I received a box and a few random packages at my doorstep. Walking up reluctantly to my door, I took a deep breath gathered them all and brought them in the house. It took a while to open these packages, I would say at least a week. Finally, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. It was time. I grabbed a kitchen knife, and plunged it into the tape and looked over the thousands of dollars of medications. It was eerily symbolic to cutting open an old wound.
A month prior I had been in and out of the fertility clinic. Once a week, then 3 times, then every other day. Circa 2011-2013, my previous IVF stimulation and FET cycles would start on day 1 (when the rodeo of the cotton cowboy would commence). A lot has happened since then, a missing uterus for starters. That complicates things. Fertility doctors have to focus on bloodwork and ultrasounds. I kept those stirrups warm over the course of 3 weeks. All of this guessing and pin pointing go time, came with a bill that hosted several zeros on the end of it. This we did not anticipate. So note to self, no uterus = mo’ money, mo’ fertility problems.
What’s more creepy, the fact that this is an Ultrasound wand selfie ORRRR the werid goop on the wand?
Finally! My arms already looked like I was a frequent visitor of an opium den. It was 2 days before we fire up the first shot, so this means we met with our fertility clinic. In a surrogacy cycle, I go through what is called a donor cycle. Once I have finished a stimulation cycle, (add in a bazillion more ultrasound and bloodwork visits) I take a trigger shot. It’s another long scary needle but whatev’s all for the greater cause right?
In a “NORMAL” cycle what happens next is, 36 hours later, I take a very expensive nap and the doctors go under the hood for a non-Easter egg hunt. All while this is happening, Chris goes into the room that shall not be named to get up close and personal with a plastic cup. Then some scientists get together and mix my bits with his bits, play some slow jams and bada bang bada boom…a few days later we transfer them back to the promise land. The big difference now is I do not have a promise land anymore. The angriest of uteruses was evicted a few years back. As for Chris, that romancing of the cup happened way back in August due to FDA regulations.
In this surrogacy, the slow jams still happen and we become the proud owners of embryos and a chance. There are just a few additional steps that have to happen first. We’ll have our embryos genetically tested to screen for abnormalities and reduce miscarriage risks. This also is a few more zeros added to the tab. Once we get the all clear, we wait for Day 1 for Kanga and then parades, dancing bears, and transfer day happens.
I got the beads. Never thought I would type that … again. For each of Candace’s stim cycles and each transfer, I have gotten beads. One bead goes onto a metal string for each shot. I was somewhat relieved when we had Jellybean (and the prospect of having a second child seemed far too nebulous to even consider) to be able to put up the stockpile of beads we had amassed. Candace had two of these “achievement” necklaces from her previous stim cycles. Now, we have a third. I went to buy the beads with a very different perspective though. As I was considering which bead would represent which medication, I started to think about what this stim cycle could mean and, in a more practical sense, how we would do this with a very inquisitive toddler roaming about. Of course though, I knew we would figure it out.
This stim cycle was so different. Instead of having medications, Band-Aids, and other IVF accessories sprawled across a table in our “hopeful” baby’s room, we went super modest and compressed everything into the smallest space possible. We timed the shots to either be before Jellybean woke up or after we had put her down. This worked for all but a few shots. On a few mornings, she woke up. Candace and I both said we would be right there and ran into our bathroom, shut the door, and performed the IVF stim cycle dance in a manner evocative of an Indy car pit crew. Maybe she will discuss these strange incidents with her counselor one day.
The days went by though, and our sharps container slowly filled. Even as Candace started to really “feel” the meds kicking in though, this stim cycle was not like the others. In previous ones, I would do my medically-inspired dart shooting, then we would go to the couch and talk about such silly things like, what Candace would wear when she was pregnant, the strange foods she would crave, how we would react to feeling the baby’s first in vivo kicks. The stim cycle was an all-consuming event. This time though, it couldn’t be. It almost seemed that we were living our lives and, oh by the way, going through an IVF-enabled surrogacy in the background. We did morning shots, then got Jellybean up and dressed. We got Jellybean to bed, then did shots and passed out ourselves. This isn’t to say that it didn’t weigh heavily on our hearts, our heads, and our pockets. It just didn’t get to steal our attention; that is Jellybean’s job.
We used up our meds, packed up our M.A.S.H. unit in our bathroom, and prepared for retrieval. We were in this now … no turning back … success was an option … failure was an option … getting off this crazy roller coaster that our infertility has directed us towards was not.
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