Science Baby 8


Embryo Transfer.  Next Monday at noon.  A little glob of cells, part me and part her, unfrozen, stuck into her lady place with some medical instrument resembling a titanium dick with a miniature cockpit ejection seat to unload the cargo.

Us, in a hospital room, hoping.

She tells me that we’ll get a picture of the embryo.  I imagine it will be black and white, probably because of television.  I have memories of seeing scenes of women in hospitals, women in stirrups, women with a plastic knob gliding over pregnant stomachs wielded by a doctor, women looking up at black and white televisions mounted on a wall close to the ceiling, lewdly angled down, a black and white image of the ultrasound displayed, fuzzy.  The doctor will say:  that’s your baby!  And the woman will gush, and if there is a man there, he will gush too.  They will look at one another, man and woman, with dopey smiles.  Our baby!

I’ve wondered if I will gush, or if I will be unemotional.

I wonder if I will be scared.

The fear comes from the prospect of success, and the specter of failure.  Fear either way, win-or-lose, it’s part of the result package.

If the embryo takes, I become a father.  I can then worry about all sorts of things particular to fatherhood:  how to take care of my pregnant wife, prepare the baby’s room, get a stroller, change a diaper.  I can worry about how to treat the baby, how to raise it, I can worry about my wife’s treatment of the baby, I can worry about which family members get to see the kiddo and when and how and what to name him or her.  Jesse for now maybe, a man-or-woman name, a placeholder until the sex is known.  I can worry about climate change and wonder what’s going to be left here on planet Earth in thirty years for this kid.  An infinite number of things to worry about.

If the embryo doesn’t take, my wife J and I have a reckoning.  This is our only chance, our only embryo that made it to the blastocyst state, mature enough to proceed with the implant procedure.  This day – transfer day – has been two years of IVF procedures in the making.  It’s like election day after two years of brutal campaigning.  It’s like fighting the final boss of a video game you’ve been working on forever with no continues and no lives left.  No second chances.  What happens, happens.  If it doesn’t work out, we can talk about starting back at the beginning and trying to get approved by insurance for another IVF cycle with J’s eggs.   They probably won’t approve it, but we can ask.  Other options make me shudder:  Donor egg.  Adoption.  No, no, no.

I don’t know what it’ll do to our relationship, not having a baby.  I think J will become depressed, despondent, manic, at least in the short term.  In the longer term she will want another way to become a mom.  I want more than just the two of us, she has said.  Two isn’t enough.  I will say and do things that hurt her, like suggest we get dogs instead.  I will make jokes she will find unfunny and do not help, jokes such as:  Surely two adorable Corgis is almost as good as a single human baby, right?  All of my efforts to make her feel better will fail and she will pressure me to do Donor Egg and I will want to eat metal shavings in an attempt to get undiagnosable internal bleeding which sends me to the hospital and allows me to temporarily avoid the discussion because I’m dying and no one can figure out why.

J isn’t sleeping this week.  I hear her get up in the night.  This is consuming her, the worry about it.  I read somewhere that the single biggest risk on a transfer is stress.  Stress makes a woman’s body reject the baby.  Stress causes miscarriages.  I tell her we need to relax but there are no words that help.  I cuddle her and stroke her, tell her I love her.  This doesn’t help either.

It is about a sixty five percent chance of success.  This sounds good, but my brain flips it to the glass half empty state, and I think: One in three chance of failure.  Staggeringly high.  About the same chances as getting a small squall of rain on any given summer afternoon.

It happens all the time.

I don’t want it to happen to us.




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August 12, 2023

I am so glad to see you writing again.  You describe the situation and your feelings with alacrity.  (Maybe a name for the baby? :))  I have put it out to the Universe for everything to fall in place.