more very sad same days.
The phone rang a little after 9am. The caller ID said NY was calling. I answered.
The nurse sounded…different. She was almost chipper. The comforting/supportive tone I was used to wasn’t the same tone on the line. She asked how I was. I told her she had to tell me how I was.
“You have an HSG of 137”.
I collapsed on to my bed and sobbed. Like movie of the week, you jump I jump, Terms of Endearment sobbed. I don’t know exactly what I said once I could speak, but it was something along the lines of endless gratitude, CNY made this happen for me, I can never thank you enough, is first name Doctor middle name Kiltz a good name for a baby? I don’t remember the nurses name and I am not sure if she remembers me, but I will always remember her voice and that sentence, “You have an HSG of 137”.
I want to say I played it cool. That I kept my news under wraps. I didn’t. I called the world. I called my mom, she cried. I called my best friend, she cried. I called my dad, he said good luck. I called my co-worker and she screamed as loud as humanly possible and told my intern. I called my sister who when she heard my tears apologized, and then I told her they were happy tears. I called my brother and he said, no shit? I told my super Catholic 94-year-old Grandma, she asked if she was supposed to say congratulations.
It was a cornucopia of emotions and responses.
Speaking of responses, there was a First Response in the back of a closet with my name on it, and this time I knew it wouldn’t disappoint me.
Originally published here.