When I was in seventh grade, I tried out for the cheerleading squad at my junior high school. I really wanted that spot, since to secure it meant immediate excitement from my friends and an automatic acceptance from other groups in the school I was not yet a part of.
I practiced all my moves and cheers, and gave it my all on audition day. But it wasn’t meant to be, and despite my disappointment and confusion as to what else I could have done to have achieved that goal, I moved on having been tougher for enduring the experience.
The same holds true now regarding my frozen embryos, who I deemed the Fantastic Four, since that experience also did not work out the way I would have wanted it to.
Since that time we found a gestational carrier. Keeping her identity anonymous, I am happy to share that she is also a lesbian and we were fortunate not to experience any awkward conversations or misunderstandings through this process. I know she was rooting for the success of the procedure as much as we were.
Once the Fantastic 4 were thawed they survived for a couple days, but the clinic informed us their progress was slower than normal. Because of that, they decided to transfer all 4, changing what we thought might be two attempts at this into one. All our chips were in and now it was up to the dealer.
The day of the procedure the nurses told Katie and me that only one of us could be in the room with our carrier, and we decided since I was the biological mother I would be the one to don some scrubs. Katie, our sperm donor, and his wife sat in the lobby as our carrier laid on the table, with me bedside her.
Watching through an ultrasound machine, I saw a syringe place all four embryos in their new home. And just like that it was over. Years of preparation for a procedure that took seconds. Our carrier laid on the table for a few minutes afterward, and then asked if she could go pee, since she had to have a full bladder for the transfer. Once everyone was gone, I stayed in the room for an extra minute, tears welling up at what a privilege it was to have been there, regardless of the outcome.
It would be several days before our carrier could get an official pregnancy test, and Katie and I busied ourselves during that week that seemed to never end. I was meeting Katie to go grocery shopping one night, when standing in a Kroger parking lot she simply nodded “no” to me, having gotten the call from our carrier on the way.
That’s how I learned it did not take, the pregnancy test had been negative, and the little popsicles that had given us so much hope were gone. I put my arm around her and we continued with our errand, and our lives.
I think there was a small part of me that knew it wouldn’t work. I’m not sure if that was fear talking or an instinct that odds were against success the first time around, but it was a nagging thought dragging at my heart those last weeks before the transfer.
However, those microscopic embryos had more love, support and prayers than many, and they had the best chance possible. The fact they all survived to transfer, and were able to complete their journeys together, seemed right. And I am proud for my contribution to that experience.
We’ll try again, but how and when will likely be more private next time around. This has been a process years in the making, and I think Katie and I are ready to take a mental break from it.