Here I sit, typing what is quite possibly one of the most monumental posts yet on this blog.
Let’s back up a bit, shall we?
Earlier this year, James and I decided to go for it and take the biggest gamble of our lives. Me: a 44-year old already mother of a 14-year old. James: a 46-year old man with no children of his own. Knowing the odds were certainly not in our favor, we sought the advice of specialists. We figured it couldn’t hurt just to know where we stand.
We walked into the appointment filled with anticipation, excitement that we found ourselves at this point in our relationship. We knew the reality, but we also knew that we wanted to at least give this a wholehearted attempt.
The Reproductive Endocrinologist was fantastic. We clicked right away.
“I know, I know. You have a child, right? BUT….who knows when you’re going to meet the man of your dreams and want another one? It just so happens you are in your mid-40s and that time is now.”
She was absolutely correct.
She ordered typical lab work for us both. I won’t go into detail about my results, but suffice it to say, while most of my lab work was good, one value in particular was dismal at best. It’s a lab called Anti-Mullerian Hormone. Basically it checks to see how much ‘gas’ is left in your ovarian tanks.
Mine was sitting on fumes.
Her advice to me was to begin taking over-the-counter DHEA as a supplement. There were some pretty compelling studies regarding its use and egg quality.
What the hell, I thought? I have nothing to lose and only great egg quality to gain. Off I went to the nearest pharmacy that carried it.
Thus the journey began……
Well, that’s not entirely true. While neither of us have any fertility issues per say, the only thing working against us was age. Good ol’ Father Time. Now, you men out there can just kiss my ass. Some of you can produce good quality sperm for eons it seems. Women? We have a finite number of eggs from the day we are born.
Did I have any left?
In an attempt to simply boost our odds that any normal couple faces, we chose intrauterine insemination. A woman my age faces about a 5% chance of getting pregnant on her own, but with IUI that percentage goes up to between 15-20%. Yeah, it’s not a HUGE number, but it’s better.
So, bring on the countless ultrasounds to monitor follicle size, injectable gonadotropins, possibility of emotional rollercoasters due to increased hormones.
Bring it all on.
We began in April.
We tried again in May. As was the case with the previous month, I was closely monitored almost every other day, measuring my endometrial lining and follicular size. The magic number for the follicle to reach was between 16 and 19mm. This was considered ‘ripe’ and ready to ‘trigger’.
I was ripe.
It was time to trigger. This involves yet another injection of HCG, the actual hormone that gently (or probably not-so-gently in my elder case) prods the follicles into ovulating. Time to push my egg(s) from the nest.
“Houston, we are a go for launch.”
Quite possibly my favorite part of this process is when you hear the news that you’re ready to trigger. This prompted the nurse practitioner to tell us to ‘get together’ the night of trigger.
I giggled whenever they told me that.
The procedure is precisely timed for 36 hours after the trigger shot. 36 hours. Not 30, not 40, not 34 hours. THIRTY SIX HOURS.
Baby daddy joined me in the procedure room as the nurse practitioner walked in with a thin catheter of his crown jewels of fertilization. We couldn’t help but laugh. It was actually a lighthearted moment for us. We even had the nurse practitioner cracking up.
“It’s a beautiful day to get knocked up”, I said.
The actual procedure itself takes literally 30 seconds or less. I remain in a supine position for about 15 minutes to hopefully allow the party to begin inside my uterus, giving everything an optimal chance based on my body’s positioning. Once finished, I went home and went about my normal day.
Now began the dreaded two-week wait. I was given the green light to take a pregnancy test exactly 14 days after the procedure. To say this wait was agonizing wouldn’t even adequately describe it.
I did my best to busy myself with work, my burgeoning patio gardening, lunches with friends. It was always on my mind, however. Always.
Coming into the second week, I was nervous. I don’t know why, but I was nervous. I had definitely felt twinges and sensations I didn’t feel the last month, but I hated chalking it up to anything except my imagination. When your body is on that many hormones, anything is possible, so to pin hopes on pregnancy based on symptoms is simply foolhardy.
By Tuesday of the week I could test, I was completely ambivalent. I had no idea. Of course, I wanted to see two lines, but I was also terrified to take a test and only see one.
I woke up on that fateful day from a night of work. I was tired. I couldn’t sleep. My mind wouldn’t stop racing.
It was day 14.
I was still hesitant.
As the morning passed, I found myself showering and going about my normal day. I remember thinking, “Well, hell, I’ll just take a test now, get it over with.” I’ll be honest: we had company coming in from out of town, and I just wanted to know if I could have a martini the next day.
I set the test down on the bathroom counter.
I looked away, too afraid to look at the result, tears in my eyes. We had done everything right this month. Everything.
I nearly fell down with shock. WAIT A MINUTE. WHAT????
Yes. Two beautiful lines greeted me when I looked at the test again. I knew this was no mistake. I knew it.
I was pregnant.
The tears began to flow in earnest now. I was frozen in time for that moment, savoring the sight and knowing that all we had done was now revealing itself to me.
Then, I did what any trying-to-conceive girl would do. I screamed and danced around the bathroom with my underwear still around my ankles. I laughed, I high-fived myself, I ran around the apartment.
But, wait, this wasn’t how I planned to do this! I wanted James to be there with me when we found out the result. Damn. It was noon on a Thursday. He was at work.
I went ahead and sent him a photo of the actual test. Seeing is believing, right?
Following James, I proceeded to tell a very small handful of people. Those who knew we were trying. It was a whirlwind. I was still flying high hours later.
And I kept looking at that damn stick. Still two lines. It would appear they weren’t going anywhere.
Of course, when rational thought prevailed, I phoned my doctor, and she ordered the requisite lab work to confirm. All was well. I was indeed pregnant.
I sit here today still amazed, shocked, happy, excited, and cautiously optimistic. I have passed each test thus far. Healthy beta HCGs doubling as they should, seeing and hearing our baby’s heartbeat. The genetic testing is what looms ahead. I won’t lie. I’m nervous as hell about it. But, what’s done is done, and for now, I savor the mere notion that there is a new life growing inside me. Hopefully, this baby will be an outward sign of the love I share with an amazing man.
So, for those of you women out there who think you’re too old, guess what?
Maybe you’re not.
Don’t give up. I post this as a way to thumb my nose at odds and statistics. Those numbers are very real, but there are also successes built into each number. Who knows? You just might be one of those successful numbers.
One thing is certain: James and I went into this with our eyes wide open. We felt it was truly the biggest win-win of our lives. If we were able to pull this off, and I was able to get pregnant, and we have a baby, it’s truly icing on our fantastic life cake. If not? We have each other, and ultimately, that is the most important thing to us.
So, for now, I type this, grateful, happy, fatigued, with boobs so tender and huge, food cravings that include a myriad of fruits, and and suffering from near-constant nausea. And I couldn’t be happier for it.
Now, pass the watermelon.