20 August 2012, by Tan Yi Lin
I stumbled upon a line in somebody’s blog last week:
“Good stories don’t have predictable endings. So let go of your silly little plans and embrace the journey.”
The IVF story is just that: unpredictable. This is no Choose Your Own Adventure story. There is no Option (A) and Option (B) when you read down to the end of the page, where you can flip ahead and sneak a peak at your chosen ending, and if Option (A) says “Mission Failed”, you back up to the previous page and select Option (B) instead. You can’t.
During our first IVF attempt, I was focused on results. I monitored my body like a hawk, watching for signs of pregnancy – or not. The Two Week Wait was one of the most difficult experiences to survive. I thought, back then, so this is what it feels like to slowly go crazy. I wouldn’t wish the same psychological torture on anyone.
This time, I embraced the journey for what it was. Acceptance has a certain calming effect. I worried less. I was happier.
Of course, this round was different: I had Coco. She kept me busy. She tired me out. She gave me much to be joyful for. All that helped distract me from the passing of time.
I learned to enjoy the days spent at home. Sleeping in. Avoiding the MRT peak hour crush. Decisions pertaining to “What shall I do today?” boiled down to whether I should indulge in a morning nap. Or an afternoon nap. Or both. How many healthy women had the privilege of relaxing at home for three weeks simply because they *could* be pregnant?
These three weeks weren’t without worry though. Not a single day passed without me thinking:
Should I be carrying Coco?
Did she just kick me in the belly?!
Is it okay to go down a slide/ to swim/ to cycle when Coco clamours for it?
Is it okay to eat sushi/ a runny egg/ drink caffeine?
Should I be going out so much?
Well, I did it all. I figured that if other healthy women could unknowingly conceive naturally and still do all that in the early weeks of their pregnancy, there was no reason why I couldn’t. A little physical movement wasn’t going to jar the embryos out of their snug home. So I cycled at Pasir Ris Park. I slid down the water slide no less than ten times, landing with a splash, because the Water Monster wanted to go on it again… and again… and again.
I have to give SO much credit to my husband for taking care of me. He came home punctually so that he could accompany us to the playground and help to watch over Coco. He took over the evening bathing duties from me, lovingly giving Coco her nightly bath so that I wouldn’t have to haul heavy tubs of water and a slippery 8-kg baby around. He took care of the early morning diaper change and bottle feed so that I could rest longer in bed.
Thank you, Husband. I love you.
The late-night hunger pangs.
The nightly insomnia.
The bloated belly.
The late period.
Did these mean anything? Dare I hope?
I have lost track of how many times I’ve checked my underwear for blood. As my period due date drew nearer, I suffered from nightmares of fresh red blood and wetness. I fought urges to rush to the bathroom whenever I felt a leak, which always just turned out to be the liquid remains of the progesterone suppositories.
The 13th passed. No blood.
The 14th passed. Still no blood.
Whenever somebody asked how I was holding up, I would reply, “Clinging on to the hope that we still have. For now.” It’s like how you’re gunning for the top prize at the company D&D lucky draw and you silently pray as they call out the earlier numbers for the smaller prizes, “Please don’t call my number now. Please don’t call my number now” and every number called – that isn’t yours – gives you fresh hope. For every blood-free day that passed, our sliver of hope grew bigger and bigger.
Last Friday morning, 17 August, I had my blood drawn at KKH to test for pregnancy and went back home to wait for the nurse to call me with the test results.
My phone buzzed with SMSes and email messages from friends, colleagues and readers wishing me the best of luck. I was so touched that these people had made the effort to remember that today was The Day – a day that held so much meaning for me and Dan; and yet, to them, it was like any other day. Thank you, all of you, for your thoughts, kind words and prayers.
The IVF clinic was packed. We took the only two seats left – the ones that everybody avoids: the row that looks directly into the sea of 30 solemn faces. Not that we care. No familiar faces here. “Aiyah, no friends today,” we joked to each other, “Boring!”
I indulged in a cup of teh-C peng as we left KKH. One for the road. Just in case we have another hairy baby who gives me intense heartburn. I suddenly craved for soft-boiled eggs and lamented to Dan that I may have to wait a year till I had runny eggs again.
“Well, you should have thought of that before you started injecting yourself with all that urine, right?” mocked my unsympathetic spouse.
Lucrin. He meant Lucrin.
I was joking with my IVF support group girlfriends that somebody should direct a movie drama called The Call. Everybody who has had to test for pregnancy this way will always have memories of The Call. The call that bears good news – where you cry shitloads of tears. The call that delivers devastating, heartbreaking news – where you also cry shitloads of tears. I heard that it’ll be a good movie. Quite a cliffhanger. The emotional roller coaster will keep you on the edge of your seat. Bring lots of popcorn. And tissue.
10.48am: The phone rang. The KKHIVF number flashed onto the screen. My heart stopped. I answered the call.
I took the news as calmly as I could.
Then, I called Dan.
The tears fell. Uncontrollably.
My voice cracked.
“You… you are going to be a daddy to more babies.”
I broke down. Sobbed.
“Yaaaay! Why are you crying?”
“Cos I’m happy lah!!!!”
“You sound sad!!!!”
“Yes, yes, I’m sad. Very sad. Sad that I won’t be able to drink teh-C, or eat runny eggs or sashimi anymore….”
The timing couldn’t have been any better. It was a weekend of celebrations. Coco turns a year old on Wednesday, 22 August. We celebrated her birthday with our families on Saturday and Sunday. It was Hari Raya Puasa on Sunday and a public holiday today. My babies sure have a knack for announcing their presence during the festive period. With Coco, we found out on 20 December, just days before Christmas.
At this point, we can’t tell whether we’re having one baby or two. We don’t even know whether the embryo/s is/are correctly implanted in the right place. But we’ll take it one step at a time. The ultrasound scan on 31 August will reveal more.
Thank you all of you for walking this journey with us. For your prayers, well-wishes, and kind and supportive words. Thank you for being there.
This entry wraps up the five-part mini drama series on IVF attempt no.2 (or 3 – I’m not sure how to count this) and it has been a happy ending for us. May you all have the happy endings that you desire.
Have a wonderful week ahead.