Today was the day my sister and brother-in-law have been waiting for a long time. As I laid in bed this morning I began to ponder what the appropriate outfit is to wear on the occasion of becoming a surrogate for your sister, using her eggs and her husband's sperm. It's not like I needed to don lingerie (though I didn't honestly think of that one until we were nearly to the clinic). I started to wear jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt, then thought better of it. That would have been way too casual. I eventually opted for slimming black jeans and a pinkish cashmere sweater. Someday these things might matter. LOL
When I finished dressing myself, I reached for the card I'd bought Val. A week ago I'd visited Hallmark looking for the perfect card that says "I'm ready to loan you my body for nine months - and I'm actually happy about it." Not surprisingly, it doesn't appear there are cards that fit that category. Pouring through the store, I finally found the one. It was yellow with some black writing on the front that says, "NICE." The inside sports the words, "Way to go!" The whole thing is accompanied by the song Whomp!(There it is!) by a group named Tag Team. Something about it seemed right as I was busting a gut in the middle of the store. The only real problem was I couldn't decide whether to give the card to Val or to Aaron. Of course I knew I would have to come up with my own version of a Hallmark mushy card to say all the other heartfelt things I wanted to say. So I stood in my bathroom and wrote a letter to my little sister. I think I effectively conveyed how much I love her.
Looking in the mirror I realized that I needed to accessorize my sweater. I reached for a necklace that was given to me by a close friend as I left Japan. It's two silver circles resting on top of one another holding a single pearl in the lower curve. I stared at it thinking how much it looked like an egg in a womb. Perfect! My friend Tomoko would be so pleased to know I wore it today. I threw on my pearl earrings and the ensemble was complete. It's been a long time since I thought that hard about what to wear. I'm really not that into my clothes. My life is pretty simple and doesn't normally call for special wardrobe consideration. Today was just...well, different.
Val, Aaron, and I paused for a short time in the kitchen to take some photos before she and I headed out the door. We wanted to document the occasion. Whether we become pregnant or not, it was still a momentous day.
On our long drive we joked about it being a covert operation. I could imagine her talking into her wrist like the Secret Service saying, "The package is delivered." I told her I suddenly felt like I was in protective custody. In essence I guess that was true. Had we recorded the conversation, we would have a great addition to a baby book. I wish I could recall all the details. The most important part is that we spent nearly an hour laughing together and having a good time. There were times she was actually laughing and crying at the same time, but that was partly due to the pain she was in.
Unfortunately, Val was uncomfortable during the whole drive, just as she has been since Tuesday. The stimulation of her ovaries left her with Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. It is a painful condition that can be quite serious. In fact, an ultrasound today revealed that her ovaries are so large they are rubbing against each other. It's called "kissing ovaries". Hopefully her symptoms will subside within a week from now. For now she's not very mobile and is moving very slowly. She has a positive attitude though and has been an inspiration through the whole IVF process. No matter what she's encountered she has done so with grace.
When we arrived at the Jones Institute, we were placed in a pre-op area and changed into our designated OR garb. We cracked out our cameras and took tons of photos of each other and the staff. It was a fun time even while we waited. The laughter continued right up to the moment they rolled me back into the OR.
After the nurses situated me on the table, Dr. Sergio Oehninger (our doctor) and the embryologist doctor both came in. Within a few moments the embryologist walked out and flashed the eggs, as viewed through a microscope, up onto a large screen. We had less than a minute to admire them, during which Val took a nice photo.
The doctor walked back in shortly afterward and with movements as careful as if he were disarming a bomb, he handed the pipette to Dr. O. who then threaded the pipette through my cervix as we watched on the ultrasound screen. I could see the white line of the long tube moving up into my uterus. Suddenly there was a puff that shot out the end of the tube and Dr. O said something like, "There they go." The entire procedure lasted roughly two minutes or less.
Dr. O stepped out and came back in carrying a certificate for Valerie, as well as the petri dish that held the eggs. He gave it to her saying, "This is their first cradle." It was pretty neat and of course brought a smile to Val's face. Once I was transferred to another bed, they rolled me out. Valerie was walking behind me when a nurse named Donna said something to her that stopped me mentally in my tracks. She turned to look at Val and said, "Come on, Mom." I said, "Wow, Val. I think that's the first time you've ever been called Mom." We were both tickled. Suddenly I think she felt pregnant. I know I did a little. That was a memorable moment for her.
As usual, we were barely in the post-op area when my phone rang and it was Mom calling to see how things were going. Her timing is always spot on! She definitely has a sixth sense about her when it comes to her kids. We told her we were done and she shared a funny story. Apparently she had just spoken with an older lady and told her she was a grandmother again today. They lady asked the obvious next question, "Was it a boy or a girl?," to which Mom replied, "We don't know yet - they were just implanted." LOL Imagine the confusion on that woman's face. I'm sure Mom went on to explain.
I think our family became a little more like glue today. We spoke with Mom, Dad, and our brother Ross. They were all so excited. It's great to feel their hopeful anticipation. It's amazing to think that in 11 days we may have another family member or members on the way. We all can't wait!