The last week has been such a whirlwind. I haven’t had the time to blog until now.
Annie and her husband Kenneth arrived on Sunday. It was such a relief to see how comfortable she was at our house. She remembered exactly where everything was in the kitchen and just made herself at home. It was the best decision to have flown her here for her medical screening back in August because it now feels very natural for us to be together like old friends or family.
Transfer took place on Monday at 1:30pm. After much consideration, Bob and I decided that it was best for him to go to work instead of attending the transfer with us. He had been feeling a little uncomfortable to be present at a transfer where I wasn’t the one undressed and lying on the table. He wanted to come for moral support, but in actuality, he would have to take a whole day off for a two-minute transfer. All he would do would be to sit there for an hour pre-transfer and another hour post-transfer for the acupuncture sessions plus traveling one hour to and one hour from the clinic. It would be best for him to save his time off and use it for flying over to attend prenatal appointments. So we both agreed that I would take pictures and videos for him.
I woke up super early on transfer day partly because of jet lag but also because of everything coming together on transfer day. It was quite surreal to know that after all the waiting (in the last nine months and the last five years), transfer was going to happen in a few hours. It is hard for me to explain that feeling. It just occurred to me that I was not prepared this time. We hadn’t purchased any lucky socks or pineapple for Annie. However, this time IS different. It is a different circumstance so mixing things up a little and going without any lucky socks was a good way to approach it.
I chose a restaurant close to the clinic, but as I exited the freeway, Kenneth spotted In-N-Out Burger so we switched locations impromptu. They had heard of the burger joint but had never been. The three of us enjoyed a no-frills yummy burger lunch.
Annie had never done acupuncture but she was willing to try. She is not afraid of needles so acupuncture didn’t sound scary to her when I suggested it. Speaking of needles, she does not even need any icing or heat pad for her PIO shots. She said she doesn’t usually even feel the needle most of the time. When she was in session with the acupuncturist, Kenneth and I bonded over coffee at Starbucks. We chatted about how he got into his line of work in law enforcement. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know him. Hearing about his experience changing career mid-life and the integrity and perseverance that he showed through the process, there are even more reasons to admire him in addition to supporting his wife in helping us bring home a baby. He is such a down-to-earth and funny guy. We got along very well.
After acupuncture, Annie took her 5mg of Val.ium and started drinking her water to fill her bladder. We bumped into Dr. E on the way to the clinic. Seeing Dr. E, it really made it all real. After we checked in, we sat in the waiting room where Bob and I were almost two months ago for Bob’s sperm sample that resulted in our embryos. A few minutes later, we were all led to the procedure room. Kenneth and I sat in the chairs by the wall while Annie got undressed. The nurse promised to come in soon to check on Annie’s bladder but didn’t return. Dr. E came in with a photo of our embryo. She commented on how beautifully the embryo had thawed.
Introducing Max the Embryo!
Staring at the photo, tears started to well up in my eyes. I hadn’t had much feeling about the process up until that point. This is MY embryo despite not contributing in any physical part in making it. My heart felt full. This could really be the first picture of our future child. Holding back my tears, I asked Dr. E about the grade of the embryo. She said that it could easily be a 5AA or 5AB. My first thought was that it looked like the embryo was starting to hatch. It was an emotional moment for me. I had been feeling a little detached from this process because our embryos didn’t come from my eggs or won’t grow in my womb. With Bob and my names listed on the embryo photo and when the embryologist asked ME to verify my name and date of birth first instead of Annie’s, it finally felt like the embryo belongs to me (and Bob) and I will be the one responsible for its well-being as a baby. It was definitely a mental and emotional shift for me. I said to Dr. E, “From our first retrieval in July 2013 to now, it has been three plus years in the making.” It all came down to this moment.
Dr. E checked on Annie’s bladder as the nurse was still gone. The fullness of the bladder was perfect. The nurse finally came in and took over the abdominal ultrasound probe. Dr. E pointed at where the uterus was and pushed the outer sheath of the catheter in. It went in very easily. Dr. E is always great at including me in this process. She asked me to pull my chair up next to Annie’s head so I could see the screen clearly. The embryologist came in to check on our IDs. She disappeared back into the lab. A few moments later, the big screen on the wall lit up and my name appeared on it. Seeing my name again reminded me that this IS my embryo. Annie told me later that she started tearing up when she saw my name on the screen. Then her name appeared on the screen. The screen zoomed in. The little dot that looked like dust all of a sudden became huge. It always amazes me to see the wonder of life starting as this little speck that is practically invisible with naked eye. The embryo looked like it had changed from the photo already. The embryologist loaded the embryo in the inner catheter and reappeared in the procedure room. Dr. E pushed the catheter in extremely slowly. The white lines on the ultrasound screen showed the direction of the inner catheter. The doctor then pulled the catheter out even more slowly. The embryologist went back to the lab to check on the catheter and gave us an all-clear. Max was successfully transferred!
Annie was hoping that she could visit touristy places like Fisherman’s Wharf, but Dr. E told her to stay put on both Monday and Tuesday and limit her activity to walking from the bathroom to the bed and from the bed to the couch. I know many doctors don’t believe in bedrest but Dr. E does. Dr. E asked if Annie would cheat, meaning if she would pee on a stick. Annie and I spoke about it ahead of time and agreed that we would wait until beta time. After all, I didn’t ever POAS prior to beta so I don’t want that added stress. Dr. E thought that it was a great idea because POAS only messes with your mind. Dr. E will be the one who will report the beta to the both of us on the phone rather than the two of us to each other. Next Tuesday Annie will go to her local Labc.orp for her blood draw and Dr. E will call me with the result. It is only going to be 8 days past 5 day transfer.
Dr. E then asked me to step out so she could answer Annie’s questions about sex after the transfer. It again makes it so real that someone else is going to carry my baby for me and I have no control over what that person does. But I trust Annie 100% to do her best for us and for our baby, so I will just have to let go of the control.
During Annie’s second acupuncture visit, the acupuncturist was aghast at the iced cold drink that Annie was holding. He called me into the office and asked me if I had gone over the fertility diet with Annie. I told him that since this was her first time doing acupuncture, I didn’t want to overwhelm her with extra knowledge. The acupuncturist was dead serious about her following certain guidelines for the next few weeks and even into the second trimester. It includes no raw or iced food. Annie loves ice and salad. So I was worried that it was too much restrictions on her. But it should be no surprise to me that Annie listened and started to comply with things suggested by the doctor. She is such a great and easy-going person with our best interest at heart. The doctor even suggested using moxa on her three times a day. Her husband and Annie are both on board. Kenneth has been helping her with both PIO and now moxa since the visit. Pineapple core was also suggested.
We left home that day at 10am. We didn’t get home until 4pm. After I dropped Annie home, Kenneth went with me to pump air into the front two tires of my car as he saw that it was a bit low. It took three gas stations before we found a machine that worked. We then went and purchased a pineapple and non-GMO soy milk for Annie (as per the acupuncturist’s suggestion to cool her down instead of using iced water). I put the pork tenderloin that I marinated the day before in the oven with some cabbage. Then I had to go to lead a bible study group at 6pm. I didn’t get home until 9 something that night. The exhaustion from the jet lag, running around all day, and the excitement was so hard to shake.
I told Annie that she was PUPO. Of course she didn’t know the term and got a kick out of it. It makes me realize how many crazy acronyms there are for this TTC journey.
Annie and I already talked about the appointment for the 7-week ultrasound for the heartbeat and the arrangement for accommodation and transportation. It will be on 11/30 and Kenneth has that day off (he has every other Wednesday off) so he can drive us around in the snow (we are cowards when it comes to driving in the snow). I really hope that it all comes true.
Annie and her husband stayed put the whole day at my house while both Bob and I were at work. It was my first day back at work since before the trip. The fatigue was real. I was so slow with everything on that day. And it also felt very surreal that the transfer took place but I was not feeling a thing inside my body. It is just so hard to put into words how it feels to have someone else carry your baby for you.
I took the morning off on Wednesday to hang out with Annie and her husband before dropping them off at the airport. Right before Bob drove to work, the four of us held hands and prayed for the embryo and Annie, and thanked the Lord for bringing two families together for this one life. It was such a precious moment for our hearts to all be united for this one purpose. Annie, Kenneth, and I went to a favorite diner of ours for breakfast. At the airport, Annie and I hugged for a long time. I was feeling very emotional, but my eyes were hiding behind my sunglasses. I was choking up a little and told her to take care and also take care of my baby for me. When she walked into the terminal, it felt like a part of me left with her. My baby flew away with her hours away. It is all in all an amazing yet surreal experience to be blessed with a selfless person who is willing to carry a baby for you while still mourning the loss of not experiencing a pregnancy ever. I didn’t know how I should feel.
My trusted friend behind Dreaming of Diapers sent me words of encouragement. She told me that I should feel relieved, that I did it, all of that hard work for the past year. It is now out of my hands. I have given Baby embryo Max the very best chance at life and if he/she is going to be my child, then it will happen. She told me that she was proud of me for my determination. Her words really encouraged me as I continue to soak in this situation.
My other friend who had twins via surrogacy said, “It’s just the beginning! I know the waiting is the hardest part but try to give it to God. He knows the desires of your heart and is working to make it happen.”
So here we are, three days after transfer. Five more days to go before beta. I pray multiple times a day for God to sustain this life inside Annie. It is really out of my hands and is in God’s hand. I pray for trust and peace as we wait for the next milestone.
I am taking it one day at a time but as the same time looking forward to next July when we have our baby in our arms. Let’s pray that this is really the time to see our future child grow from this tiny speck of life called “Max”.