Monday, November 23, 2020

Are You My Embaby?

It never fails to astound me that when you commit to a course of action, God (or the Universe or the powers that be) conspires to help you. About a week after turning in all the necessary paperwork, labs, and medical records required to get on West Coast IVF’s waiting list for a PGS-tested female embryo, I received an email from my coordinator.

We had a match. And it was perfect.

The egg donor was an active member of the National Guard and a file clerk at a law firm who did flower arrangements on the side. Her favorite movie was The Lion King and her favorite book was The Glass Castle. Though a quiet, shy child, she was very physically active in her youth, participating in everything from cheerleading to dance team to gymnastics to swimming.

Her reason for donating? “I am in a same-sex relationship and know how it feels to want to be a parent, but not be able to get pregnant the old-fashioned way. One day my partner and I will have to get a sperm donor. I want to be able to help a couple become parents.”

The sperm donor was an only child pursing a degree in psychology (which is what I majored in!) who excelled at running (like me!) and bowling (not at all like me).

“I am an easy-going, funny, hard-working individual,” he wrote. “People enjoy being with me because I can always make them smile and have a good time.”

According to the sperm bank’s comments, the sperm donor was “very punctual and has great manners. He is disciplined and trustworthy.”

This sperm donor was from a different sperm bank than our previous sperm donor, and this sperm bank had a lot more information available. For a small price, we could see the donor's childhood photos, creative work, a recording of his voice, and results from a personality test. A quick search on the Donor Sibling Registry showed that he had produced at least two other donor-conceived children. He was also open to contact. This was a major plus now that I knew how important being able to track genetic relatives might be to the embaby in the future.

Both donors were young, fit, and healthy. The baby would undoubtedly be a blonde-haired, blue-eyed cutie. (Not that we cared. Hair and eye color were the least of my concerns.) The only medical hiccup: the sperm donor had red-green colorblindness, a genetic trait. A quick Google search revealed it’s more common in males than females, so I wasn’t too worried.

There was one other hesitation: the egg donor didn’t have any children and had never donated eggs before. How did we know that she was fertile? I emailed the coordinator to ask if anyone had had success with this profile. She didn’t answer.

I was so in love with the profile that I didn’t care. On Election Day, my husband and I signed the profile page that would reserve a female PGS-tested embryo for us and I mailed the check that would pay for the three-transfer package.

My coordinator confirmed receipt of our paperwork, then asked if there were any days I would not be available to travel to California for a transfer. Assuming we were speaking about spring 2021, I listed the birthday of one of my teens as well as the birthday of the new baby.

“I am looking to schedule this before the end of this year, so great to hear that you are available,” she replied. “I will prepare your treatment calendar and send it to you to confirm dates and appointments.”

Before the end of the year? She couldn’t be serious. This had to be a mistake. What happened to the doctor’s insistence that I have around two years between births? Or be on Crestor for six months? Should I say something? Or should I just let her schedule me?

I didn’t want to end up in a situation where I was propped on the table, ready for a transfer, only to have the doctor come in and say, “Wait a minute! I told you not until spring!” So I emailed the coordinator back and fessed up. Cue several emails and phone calls back and forth trying to figure out who was insisting on a spring 2021 transfer. According to a note in my chart, I was the one who wanted to wait, not the doctor.

Finally, a new answer came back from the doctor: he only required one year between deliveries.

OK…?!?! I knew I hadn’t misheard him. He said not until April or May of 2021. But if he was willing to do a transfer sooner, so was I!

I felt all the things: excitement about a transfer so soon, and around the holidays (which made it feel more special). If the transfer was successful, the baby would be born in autumn. This was a godsend because I was not looking forward to bringing a baby home in the dead of winter and being stuck indoors for the first three to four months of her life (which would have been the case if I’d transferred in April or May). My two donor-conceived babies would be only 16 months apart, almost exactly the same age difference between my teens. This was everything I hoped for!

But I was also afraid. Coronavirus was still raging – harder than ever, according to the news. Was flying to California safe? What about staying in a hotel? And the Uber rides to and from the airport? It would be incredibly stupid to end up with coronavirus in pursuit of a pregnancy when I could technically wait until a vaccine was available.

My husband, who had initially said that if we were going to do another transfer, we should do it as soon as possible (because we weren’t getting any younger and we were already in baby mode) suddenly backpedaled. December felt too fast for him. He thought he had six more months to make peace with the idea of another little one under our roof. Now, he had emotional whiplash.

To add to this dizzying time, my period – a real period, my first real one since the birth – came, which meant I could start on the birth control pills that marked the first step in my medication treatment calendar. The fertility train conductor was shouting, “All aboard!” If we were doing this, it was time to get going.

I started popping The Pill, and as each day passed, my husband and I got more comfortable with the idea of a December transfer. Though I’d already picked a biblical name for the next baby, a new one of Spanish origin entered my head one day – and it stuck. I shared it with my teens and my husband and they all agreed that that was the baby’s name. No deliberation necessary.

Just as I was starting to imagine what our next little baby would look like, my coordinator sent us another profile. She explained that there was only one PGS-tested female embryo from the profile we’d selected. She recommended having a back-up profile in case the one we wanted didn't survive the thaw. That way, all my ultrasounds, fertility medications, and travel didn’t go to waste.

It was considerate of the clinic to give us a back-up option. But instead of reassuring me that I would have an embryo to transfer in December, no matter what, it sent me spinning. Coupled with a new piece of information about our desired profile, it made me reconsider if the embaby we chose was really perfect for us after all…

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