Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Grandmother's Story

After trying to conceive for over a year, my daughter and son-in-law visited a fertility specialist, who started them on the long road to having a baby. We often hear about couples undergoing fertility treatment but I really had no idea how arduous the process is. I will not go into the details, but by the time they had gone through all the steps from artificial insemination, to the drug regimens that each step entails, to the complete depletion of their savings, this couple was worn out, physically, emotionally and financially.

Nothing had worked and although they had started the in vitro process with nineteen embryos, none had "taken". Finally, they were down to the last two embryos, and the doctor did not consider these two to be very "good specimens". A couple weeks after the implantation, the pregnancy test came back positive, but this had happened before so everyone was just guardedly optimistic. (Actually, I think my daughter was secretly elated because she went out and bought a darling little baby gown that she hung in the guest room/someday nursery.)

A month or so later, I got the heartbreaking phone call from her. "I am having a miscarriage. Can you fly out?" 

I arrived that night and the atmosphere was grim. The sad little baby gown was still hanging on the back of the door as a pitiful reminder of all of their hopes. They had no more embryos and no more money. We went to the doctor the next morning and he confirmed with an ultrasound that she had indeed miscarried one embryo and the other was small and misshapen, with no heartbeat. He explained that if it did not detach that they would need to do a procedure to clean her out. She replied that she was too emotionally spent to endure doing it that day and that she needed a few days to calm down and to pray. I need to say here that we were not alone in our prayers. People all over the country were joining in praying for them.

When she returned a few days later, she and the doctor decided to do another ultrasound before doing the procedure. He spent a long time looking at the screen, scrutinizing the picture and finally said,"I am seventy years old and I have been a fertility specialist for a long time but I don't think I have ever seen this before. That embryo has doubled in size and it now has a heartbeat! At least for now, you are still pregnant". He did not use the term "miracle" but we did. He sent her home on bed rest for a month.

The pregnancy was scary, with lots of trials and problems. A few months into it, the doctor said that in light of the quality of the embryo and all of the complications, he recommended an amniocentesis. My daughter's answer was,"I believe that this baby is nothing less than a miracle. I will love it whether it is perfect or not. There is nothing an amnio can tell me that would make me terminate the pregnancy, and I don't want to take a chance at hurting it with the test." She later told me that she didn't regard Down's Syndrome as a reason for abortion and that she would be thrilled with whoever her baby was. Of all of us, she had been in the most peaceful frame of mind from the beginning and seemed to be living each day with a sense of peace regarding this child.

We arrived a week before the due date. Her blood pressure was elevated, her body had retained so much water that she could not get shoes on and she felt pretty awful. Her father took one look at her and said,"If that was my patient I would do a c-section today." Two weeks later she was induced but after a long, miserable labor with very little progression, the doctor did a section. I was along for the ride, which was more than a little frightening to the mother in me. Finally, the doctor held up our little Teddy and he was perfect! All ten fingers and toes, squalling and wiggling.

Six months later all is well. She continues to greet each day with gratitude. We were talking the other day as we watched him coo and laugh and my daughter said an interesting thing. "I don't regret any of the miscarriages and failed infertility treatments because I wouldn't have had Teddy without them. I got the baby I was supposed to have."

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