Jasmine and Ghost

Things got a little dicey in Turkey just a few hours after our last three embryos were thawed on Friday, July 15. I spent a long sunny day biking around Heybeliada, one of the Prince’s Islands, to keep from obsessing about how the embryos were doing and whether any would still be alive by Sunday (transfer day).

Not long after I got back, an attempted coup rocked the country. Tanks were in the streets, rogue jets were in the air, and the president was missing. For a few hours, we had no idea what we’d wake up to.

No one even knew who orchestrated the coup. It’s still somewhat of a mystery, frankly.

Well, it failed. I’m not going to go into serious political analysis here, but suffice it to say, about 200 people were killed, some of whom were soldiers (mostly conscripts used as cannon fodder) and some of whom were unarmed people who stormed the streets in defiance of the declared curfew and martial law. The aftermath will continue to reverberate for years.

As for me, I just wanted to make sure I could get across the Bosphorus Strait and to the clinic on time Sunday morning. And I hoped the embryologists weren’t too distracted by the historic events to take good care of my potential children.

The next day things were, at least in my neighborhood, more or less back to normal, albeit with everyone talking in hushed tones about the situation. The ferries weren’t working normally, though, and I decided on Saturday to make my way to the European side however I could and stay at a hotel near the clinic.

I wasn’t able to take a ferry to the right stop, so I had to take it to another neighborhood and catch a cab from there to the hotel. It was supposedly a nice place (and cost $50 a night, which is a lot for Turkey), but it didn’t have hot water, sheets, or wifi in the room. It had an air conditioner, though, and a soft bed, which made it relatively easy to forgive the other things. It also had a stove, which let me make my morning tea in peace. (Herbal tea, flavored with apple, cinnamon, rosehips, and hibiscus — I’m completely off caffeine. I love and miss you, coffee.)

I took another very short cab ride to the clinic, filled out some paperwork, and assumed the position. I thought to ask the doctor (because no one had told me), “By the way, how many embryos survived?”

Two had survived and were at early blastocyst stage. The other had “arrested,” which means stopped growing, and had been discarded. I wished I had a little wine to pour out for the lost one, but the show had to go on.

I’d been told to drink as much water as I could stand, because fluid in the bladder helps the ultrasound visualize the uterine cavity.

Oh my God y’all, it sucked having the nurse pushing with all her weight on my bursting bladder for what couldn’t have been more than a few minutes but felt like an eternity. The doctor had to change catheters for some reason, which meant I had to go through it all twice.

Finally the transfer was done, and I was told to rest in bed for half an hour, even though there’s no evidence it helps. The embryos are like sesame seeds in a peanut butter sandwich. They’re not going anywhere. But I was kind of knackered anyway, so I lay down until I got the all clear to empty my bladder and walk back out again into the post-coup heat wave, hopefully on my way to being a mother of two.

I call the embryos Jasmine and Ghost — Jasmine after our first car and Ghost after Jon Snow’s direwolf. (That’s what I named our smallest embryo, after the runt of the litter who’s still going strong. Since I don’t know which embryos survived, I’m just assuming the little one made it.)

The heat wave was pretty terrible, especially combined with the dodgy ferry schedules. (I had to wait a full hour for a ferry after the transfer in absolutely sweltering weather.) It’s just miserable when there’s no air conditioning anywhere and no escape. But a few days later it finally broke and it’s been lovely since then.

There’s nothing to do but keep taking my supplements, try to stay as calm and cool as I can, and hope the embryos burrow in and grow strong. I don’t want any negative energy around, so the kids are inspiring me to find the bright sides of things. I talk to them when I walk around and tell them how they hit the daddy jackpot — they’ll be so lucky to have Ahmed as their dad. And I promise them I’ll do my best every day.

One of the bright sides? The view from my veranda:

veranda

ver2

ver3

ver4

And from a cafe where I recently met up with a friend:

Taksim

It’s a spectacular city. But I can’t wait to get home to my husband. And someday bring the kids back to the place where it all began. Hopefully in better times.

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Hey Belly Island

I’m heading today to an island to try to relax, because my embryo transfer, if all goes well, will be on Sunday, July 17. The island belongs to a chain of Islands near Istanbul, and it’s called Heybeli Ada — which has something to do with a knapsack used on a camel (because the island has two humps), but to me it just means Hey Belly Island.

Yesterday was quite stressful, unfortunately. I’m using a new doctor because my previous doctor moved to another clinic. He’s a little bit arrogant (and has Derek Shepard hair), and he started me on a different protocol than what Dr. Arikan had used, with estrogen patches instead of pills. It’s normal to get checked after ten days or so to make sure it’s working, and then do the final check four days later or so.

But this doctor said it wasn’t his protocol to do that. I asked him if he couldn’t check me anyway, because it takes five minutes (for him), and I’m using a new protocol, and I’m really far from home. And sure, the protocol works 90% of the time, but 10% is a lot when you’re stuck in a place you don’t want to be, and another cancellation means paying over a thousand bucks to change your ticket, pay your rent, etc. (not to mention paying for medications again) — and I was already out an extra $2000 for polyp surgery and everything else due to the last canceled cycle. And I really miss my husband.

He just basically said, “Don’t worry about it.”

Well, sure enough, he checked me on the day he wanted to check me only to find it didn’t work. I ovulated through the medications. If he had checked me earlier, we could have followed it closely and seen exactly when I ovulated and planned around it. As it is, we either had to cancel the cycle or make an educated guess and keep going.

Words really can’t convey how furious I was at this guy. And of course he neither admitted he was wrong nor apologized.

He just kept saying, “That’s my protocol, it usually works. I can’t check for everything.”

Sorry, but that’s bullshit. I didn’t ask him to check for everything. I asked him to check for one thing.

Anyway. The good news is, there’s a window of implantation opportunity for day 5 embryos, so you don’t have to be completely exact. And I’m so done with this clinic and this place, and this hot weather with no air conditioning and annoying roommates and bad, over-priced food, I really don’t think it’ll be healthy anyway for me to go through all this yet again. And who knows — the fact that I ovulated means I have a corpus luteum, which is producing its own hormones, and in the end that may be exactly what I need.

The doctor doesn’t know. Science doesn’t know. I don’t know. It’s a leap of faith either way. So we decided to go for it.

This morning I got a call from the embryology department and they said all the embryos look great. We’re hoping at least 2 will survive to Sunday (day 5). If by some miracle all 3 survive, we’ll freeze one again. (This doc refuses to transfer all three at once because he says the chance of triplets is too high. He said if they looked crappy, he’d go ahead and let me do it. I guess that’s a good sign.)

So, because of the doc’s stubbornness, there’s some extra stress and uncertainty. But we’re also hopeful. Maybe this was exactly what needed to happen. I guess we’ll find out.

Meanwhile I’ll be on Hey Belly Island, trying to find my chill.