I wanted to have another baby, so I went into the doctor’s office and sat down on a needlepoint pillow that said "Miracles Happen." The optimism of the hand-stitched message made me feel a little anxious, because a miracle was probably the only thing that could help me. At 41 years old, I was in the office of a reproductive endocrinologist. This is who you see when all else has failed.
My husband and I were actually among the lucky ones. We were dealing with secondary infertility; our son was 3½. When we began the quest for a second child, I thought that given my age, it would take longer to conceive, but that it would certainly happen.
After three failed rounds of Clomid, six months of Chinese herbs and one round of acupuncture, it dawned on me that perhaps I would never again become pregnant.
Thus, the visit to the specialist.
I had sworn years earlier, before my first pregnancy, that I would never resort to advanced reproductive techniques. I did not know then how infertility could whip a person into a frenzy. There was a time when the sight of a woman nuzzling a newborn gave me a concrete physical pain. I had to quit going to the YMCA’s Tiny Tot tumbling class because every mother except me was pregnant or holding her second child. Until then, I had not known that envy can be more poisonous than arsenic.
To want a baby so badly and to fail to conceive month after month puts a peculiar cast on your life. You are in limbo. You want a new house, but the one you have is perfect for the family you have now. You should look for a new job, but the stress of a new job may make a pregnancy impossible. And what new employer will give you a decent maternity leave right away?
You are in limbo and you want resolution.
That’s what the endocrinologist offered me. Resolution. When he gave me a 10 percent chance of success, we both knew that meant a 90 percent chance of failure. But I would be able to tell my son we had done everything possible to give him a sibling.
I signed up.
A short time later, the box of meds arrived. In vitro fertilization means taking a crash course in medicine. You have to learn how to mix powders with liquids, to fill syringes, to poke needles into (your own) flesh at just the right angle.
In my search for resolution, I was turning my body into a pincushion.
After all our work, we ended up with one embryo. Our doctor seemed less than optimistic. The odds of getting pregnant at my age were better if you had two.
Two weeks later, I was shocked to get the call: I was pregnant. A bigger shock came during an ultrasound. The technician lubed up my abdomen and started the exam. "Hmmm," she kept saying. Then she popped up an image onto the screen. Two images, rather.
"Don’t you know you’re having twins?"
Twins! I laughed; my husband cried; we both protested she was wrong. But the obstetrician confirmed what the technician had discovered.
After an uneventful, 39-week pregnancy, I finally got to hold my baby girls. They were beautiful and healthy and I was one of the luckiest people in the world.
When, months earlier, I had sat on a pillow that said "Miracles Happen," I had no idea I would be so graced. Every day when my babies smile at me, I am reminded that a miracle happened to me.
Anne Ward lives in Libertyville with her husband and three children.