The Tovsky Tribe

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thank You, Robert Edwards

I started writing this post 11 months ago, on 1/16/10.  I stopped writing it 11 months ago, as well.  Getting all the words together, was harder than expected.  I started writing it again 2 months ago, still unable to finish.  Today I wrote more.  Here is the continued, and combined effort.

One Tuesday a month the boys, and the rest of the Pre-school, have a Mad Science session where they learn science in a fun and exciting way.  This past Tuesday was one of those Tuesday's.  When I picked them up at school they came sprinting into my arms and nearly knocked me over.  They do this almost daily, a moment I love despite the near winding.  This day in particular was different only because they ran to me gripping tightly the sea life aquarium they had made during Radioactive Rick's session.
When I saw them proud and grinning as they showed me their "beach in a test-tube" I had two immediate thoughts.  The first was that programs like this Mad Science add verification to the many dollar signs that precede the school's description.  Knowing that the boys are learning, in a fun way, something that I know, against my better ideals, I would probably never get to teach them at home.  My second thought after seeing that test-tube was my twins' conception.

This is a topic I spoke about NEVER when I was battling through the days of infertility, but find myself opening up about it much more often now.  My willingness to speak about it is not without reason.  For one, as the years pass, the wounds heal and rarely leave a scar.  Two, I could not be more proud of my boys, all of them, and both the obstacles we had to overcome to get the twins along with the lack of obstacles in the conception of Turner.  And, mostly, I realize how many people, how many people I care about, have to go through the same thing, the same pains.  When I went through it I felt so alone, like I was the only woman dealing with infertility.  It is extremely common, unfortunately, and if more people would talk about, perhaps it would not feel like leprosy.

So here it is, the blog about In-Vitro!

I remember being a kid and test-tube babies was a rabid joke.  We would tease in a such a fashion and had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.  Kids can be so cruel.   Years later when I suffered through the year and a half of infertility and In-Vitro Fertilization became our final option I heard all of those jokes, again, running circles in my memory.  My children, if I were to ever be so lucky and have them, would be test-tube babies.  But, of course, that was before I knew anything.  As I learned the fine details of fertility treatments I learned that test tubes have nothing to do with it, instead its petri dishes.  And, mostly I learned, that all jokes aside, these advances in science that allow us to create babies in dishes are so important to the many men and women out there who feel incomplete, BROKEN, at their inability to procreate the old fashioned way.

I am fortunate, I know this.  Not only do I have three amazing children, but I experienced conceptions in two totally different ways and the result is absolutely the same.  A child (or children) you love unconditionally, beyond depths of understanding, beyond measure.  My life is better because of my family and it makes no difference to me how I had them.

For the first year of Chase and Ryder's life I received Twins Magazine.  Though it was called a magazine, it was hardly one at all, more of a bi-monthly pamphlet.  But still, I perused it when it came to my mailbox.  One article that I read, and remember (two totally separate feats,) was about whether or not to tell your In-Vitro children about their conception.  I was astonished by this question, by the controversy, by the opposing opinions.  I had not realized it was even something to think about.   Of course our kids would know, someday, the hurdles we jumped to conceive them.  Not anytime soon, since they have no idea where babies come from, but yes, someday!!

Here's the thing, going through primary infertility (infertility for your first child) gives you a rare opportunity to be a parent even before you have children.  We all know, once we actually do have children we will do anything, everything, at all costs for them.  No matter what!  But, as you suffer through the pains of failed months, of missed opportunities to make your baby, the desire to procreate starts to resemble desperation and you realize you will do absolutely anything, everything, at all costs, to become the parent you dreamed of being.  It begins, in this case, before they are even conceived, a blessing cruelly disguised.


I have been wanting to write this posting for years.  I've tried more than once, always deleting words as quickly as I typed them.  Perhaps it was too personal, too emotional, too controversial.  I am not sure.  It just seemed that the words never came out right.  But, there seems no more appropriate a time to finish writing this than now, when Robert Edwards wins the Nobel Prize.    Robert Edwards is, now, an 85 year old man whose work led to the first test tube baby who was born, a girl, on July 25, 1978.  At 32 years old, and famous for her conception, she is the first of over 4 million babies born unto this world by similar fashion.  Two of which, are Chase and Ryder.

Going through the motions of In-Vitro Fertilization is a long and careful journey down a very uncertain path.  Counseling, medication, injections, ejaculation in a cup, it's all science and no romance.  At All.  We did stumble upon some humor along the way, including a first injection at the first aid center of a Flyers Game, and a geyser of blood shooting out of my toosh when the needle hit the wrong spot. And, of course, there was me, high on a little anesthesia, begging Dr. Freedman to let me see the eggs he had just vacuumed from my uterus.   But, still, the topic remained very sensitive and private for me. There were very few people who knew what we were going through.  It was not until later that I learned how helpful it had been to actually talk about it.

But, interestingly, once I was pregnant I began to feel that IVF was the greatest scientific advancement to date.  Of course, it is not a cure for cancer, which clearly would be beyond these words, but at the moment of a positive pregnancy test it feels almost that good.  I began to feel that mixing the strongest of eggs and the cleanest of sperm would create the strongest of embryos, from which only the VERY BEST TWO were chosen.  The best of the best, I liked to believe.   To help my faith that all would be fine I believed I was growing two little super babies scientifically designed for greatness.  Silly?  Perhaps!  

But then Chase and Ryder were born.  Five weeks early and under 5 pounds, yet even holding their frail bodies I still believed I had super babies in my arms.  Super sons!  As they grew so did my belief.  That, thanks to the In-Vitro Fertilization, we had the very best possible combination of Todd and I wrapped up in two different little boys.  Who knew there was that much of our good to go around, ha ha!!!  Thanks to "test-tube" babies we had the best little guys on the planet.  I was so grateful that I needed In-Vitro!!

Then I got pregnant the old-fashioned way!  And, I worried.  I worried that the third child growing inside of me would be average, not super!  Pathetic?  A little.  But, then Turner was born.  And, he too is a Super Baby.  All smiles and charm and I realized that every parent thinks their kid is the best, as they should, as they are!  And, it became quite clear that my test-tube babies were no different than any other sperm and egg that met.  But, so what, if I used this belief to get me through a tough time.  To help heal my wounds, to keep me reassured that everything, everything, would work out as it was supposed to.

In-Vitro Fertilization is something to be proud of, nothing to deny. It is worthy of the Nobel prize that its creator earned, and it is certainly something the creation(s) should be aware of!  I didn't feel lucky to deal with the infertility, that goes without saying, but I do feel blessed to not only be a parent to twins but to a recipient of such wonderful scientific advancements.  Thank you, Robert Edwards.

1 comment:

Reid said...

Well done Wendy! Great article. Submit it somewhere!