I line the vials on the bathroom counter and make a note: more syringes! I begin to build my cocktail: drawing one vial’s contents into the needle, then into the saline, again and again until I’ve got one big fat needle ready to go into my thigh, or my abdomen, if it’s every other day. First shot a DISASTER. Blood, pain, big mess. I broke a bottle of Menogon trying to open it and my thumb wouldn’t stop bleeding, but my second injection goes well. I shoot Follistim in the morning and Repronex at night, and I’m running out of meds. I’ll call Beth in Arizona, she just found out she’s pregnant, maybe I can borrow a box to make it through. I check the American website: 10 Repronex is $368, unbelievable, it’s $140 from Italy. I add my notes to the folder I’ve created for medical papers and bills. A little girl dances on the cover.
I google menotropins, and read they should be injected intramuscularly, if subcutaneous, it must be in the lower abdomen, alternate sides. I freak that I lost a couple of doses because I did them in my thigh, so I send Dr. S an e-mail and talk to one of the nurses. This has already cost me thousands, what if it doesn’t work? I sign up for an adoption seminar, just in case. The nurse assures me that as long as it’s administered under fatty tissue, it’s getting in, and Menogon is better absorbed intramuscularly. My stomach is so sore and there’s a big bruise on the left. To think I was terrified of needles before this—fainted at blood tests! There have been so many at this point, I have a hematoma on one arm, and prayers on the other. I ask a nurse friend to give me shots some days, because I’ve run out of places I can reach. She tells me to let the dose sit for 10 minutes to lessen the sting. It works. And to think I spent most of my life trying NOT to get pregnant.
I’m so worried I did everything wrong, and I’m trying very hard to keep those thoughts at bay, along with my attachment to the outcome. I think of what my meditation teacher told me, how you can only have clarity when you completely let go. The ultrasound shows six good follicles—five on the left, one on the right—and their dimensions are good. Last-minute panic when my donor isn’t available online, but it turns out there’s just enough for my procedure. When I come into the doctor’s office, Nurse L asks, “Where’s your husband?” “I’m sure he’s out there somewhere,” I say, and we laugh. She keeps apologizing, she forgot that I am here because there was no more time to wait for the lover who also wants to be a father. They retrieve 5 eggs, four of which fertilize and make very good quality embryos. “I hadn’t expected these kinds of results,” says Dr. S, adding that my chances are now 35%. My body is riddled with wounds and my ovaries ache, but I’m floating like someone in love. The embryologist comes in, wearing blue scrubs and cap, saying, quite seriously, “Four embryos for Harrison.” “I’ll take those to go!” I joke, and smiles warm that cold quiet room. I close my eyes and feel the catheter, a skinny straw filled with my children’s cells. Dr. S. tells me to push back, and extends the table—like adding a leaf for Christmas dinner—and tips it, so I’m in a slanted position. Then the whole crew says good luck, quietly, and leave me alone in the room. “Get comfortable,” I whisper. I rub my belly. I meditate. I finally relax. My journey is over and beginning all at the same time.
I buy three tests: Two lines. Pink. Blue. All positive, and it’s my birthday. I cancel the seminar.
Dr. S asks how I’m feeling, I say great, a little nervous because I feel so good, he says I’m just lucky. He points to the screen, where it’s all green and black, but there is definitely a little something moving. “There’s the yolk sac, and there’s the baby.” Takes a picture, hands it to me, then says, want to see something cool? Close-up on little light pumping away, inside what looks like that Internet baby that taunted Ally McBeal. “The heartbeat,” he says, happily, looking at the screen, as am I. I just keep saying oh my god oh my god oh my god over and over, huge smile on my face and never looking away.
2:00, thirty-six hours, two birthing rooms, two nurse shift changes, and two anesthesiologists later. The doctors and nurses—everyone—has been reading my birth plan and keeping up. “Pink, perfect, healthy, beautiful,” says the neonatologist, and I look into my daughter’s eyes. Nothing can prepare you. A lifetime of waiting, satisfied in a moment. Every heightened sense, beauty, brilliant idea or prose, it’s all there, as Arabella stares back at me, her eyes pinched as if to say, “What kept you.” My best friend cuts the cord. My daughter is outside me, she is me, we’re one with each other, flesh and blood, close as marrow.
What will you tell her, some ask, dirtying my perfect mental nursery with their caveats: babies need two parents, what if she’s teased, children can be so cruel. I will have no difficulty telling my daughter how much she was wanted, and I can prove it because I keep journals, and letters to the daughter I knew I would have one day.
I will tell her how I toured the world, in cars, subways, and taxis, dreaming of her, how I named her, and held her in the mother’s arms of my mind. I will respect the miracle that she is, and tell her things as they become apparent and appropriate, and I will love her to the heavens and more. I made this baby and she made me.
Article by Cecily Harrison