I woke up the next morning at 6:00am on the dot. I was used to waking up early now because of the shot schedule, and for a moment I felt extreme gratitude that that part was behind us. I made pancakes because I was in a good mood. My plan was to go to the market to buy bed rest food, finish cleaning, and have a facial/meditation session with Elisa, my facialist/esthetician/baby whisperer. I wanted everything to be in the right place for the big day.
One bite into my chocolate chip pancakes the phone rang. It was Dr. N with an update. Noah and I huddled around the phone to get the news.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have good news,” Dr. N began.
This is something you NEVER want to hear from a doctor of any sort. I felt my throat close and my eyes well up. Dr. N had been honest and realistic all along the way, so we know whatever he would tell us to be exactly what is.
Two of the embryos weren’t dividing and the one that was looked very fragmented, getting a grading of a B/C. Fragmentation could indicate abnormalities, and he wouldn’t want to put something back in me that wouldn’t at least possibly yield a healthy baby.
Time burst into a kaleidoscope. Shards of the last two years, broken scenes of the operating room, the laparoscopic surgery months ago, the empty syringes dumped in our little biohazard container slashed through my mind. Our wedding picture, the itemized pharmacy receipt, fully clothed nuns peeing in jars while standing. Our clean sheets, boxes of Junior Mints, my 92 year-year old grandmother’s bad knees. The bruises on my belly, having sex and then standing on my head, the rubbery slabs of Thanksgiving turkey. My uncle Yuki’s cremated ashes in a freezer sized Ziploc bag crammed into my mother’s carry-on luggage. My two responsive follicles on the ultrasound machine, like black bubbles floating in a sea of muscle and tissue and blood. The smell of Gill’s tea and my BBT calendar from 2010, temperatures carefully marked and charted. $15,000 in cash spiraling around a toilet bowl. The image our fragmented embryo getting washed out in a sink, the Petri dish being carefully placed into a dishwasher. My husband’s graying sideburns, the logo for earlypregnancytests.com, the sound of rain coming down hard for the first time this winter. The taste of my creamy tears, salty and thick, mixed with my face lotion. Sensory overload. Piercing cries and gasping breath, it’s me but sounds like it’s coming from somewhere else, someone else. That horrible desperate cry can’t be me. But our flowers bloomed and our Junior Mints tasted sweet. Last night we held hands and smiled and wished our babies-to-be good night and sweet dreams. Noah’s blue T-shirt splattered like a Rorschach test with the heartbreak from my eyes. Pushed against his chest, my despair faded to black.
And Dr. N said we should check in tomorrow. Sometimes embryos corrected themselves, but it was rare, and it wasn’t looking good.
I blamed myself for sending emails about Junior Mints and planning the next email, a request for friends and family to chew Doublemint gum so our twins would stick, so I felt like I jinxed it. And Noah went to work. And I cleaned the bathroom and cried. I brushed my hair and braided it to the side and ate a persimmon. I Googled “fragmented embryo” and sunk into the abysmal underworld of online infertility blogs, full of acronyms and desperately sad women TTC. I listened to the rain and tried to convince myself this will pass. I tried to see the bigger picture. This is another setback. If it actually worked this time, it would have been a fairy tale. After all this shit, our story would be a fucking fairy tale. My book would be a few thousand words short. I thought about our new normal, trying to figure out a way to regroup. A way to let go and begin to embrace a Plan B. At least I still had a uterus, and legs, and sperm, and parents who invested in artwork thirty years ago that they are willing to sell for another attempt at this. I reminded myself we would have a baby and asked the universe for help to find some kind of hope or curiosity or silver lining, but all I could do was scrub the toilet.
Noah and I said we’d remain hopeful, however grim the situation, until the plug was pulled. The plug wasn’t completely pulled yet, but it was close. Teetering floppily out of the outlet. Even if the embryo corrected itself, did that mean it wouldn’t result in pregnancy? Or if it did would I miscarry? Or grow full term only to give birth to a baby with some genetic deformity?
Everyone did everything they could. I couldn’t help but wonder if we were foolish to push so hard against nature. If there was something inherently wrong with my eggs. If this was going to be a painfully long process. I guess we won’t know. Our doctor, our wallets and our instincts will have to come together and make final choices for what we can and can’t do. Until then I cry.