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My favorite year

A year ago today I had my first egg retrieval.

I'd prepared myself to be a fit sacrifice: manicure, pedicure, careful depilation, the works.  Because the weather was bad and we didn't want to risk a delay, Paul and I had stayed overnight at a hotel near the hospital.  I wore my lucky fleece socks.  I was ready.

We were ready.  I wish I could capture the feeling of tenderness Paul and I shared.  We were careful with each other.  No, careful isn't the right word; that suggests fragility when in fact we felt strong.  Maybe reverent, maybe awed.  We knew this could be big.

Because this was before I became truly obsessed, I don't remember how many follicles I thought I had; I knew I didn't ask how many eggs we might expect.  Even then I had a pretty strong deterministic streak — we'd get what we got and move on.  But at that point Paul and I were still having sober but excited conversations about how many we'd transfer, and how we would handle subsequent frozen cycles if this cycle failed, as we reminded each other was likely.

But then we didn't understand how many frightening forms failure could take.  Although we read and signed the consent forms that warned of all the things that could go wrong — nothing retrieved, nothing fertilized, nothing survived to transfer, no pregnancy, miscarriage — we didn't give it a lot of thought.  We knew the most likely scenario was a garden-variety negative, and concentrated on preparing ourselves for that. 

Ah, the clean, close shave of Occam's Razor.

But we weren't thinking of failure as I lay gowned and tethered to an IV.  I took off my garish socks so that I could admire my pedicure — Essie's Scarlett O'Hara, my favorite, the kind of color you'd paint a motorcycle.  I annoyed Paul by singing Steely Dan.

I was in fine form.

When I was finally wheeled into the operating room, I was terrified — this was surgery — but composed.  I counted the spots that flecked the acoustical ceiling tiles and sang to myself as my follicles were aspirated.  It hurt despite the anaesthetic but I didn't care.  I could hear the conversation of the doctors ("Yeah, there's another one") and even felt tempted to participate ("Don't nick my aorta, okay?"), but, no, counted flecks and sang.

Paul busied himself filling a cup.  I assume he too was in fine form.

Afterward I was wheeled to the recovery room, where I was plied with juice I didn't want.  They wouldn't allow me to leave until I'd proven I could urinate, so I pounded several ounces of cranberry-flavored sugar water and waited for the inevitable urge.  While I waited, my doctor came in, patted my arm, and said, "Perfect stim.  We got ten mature eggs."

I peed like Secretariat, got dressed, and left in a fog of optimism and Versed.  We thought everything had gone beautifully.

A day later I was to learn that only one egg had fertilized.  Almost a year later I would learn that we hadn't, in fact, had ten mature eggs — we'd had only four.  Two weeks later I'd learn that I was pregnant.  And that's when I started my journal here.

You've come a long way, baby.