Saturday, August 27, 2011

IVF Journey - Part IV, transformation

Having failed three ivf cycles in a row, I had changed from being confident to less calm and eventually to desperate. I was also increasingly sensitive to and jealous of every single pregnant woman in the world. I refused to go baby showers. I made sure no one talked about their lovely babies in front of me... In the mean time, I would find every possible opportunity to bring up this topic to Fabrice's attention, as if he did not know. I told him, repeatedly, "I wanted to have babies, I wanted to have them, NOW!" I picked up fights for no reasons. I threatened a divorce, since he did not want any kids anyway, it was all my wills to go through the dreadful ivf. I hated him so much for avoiding this very topic each and every time when I brought it up. Fabrice, the poor young and naive husband of mine, did everything he could to distract me from those frozen embryos, future babies, failures. He took me out, running, biking, swimming, rock climbing, canoeing, skiing... He later told me that he was trying to tell me life could be good TOO without kids. He tried to pull me out of the vicious cycle. However, regardless what we were doing, I could not take my mind off those embryos. I was anxious. I cried, cried, and cried more... Until one day, our dear friend, Theodor, showed up, in the early Spring of 2006, right after I failed second frozen cycle.

Theo's came all the way from Germany and we usually see each other once per year at our common annual conferences since we work in the same research field. But the year of 2006, he decided to take his newly wedded wife, Marlene, to the U.S. for their honeymoon trip. Our house was their last stop. Theo, Fabrice and I were trained in the same lab, as slaves postdoctoral fellows together under a very famous principal investigator who has now several drug patterns. Theo is one of the three people in the world that both Fabrice and I could talk to with complete and utter honesty. Just to let you know, if you want a productive postdoctoral life, you cannot also be reproductive. Because you should never ever be thinking about having babies of your own. You should hardly have time to eat, sleep, or even take a long running water shower. I had to tell you this to explain why Theo, Fabrice, and I had become dear friends. We were all singles at that time, ok, this may not be accurate. We all had girlfriends or boyfriends, but our respective partners were not in the same country or same city with us: Theo's girlfriend at that time was in Germany (Marlene, his new wife is a replacement, just so you know), Fabrice was having a break with his dozen of girlfriends who were all in France, Mine was 3 hours flight- or 16 hours car-ride away. So we acted like we were all happy and worry-free singles "after" work, that means our short lunch break and after midnight. We usually worked upto midnight and then Theo and I would hang out in some bars until 2 am. Fabrice was/is not a night person, so he only joined us for fun Friday or Saturday night. This special arrangement made us quite close to each other, so close I even dated Theo and Fabrice both (not in the same time period, so please don't call me slut!) Eventually, Theo left the U.S. and told me that he would never get married for life.

Few years later, Fabrice and I married. Theo did too, soon after that. His visit to the U.S. excited us: I was happy because I thought I finally found someone who would "understand" and be willing to talk to me. Fabrice was happy because he could finally get rid of me, even for a short while, I guess. However, the very news that Theo brought us was that Marlene was 5-month pregnant and they were expecting a baby sometime in the end of the year! What a bomb that he just dropped?! We (maybe just I) obliged to say something like congratulations and then quickly moved on hitting those bottles of beers -Theo loves cigarettes and beers. One bottle after another, we did not care about the fact that Marlene could not drink. That was her own fault anyways, I sure was too angry to realize what a insensitive and nasty hostess I was! We chatted about our good times, bad times, we imitated our boss' voices, as we always did while together... Finally after enough alcohol in my blood, I spoke. It was my turn to drop a bomb, "So what made you change your mind? I thought you did not even want to get married, let alone to have babies." "Oh, I still don't want any kids, but Marlene insisted. I just hated to disappoint her." He answered and looked to the direction of our quest room. Marlene had excused herself to go to bed, must be a while ago, but I had not noticed. She must have been tired from incubating a baby inside of her, I thought. Plus, she did not share the intense life with us and would not have enjoyed listening to our old time stories anyways. Not mention that we were all quite drunk at that time. "Was it easy for you to conceive?!" I had to lead the topic to a good direction, you see. "Oh, she stopped the pills and got pregnant right away." Theo said, without any emotion, as if it was the most effortless and natual thing in the world. I had to ask. I was feeling so stupid and did not know what to say after that. Remember, Theo is the last "boyfriend" that I had. In fact, if he had said yes to my "indecent proposal" of having babies with me without a marriage years ago, my life would have probably not had Fabrice in it.

"So, what about you guys. Didn't you say that you wanted babies years ago." After few more beers and cigarettes, Theo finally asked.

Alright, he asked for it! Great! Now I could start! I then described to Theo in details about our adventures of the ivf journey... He patiently waited for me to get to a point, with cigarettes and beers in hand, that was not too difficult. I know him well enough to go on and on and on... Finally, I ended by, "So we now have 13 embryos frozen, waiting to start next cycle."

Having shared the same bed with me before, Theo should have supported me, right? No! He proceeded to explain what a wonderful life one could have without kids. He saw kids as responsibilities and he also sided with Fabrice firmly, "You can always adopt!" he said, honestly and sincerely. "Exactly what I told her!" Fabrice joined in at this very moment. I had to confess here that Fabrice had indeed suggested us to adopt, but he wanted to wait at least for another 5 years. He had wished to spend some quality time together with me, the old and infertile lady, while we could, he said. "But I have waited long enough to find me a perfect husband to have babies with!" I told him. I had to pretend to look into adoption to make him to go for ONE ivf cycle. In between ivf cycles, Fabrice kept trying to change my mind. He tried, hard, to convince me his genes or mine were not the reasons to have children. Had he not known me at all? I am from China, we Chinese believed our genes and heritages! Well, at least, I did.

Theo and I had spent enough time in bars, movie theaters, restaurants, and even beds, which warranted him to say the forbidden word of "adoption" out loud without hesitation. I also believed/knew that would have been his option also if he needed to make any choices in baby-making process. Seeing my eyes had become teary after that, he tried to stop me from crying, "I mean you will soon have your babies. You still have 13 embryos frozen. You will have two, as you wished!" He knew I always wanted two babies, preferentially a girl and then a boy. Well, given my age and the ivf that we were pursuing, I even wished they came in the same time! "It's easy for you to say since you got your wife knocked up without even trying!" I wanted to say that but instead I heard myself saying, "How could you be so sure, we have already spent 6 of them, but look at the outcome!" I almost cried, "I could wind up having no babies at all!" 

The thought that Fabrice and I would not have our biological babies just about to kill me. Not only because I am from China, but also I am a geneticist, I would really like to know what a green-eyed, tall, slender, handsome European man and a brown-eyed, short, chubby, and ugly Chinese girl can make.

After a while of quietness, I started my attack, "You are such a hypocrite!" I remembered to use my best weapon. Again, Theo and I say things like that to each other, often. But this time, I was for real. I started to hate him for "lying" to me. He had told me that he did not want to get married, but he did. He had said that he would not consider of having any children in the future, because they would bring burdens to this overcrowded world, but he did! I could not let him slide this easily. Theo then spend his remaining vacation week to educate me with something which I never thought that I could accept: he told me that genes and traits that I cared about in my future children were not that important. The important thing was how to parent children - it would involve so much more than giving them your genes, he said. He echoed Fabrice, word by word!

"You need to see things further than your nose." Fabrice chimed in again. He had been quiet all these time. Silently, he had been enjoying to have a perfect accomplice!

Strangely, with Theo and his pregnant wife's presence, I started to listen to Fabrice. He finally could get his ideas of adoption across to me. I don't want to bore you with the lectures that I had received from Fabrice. The bottom line is at the end of Theo's visit, I finally opened my mind to other possible way to become a parent. Eventually, my focus changed, I did not like to be trapped in the seemingly endless cycles any longer. I agreed to Fabrice's suggestion, from the bottom of my heart. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Fabrice worked hard on me and we had decided regardless how a great responder I was to ivf drugs, we would NOT go on for another fresh ivf cycles. One full cycle, that was all that Fabrice agreed on before we did ivf anyways. We would continue another frozen cycle to give our remaining 13 embryos and ourselves a chance, but we would not go on for any more ivf cycles.

Once I got that straightened out, I was a different person. In the next ivf cycle, I found myself hoping to end it quickly. I wished it would work, of course, but I had not focused on the outcome of that particular cycle any longer. I was kind of anxious to move on my life with new goals. It felt like that I was completely ready to be done with ivfs. 

Guess what? Ever since I transformed myself from "no kids of my own, no life" to "it's great too to adopt", we have not experienced another failed ivf cycle ever again. Every problem has a solution, no? I finally found my answer to infertility. I understood that life is wonderful with kids in it AND it is equally wonderful without!

So, if you have the patience reading through my chiglish until this point, you would find that we had total of only ONE full ivf cycle. Following that, we had 1 canceled frozen cycle, 1 failed frozen cycle in which we had 4 embryos transferred. And then, the rest of the 2 frozen cycles brought us 2 miracle babies. The first started in May, 2006 with 6 embryos transferred, which led to a baby girl, Mia or ZhuZhu. The next started in June, 2008 with 4 embryos transferred, which brought us Remy or NiuNiu.  Indeed, our remaining 13 embryos had transformed into 2 beautiful children!

What is the magic that opened my mind and transformed me, other than having a wonderful husband who gives no importance to his own genes? I will talk about that in my next post.

Stay tuned! 

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