By Julie - Hammervision,
March 27, 2011 at 9:20 am
This is not the story of some seedy hotel room in Indianapolis. Far from it. This is the story of me, a sterile operating room, and my fifth cycle of in vitro fertilization.
I always knew I was going to have fertility issues, based on no grounds whatsoever. Just something in the back of my mind since forever. And I was not wrong. We tried for a year, which turned into two years, which turned into a battery of tests and tears, which led us to a fertility clinic in the summer of 2007.
I started my first round of shots and pills and ultrasounds and blood tests with a positive, "This is totally going to work" attitude. It didn't. My ovaries got too hyped up about the prospect of being useful, and then all the follicles started deflating. My cycle was cancelled. I got sad and we decided to hold off for a little bit.
We opted to try again at the beginning of September, right when I was starting a new job. Great timing. My ovaries hyper-stimulated and I was cancelled again. Because of two too many follicles. Boo.
Those cancelled cycles were depressing, but also enlightening. I allowed myself to come to the realization that maybe, possibly kids weren't in my future. At least not biological kids. And I allowed myself to be OK with that. I started to look for other ways to fill my life -- teaching, writing, yoga -- and the future didn't look so bleak. I learned then to be happy with what I did have in my life, not to mourn the things that eluded me. It was an important lesson.
So armed with my newfound sense of inner calm, we jumped right into our third and final (damnit!) round of IVF. This time my ovaries cooperated. This time I made it all the way to egg retrieval, and on Halloween of 2007, I had two embryos transferred into my uterus. The stronger of the two grabbed hold for dear life and is now my 2 1/2 year old son.
We left the timing of our second child up to chance. A lot of people with fertility issues get pregnant out of nowhere the second time around, I'd been told. I figured that if I got pregnant, I got pregnant. If we had Irish twins, no big deal.
We did not have Irish twins.
When my son was one and a half, we started contemplating IVF again. I didn't want our two kids (our target number of children) to be years and years apart. I totally knew what I was doing this time around (or so I thought. IVF is like childbirth in that you forget the pain of it ex post facto). It would be, like, boom! A couple shots, a few days of bed rest, and I'd be pregnant. In January of 2010, kind of without a lot of time for contemplation, we began our fourth cycle of IVF. I got all the way to egg retrieval and all the way to embryo transfer. I didn't get pregnant.
That was rough. To go through all the shots and medicines and the ultrasounds and the bloodwork and the anesthesia and the full bladder with the catheter and all that jazz and to come up empty save for a brand spanking new blood mutation to add to my resume of issues? Not fun.
So we took a month off. I painted the living room a shade called "Blueberry," yes I did. I imagined what life would be like for my son if he were an only child. I decided he'd survive it. He had his cousin. She's a sister to him.
And we jumped into one more round of IVF.
Now it was March and basketball insanity was upon us.
I had to go to the fertility doctor's office every single day while I was in the middle of the cycle because my ovaries were so wonky. So, every morning I'd load my son and my niece (for whom I was babysitting at the time) into the car. We'd stop at Starbucks (or "Chai House" as my son likes to call it) and head over to the doctor for my daily ultrasound and bloodletting. The kids were fine with this. They got to look at fishies and receive stickers with Cars characters emblazoned upon them.
Actually, I was fine with this, too. Because of March Madness. Because of my Butler Bulldogs. Because of John Williams and his daily Bulldog update on WGN. Because my beloved alma mater was distracting me from my cantaloupe-sized ovaries and my twice-daily battery of shots with its Cinderella run up to the NCAA finals.
I remember going in for one of my last ultrasounds, two days before the Final Four. My ovaries were ready to go. They were juiced up and ripe for the picking. Of course. Right when John (my husband, not Williams) was heading down to Indianapolis to watch Butler play Michigan State.
I explained to the ultrasound tech what was at stake here. My brother, having noticed the year before that the Final Four were to be played in Indianapolis, suggested to my husband that they try to get tickets because it would be fun. My brother, always on top of things, got tickets. John did not. So my brother told John (like, all the way back in the summertime) that if Butler made it to the Final Four (Ha-ha! Imagine that. Never gonna happen) he would take John to the game. Fast forward eight months and wouldn't you know...
The tech felt for us. The coordinating nurse felt for us. But my ovaries were raring to go on Saturday morning, the day of the Butler/State game, the day of John's birthday. So the nurse scheduled us for the earliest retrieval possible. I went under anesthesia, had my eggs removed, and went home to lie in bed while my in-laws entertained my son and John drove down to Indy for a night of basketball and expensive late night drunk food at Ruth's Chris. Yes, I "allowed" my husband to go away during a weekend in which I A) had minor surgery and B) had to entertain his parents. I am officially the best wife ever. Or a huge pushover. It was his birthday, though, so...
John came back on Sunday (Easter) because he was with a bunch of good Catholic Loyola University alumni (Go Ramblers!). He had good news for me. One of the guys who had gone to the game on Saturday would not be able to make it to the final game on Monday. Would I like to take a trip down to Indianapolis to watch Butler play Duke?
Of course I would. But what about the little matter of those embryos...?
I received the call on Monday, just before heading downtown to pick up all of the guys for our whirlwind trip to the Circle City. The little 'bros were growing like rock stars and ready to be transferred on Tuesday morning. Mere hours after the game.
I was not going to not go. The best thing about IVF is the two days of bed rest after the embryo transfer. I'd sleep then.
So John, my brother, a friend, and I loaded up into our car and headed down I-65. We slid Hoosiers into the DVD player to pump ourselves up for the game. We didn't need to try too hard.
The game was amazing. Except for the end result, of course. Lucas Oil Stadium was filled with people wearing Butler (not Duke) blue. The mood in the building was electric. I allowed myself to drink one last beer before nine months of sobriety (fingers crossed).
We would've loved to stay down in Indy for the night to meet up with friends or hang out by the star fountain (like we ever did that when we were undergrads) or whatever, but some of us had to work and some of us had to start gestating our spawn. To keep us awake during the long late night drive home, we put season one of Arrested Development in the DVD player because it's awesome.
We made it home without a hitch in time to grab about three hours' sleep. John and I went to the fertility center (still sporting our Butler gear) in the morning and watched on the ultrasound as the doctor transferred two perfect embryos from a petri dish to my womb.
The stronger of the two held on for dear life. Convinced I was having another boy, I took to calling the kid by the boy's name we had picked out: Gordon (or, affectionately, "Gordito"). Not after Gordon Hayward (we had had the name picked out since before having our son), but kind of apropos.
Nine months later, two days after my own birthday, I gave birth to a healthy, spunky baby girl. And three months after that, my Bulldogs are back in the Final Four.
Hammervision is movies. Hammervision is TV. Hammervision is the creative byproduct of a marriage built on a mutual love of all things popular culture. John and Julie Hammerle have been watching movies together since Face/Off was in the theaters. John is an attorney at a Chicago law firm. Julie is not. They have two kids and a dog named Indiana.
Email at hammervision[AT]gmail[DOT]com