I am using a prompt from missesmiscellany to free-write for their blog. It asks, “what is the best gift you have ever received?”
Obviously, when we think of “the best gifts,” they are not typically tangible. My first thoughts are of when my daughter was handed to me after they cleaned her off on her birth day, and I just sobbed and said, “Hi!!” I think of the gift of marriage as my husband just looked so solemnly, innocently, and sweetly at me in the holy LDS temple, and how he took me (and all my baggage) on, cheerfully. I think about my mother, and how she took my heavy 14-year old heart to a tea party when I was let down by someone. There are so many other gifts from others that I cherish, that are probably why I’m who I am today, and not lost somewhere dark and scary.
But immediately, I saw this post, and I knew what gift was currently most precious to me. I decided to focus on a tangible gift, since the other type of gifts are so many and varied.
When we first did IVF, it was December, 2013. Because of the medication, my ovaries produced 20 eggs that were surgically removed from my body. 9 of those eggs became beautiful embryos that we could hope would result in a live birth. We took 2 of those 9 embryos, and put them back into my body. The remaining 7 were frozen. We anticipated the positive test that would tell us our infertility journey was coming to an end, for now, at least. We received the opposite news. I was miscarrying. I had positive but decreasing HCG numbers. I had started my period and knew it was over, but had taken my daughter to accompany me for one necessary last blood draw. I was physically and emotionally deflated. I grabbed that tiny little four year old hand and held on for dear life. I bought a Diet Coke, thought for a second, and said, “Eva, let’s go to a movie!”
She squealed with delight. What movie would one see in the theaters, in December, 2013, with a little girl?
Frozen, of course.
As Elsa sang with her frozen powers and finally “let it go,” tears streamed down my cheeks as I was literally letting go of two precious babies that just weren’t meant to be. I squared my jaw as Elsa lifted her face, powerful, unafraid, and joyous. I watched her beautiful snowflakes and crystallized castle and thought of my 7 remaining embryos, my snowflakes, waiting so safely for me. I held my daughter during the movie and rejoiced in what I had. I smiled at what I could possibly have. And I grieved at what I had lost.
Fast forward through the next two transfers – we put 2 of the 7 back, and it was another early miscarriage. So a year later, we put 2 of the 5 back, and it didn’t work at all.
We had 3 left, one poor quality, so we were okayed to put all 3 of our snowflakes back for one last try. It was December 2015, and our hopes were high, but so close to being lost.
After the transfer, Mike took me to the mall. His wife had been given Valium during the appointment to relax her body (a typical IVF occurrence). I wanted to go to Tiffany’s. He consented. This is one crazy decision for a husband with a medicated wife. However, their ten year anniversary was coming up.
On the actual date of our anniversary, he took me to dinner, and I had expected him to give me that bracelet in the setting. But there was a new box carefully wrapped by the employee at Tiffany’s, with a white satin ribbon.
Inside, was a charm.
I looked up at him and into his eyes. I saw the pain, tears, and heartache we suffered from the infertility journey. I saw the toll it had taken on our marriage. And I saw the love that remained, bruised but strong. Tattered, but together still.
At the moment, I pictured inside my body that little snowflake who, out of the 9, was the only one that survived, and burrowed, and divided. I pictured all the others who I loved just as much, and wish would have grown too. But that one little snowflake ended up being my champion. It went forward, powerful, unafraid, and joyous. I looked at my husband, and back at the snowflake. I thought of my doctors, and I thought of all the people who helped us. I thought of our daughter. I just wanted to hug everyone and everything and break down and cry joyfully. But then, I remembered I should keep our anniversary fun and happy, and so, instead, we smiled, kissed, and stuffed our faces with butter.