Ijeoma knew it was getting to the last of her eggs, but she did not know she was down to the very last one. Her mind churned, as the doctor told her they were down to the last embryo, and asked if she wanted to go ahead and try with her own womb or to get a surrogate.
She sighed, her mind far gone, thinking about the very first cycle of IVF she had had, when she was 33 years old, and how the doctors had collected a large number of eggs, 23 eggs in all, and how about 19 of them had fertilised. She had gone ahead to keep most of her embies frozen, transferring three for that cycle, which unfortunately had ended in a miscarriage.
While she mourned her loss, she had been comforted by the fact that she had some embies and could try again. She did. Again, the cookie crumbled. That was even when all the parameters were fine; her endo lining was A-okay, her embies were of the highest quality possible, and there had been no issues at all…until the bleeding started at 5 weeks.
They moved on, tried again. In fact for the last three years, they had been trying and failing. The babies were just not staying for the nine month journey.
At that stage, there were three options; go ahead and transfer into Ijeoma’s womb and see if it would take, have a surrogate do the honours, or do a fresh IVF cycle after that one.
A discussion with her husband later in the day, showed he was not disposed to doing a fresh IVF cycle, due to their advanced age especially. He was present when the doctor had told them age was a factor in their infertility, and he had held onto to that. He felt it was like throwing good money after bad, if they went ahead with another fresh IVF cycle, when the ones they had done while younger had obviously failed, leaving them with only one embryo. There went one option out of three.
Gestational carrier? That looked more appealing, given the fact that they had been trying with Ijeoma’s womb for the past three years and they got nothing. He did not mind, as long as it was kept on the highest level of confidiality. No contact whatsoever with the surrogate. They wanted it to seem as though Ijeoma carried the pregnancy.
The third, and the one option, Ijeoma wanted to go along with, was that her last embie should be transferred into her womb and, hopefully, it would implant, and not miscarry like the others before it, and stay for the nine months.
Ijeoma’s story was one of a long dark tunnel, with no light in sight. Every time they had tried, they had failed. It looked like they were doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. The truth was, it made them look mad or at most stupid. They and their doctors looked like they did not know what they were doing.
Already it had been determined that if she were to have a child, then IVF was her only option, yet there she was, with the only option not working for her. Instead, it looked like she would have to ‘repeat the class’ if their sole embryo did not work out as they hoped.
Eventually, they settled on transferring into her, and, again, the conditions were perfect, and she got more time off work to enable her spend more time to rest after the transfer. In the weeks leading up the transfer day, she gorged on pineapple core, scourged the internet for anything that wouldl help her embie implant and grow.
All these at the same time as her pastors and family members, who knew their situation, were firing prayers on all cylinders. That the cycle would be the one, and that the embie would be her baby. After all, it was the embie that might not have had any chance, if the others had taken and stayed. This embie was like the rejected stone. The prayer point was that it should become the cornerstone; the baby.
In addition to that, she worried her doctor about the thawing process of her embie, the doctor in turn transferred her concerns to the embryologist, who kept reassuring her they had got the science down pat.
D-Day came and the transfer was done. For the next one week, she stayed put in the hospital, and the next week after that, was on bed rest in her own house, with two maids seeing to her every need. How she itched to test! In fact, she asked her husband to buy some pregnancy tests kits.
He refused, reminding her they have been down this route several times already, and if there were indeed pregnant, he wanted it confirmed by blood work done by a doctor, not one of those home test kits. They had done tests like that in the past, that had shown faint second lines, only for it to come out negative in the blood work. So he did not want to get his hopes up.
Eventually, test day came with palpitating heart and sweaty palms. The test was done. Lo and behold, the last man standing actually implanted. It was a BFP! Huge relief that was, but there were still some hurdles to get past. The first scan, the second one, the aminocentesis, the second trimester? Lots of waiting to be done.
It turned out the little guy got past every one of those milestones. He showed signs of life, every time she had a scan. His aminocentesis at first showed a tendency for Down’s Syndrome, but when it was done another time, it was discovered baby was perfectly fine.
As it turned out, he came at 40 weeks 5 days, that was just a day shy of when her doctor had said he was going to induce her. It was a healthy baby boy. Every time, Ijeoma looked at him, all she thought about was “my one embie.”
It is such a pleasing moment, when stories like Ijeoma’s have happy endings. They remind us that no matter, how dark it looks, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
On the other hand, there are those who have been where Ijeoma was, left with only one embie, age no longer on their side, so a fresh IVF cycle would have meant using donor sperm, donor egg, surrogacy. At this stage, adoption surely becomes the only route left to them. Some take it, knowing motherhood comes to us all in different ways, and others are still waiting on the One, who is able to show off with their lives. To each her own.
Baby dust to you moms.
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