You Were Always Meant to Be a Surprise
They knew every step
For more than 4 years we waited and yearned for Oliver. Throughout all but 7 months of that journey, we let our parents in on everything that was going on. We knew our journey to parenthood was going to be an uphill battle and we wanted their support and encouragement along the way.
But opening up to them about our struggles wasn't easy. It wasn't what we had planned to do nor wanted to do, because most children look forward to the day, the moment, the look in their parent's eyes when they announce to them that they are becoming grandparents. I don't know anyone that can deny that. And for us, we felt like that joy was stolen from us.
Because from the moment we embarked on our infertility journey, our parents knew everything. Every lab result, every doctor's appointment, every surgery, every test result, when IVF started, how many eggs were retrieved, how many fertilized, how many made it do Day 5 blastocysts, and they knew we'd have to wait 10 days before we found out if we were pregnant or not. They literally knew every step because we wanted them to....needed them to because infertility is an emotional rollercoaster.
Was it still exciting and memorable telling them we were pregnant? Yes, it undoubtedly was, I will never deny that, but it wasn't the same. They knew that day we were either going to be pregnant and they were grandparents or we weren't and they weren't grandparents.
We wanted to surprise them
So when the possibility was real that we would be able to try for more kids, we decided we wanted to transfer as soon as we could (our clinic's policy is that you must wait 1 year after a live birth), we didn't really tell our parents. We told them we would transfer another embryo, but wasn't sure when.
We did this because we wanted that chance to actually surprise our parents. And we knew this would be our 1 shot to do so, because trying to do this with more kids or when Oliver learned to talk would be next to impossible. Even then, we knew this wouldn't be an easy feat as our IVF clinic was 5 hours away and our in-laws lived a mile down the road and came by everyday to do chores for the livestock they kept on our acreage.
We were determined to try though! The only people who knew of our transfer were my aunt and uncle who lived about 40min from the clinic. We stayed with them during our IVF retrieval and fresh transfer (we lived 3 hours from the clinic then) and we sorta felt like they were our good luck charms. Plus, we needed someone to watch Oliver while we went to appointments because it was the middle of COVID
It's transfer time!
So on November 13th, 2020 we ventured across the state. We left in the night and our plan was to come back the next day. Our first appointment was a lining check. If my lining was thick enough (which is was) then I could begin my progesterone in oil injections.
Five days later we returned for our AM transfer on November 19th, 2020. We again traveled through the night so that no one knew. We learned we lost 1 embryo during the thaw, but the next best embryo thawed beautifully and was already beginning to divide or "hatch" in IVF terms.
Most of you probably don't know much about the embryo transfer, but I personally think it is the most beautiful experience. I think it is incredible that IVF babies see the world first and we know the moment that we are pregnant until proven otherwise. Seeing my little baby being placed inside my uterus on the ultrasound screen makes me cry every time. Science is amazingly beautiful when gone about in the right way.
After our transfer, we did all our same things - got the large McDonald's fries (an IVF superstition and who knows if it really works) and grabbed lunch from Applebee's - like we did after our transfer with Oliver. To us, they felt like more good luck charms and when you endure infertility and IVF, you cling to anything that feels lucky.
Surreal is the only way I can describe our trip back home. Although we weren't home yet, somehow we had pulled it off. We left as a family of 3 and we were driving back as a family of 4.
The plan was to find out via MyChart so that Andrew and I could be together to learn whether we were pregnant or not. We planned it this way with Oliver, but I was too anxious and peeked early. This time though, everything felt different. I wanted it to be different. We both felt so blessed with Oliver that any more children were just an additional blessing. I was willing to let be, be.
Three days post transfer I wrote this in my journal -
"Maybe it's your brother (Oliver) or maybe it's me trusting and letting go more, but man I feel so different this time around. Most of the time I forget you're hanging out with us. I don't feel anything yet and I try to not let my mind wonder about that - good or bad. I pray you're thriving, I pray that you can sense your brother's laugh and energy. I pray you want to be with us as much as we want to be with you. No matter what, I know you are safe and are loved ♡
All My Love, Mom
What did you say?!?
With our clinic, you find out whether you're pregnant or not 10 days post-transfer. So on Nov. 30th I drove to the hospital we would doctor at if we were pregnant (we moved shortly after Oliver was born) for my quantitative hCG blood test and progesterone level check. I got there as soon as the clinic opened so ensure there was enough time to run results and get them sent back to my clinic. Last time, the hospital I did the results at temporary, lost my results, so there was a big delay in getting the results to me. So my Type A personality wanted to ensure I gave the lab and clinic the most time to get the results back to me.
Later that same day, Oliver and I went to the town where the hospital is to grab some groceries. On our way home, my phone rang and it was my clinic. Knowing we told them we wanted the results sent in a MyChart message, I became worried that something was wrong with my results. My clinic wants them by noon and since it was after that, I knew something was up.
So I answered the call and it was a nurse who right away blurted out, "Congratulations, I'm calling to tell you that you're pregnant with a very strong beta of 521!!"
I. WAS. SHOCKED.
Not because they didn't follow our request (okay, I was a little sad I found out again before Andrew), but I was SHOCKED we were pregnant! I literally had no symptoms whatsoever! A touch of fatigue, but I coughed that up to transitioning Oliver to 1 nap so he was up early in the mornings. I guess I was kinda expecting to have similar symptoms to Oliver. I had lots of spotting and even bright red bleeding. I was tired and thirsty all the time. The only similarity was that I craved Cheetos Crunchy but who doesn't?!?
But I vividly remember laughing, literally laughing out loud at the nurse telling her she had to have the wrong person!! There was NO way we were pregnant and with higher beta number than Oliver (I know higher numbers aren't indicative of a stronger/healthier pregnancy, but it's hard not to compare)!! She laughed back saying, "Nope, believe it!! You are very much pregnant!!" We talked some follow-up things then I hung up the phone still flabbergasted.
That moment - her calling me - will forever be cemented in my brain. See, we live in an area that is extremely flat. You literally drive straight for miles and miles without a curve in the road. And I was on the only curve in probably the entire county when I answered her call.
The surprise was still coming
Looking back....that probably should have been our first sign that this pregnancy wasn't going to end up like we had hoped.
When Drew got home from work, I told him the amazing news!! We celebrated that night and clung to hope that our darkest days were behind us. We began actually believing that we could do this pregnancy thing all along - we just needed help with conceiving.
I returned for my 2nd blood draw 2 days later to confirm doubling and we more than doubled with our 2nd beta coming in at 1,257 - we were DEFINITELY pregnant with our 2nd child!!
Next appointment would be our viability scan at 7weeks gestation on December 21st, 2020. If all went well, then our plan was to pull off our big surprise by telling our families at Christmas.