This is the story of my big fat positive Christmas miracle.
As I write this, it has been a year almost to the day. We were at the third IVF clinic of our “IVF career”, the most expensive in our town. It had a long waiting list and we ended up waiting for over three months for the specialist to even see us.
I was on the brink of giving up on the idea of going through IVF.
I was so scared.
What if the minor administrative glitch earlier in the day had been a “sign” that it just wasn’t meant to be?
What if there was a mix up and we ended up with someone else’s baby?
What if we would end up having a child, but it would be really sick?
Meanwhile, my husband, who is not usually superstitious, noticed that the clinic was part of the same hospital his beloved great-grandma had passed away in. He saw that as a good omen, as if she was benevolently watching over the process.
As you can tell, we were both nervous wrecks.
Luckily, my husband’s quiet confidence won and we did go ahead with IVF.
By way of background, I have had (benign) tumours removed from both of my ovaries, so not a lot of tissue left. I was also 35. I will tell you more about how the cycle went throughout this blog. But the most important thing is: we had a blastocyst to transfer.
I expected the transfer to be a big thing, but it really wasn’t. I met my husband during my lunch break and we went to the clinic together. I was told to lie on the bed in that super-undignified position us IVF patients only know too well. There was a tense, focused energy in the room, as the embryologist got everything ready. On a monitor above my bed, I could see the embryo in super magnification while my specialist did the transfer.
Physically, I hardly felt anything.
But I had a profound sense of something spiritual happening. You know when you meet someone and you just “click” and feel like you could be friends from the get-go? I felt like that. As if had met a little soul and was no longer alone. I remember saying “welcome little embryo.”
I went back to work after the transfer, still with that strange feeling.
I distinctly remember going to the toilet a couple of hours later and feeling like someone was watching me.
I had read somewhere that the uterus senses an embryo and empties itself of any fluid and contracts in an attempt to facilitate implantation. I thought I could feel that, but it could have also been some general contractions and some kind of lube they would have used during transfer, so I wasn’t sure.
Three or four days later I woke up to pee during the night. I was harshly awoken out of my sleep-drunken state when I noticed the spotting.
Oh crap. There we go.
I berated myself for letting my stupid woo-woo side take over.
In that moment, I went from ‘Lena, the woo-woo mum-to-be’ mode to ‘Dr. Lena, the statistician’ mode.
We had been given a chance of success of 40% for that cycle. My mind was telling me that, with a 40% chance, IVF would likely work eventually, but maybe not on first go.
For the rest of the cycle, I was trying very hard not to get my hopes up. The next morning, I told my husband about the blood, just so he’d be prepared if the cycle was a fail. I was trying not to put myself under too much pressure and that worked pretty well most of the time. I was mostly able to continue with life as normal.
To the point where, one morning, I was on the bus during my morning commute. This was summer in Australia and we had a heat wave of well over 40°C (104 F). I remember thinking, “the car in front of us must have some engine trouble”, as an overpowering smell of diesel fumes wafted through the air conditioner. I could not wait to get off that bus!
Then, at work, my boss called me into a meeting. Our coffee machine was broken and he had made himself soluble coffee. I remember thinking, “how bad is the ventilation in this meeting room” as the smell of the coffee wafted across the desk and started to make me nauseous.
Suddenly, an audacious little thought crept in: what if it wasn’t the coffee? After all, I had had it before.
What if it was me?
Maybe I was sensitive to smells?
Maybe this was a pregnancy symptom?!?
For the meeting, all I could think about was how to get out of the office, and into the next pharmacy to get a pregnancy test!
But where would I do the test?
‘Statistician me’ had not planned ahead for this moment and was now excitedly running through all the options in my head. I did not want to do it at work. Being in the central business district, there were a couple of food courts and department stores around, so I chose the nicest public toilets I knew of.
The test turned positive straight away.
How would I tell my husband? Again, I drew a blank.
In my attempt to shield myself from heartbreak, I had not prepared for this.
Should I call?
Should I text?
What would I say?
How would he react?
I could not find the right words to say; so I texted him: “Don’t read this if you’re busy.” And then, a photo of the test with the two lines clearly visible.
“OMG! OMG! OMG!”, he texted right back.
I returned to the office on a cloud. The rest of the day is a blur.
That was the 23rd of December 2015.
On the 24th, I was due for my official blood test at the fertility clinic, the beta test. The nurse called in the afternoon. “Congratulations!” she said. I said my thanks, but she heard it in my voice, of course, and said: “You are not all that surprised. You knew already, didn’t you?”
I responded sheepishly: “Yes, I peed on a stick.”
She chuckled: “Oh, don’t worry – everyone does it.”
And that was my big fat positive Christmas miracle.
As I write this, Christmas miracle is four months old. We are celebrating our first Christmas together as a family.
My prayer is that this blog will guide you through the maze of statistical hard facts, the agony of endless waiting, the overwhelm of treatment options, the indignity of countless examinations, to that precious moment when you hold your miracle baby in your arms.
When time stands still, it was all worth it, and nothing else matters.