This week, I saw midwife Em and I got to bring my mom and dad to my appointment. She said they were welcome and I had no idea how it would go. We sat down and Em said she loves to get a chance to talk to the mom and asked her a lot about my birth. My parents did Lamaze classes in which my mom was empowered to refuse interventions in the hospital and to have faith in her ability to birth her baby naturally–her labor was fast and manageable and the overall experience was incredible. Em said that my mom’s experience bodes well for my own, especially since I was raised knowing my mom’s body could do it and therefore so can mine.
Em asked my dad about his experience and he completely choked up and couldn’t talk for a minute, and Em said her dad is the same way. Both parents expressed the mindblowing awesomeness of having their babies and how happy they are for me. Em said I am very strong and we’re going to have a great birth.
We did some paperwork stuff and then she took some of my blood for testing (the first bloodwork I’ve done since getting pg) and then we listened to the heartbeat, which she found right away. The baby’s strong heartbeat at 144 beats/minute, with my fainter and slower heartbeat in the background, created a mesmerizing syncopated beat. I looked over at my dad and he made a face like OMG this is so crazy.
Before we left, Em gave me a thick file that UCSF had sent over, most of which wasn’t useful to her. It included documentation of every ultrasound I ever did there (including the actual scans), along with doctors’ notes like, “Sx: a little emotional, some hot flashes, mild nausea.” Fascinated, and looking for subliminal love notes from Dr. T., I paged through the file when I got home. And suddenly I got to a page on which my eyeball perceived an “XY,” and I gasped and closed the file–the genetic testing results of my embryos, including genders! I had them black out the genders on my copy because I didn’t want to know early on…but what to do now, when the information was in my hands?
I decided not to look. The critical info is the gender of embryos #2 and #3 which were transferred together on the round that worked–if they were the same (two boys or two girls), it would be a definitive conclusion, but kind of an unceremonious way to find out. If they were different (one boy, one girl), I would still have to wait until the anatomy scan. And, while looking at the page, I would see the genders of embryo #1 (failed IVF#1) and, more importantly, embryos #4 and #5–I would really rather not have this info now.
So, a couple of nights later, I had a brilliant idea. I had seen a YouTube video of a woman who had the doctor write “girl” or “boy” on a piece of paper, seal it in an envelope, and then she took the envelope to a baker. If it’s a girl, put pink icing in the middle of the cake, and blue for a boy. Then she threw a party and everyone, including her, learned that it was a girl when she sliced into the first piece of cake and saw the pink.
Well, I wasn’t going to the trouble of throwing a party or ordering a cake, but I thought it would be cool to learn at the same time as my family, who are in town, with the exception of one sister who would be Skyped in. On Saturday morning, I decided to ask my friend J on our way to prenatal yoga, if she would look at the paperwork and first tell me: are the embryos the same or different? Then, if the same, I’d give her money to go into Natural Resources and buy one little pink or blue item and have it wrapped. Then I’d open it with my family.
I picked her up this morning with the paperwork in my bag. I explained the whole thing and that she could be the first human on earth to know the gender of my baby, and she was honored and willing to help. So, before we walked into our yoga class I said, OK–I want you to look at the paper before we go in. She did. And the embryos were one XX and one XY–different! Inconclusive! We have to wait.
It was a nice idea, but in a way I’m relieved that the eventual big news will come from a scan that I will see with my own eyes, rather than a code on a piece of paper. It will be totally conclusive and we can celebrate with certainty. So let’s give it another couple of weeks!
My sister took this awesome photo at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes. Prego sur la plage. xo