They say there's a first time for everything, and I think it's the first time in our married life that we have actually been early for anything!
Kyle, Grace and I welcomed Charlotte Grace Herschelman into the world in the wee hours of the morning on Feb. 18, two weeks before she was scheduled to arrive by c-section. We weren't exactly ready, but she came nonetheless.
Her arrival started on Friday morning, when Kyle and I took Grace to Springfield for her weekly physical therapy sessions. After lunch at Cracker Barrel, we headed to the Springfield Clinic to see my doctor for what we thought was a routine check-up. However, a sonogram revealed low amniotic fluid, and the doctor came to tell us we would meet Charlotte either Friday or Saturday.
|Our two beautiful girls|
As he left the room, Kyle and I both started to panic a little bit. Nevermind the fact that we both had several stories to do up for the paper, but we hadn't had time to clean up Charlotte's room or even put her crib together. And as I tearfully told Kyle, we don't even have a camera!
But after getting me settled into the hospital, Kyle was able to get Grace to his parents' house where she would stay, and run home and get a few things for us, including a camera. Thanks to several other deliveries that night, Kyle even made it back to help me welcome Charlotte into the world.
She's absolutely perfect, and Grace seems to be enamored with her new role as a big sister. Grace loves to watch Charlotte wiggle and squiggle, and we have enjoyed reading books to both of them. As we have enjoyed being home with them the past few days, it truly feels like our family is complete.
However, although Charlotte's delivery came early, her journey actually began more than two years ago. Even before we knew what INAD stood for, Kyle and I knew we wanted a sibling for Grace. We are both very close with our adult siblings, and wanted Grace to have that chance too.
But then Grace was diagnosed with INAD, where the odds were 25 percent of having another child with INAD using conventional methods, and we just didn't think that was fair. So, we began talking with Grace's geneticist about the possibility of in vitro fertilization or IVF, with pre-genetic testing of the embryos.
I admit I didn't know much about the process, but I studied genetics in high school, and I figured how hard could it be? Turns out, a lot harder than I thought, but worth every single shot, every single hormone and every single trip to St. Louis.
Since most of Grace's doctors are in St. Louis through Washington University and Children's Hospital, we opted to see Dr. Kenan Omurtag at Washington University, and it was a great experience all the way around. He was just as invested as we were in helping to expand our family, and there with us every step of the way.
The first time we tried it, we were unsuccessful at getting pregnant. Originally, we were just going to try the one time, but our doctor encouraged us to give it one more try. This time, we were able to have 7 embryos tested for INAD, including two that had two healthy copies of the gene, meaning that Charlotte isn't even a carrier for INAD.
Although our odds were increased to implant more than one embryo, the idea of taking care of twins and Grace seemed like a big job, and we were lucky enough to get pregnant the second time around.
I never counted all the shots or all the medicines we had to take, though I'm sure they numbered more than 100. I never measured all the miles we drove back and forth to St. Louis for blood work and ultrasounds. Instead, we found ourselves blessed with the chance to add to our little family, a chance we never would have had without the science and technology of IVF.
Although it's one of the hardest things we have ever done, we will forever be grateful that Charlotte Grace Herschelman arrived in our lives, even if it was early for the first, and probably the last time, on this Grace-Filled Journey.