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Monday, November 20

In Search of Life (Part II)

At the end of the summer of 2016, I decided I'd at least explore the option of IVF. It meant another round of testing--to determine whether I could even be a candidate for it. Through this process, I discovered I actually had premature diminished ovarian reserve--in layman's terms, I didn't have many eggs or much time to make use of them. Based on other test results, we proceeded with entering the IVF cycle later in September. Another surprise surgery had to be done in October of 2016--between egg retrieval and the frozen embryo transfer. Despite the logistical challenges of being cared for out of Pittsburgh, I cleared my mind of all other things and proceeded to get the daily shots (thanks to my gracious aunt) necessary--often leaving my home in the morning before the sun came up--driving to Pittsburgh every couple of days for very early morning blood draws, adjusting medicines based on results. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. After a few weeks, it was finally time for egg retrieval.

But, after egg retrieval, things looked really grim to me. While I had 11 eggs extracted, only half fertilized and given the number of days we needed for embryos to mature, the expectation was that we would only have one viable embryo in the end--my doctor called to report this to me a day after my retrieval. The sudden drop in enthusiasm after a solid 11 egg turnout was tough. Part of this issue came from the need to have 6 days of growth prior to freezing so I could have the surgery. Needless to say, after getting this news on a Sunday, the wait to hear the final outcome on Friday of that week was so long and difficult. Would there be any embryos in the end? Would I have more than one so that I could have multiple chances at conception? Could I take the pressure of only having one? Even more intense, I had my egg retrieval on that Saturday and then had to have surgery the following Thursday.  Only now, as I recall the timeline, do I fully appreciate all my body had to endure for me.

So, that Friday rolled around, and I was at Trax Farms, buying mums and pumpkins, when the embryologist from Magees called me. I was so nervous when I answered, I was physically shaking--not something I do often. With one of the most reassuring voices I've heard, she happily let me know we had a very strong little embryo that had survived the week and was ready to be frozen. I burst into tears when I got to the car and shared the news. I wasn't sure at the time whether the tears were the result of joy or sorrow. The prospect of a single shot at success terrified me, but there was this tiny spark inside of me that said it would be okay. We were still okay.

At this point, I resumed all I'd been doing to increase my chances of success for months. Eating extremely healthy, skipping any alcohol, exercising moderately, meditating, doing yoga, having acupuncture, praying my heart out and so on. I would have to return to Magees to get cleared from my surgery to be able to proceed with transfer. If something happened and I couldn't proceed in November, I would have had to wait until at least January because the lab closes for annual cleaning and inventory for the month of December. This doesn't seem like a big deal, but after two years of waiting away weeks of time, it seemed like I would crumble if I had to wait for the transfer. Thankfully, all went well with my recovery, and we were on track for a November transfer. 

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