With the Fourth of July only two days away, I am preparing not only to celebrate our country’s independence, but I also am remembering the day ten years ago that I discovered I was expecting our second child. From conception to birth, Charlotte has defied the odds. It took 5 years of extensive, not to mention expensive, infertility treatment for us to have our first child thanks to our 5th in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. This journey led us to one of the leading reproductive endocrinologists (RE), who told us that we had less than a 0.5 percent chance of conceiving a child without medical treatment.
I had two frozen embryos from IVF cycle #4 “on ice”, so, shortly after our first daughter turned a year old, I began the process to resume treatment and to return to San Francisco for the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). When my period was late, I assumed that it was due to the fact that I had just stopped nursing my daughter about two months earlier. I was slated to begin medications to prepare my body for treatment, and everything was timed according to my menstrual cycle, so, a delayed period was not good, or so I thought. I was worried and frustrated that my body seemed to be failing me yet again in my quest to have a child, so, on July 3, I made the decision to contact my RE the next day (infertility doesn’t take a holiday, so, his office was going to be open on the Fourth of July). Knowing that the first question any doctor asks you when your period is late is if there is a chance you could be pregnant, I decided to take a pregnancy test before I called the RE, so, that I could confirm that I was indeed not pregnant. Instead of waiting until the next morning, shortly after midnight on July 4, 2002, I went ahead and took the test. After the allotted time expired, I picked up the test, barely looked at it, and headed to the trash to throw it away. As I started to put it in the trash can, I noticed two distinct bright blue lines, and I fished the box out of the trash, expecting it to say that two lines meant a negative test result. That’s not what it meant at all. So, to say I was surprised when the home pregnancy test I took came back positive would be the understatement of the year.
My husband was downstairs watching tv, and he had no idea that I was taking the pregnancy test that night. When I showed him the test, he first said, “Oh, two lines means you’re not pregnant, right?” When I showed him the instructions on the box, he sat there in stunned silence, before jokingly saying, “Who’s the father?”. We both could not believe that we were able to conceive a child free of charge without having to travel out-of-state for medical intervention! Who knew? My mom’s reaction later that day rivaled his reaction, when she asked, “How did this happen?” Her response may explain why she never talked to me about sex when I was growing up. When I called the RE, he and his staff were surprised and thrilled, and I suggested that someone forgot to tell this baby about odds and percentages.
I did not expect the pregnancy to be viable, and finally, after my fourteenth week obstetrics appointment, my OB/GYN put his hand on my shoulder and said, “You are in this for the long haul; you’re having this baby.” Despite arriving eight weeks prematurely, Charlotte continued to defy the odds. Although she spent almost a month in the NICU, none of the predicted problems associated with premature births ever materialized. She once told me that she decided to “be born so early, because I could smell all that good food, and I wanted to eat it.”. Given her love of food, I tend to believe her.
More poignantly, Charlotte told me a few years ago that she and her older sister, Isabella, are twins. I explained that while they are almost the same size and look enough alike that they often are mistaken for twins, that they were not twins, as Isabella is twenty months older than she is. She very calmly told me that, “I was in your tummy with Isabella, but I told God that I really wanted Isabella to be my big sister. So, I waited in heaven with the angels until Isabella was bigger, and then, I told God that I was ready to be put back in your tummy and be born.”. What makes this story so incredible is that unbeknownst to Charlotte and Isabella, at that time, was that my pregnancy with Isabella actually began with two sacs being detected, but the second sac did not grow and was reabsorbed by my body. This may sound completely crazy and unrealistic, but knowing Charlotte, I don’t doubt it.
So, as our nation prepares to celebrate America’s birthday, I still remember and celebrate the news that I was expecting my own little firecracker, and I remain in awe of this extraordinary child. She is bright, beautiful, wickedly funny, compassionate, and friendly, and I cannot put into words how much I love her. She changed my world, and I know that she is out to change the rest of the world, as well. Isabella is every bit as extraordinary, smart, pretty, witty, and sweet, and the story of her conception and birth are truly remarkable.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story