You know those days in your life that remain so vivid in your memory forever? These two days were two just like that. Since Nick used air miles and I used a standby pass from a friend who works for an airline, we were on different flights. My flight left around 6 a.m. on a Sunday, so I was up at 3 a.m., not that I slept much. I was excited and worried at the same time. Worried about the dog, because we never both leave her at the same time. We tried a kennel years ago and that didn’t work out well for her. I lined up a couple neighbors who graciously took care of her in our absence, but I still worried.
I showered, dressed and went over details in the pre-dawn darkness before leaving Nick and the dog sound asleep in bed. (His flight didn’t leave until the afternoon). The security line was unusually short, although I received “extra attention” because I was flying standby. I arrived at my gate early enough to grab a croissant, juice and newspaper. The flight seemed quick and I arrived at LAX early. I don’t think I’ve ever seen LAX so dead, but then who wants to fly that early on a Sunday? I picked up a rental car and since I had time to kill, headed to our old neighborhood to visit a few neighbors I hadn’t seen in a couple years.
I finally met nick that afternoon at our hotel in Sherman Oaks. We had dinner at Denny’s and headed to the Galleria for a little shopping. At this point I was a zombie, having had so little sleep the night before. Back at the hotel, I dozed off in bed while Nick watched the Emmys live. Everyone on TV was complaining about the heat, but it didn’t seem so hot to me.
I slept surprisingly well, but woke early. We had time to hit Denny’s again for breakfast (was I really eating at Denny’s twice in 24 hours?) where a strange mix of tourists and what looked like poor, aspiring young actors came together for an unhealthy breakfast. There were framed prints of old ‘50s greasers on the wall and the smell of eggs, pancakes and bacon in the air. I picked at my omlette while we discussed parenting techniques and plans for the nursery.
We headed to the doctor’s office in Encino, not more than a couple miles away, but traffic down Sepulveda and Ventura Blvd. crawled along, taking multiple cycles to get through each stoplight. Strangely, I felt like I had returned home, seeing all the familiar palm tress and vegetation I missed after leaving California. But the gridlock traffic reminded me of my love/hate relationship with this city! We arrived at the office right on time and waited for about 30 minutes before going into the room with our surrogate. Nick had already met her, but this was my first time in person. The doctor called us into a small conference room where I set the big gift basket filled with shampoos, soaps, bath salts, and other spa items that I had schlepped all the way from home. This was our token of appreciation for what this woman was doing for us, although I don’t know how you can thank someone enough for doing this job.
The doctor showed us the two best embryos and had a detailed picture for us. She suggested only transferring the two because they were so viable. She said the chance of twins was around 20%, and we confirmed that we were willing to accept twins. I feel like I’ve known all year that we were destined to have twins, another strange feeling I can’t explain. As soon as I looked at those embryos, I knew those were both of our children. That strange feeling is also telling me that it’s a boy and a girl, so we’ll see in a couple months if it’s correct.
The doctor lead us to the room where our surrogate had been undergoing acupuncture for the past half hour or so. She was smiling, happy, nervous and a beautiful woman. They had her in stirrups, legs covered with a blanket, ready to accept the embryos. There was a large flat screen TV on the wall where we could see the live view of her womb, and then down in the corner of the screen was a live view of the embryos in a small dish. The embryos were actually in the next room, so we watched on the TV as someone sucked them both up into a catheter. A little window opened up and the catheter was passed to the doctor. We watched on the screen as the catheter was inserted and the embryos released. The doctor pointed out where they were, swimming around looking for a home. She gave us a picture of them both in the womb, as well as the close up picture of the embryos, our first pictures for the baby albums!
A man came back in for more acupuncture, so we had a few minutes to talk with our surrogate. She’s going to come to our house in December when we’ll get to know her better. It seems like such an odd relationship at this time. She’s incubating two babies for two men she barely knows, and we’re trusting someone we barely know to grow and nurture our babies for nine months. I wanted to get to know her more following the transfer, but I had to head back to the airport and Nick was staying in L.A. for work, so he had to leave too. The process was so quick. All those months leading up to what took 5 minutes. I felt a bit sad leaving her in that room, covered in acupuncture needles.
I headed back to LAX, expecting heavy traffic, but the traffic gods smiled on me that Monday morning and I was there in no time. I was on standby for a flight so I spent several hours in the airport until a seat was finally available. I read a magazine, kept an eye open for movie stars (LAX is the best place in L.A. for star sighting) and ate lunch in a bar, sharing a table with a kind, old Jewish man in traditional clothing who had just flown in from TelAviv. He gave me a package of some odd, unsalted pretzels that I ate as we discussed current events.
I arrived home late that evening where I was greeted by a very happy dog who survived being abandoned by both her daddies. The following Monday we received a call from our surrogate. She was throwing up and a home pregnancy test was positive! She said she knew it was twins because she never had morning sickness with her other two children, and higher hormone levels associated with twins can cause more sickness.