Saturday, August 1, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes

Oh my.  When I think back to last summer, I really can't fathom how far away it feels.  I've been reflecting this month back to last July, a month that was filled with as much worry as it was peace.  Many of you already know, our journey to parenthood did not come easy.  As Boppo so graphically told the story in last year's Christmas letter, Vinny was our last chance.  After two failed in-vitro cycles, we only had one embryo left in the freezer.  Our doctor, upon explaining the new protocol he'd be taking with me, said, "this is a Hail Mary."  But we knew we had to go through with this last IVF attempt in order to move forward with any adoption process.  We were really at peace, but had to put closure on our fertility treatments.  Our chances were slim.  Even after all the hormone preparations, there still was a huge possibility that the embryo wouldn't survive the thaw.  But it did.  And so for two weeks, 14 long days, I prayed more than I had ever prayed in my life.  I was trying to will the little baby to "stick."  Please stick, please stick, please stick.  And it did.

So after the dreaded "two week wait," IT WAS EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO TODAY that Anthony and I received the call that we had been praying, wishing, hoping for, but hardly expecting. You see, we had waited all day in silence, taking turns playing tetris and solitaire, mindlessly watching TV.  As the day passed, we both were silently preparing ourselves for sad news.  Naturally if it were good news we would have heard by now, right?  So 3 o'clock turned to 4, 4 turned to 5, and 5 turned to 6.  Then, at a few minutes past 6 o'clock, the phone rang and our hearts sank.  It was going to be bad.  We just had a feeling.  After apologizing for taking so long to get in touch with us, Dr. Johnson said something about having good news.  I don't remember exactly because I couldn't believe what he was saying.  He's soft spoken, so surely I misunderstood.  But he went on to tell me that I was 100% certainly pregnant and he scheduled me for more blood tests and ultrasounds.  (How great is that?  My doctor taking care of the scheduling because his receptionist has already gone home!)  

I fell into Anthony's arms and we both cried like never before.  I called my mom immediately to spread the news.   It was so joyful.  Meanwhile, Anthony had gone upstairs to get ready to go tell his parents in person.  We had agreed that since they were the only family we had in town at the time, they had to hear the news in person.  But in typical fashion, nothing goes as we ever plan.  In his excitement, Anthony called his sister in Virginia to tell her the good news.  Wouldn't you know it, but Greg was on the other phone with Bill at the same time, so when Missy screamed, Bill heard it through the other line.  Ugh!  Still, we were bound and determined to tell them in person, so off we drove to Bill and Joan's.  They too, thought the worst given how late in the day we heard from the doctor.  Unable to speak, I raise my arms up in the air as we walked through the kitchen door.  It was a special night, filled with tears, disbelief, and elation.  We cried, cried, cried.  It was so good to finally cry tears of joy instead of tears of sorrow.  So where else would we go to celebrate?  Why, Chile's, of course!  The first of many red meat meals I would crave for the next 35 weeks!

So here he is.  Little did we know at the time that it was a he, of course.  But this little blastocyst of cells, which was transfered into me on July 22nd of last year, became Vincent Joseph Mandrola.  Who can argue life, choice, whatever when you think about what these little cells became.  Because, just look at this little boy.  

He IS life.  He is OUR life.  Vincent has brought us out of a darkness that was at times unbearable.  For any of you that have ever read A Tale of Despereaux (a book I read to my students), you may be familiar with the theme light and dark.  Well, Vincent is the hero in our story.  He has brought us into the light.  Vincent has helped me see joy again, like no other.  I am me again.

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