Saturday, February 22, 2014
Blue, blue and more blue. Add a touch of red, possibly some green and, lately, a lot of grey and black.
Welcome to the world of boys!
Since Dylan's birth in 2000, my entire life has revolved around these colors. Adding Justin in 2003 just doubled the amounts of clothing, toys, bicycles, electronics and bedroom decor, all boasting one or a combination of hues traditionally targeted at boys. My own favorite color, which had been teal since my teenaged years, rapidly changed to pink, for fear it would someday become extinct in my world.
Over the years, I'd begrudgingly given up the hope of ever seeing walls the color of thick Pepto Bismol in my house. Ruffles and frills and dresses and dolls and princesses had slowly faded from my dreams and I forced myself to accept the fact that, after growing up with four brothers and giving birth to two sons, I just wasn't meant to have girls in my life.
Then came cancer, egg retrieval, embryo storage, hysterectomy, chemo, radiation, 18 months of waiting, and Lyndsay.
As I've mentioned before, I was over 35 years old when my eggs were harvested. In the reproductive world, that made me old. The chances of my elderly eggs becoming "defective" embryos was much higher than if I'd been a ripe and healthy 21. It was suggested that we have testing done on on the babies-to-be to make sure they all had the right number of chromosomes, among other things. We agreed. When the phone call came, informing us that 12 of our 14 little pumpkins seemed perfectly healthy, the question arose, "Do you want to know the genders?" I barely gave myself time to take a breath before answering, "Absolutely!" Her reply was, "You have six males and six females." But I only allowed the second half of her sentence to register.
I had six females.
Waiting until the post-cancer timing felt almost safe enough to bring another life into the world was unbelievably difficult. I wanted to defrost one or two of my little girls and get them baking in a surrogate oven as quickly as possibly. At 38 years old, I definitely wasn't getting any younger. Once we were matched with Lyndsay, Jimmi and I met with the doctor at the fertility clinic for the first time since my emergency egg harvesting in 2011. "I'm so happy to see you back here and help you to complete the process you started two years ago," he said. "If it's agreeable to you, we usually like to transfer two embryos to give you a better chance of having one healthy baby," he continued. "I know we tested the embryos and have determined the genders. Would you like to transfer one of each or would you rather we just pick the two best ones and you can be surprised?" He didn't suggest the option we were about to request, "We'd like to put in two girls, please." He bent his head down and looked at me over his glasses as a smile spread across his face. "That's right," he said as the memories flooded back to him. "You already have two boys. Well, then! We're gonna have to get you the daughter you've always wanted to complete your family." And he made a note in our chart.
The day of the transfer was a blur, even as it was happening. I was up very early to get Lyndsay to the clinic by 6:00 AM to make sure her uterus was ready to accept our babies. After that we were sent home to wait and wait until they called us with a return time. Then we went back and Lyndsay was escorted away while Jimmi and I waited for clearance to enter her room. Almost an hour went by before we were allowed to see her again and, in that time, I realized I'd never confirmed that two female embryos were being prepared for the journey that was about to begin. I quickly found a nurse, "I just want to make sure you thawed two females," I said, trying not to sound too desperate. Her reply didn't hold the definitive answer I needed, "Ummm…Is that what you asked for?" she questioned. I nodded, helplessly. "Well, if that's what you wanted I'm sure that's what they did."
Not good enough.
Unfortunately, by that time, it was too late. Whatever or whomever had come out of the freezer that morning was going to be shot through the syringe in a few minutes.
Jimmi, Lyndsay, Lyndsay's mom and I waited until a nurse wheeled our embryos, carried in a too-large incubator, into the tiny room. I watched as the nurse squirted liquid in and out of a syringe into the petri dish that held our pre-offspring. "Do you know if they're both girls?" I asked hopefully. "I really don't know," she replied with a half-hearted smile. Finally the doctor appeared, but he wasn't OUR doctor. This one was the man on transfer-duty for the day and I wasn't holding out hope that he knew the gender of our microscopic infants. I let him do his job without bothering him with questions and then, once the procedure was finished, it was too late to worry about it anyway. I allowed myself to accept the fact that I would love another son just as much as I would love a daughter because, no matter what, that child would be mine and Jimmi's. While Lyndsay was relaxing, allowing the em-babies to stick to her uterus, our nurse, the one we had met with a number of times and who had scheduled our appointments, came in to check on us. She would know the answer! "They were both girls, right?" I asked for the umpteenth time that day. Her face scrunched in a way that made my stomach flip with anxiety. "Hmmm. I know it was in your file so they should have been. Let me go check." And she disappeared down the hall. Five minutes felt like forever until she returned with news. "Yup! Both girls and both BEAUTIFUL embryos!" she finally confirmed. "Expect twins," she finished with a wink.
So, "expect twins" turned to a surprise split resulting in triplets, and the triplets resulted in one, healthy fetus after the identical babies failed to progress past 8 weeks.
Then, finally, it was December. Time for our 20 week anatomy ultrasound. My main goal was to make sure our baby was growing correctly and developing on schedule. My next objective was to confirm that she was, in fact, a little girl. The tech took her time measuring the baby's head and arms and legs, checking to see if the spine was in tact, looking at the four chambers of the heart. All seemed normal. Finally, when I couldn't stand it any longer, I blurted out, "You're gonna make us wait until the very end to tell us if she's actually a girl, huh?" Her reply was nonchalant, "Oh, she's a girl. I was just looking at that." And those were the words that made my heart finally feel complete.
Fast-forward to yesterday. One week after Lyndsay was released from the hospital after baby Aria felt the need to cause some drama. Things seem to be back on track with the pregnancy and we're all breathing a little bit easier now. Time to continue the process I'd started a few weeks ago.
The painters arrived in the morning, earlier than I would've liked, but ready for a full day. We figured we'd refresh the paint throughout the house and not just in Aria's room. But, because we have an artist coming in next week to make the room extra special, the baby's new digs were first on the list. The artist and I had chosen the colors - three different ones - to make a statement. The crib wall needed a white base in order for him to work his mural magic next week. The wall with the dresser would be painted light grey to allow for shaded stripes and the rest of the walls were, of course, going to be pink. I'd only seen a small swatch of the colors he'd suggested and, in my opinion, the pink seemed a bit too light. But I trusted him as a professional.
The painters began and I stayed out of their way. I busied myself cleaning and running short errands until I couldn't stand it any longer. I went upstairs to bring the workers a box of Dunkin' Donuts munchkins and what I saw knocked the wind out of me.
The walls were pink. I mean, I knew they would be, but seeing the color brought about more emotion than I had anticipated.
I was so wrong about the shade of pink we'd chosen. It wasn't too light. It was absolutely, beautifully perfect. "Wow," I said out loud, more to myself than to the painters. And then the familiar stinging started behind my eyes.
Why am I crying?
I turned quickly before the men could see me. They wouldn't understand. Even I didn't understand. I hurried downstairs, grabbed the phone from its holster on my desk and dialed my mom's number. She answered cheerily and I could barely get the words to come out, "It's pink." I sniffed, my voice cracking. "What?" she asked. "It's PINK!" I announced with a bit more strength. "Yes, I know. You told me before. Why are you crying?" I couldn't stop the emotions. "I never thought I'd see a pink bedroom in my house. It's so pink!" She laughed at how ridiculous I must've sounded but she knew exactly what that simple color meant to me.
I'm finally going to have my little girl.