Our little boy is 6 years old today! He is a spunky, bright, active, Star Wars obsessing, site word reading, and bird of prey loving little guy, who likes to ski fast, play hard, and wear many costumes. My mom likes to compare Carver’s birth to the second coming of Christ, since everyone in our life knew just how desperately we had been trying to have a baby for years when he finally came along. We tried to be open about our process as it was anything but conventional. He was conceived via in vitro fertilization at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Fertility Clinic in the summer of 2008 where his embryo remained frozen until April of 2009. We called our 19 frozen embryos “Krillsicles” affectionately, although we never thought of them as actual babies- they were the potential for life given the right circumstances. We had tried in utero unsuccessfully for about six months, when our team of doctors helped us to make the decision to harvest my ovaries. These were not fun times. I will spare you the details, but if anyone is frustrated with the fertility process or feels like they will never have a baby, please feel free to reach out privately; I’m happy to share our story in greater detail one on one. I do not pretend to have all the answers in terms of spinal cord injuries and babies, but I can explain what we went through.
Geoff’s two biggest fears after his snowmobile accident were whether girls would still like him and whether or not he could be a father. I was sort of ambivalent about natural birth, and totally would have been happy adopting a baby from another place or even becoming foster parents. But this was important to Geoff. He wanted to exhaust all other possibilities before throwing in the towel on having our own biological children. And so what didn’t kill us, definitely made us stronger!
Our doctors at Dartmouth were incredible– knowledgeable, supportive, and patient. Our primary nurse who met with us at the beginning and saw us through every appointment, procedure, hormone-related disaster was Rachel Kendall, and she was really good at her chosen career field. How cool of a job it must be to help these families who can’t become pregnant the old fashioned way to bring a baby into the world! We still send the fertility department Christmas cards and pictures through Rachel because they help to make thousands of babies for people who very much want them. We remain forever grateful to that team of people who made somewhat awkward and embarrassing situations tolerable, dignified, and even memorable.
Unfortunately, my school’s insurance did not cover any of the procedures. It did cover much of our prescriptions for the fertility drugs, which was always weird to me. But I tried not to let the cost of what we were doing impact my focus on having our baby. Fortunately, our family helped to defray the thousands of dollars, and we could pay them pack without the interest we would have had if we had gone through the bank. Couples like ours are really lucky this kind of medical technology exists, even if it is emotionally exhausting, financially stressful, and physically taxing.
Beginning in the fall of 2008, we ran two or three cycles where they “defrosted” five or six embryos at a time. After two days, doctors selected the best two to implant in my uterus, and then we waited. Blood tests determined whether or not I was pregnant. At some point in this process, I started doing acupuncture with a man who was an actual OB/GYN in our area and had training from Harvard in different eastern healing techniques. This was actually a lifesaver for me; more than anything, it helped me to relax before and after the fertility procedures. One hour of acupuncture made me feel like I had just taken a long nap or amazing yoga class. And we most definitely attribute its crucial role in helping us to get pregnant.
After four rounds, we had only three embryos left. They again chose the best two, and Carver is our miracle baby number one. Nine months never took so long, especially as he was two weeks late. He remained unnamed for two full days as Geoff and I did not see eye to eye on the spelling of his name. Luckily, I won out, and we have Carver instead of Karver. He truly was a perfect newborn– his hair, his nose, his little fingers and round head. He had this crazy little laugh as an infant which made him sound like he was stuck on repeat. He was a chubby butterball with an infectious smile, and his now 6 year old frame weighs in at an astounding 60 pounds. He can ski anywhere at Loon Mountain, black diamonds included, but he still needs a lift up on the chairlifts. He’s lost five teeth with one more about to fall out in front any day now. He loves kindergarten, his teacher, his friends, but often asks for half days, because “thinking is so hard” and makes him tired. His first rite of passage turning 6 means he gets to attend Lego Club on Mondays with other big friends, and he is a Tiger working on green stripes on a white belt in his karate class. Mostly, he is just a funny little boy who likes to tell stories and be the center of attention– and we love him more than we could have ever imagined. We celebrated this past weekend with sledding and light sabers and a Darth Vader cake. Happy birthday, Carver Gregory Krill!