I forgot how many pills are involved in this process. There have been a lot of things that are hard for me to accept gracefully throughout this journey: the $29,0000 bill, the heart wrenching moments where I can't pick up my son, the bruises that cover my abdomen and forearms, wondering if every emotion is real or a hormonal mood swing. And now, my prenatal vitamin, which is the size of a New York City cockroach. It's hard to get down. All of it.
I'm taking 11 pills a day. Morning and night. Plus a lovely vaginal gel insert of progesterone. Compared to the rest of this journey, this part should be the easiest. And yet, I find myself struggling.
Anyone who knows me will acknowledge that I am a person who loves to know everything. Surprises are something that I don't handle well, unless I truly don't know it's coming. As a child, it was torture for me to see all the presents under the Christmas tree weeks before I would get to open them. Or when my husband would say "I've planned a surprise for us," I would suck every single ounce of fun out of it by asking 1,001 questions and probing until I knew what he knew. Why? Because I NEED TO KNOW. I know what you are thinking, poor Sarah and her first world problems. But it's important you understand this about me.
Now imagine you have worked tirelessly to grow these little eggs. Hopefully, as we speak, their cells are dividing and they are about to become blastocysts. You would want to know, right? I need to know how many children are currently growing outside of my womb in a little lab in Encino.
As a recap: I got a status update Wednesday morning. 18 eggs were retrieved. 15 were mature and 11 fertilized with the help of ICSI. Eleven! A great number. But how many are still alive now? I NEEDED to know. So I did what any concerned parent would do, I called on Friday.
Eventually after some sweet talking (alright, desperate pleading), I was given the update. Three days in and all 11 are still alive. They will eventually grade them. I don't believe in standardized testing, but I'll make the exception this once because these grades will let us know which blastocysts look like our best option. That, along with PGS (genetic testing) will hopefully match us with the perfect baby that will grow strong and healthy.
And if I have the ultimate say, will have a vagina. I'm currently outnumbered in my household and could use a girl to help settle the score.
I've been having a tough recovery from the retrieval. There was some worry that I was developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I was cramping, bloated, and hurting badly, way worse than I ever remember feeling after my last retrieval. However, this time around, due to the amount of eggs I got and my PCOS, I was told to avoid all carbs, which included fruits and veggies. I'm equally pleased and mortified to report that it was not OHSS. I was just severely constipated. And after five days of only chicken, cheese and plain yogurt, I switched up the diet and took care of that shit. Pun intended.
With my abdomen feeling better, that allows me more time to overthink this embryo situation. What lingers in the back of my mind is the truth that can't be denied. We may have zero blastocysts. None. There is a chance they all come back abnormal, or start dropping like flies this weekend.
Science lingo definition: if an embryo dies, they use the term "arrest." So technically, all my children could throw a huge raver, get arrested, and not make it to the transfer. We could show up Monday to find this was all for nothing. It's happened to plenty of friends of mine. Some women I know are going on their seventh or eighth round. It's something I try not to think about.
Because, if I'm being honest, that's a pill I know I can't swallow.