There is a Yiddish saying: Man Tracht, und Gott Lacht, which could be translated as “people plan, and God laughs.” I think that’s about right.
On April 14, I wrote about how Sarah and I were giving up on the fertility meds and moving to IVF. Earlier that month, after the last failed cycle of the injectables, the nurse at Columbia Fertility (CFA) had told us that due to cysts (open follicles) on Sarah’s ovaries, the month after that cycle would also be a dud as well – thus, we would need to wait for the cysts to go down before IVF could start, and of course, their presence is expected to prevent regular ovulation as well.
I need to say a few words here about injectables. So those are basically a percentage of the same medicines as are used in IVF, but you’re basically relying on timed intercourse to try to get everything in the right place at the right time. Now, the problem there is that the husband ends up being something between a trained monkey and porn star (which is far less hot than it sounds). So with all of this, I can’t say that I had such a warm fuzzy feeling about how those work. In fact, those are definitely part of the “affliction” to which I had been referring.
Anyway, the injectables tended to be “one month on, one month off” because of cyst development (and continued use at that point would be dangerous). So we booked a bunch of appointments for IVF consultations, and decided that this was where we needed to be going. We met with Dr. Frankfurter at GW, and I must admit that all of the Rocky Horror jokes were running through my head the whole time (“Come up to my lab… and see what’s on my slab…) – none more than when he said that his main embryologist was named “Dr. Scott” (Brad! Janet!) (Note: Studio Theatre is showing Rocky this year – can’t wait!)
However – remember that I wrote that piece on April 14.
On April 29, we learned that Sarah was pregnant.
When we went in to CFA to confirm the pregnancy, Sarah asked “how could this happen??” Dr. Sacks replied, without missing a beat, “I think sex.” Oh, you scamp! That was too early for a non-IVF sonogram, so we went on about our day.
We decided to keep our appointment with RMA in New Jersey – they take forever to schedule, we had filled out probably three inches of paperwork, and honestly, having lost three pregnancies relatively early, we took a cautious view of chances, and at the least, wanted to find out what we thought of them relative to the folks in DC. Dr. Drews in NJ was amazing. I don’t hesitate to say that if we ever do need IVF, that is totally where we’d go, and that’s where I’d recommend anyone else go. I am blown away by their approach – they basically look for all of the various and sundry ways to get each extra .25% improvement in outcomes (like “use this particular type of air filter in the lab”, “use only this particular type of lighting”, “perform transfers only at this particular stage of development”), and then do them. The net effect of all of those little things is that their actual success rates are dramatically higher than clinics in the DC area – for women Sarah’s age it’s over 46% (national average 32%) (by way of comparison, CFA’s success rate for women Sarah’s age is 29%, and GW doesn’t brag about their statistics online, but according to what they’ve published to the CDC’s ART report, their success rate is 21%). According to Dr Drews, RMA doesn’t turn any patients away (we had been told that their numbers were the result of patient selection, which from my perspective he refuted).
They did say “most people don’t come here when they’re already pregnant,” but the consult was very informative. Dr. Drews did our first sono, and was excellent – he warned us that it was early and we might not see/hear anything, but he wanted to get a baseline (apparently this is standard of care for a first appointment there – which is also impressive). And there was the heartbeat!
But of course, we’ve been there before. And so, the fear began (along with prayer).
When we got back, we resumed working with Dr. Sacks – he had been our regular RE at this point: he told us that the genetic/chromosomal die had been cast already (true!) but there wasn’t any way for us to know how it fell for a while, but he would monitor us closely. Each appointment was nerve-wracking, but the heartbeat was strong. Apparently “made with love and science” was going to be more like “made with love, watched closely with science.” Maybe the s/he will have a future with the NSA?
So we’ve had a whole heck of a lot of ultrasound pictures of the stringbean-variety – not the ones which look like a kid (those are the 20-week anatomy scan), but oodles of early ones. The jarring moment happened when we got to about week 12 – we were discharged from CFA and sent to our OB – that had never happened before. Now we had to go from the high-touch world of “lots of imaging, can we buy a sonogram machine for the house like Tom Cruise?” (answer: no, they’re regulated medical devices) into the normal-pregnancy world of “I wonder if everything is okay?” which is of course the world in which most women (and men!) are 99.99% of the time.
But it’s an awesome kind of jarring.
We went back and forth on when to start telling people – we’ve previously been public very early, but this time decided to wait a bit longer. However, one practical component is that apparently pregnancies after the first show much faster than the first, and a comment we received from a family member upon seeing a picture was “I don’t know who you think you’re not telling.” Well all-righty then.
We’re due January 1, 2014 – sounds like a great way to start a new year (or, perhaps Dec 31 would mean that the IRS would be nicer to us this year). Then again, I was multiple weeks late (setting a pattern for my life), so who knows – Elvis Presley’s birthday is January 8…
So now we can just thank God for bringing us to this day, and count on Him to sustain us in the days ahead (and perhaps try to save up on some sleep a bit).