The Eagles have Landed

Summer and Nymeria — our first two gorgeous 8-cell day 3 embryos (named after two of the Stark dire wolves from Game of Thrones) — are safely in vivo after a clean, textbook implantation.

Now it’s up to God / Allah / Brahma / Tao / Muse / biochemistry / molecular biology / baby dust.

(And hopefully the GoT writers won’t do anything nasty to those dire wolves this season…)

(And to be clear, we don’t plan on naming the children Summer and Nymeria. It’s just their embryonic-stage nicknames.)

We took the ferry across the Bosphorus to get to Besiktas and our clinic and snapped a few photos of us on the way. I had seen a dolphin a few days earlier and thought I caught a glimpse of one today as well, but I couldn’t be sure. We did see lots of fish and jellyfish in the clear aquamarine water.

photo 1

photo 3a

At the clinic, we met with the head embryologist (who went to the same Turkish university as Ahmed, followed by Harvard Medical School), and he said at one point, “We put them in culture and watch them for a few days so we can look at their cleavage.”

Obviously he meant “cleavage” in a technical sense — the cells splitting, and then splitting again — but I had this image in my head of doctors ogling voluptuous little balls of cells, and it was such a stupid image that I had to struggle to keep from laughing, and then it was so stupid that I was struggling to keep from laughing that it got even worse. You know how it goes — giggle positive feedback loops can be a powerful vortex.

The high-powered embryologist paused to ask me what was so funny, and I didn’t want to tell him it was something so stupid, but I hate it when someone is laughing and won’t tell me why, so I told him.

He said, “Hm, I never thought of it that way…”

Anyway he was cool even though I was being a huge dork, and I’ve heard about studies that say people who laugh a lot on embryo transfer day actually have better odds, so I was OK with being a little silly.

My doctor, whom we’ve been seeing for five months, just took a new job far away from our clinic (a promotion of sorts to some kind of academic post), which would have been upsetting… except he fought a traffic jam to come ALL THE WAY back to the clinic in the middle of a work day just to do my transfer. We were so grateful for this, and he said it went smoothly and beautifully. Couldn’t have gone better.

Teşekkür ederim (thanks), Dr. Arikan.

He also showed us photographs of the embryos, and objectively speaking, they look awesome. You can’t really tell how good an embryo is by looking at it, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt if they’re pretty enough to appear in a textbook.

Then there was nothing to do but rest for half an hour, go get a warm salty snack (lentil soup in our case), and then take the ferry back to Moda with a couple of potential new beings on board. Pretty surreal.


We had dinner at a rooftop restaurant and watched the sun set over Old Istanbul, with thousands of seagulls wheeling in the breeze. There were brief fireworks over the Hagia Sophia, and I said to Ahmed, “That’s sweet, but they really should wait until after the pregnancy test.”

We’ll test in about two weeks to find out if one or both has stuck around.

May they live 100 years.

Meanwhile I’m cutting out tea and coffee as well as sugar, dairy (I have a mild allergy), and playing with stray cats just on the off chance that I might pick up toxoplasmosis (which I’ve probably already had anyway, since I played with plenty of stray cats as a kid) (and which I actually have a better chance of getting from improperly washed vegetables or improperly cooked meat — unfortunately I can’t just stop eating).

So, like, no tea or Turkish coffee in Turkey, plus no Turkish ice cream or baklava (or baklava with Turkish ice cream), or kittens…? It’s kinda like I’m not even in Istanbul anymore. :/ At least there are still the pretty sunsets and parks, and a few more ferry rides. We’ll leave for Oklahoma on September 10. Almost exactly five years after we met playing soccer in the Bronx. 🙂

I can't haz ur kittehs anymoar?
I can’t haz ur kittehs anymoar?




It’s hard to say what our odds are. Odds don’t mean much when you’re just one couple. It’ll happen or it won’t.

Obviously, we’re not out of the woods by any means. But we’re in an exciting part of the woods. It’s fun to think of ourselves, just a little bit, as (kinda sorta) a family of four for at least two weeks. I already declined to climb some stairs today with the excuse, “Hey, I’m carrying three people! Well, one person plus sixteen cells…”

Once we know the results, we’ll adjust our emotions accordingly.

But for now we choose to be happy and hopeful. Why not, right?

photo 5

Good thoughts/vibes/prayers always appreciated. 🙂

P.S. Another thing the embryologist said was not to worry about any special diet or anything. He rolled his eyes and waved his hand and said, “You don’t need to eat pineapple or whatever.”

We laughed, because it was already too late for me. The internet says pineapple core has bromelain in it, which is supposed to help your blah blah do something something… I don’t remember, and I honestly don’t care, because I’m stoked for an excuse to eat a whole pineapple by myself (over the course of five days). I think of it like potato salad on the 4th of July, or a cake on your birthday. Pineapple for embryo transfer. A tropical party in your mouth. Score.


2 thoughts on “The Eagles have Landed

  1. I feel so joyful on reading your news. How fine to have “done everything you can” and now be in the time of hope. There’s a saying I like: “Run to the edge of the cliff and stop on a dime.” Which I’ve always taken to mean . . . with full heart and body do what you can do to fulfill dreams. We go to the edge with our conscious behavior, doing what is possible. Then, we watch to see how Reality responds. I’m happy for you both, and even sans ice cream I know you’ll make the coming weeks meaningful ones, whatever the outcome of this part of the adventure. I’m cheering and smiling. Inshallah . . .


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