We left South Dartmouth headed for New York, stopping only briefly for some dinner at the Clarke Cooke House in Newport. I had to get up early the following morning to drive back to the Hamptons for work, so time felt compressed and the road like my second home. The next 2 days blurred and I have no real memory of them, except that I got back into my car on Sunday afternoon and headed for Orient Point on the North Fork of Long Island to catch the car ferry to New London. There, I picked up Lin who'd Amtraked in and we hit the interstate for Boston, again.
We got to Tom & Heather's late, having encountered some of the late night construction New England seems so fond of. I'd stopped at my favorite Hamptons farmstand on my way out to pick up some wildflowers and jam fot them, and Lin was toting a bottle of Balvenie Rye from Brooklyn, small tokens of our immense appreciation for all the love and house-guestery. We sampled some of the hooch and went to bed.
In the morning we stopped by our new favorite store, Costco, and picked up some flowers to give to Jeanne after she'd been technologically knocked up. She and her best friend Annie pulled into the center just after us. Annie had been with Jeanne during last succesful embryo transfer; she was a human good luck charm, and we were happy to have her. Sitting in that same, now-very-familiar waiting area we exchanged small talk and occasionally paid attention to the nasal intonations of The View, kvetching behind us. We all agreed that the blond one, the adorable fascist, or whatever they call her, was loathesome. It was the closest we'd gotten to talking politics with Jeanne, a topic that given my leanings, could have been a showstopper if we'd discovered a chasm too vast.
Our names were called and we went into the back. The area was broken into three or four consultation areas, each centered around a big semi-reclining exam chair, separated by semi-circular curtains. We were given two folding chairs and sat by Jeanne. A friendly nurse came and chatted us up for a bit, saying the doctor would be along soon, and in the meantime Lin and I donned lightweight scrubs over our clothes, and kept hair nets and masks in reserve for the operating room.
Soon enough the doctor came over and introduced herself; she was friendly and exuded competence, and we liked that. She said that of the 34 eggs, 17 had fertilized and 6 were of a quality good enough to transfer. Of those, a 7-cell and an 8-cell were primo, and they would be implanting those two. Both lacked something called fragmentation, the bane of IVF, where bits of the cell walls slough off in a way that makes their edges appear somewhat rough. Ours had the embryo equivalent of a strong jawline, it seemed.
Soon, we were ushered into the pleasantly dim operating room. Jeanne slipped into the stirrups of honor, and Lin and I sat by her side. Since we'd gotten into the consult area, two or three nurses had come up and verified Jeanne's name, DOB, and how many embryos we were transferring. And now for one final time, another nurse checked that they had the right patient. It seemed like overkill at first, until I imagined the shitshow that would result if they ever put the wrong embryos, or the wrong number of embryos, into a surrogate. Whoopsie.
The doctor explained what was about to happen, and showed us on a video monitor exactly what to look for. After she'd put the ultrasound wand in place, we could see Jeanne's uterus and bladder as dark and light areas, respectively. The doctor then said some things to a couple of technicians who were splitting their time between the room we were in and a smaller room well-lit room in back, where I assume they kept the little darlings on ice. Before we knew it, there was an ultrasound-guided catheter visible on the screen, and a nurse was pointing out a bright area emitting from its tip. Those were our embryos, she said. To be honest, I could barely make out the catheter and couldn't much tell the bright area from any other area of Jeanne's uterus, but they seemed to have handle on it... and then it was done!
It was done? We had to have been in that room for six minutes tops, and the procedure itself took mayyybe 30 seconds. This was the moment we'd been waiting over a year for? My brain went haywire, teasing out the cognitive dissonance stirred up by the realization that a process that had been so insanely complicated had just reached its crucial moment in the blink of an eye. To make matters weirder, they let Jeanne get up right then and there and walk out with us. Five minutes later, we were across the street with Annie having pizza at Bertucci's. Whiplash moment.
But before that, on the way out the door, a nurse handed us a photograph. It was the 2 tranferred embryos in their first home, a petri dish. You could make out the individual cells, and see that blessed lack of fragmentation, and they were round and pretty and good. And to have a picture! We named them Oingo and Boingo...