What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
My husband A is a dentist and I am a lawyer. We both grew up working class and put ourselves through school. Our combined student loan debt is a large two-story house in most states. Education was always our priority. After UC Riverside, I went to USC Law and he went to Cal Poly and UCSF Dental School. We made it, together.
My husband and I have been together forever. Twenty-one years and counting but only married for six. I call myself the patron saint of patience and despite all the ominous warnings from my friends, the wait paid off for me. A is a loyal and steadfast husband and he makes me a better person.
A and I had achieved everything we had ever wanted. That is, until we tried to have a baby. We started trying when I was 36, right after we got married. We continued to try and try again for two years with no result. Let me assure you reader that it was not for lack of trying.
People said to lose weight, which I did with surgical intervention. By 39, I was 90 pounds lighter and yet still, no baby.
At 40, I started to panic. It felt like it should have happened already. I kept thinking of the many years we had only used the pull out method. Maybe it wasn't the method that kept a baby at bay but something else. Something was wrong. This should have been easy right? Babies were supposed to happen organically.
I started seeing a fertility expert in Riverside. They diagnosed me with "unexplained infertility" whatever that means. I soon learned that fertility at 40 is a murky proposition at best. The doctor told me that my hormones were low, so low that my eggs might not even be viable. It was probably the stress, the doctor said. He elaborated that, "We get a lot of lawyers in here that can't get pregnant."
I was poked and prodded. My uterus was scanned and rescanned and polyps were removed. Within a year, I had fired the Riverside physician and hired a fertility doctor in swanky Newport Beach.
Now at the ripe age of 42, I am on every hormone and vitamin imaginable and undergoing in vitro fertilization with someone else's eggs. A 21-year-old's eggs. The egg donor is the same age I was when I met my husband. They mixed the donor's eggs with my husband's sperm in a Petri dish and let the combination marinate for five days to make embryos.
On April 30th, a Wednesday, I opened my legs for the insemination. The Sunday prior I went to church and lit a candle. A chronic overachiever, I also put a note in Virgin Mary's basket and after taking communion, I went to the Jesus statue to pray. I hadn't prayed with such fervor since my dad's death seven years prior from pancreatic cancer. Back then, I asked that God take Dad quick. This time I was asking God to create, not take, life.
To inseminate, they take a long tube and insert it into your cervix through your vagina to reach the uterus. You watch it all on an ultrasound screen. While holding my husband's hand, I watched in disbelief as my doctor dropped one embryo and then another into my uterine cavity. There were two little white spots on the screen after he laid the embryos. The whole process took 20 minutes and after it was over, the doctor shrugged his shoulders and said, “It’s in God’s hands now.”
Post procedure, they had me lay still for 30 minutes and my husband and I didn’t talk. It felt peaceful in the room, almost like church.
We drove home at a snail’s pace making sure to avoid potholes and bumps. Upon returning home, I was on bed rest for five days. No showers. No walking except to go to the bathroom and for an occasional stretch. Days one and two, I slept and played the latest iteration of Farmville in an effort to distract myself. By day three, I had to delete Farmville after dreaming of mooing cows all night. For the next four days, I read a book a day and watched old school game shows on GSN and "Sex and the City" reruns on the E channel.
Babies were everywhere. On "Sex and the City," Miranda was pregnant and Charlotte threw her a baby shower and Miranda had the baby and the baby was baptized, all in the span of three or four episodes. The woman on the old Password reruns was pregnant. It seemed as if every commercial contained babies and toddlers. Were these signs or was I crazy?
It is a week after insemination and I am writing this story. Something compelled me to put it all down and commit it to memory. With what felt like the faint stirrings of hope, I thought maybe I can show the story to the baby when he or she is older. For lunch, I broke my bed rest rule and drove to Panda Express to try the new kale chicken dish (for the most part, I have given up fast food and Diet Coke but I cheated just a little). When I opened the fortune cookie after biting through the plastic to reach it, I gasped as I read the words, "You will soon gain something you have always wanted."
I cried in my chicken and kale and dared to hope that at 42 it wasn't too late. On Monday, I will take a blood test to see if my fortune cookie was right.