Denise Grace Gitsham
Three weeks ago, seven precious, promising eggs were retrieved in our final round of IVF. This result stemmed from months of preparation, meds, and a diet higher in antioxidants than any I’d ever consumed. My husband followed a similar regime, cutting alcohol, caffeine, and cycling (more specifically, bike shorts) from his daily routine. IVF, we’ve learned, is a labor of love and sacrifice for everyone involved.
Having been through this once before, we knew what to expect – sort of. The timeline, at least, was clear; results, on the other hand, vary wildly with each cycle. IVF feels like a roll of the dice: you can literally do everything right, and still end up with nothing to show for your time, energy, and resources. You can also do everything wrong, and end up with a perfectly healthy baby.
The first call from our embryologist brought encouraging news: six of our seven eggs fertilized immediately. Two days later we received another call, this one more sobering than the first. Two of our six embryos had arrested sometime between day one and three. Of the four that remained, two were “good,” and two were “poor.” The two poorly graded embryos weren’t likely to make it to day five, and soon thereafter, we learned that they didn’t. The other two, however, did.
The next day, our two remaining blastocysts were shipped off to Miami for genetic testing. Previously, we’d opted out, but there was no avoiding it this time due to my age. With fervent prayers for an uneventful journey to and from the lab, we waited on pins and needles for our results. Ten days later, they called and informed us that our two blastocysts had been reduced again, to one.
One single, solitary blastocyst. One precious, perfect baby-in-waiting, with a million gauntlets yet to overcome. As I dwelled on this outcome, two very different emotions arose. On one hand, I’m thrilled that we have one. Many have gone through this cycle and come out empty handed. We’re truly grateful for what we have.
On the other hand, I would have preferred more; like ten or twenty more. That’s because my mind naturally equates “more” with “better,” even though I know for a fact it doesn’t. In IVF, as in life, quality matters more than quantity. I’ve already learned this lesson many times over, but in different contexts. More boyfriends weren’t better than my one amazing husband. More friends weren’t better than a handful of besties. More money didn’t equate to greater job satisfaction. And more gold stars didn’t make me feel more qualified, confident, or accomplished.
“More” is an elusive goal that can never be satisfied. It’s a moving target that focuses our attention on what we don’t have, rather than what we do. It saps the joy, hope, and wonder from our lives. And it forces us to operate in a subsistence mindset, rather than one of abundance.
Today, I’m grateful that we have what we do: one healthy, perfect baby-to-be. I’m not letting my natural desire for more supersede the gratitude I feel towards God for what He’s given us. I’m 100% confident that what we have is enough for God to bring His perfect plan into fruition, and with that confidence, I’m able to live in a state of peace, joy, and hopeful anticipation for whatever our future holds.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11