Last week my husband and I tried to get pregnant.
I’m not talking about the intimacies of our marriage (although I wish I were) but rather about doctor’s visits, needles, blood draws and surgery.
In other words, IVF.
At the beginning of the year, I froze my eggs (a process that included a rollercoaster of emotions and one particular night when I simultaneously cried and laughed – an event my husband, Jason, still talks about at cocktail parties.) After the surgery, I thought it was all over; I had done it. I would never have to do it again.
Last month, the doctor told me I would have to do it again.
I was proud of myself for making it all the way to parking garage before bursting into tears in front of Jason and a very uncomfortable valet. All I could think was, “not again.” Not the hormones, the shots, the bruised arms, the sore stomach, the surgery, the hope, the worry. I didn’t know if I could face it.
But as a friend who’s done IVF herself told me, “You have to, so you will.”
She was right.
This time the shots didn’t seem so bad and the hormones didn’t bother me as much. In fact, there was only one night near the end when I accused my husband of smiling at me “too nicely.”
A day before I was scheduled to go in for the egg retrieval we found out that Jason was going to need surgery as well. I’ll spare you the details but suffice it to say, the next morning we both showed up at the clinic ready to go under the knife.
The morning passed in a blur of ice packs, anesthesia and, to quote Jason, “A needle where a needle should never go.”
Later that day, groggy and sore on our couch, all we could think about was one thing: will it work this time? Despite all the things we’ve done, there’s no real guarantee that we can have biological children.
It will be seven days until we find out.
I can’t stop thinking about those little cells. Wondering if they’re growing in their petri dishes. Thinking crazy things like, are they safe? Are they warm? Are they happy in there?
If they were in me I could help them grow. I’d give them so much love they’d already feel smothered. Just like they will 15 years from now when I insist on holding their hand in the mall.
Instead, we are left hoping our little test tube babies can feel the love from here. And that’s OK.
Because through this process Jason and have I both realized something important: just how deeply we want this.
We’ve come to understand the lengths we are willing to go to make a family – whatever that will look like, whatever way we can.
Right before my surgery, I looked over at Jason in his hospital bed and he gave me a weak smile. A nurse asked if we wanted our picture taken. I nodded and we gave a thumbs-up to the camera.
If it all works out, if our babies keeps growing in that lab and then in me, I’ll take that photo of the two of us in our matching gowns and pale, hopeful faces and stick it in a baby book.
And I’ll scrawl underneath, “This is how much we loved you.”