The waiting room

Since I started seeing my doctor this summer, I’ve spent a lot of time in waiting rooms. This month, I’ve been going in every few days for regular monitoring appointments to see if I qualify for a natural (non-medicated) transfer cycle based off of my body’s hormones, so I’m in infertility purgatory a few hours a week. Since June, roughly 40+ hours of my life have been spent in one of those uncomfortable chairs, staring off into space or down at my phone, trying to avoid making eye contact with the ladies (and a few men) who are in the same predicament.

Here’s the thing, though. Why do we not want to make eye contact with each other? If we’re at an infertility clinic, clearly we’re all going through a similar situation. Infertility comes in many forms, but we all ultimately want the same thing: a happy, healthy baby in our arms. You would think that this would pull us together, allow us to open up to each other and forge friendships. I mean, we sit in that same room often enough, you’d think we would be making coffee dates and hosting Christmas ornament exchanges. Instead, we sit side by side, stiff and silent.

Why don’t we chit chat with each other while we wait? Is it because we are ashamed or embarrassed of why we are there? Is it because we’re worried about the other person sitting across from us, not knowing if they are willing or able to open up? Or is it just easier to stay in our lane, our bubble that allows us to scroll mindlessly through Facebook on our phones and not become vulnerable?

I opened the office door when I arrived for an appointment last week, and was met with a bustling waiting room full of women. The energy was different this time. There was laughter! And chit chat! And women sharing their stories! It was like being on an alien planet. There was a warmth there, a sense of belonging. We talked about our plans for Thanksgiving, our current journeys, our hopes and fears. (Yep, we covered that much ground; the wait can sometimes be looooong.) We laughed about how awkward it normally is in the waiting room and how it’s so weird that we don’t typically talk to each other. It was nice.

At this week’s appointment, we were back to the quiet. I missed the chatter. Then a guy popped his head in the doorway and asked loudly, cutting through the silence, “Hey! Has anyone seen my wife?” We laughed and pointed him in the right direction. He said thanks, and said with a smile, “Hey, we’re all in this together, right?”



The number of the day is…

The number of the day is… FIVE! Ah ah ahhhhhh.

We got the call yesterday morning – five of our frozen kidsicles tested PGS normal! PGS – or preimplantation genetic screening – tests for any chromosomal abnormalities. Out of the eight embryos that made it to blastocyst, we only had one missing a complete chromosome. That embryo will be discarded. Two are partially missing a chromosome, which we’ll hang on to for now. The remaining five are 100% normal and waiting on ice, in a state of suspended animation. The future is here, y’all.

The phone call from my doctor went something like this:

Doc: “Congratulations! Five of your embryos are normal. (blah blah blah details on normal vs. abnormal embryos)”

Me: “Awesome!”

Doc: “Do you want to know the genders?”

Me: “No.”

Me: “Well…. Can you just tell me if we have one of each?”

Doc: “Are you sure you want to know that…? You can’t go back once you know.”

Me: “Umm… Never mind!”

See, I’m not a patient kind of lady. I think keeping the gender of a baby a surprise until birth is MENTAL. I was the kid who opened the wrapping paper on my Christmas presents under the tree ever so gently while my mom was at the grocery store, and then hurriedly taped them back up with as little evidence as possible. I, Stefanie Eva Potts Miller, am not a woman who waits.

So when Dale said a while back that he wanted to find out the gender “like a normal person”, I was a little dismayed. If we can know the gender of our future babies NOW, why would we want to wait?? But the more I thought about it, the more I was on board. Let’s say we had ended up with three embryos, 2 boys and 1 girl. If we transferred the girl and it didn’t take, I envisioned the worst. Not only would I be more emotionally attached (and emotionally devastated) knowing the gender of our baby, I also would be pretty bummed that it was probably our last chance of having a little baby girl. Yikes.

I almost caved talking to our doctor yesterday. It would be soooo easy to break down and find out, but knowing Dale’s wishes, I stayed strong. What if ALL five embryos are the same gender? It’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but I would be left wondering if we might want to do this crazy process all over again just to have that choice. And I do NOT want to make that decision now, based off of the somewhat silly desire to have “one of each”.

When we move forward with the transfer, we won’t find out the gender until after we know it was successful. Dale would wait until the typical 16-20 week ultrasound to find out, but I think I have him convinced to find out earlier. I really don’t think I can wait that long…

Speaking of waiting, we are now in Embryo Purgatory. Our little snowflakes are hanging in their freezer tubes in a lab in Newport Beach, chilling out quite literally and waiting for the phone call to resume animation. My doctor wants me to do a full unmedicated cycle in between the retrieval and the transfer. That means that the next time I could do a transfer falls right around the Christmas holiday, which is a no go. It’s a blessing and a curse; waiting until January means not stressing about good news or bad news on vacation, and we can relax, celebrate, drink wine (yay!) and think positive thoughts. On the other hand, though, now that I know we have five (five!!) great embryos waiting for us, I’m anxious to get this show on the road. I also had this fantasy a few months ago that I would be pregnant by Christmas, especially because I was convinced last year that there was NO WAY I wouldn’t have a baby in my arms by Christmas 2017.

You know the saying, we make plans, and God laughs? Yeah. That.

In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to not gorge on pumpkin pie and Christmas cookies, do some yoga, and try to not let every second of the day for the next two months tick by in slow motion. Wish me luck! Clearly, patience is not my strong suit.

You name the babies, I’ll name the dogs

Yep, I’ll admit it: I’m a country music lover. I understand if we can’t be friends anymore. Or maybe now we’ll be best friends!

I wasn’t always in to country music. Then I met Dale. His Sirius XM radio was always (and I mean ALWAYS) tuned to Channel 56: The Highway. Eventually the sweet crooning of Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood’s massive pipes got to me, and I was hooked. We even chose a Brad Paisley song for our first dance at our wedding! From a tried and true Maroon 5, Gavin DeGraw, Adele and Coldplay kinda girl, this was a big deal.

Recently, though, country music has started to rub me a little bit in the wrong way. Ever notice just how many country songs are about making babies or having kids? No? Let me give you some examples to get you started.

I’ll Name the Dogs: Blake Shelton’s newest single.

I’ll hang the pictures, you hang the stars
You pick the paint, I’ll pick a guitar
Sing you a song out there with the crickets and the frogs
You name the babies and I’ll name the dogs

Boy, by Lee Brice:

You’re gonna drive and kiss
And throw a punch
And grow up way too fast
You’re gonna drop the ball
Hit the wall
And break some hearts like glass
I know you will, ’cause you’re a part of me
And a part of you will always be a boy

Then, by Brad Paisley: This one was our first dance song.

But now you’re my whole life
Now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe, the way I feel about you, girl
Like a river meets the sea,
Stronger than it’s ever been.
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then

And I can just see you, with a baby on the way
And I can just see you, when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before

Lullaby, Dixie Chicks:

They didn’t have you where I come from
Never knew the best was yet to come
Life began when I saw your face
And I hear your laugh like a serenade
How long do you wanna be loved
Is forever enough, is forever enough
How long do you wanna be loved
Is forever enough
‘Cause I’m never, never giving you up

I Saw God Today, George Strait:

Got my face pushed up against the nursery glass,
she’s sleeping like a rock,
my name on her wrist,
wearing tiny pink socks,
she’s got my nose,
she’s got her Mama’s eyes,
my brand new baby girl,
she’s a miracle,
I Saw God Today

All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood:

Since the day they got married,
He’d been praying for a little baby boy.
Someone he could take fishing,
Throw the football and be his pride and joy.
He could already see him holding that trophy,
Taking his team to State.
But when the nurse came in with a little pink blanket,
All those big dreams changed.

And now he’s wrapped around her finger,
She’s the center of his whole world.
And his heart belongs to that sweet little beautiful, wonderful, perfect all-American girl.

You’re Gonna Miss This, Trace Adkins:

Before she knows it she’s a brand new bride
In her one-bedroom apartment, and her daddy stops by
He tells her “It’s a nice place”
She says “It’ll do for now”
Starts talking about babies and buying a house
Daddy shakes his head and says “Baby, just slow down”

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

It Won’t Be Like This For Long, Darius Rucker:

He didn’t have to wake up
He’d been up all night
Laying there in bed listening
To his new born baby cry
He makes a pot of coffee
He splashes water on his face
His wife gives him a kiss and says
It gonna be OK

It wont be like this for long
One day soon we’ll look back laughin’
At the week we brought her home
This phase is gonna fly by
So baby just hold on
It won’t be like this for long

My Little Girl, Tim McGraw:

Gotta hold on easy as I let you go
Going to tell you how much I love you
Though you think you already know
I remember I thought you looked like an angel
Wrapped in pink, so soft and warm
You’ve had me wrapped around your finger
Since the day you were born

You’re beautiful baby, from the outside in
Chase your dreams but always know
The road that will lead you home again
Go on, take on this old world but to me
You know you’ll always be my little girl


Getting the picture yet?

I think I’ll start listening to rap.

Keeping score

I bought this shirt off of Etsy after we decided to do IVF. I can’t wait to wear it on transfer day!

Octomom, eat your heart out! I am now the Mother of Embryos. Eight of them, to be exact.

Eight!! Eight little blastocysts that have been biopsied for testing and are waiting on ice. I still can’t even believe it. For those of you keeping score, eight is a really, really good number. Let me back up to explain.

At the time of retrieval, the doctor was able to extract 14 embryos, 11 of which were mature. On average, 70% of mature eggs will be fertilized successfully. Then you can expect a 30-50% dropoff in embryos still trucking along to blastocyst on day 3 and day 5, which are the typical dates that a doctor will give a report on how the embryos are looking. So in our situation, we fully expected to have maybe 8 eggs fertilize, 5 make it to day 3, and only 3 make it to day 5.

Our reports from the doctor looked like this:

Day 1: Doctor calls at 8 am the day after the procedure. 11 mature eggs is good! 100% fertilization rate is great!! I am pleasantly happy but still feeling like my ovaries are getting punched by a tiny boxer in my stomach, so I Netflix binge the day away on the couch, enjoying being cautiously optimistic.

Day 3: The doctor says that we have 10 embryos that look great, and 1 that looks just “ok”. This is pretty awesome! To have all 11 still chugging away is rare. We celebrate this small victory. I still have a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me something could go wrong. I’m definitely anxious for the day 5 report.

Day 5: After waiting all morning for a call from the doctor that never comes, I call the office. Twice. And then a third time before I’m able to reach her. She apologizes for the 6+ hour wait after I was supposed to hear from her (no worries, just sitting here twiddling my thumbs worried about the lives of my future potential children, no biggie.) She shares with me that we have 3 embryos that made it to blastocyst, and 5 more still working on it. She’ll call again tomorrow.

Oh. Three? Hmm. That was not the news I was expecting. On the one hand, three is great! We have at least three blastocysts, at least three little future potential babies to snuggle into my uterus. But only three means that if one or two end up being found abnormal in PGS testing, or if we lose one due to the testing procedure (rare, but it happens), that means we could be left with one. What then? The thought of that makes my stomach drop and my heart ache. After getting such good reports the first two days, I wasn’t prepared for this.

My friend who happens to be a nurse in an IVF clinic (thank God for someone I can load my neuroses on to when I’m freaking out!) assures me that a day 6 embryo is no less worthy or up to the task than a day 5 embryo; it just took a little more time to get to where it’s going. I take a small sigh of relief, and then accept that whatever happens, happens. We are bound to get at least one more embryo to make it the next day, right?

Day 6: Again, no call from the doc by 9 am. I’m out to breakfast with a friend, distracted, and don’t think about it until around lunchtime, when I call the office. I’m told someone will give me a call back in a few minutes. I’m putting in a load of laundry when a nurse calls, who relays to me the latest. She says three more have made it to blast. WE HAVE SIX!! And that’s not all; the other two are still kicking! Oh wait, there’s more – all six blastocysts are the highest quality rating they could receive (4-6AA). I say a quick thank you, hang up the phone, and collapse on the floor. I shed many grateful, happy tears.

Day 7: I’m picking up Dale from his work to head to the airport for a Vegas weekend getaway. No phone call in the morning again, so I call the office while I’m waiting for him to wrap up his work day. This time I speak to the PA, who gives me the final report. Our little stragglers have made it! The remaining two embryos got to blastocyst on day 7 and have also been biopsied and frozen.

We have eight embryos.

Even today, days later, tears still spring to my eyes when I think about how lucky we are. Things could have gone so differently. We could have had to go back to the drawing board, to come up with a new plan. Instead, we have eight embryos whose cells have now been extracted and sent off to a special lab in Arizona for testing. We’ll hear results on how many normal embryos we have hopefully later this week. I still have a little bit of fear in the back of my mind, but for now, I’m choosing to enjoy this good news. We’ve beaten the odds every step of the way so far. Why should I believe that we won’t beat the odds again?

We have eight embryos. We have eight embryos. We have eight embryos.

It feels weird to get good news.

How we got here

You might be wondering how we ended up here, in the middle of an IVF cycle. Rest assured that IVF was something we didn’t just jump right into, and we certainly didn’t want to be here. And yet, here we are.

I’ve always known that I wanted kids, and as soon as I knew I wanted to marry Dale, I knew he’d make a great father. When we got married, we were excited to just enjoy being married for a while without the added pressure of having a kid. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel 100% ready to be a parent. So we grew our family in other ways – adding three furbabies to the mix – and had lots of fun. Trips to Hawaii, time with family, annual passes to Disneyland, and more delicious meals than I can count. Despite some family tragedies and ups and downs along the way, I can absolutely say that we’ve been blessed.

Around two years ago, we started having a serious conversation about if it was “time”. Time to start a family. I vaguely remember around Thanksgiving that we decided we would start to try in the spring of that following year. So when January 2016 rolled around, I made an appointment with my OB. I let her know that we were about to start trying, and she gave me a clean bill of health. I kind of expected maybe some recommendations, things that I could do to improve my chances, etc, but since I was still relatively young and healthy, she said there was no reason to assume that we’d have any issues. She told me that it could take up to a year for a healthy couple to conceive. Hearing that, at the time, it felt like a year was a million years away. In the following few months, I started taking prenatal vitamins and read up on how to have a baby. Did you know that there are really only *maybe* FIVE days you have a chance of getting pregnant each month?!? I was dumbfounded. I’m a planner, and I like to be prepared, so I studied up as much as I could on babymaking. It is most definitely an art and a science.

Here’s our TTC timeline, from kicking things off until today:

June 2016: when we started trying in earnest. Those first couple of months of trying I remember being really carefree, and honestly not caring too much about whether or not we got that positive pregnancy test. We were having fun and I was loving the idea of the possibilities ahead.

August/September: I got antsy. I started using OPKs (ovulation predictor kits), peeing on so many sticks that I’ve lost count. I symptom spotted like crazy. Feeling slightly nauseous? I MUST be pregnant. Do my boobs hurt? Am I tired? Yep, I HAVE to be pregnant. At the end of every cycle, I couldn’t help myself; I started taking pregnancy tests a few days before my period was due, and would often take two, or three, or four, but always the same result: negative.

October: I got the gut feeling that something must be wrong. I started seeing an acupuncturist who specializes in fertility (shout out to Tina at Coastal Acupuncture!), and felt like for the first time that my concerns were validated. Tina listened to me, was compassionate and wanted to help, even if I was seeing her earlier than most people would seek help. My cycles were a little shorter than she would have liked, so I started getting regular acupuncture, which helped both my cycles and my sanity.

November: I get bloodwork done at the recommendation of my acupuncturist to check my hormone levels, and Dale gets tested as well. Both of our results come back basically normal.

December/January: The holiday season is tough. I have my longest cycle ever and this time, I REALLY  do feel pregnant: super tired, boobs are killing me, feel a little sick. This lasts for maybe a week or so, but I never see those two pink lines. Literally shocked when every test I take comes up blank. I’m a handful of days late, a few days after Christmas, and I have the most intense cramps and bleeding I’ve ever had, while on a red-eye flight to Maui with Dale for a tropical vacation. Later I realize that I probably had a chemical pregnancy and am miscarrying.

January through May: Three of my closest friends are all due within a couple months of each other. I help plan, throw and/or attend all three baby showers for three beautiful baby boys, born happy and healthy. It’s bittersweet.

June 2017: It’s been a year. A year is the socially acceptable and typically recommended time period of waiting before a doctor will suggest seeking medical intervention. We are officially diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”. I try one round of Clomid, a drug prescribed to help women ovulate, given by my OB before I meet with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) for the first time. I have two appointments scheduled with two different doctors; one I had to wait a month to get in, and the other one was initially booked out through September, but my acupuncturist works her magic and gets me in to see the doctor I ultimately chose in June. My friend who had struggled with infertility asks me how I’m doing as I am heading out to my first appointment. She says that for her, when she went to meet with her RE for the first time, it felt like she had been sitting on the sidelines the whole time and she finally had a chance to come off the bench and get in the game. I couldn’t have said it any better.

We hit the ground running; after choosing a doctor, we jump right into our first IUI cycle. I’m finally feeling positive about our situation, having been told by my RE that the both of us are young and healthy and there is no reason not to assume we can’t get pregnant with an IUI cycle. That being said though, in a best case scenario if all the stars line up right, we have a 20-25% chance of gettting pregnant via IUI. Regardless of what happens this cycle, it feels really good to get regular monitoring and to actually know what is going on inside my body in real time. I don’t even mind all the hours wasted in the waiting room. Our first IUI is on Father’s Day, which feels significant. We wait the requisite two weeks. We come up short.

July: IUI #2 is also a bust. My positive attitude is now tinged with pessimism. Third time’s the charm, right?

August: IUI #3, aka TRY ALL THE THINGS. This month we threw the freaking book at it, full steam ahead. The past two months I ovulated quicker than expected, so this month I make sure that I’m going in for daily monitoring early, especially since we are due to head out of town for a wedding right around when the doc estimates I might ovulate. We end up doing two IUIs, one a day earlier than the last couple months, just in case. We also end up hastily booking our own hotel room on site when we arrive in the Bay Area for the wedding, when our “two bedroom suite” we were supposed to share with my parents ended up being a “two bed room suite”. No babymaking to be had when the beds were practically touching, so we snagged a room a few doors down. Despite all of our, ahem, efforts, our results are still negative.

September: Feeling like we are back to square one, I decide I don’t want to keep throwing money, time and emotional effort at IUIs any longer. I’m heading into the busiest time of year with my work, replete with plenty of travel, and can’t even think about spending countless hours in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or my legs up in stirrups any more. I. Am. Over. It.

I asked the doc during my last IUI cycle in passing her thoughts on us trying IVF. She was supportive, and said that with what she knows about both me and Dale, we’d have an 85% chance at a successful pregnancy on the first try.

WHOA. 85% is pretty freaking good.

Despite every fiber of my being wanting to get pregnant on my own, without shots, without being put under, without spending thousands and thousands of dollars, I book a pre-IVF consult with my RE. And despite knowing our odds, I’m feeling pretty doom and gloom about it.

October: Holy crap. It’s here! The month we start IVF. There’s phone calls to me made, medications to be ordered (and delivered in a giant box that needs to be refrigerated), bills to be paid, consents to be signed. This is getting real.

I start shots on October 24th, the night of the same day I’m struck with the stomach flu. Seems like piss poor timing, but doc gives the go ahead to start, so start we do. The shots really aren’t so bad.

I built it all up in my head. IVF was this big scary monster that I didn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole. But, once we finally got started, I was just happy that we were doing something. And I thank God that it seems like, for once in the last 20+ cycles, things are finally, actually looking up.


May the odds be ever in your favor

Retrieval day went off without a hitch! I got an IV put in and a nice warm blanket as soon as I checked in to the surgery center. About an hour later I was given some meds “to relax”, as the anesthesiologist said, and an hour after that, I woke up on the other side. Doc said we got fourteen eggs, which was the max of what we were expecting, so we were pretty happy with that. But man, my stomach is tender! Dale said, “You were just poked in the ovaries fourteen times with a large needle. What do you expect?” Well, when you put it that way….

My retrieval day motivation T-shirt. It’s silly, but it made me feel the good juju.
I snuck these socks into the OR under the ugly scratchy hospital socks they made me wear. Shh, don’t tell…

So it’s a lot of Netflix binging for me on the couch with the furbabies until I’m a little less tender, hopefully by tomorrow. Thus begins the Embryo Hunger Games. (see my last blog post re: hunger games and why it’s crazy that anyone gets pregnant naturally, let alone with science)

So far, so good! Doc called with the Day 1 report already this morning. Out of the 14 eggs retrieved, 11 were mature, and 1 almost mature. 12 were fertilized, and of those, we have 11 solidly fertilized! The almost mature egg was also fertilized, and has a 50/50 shot of making it to day 3.

An 100% fertilization rate is really, really good. I felt a sense of relief wash over me when I got the report, closely followed by what I can only describe as a healthy dose of pessimism. On the one hand, I am SO grateful that we have 11 (maybe 12) awesome embryos trucking along to hopefully make it to day 3. On the other hand, everything we’ve been through up until this point hasn’t worked out for us. What’s to say that something drastic doesn’t happen, and we’re looking at a huge drop off by the time we get to day 3 or 5? I am doing my best to stay positive, and I may or may not have teared up in my moment of feeling relief. But it’s also going to be just a bit agonizing waiting for these next couple of reports, not to mention waiting to hear back about PGS testing in a couple of weeks.

I’m hoping the smallest possible amount of embryos volunteer as tribute, and we have a healthy litter of little blastocysts at the end of day 5 to send off for PGS testing. In the meantime, I think some more Netflix binging is in order. Distraction, party of 1, please!

Side note: it’s really weird to think that we have possibly twelve little pre-babies floating around in a petri dish somewhere. Don’t worry, we’re not planning on giving Octomom a run for her money anytime soon. But it’s still pretty cool to think that probably, one day, very soon, one of those little pre-babies will become a real baby. Mind. Blown.

It’s getting real

T-minus 1 day until retrieval. The doc was so sure we’d have a Friday retrieval after yesterday’s monitoring appointment, but then the results from my blood work came in and she changed her mind. Thursday it is! So we had the joyful experience of doing the trigger shot  – the one that tells my body it’s ok to release all those eggs it’s been hanging on to – at midnight last night. It has to be given exactly 35 hours before the procedure; no more, no less. Nothing like falling asleep on the couch and waking up to an alarm going off on your phone at 11:40 pm to get a shot in the butt.

The good news is, no more shots! The bad news is, I’ve officially reached beached whale status. All those follicles getting bigger by the second and there’s nowhere for them to go. At least now I know what I’ll look like at six months pregnant. Wanna see?

No eating or drinking before the procedure (wahhh, why does my retrieval have to be scheduled at 11 am??), and I’m told I’ll be groggy and potentially nauseous for the rest of the day tomorrow. It definitely could be worse.

For those of you wondering, the egg retrieval process involves anesthesia (I’ll be asleep, but not intubated) and a long transvaginal needle that the doctor will use to suck out the fluid in each available follicle, which will contain the eggs. Then all the mature eggs will be fertilized within a few hours. After that, it really is touch and go. Our clinic will be giving us updates about our fertilized eggs at day 1, day 3 and day 5, but not all of the fertilized eggs will typically make it to a 5 day blastocyst (the ideal stage for implantation). We’ll also be utilizing PGS testing to determine which of our blastocysts are genetically normal.

This stage after the retrieval process is affectionately referred to by some fellow IVFers on Reddit as the “embryo hunger games”. The odds of having eggs that turn into embryos that turn into blastocysts go down exponentially at each stage. Of the eggs retrieved, on average, 70% are mature. Of the mature eggs, 50-70% will fertilize. And of the fertilized eggs, maybe 50% will make it to blastocyst.

Basically, even in a best case scenario where the doctor retrieves all 14ish of my eggs, of those eggs, maybe 11 are mature. And of those 11, only 9 fertilize. 6 might make it to 3 days, 5 might make it to 5 days. And of those 5 five day blastocysts, only 2 or 3 of them might be genetically normal.

Well… damn.

As much faith as I have in my doctor, in my treatment plan, and in the embryologist, so much of this process is left up to the fates. The shots themselves have proven to be the easiest part of IVF. I’m not even so scared of the retrieval procedure, despite being put under. It’s everything that comes after that’s the unknown variable. I’ve come so close, and now I almost don’t want to come out on the other side, for fear of what comes next. What if the other side of retrieval is like the Upside Down on Stranger Things? I don’t want to think about what we will have to decide if we come up empty.

Of course, I’m not doomsdaying myself already; I really do believe that this will all be worth it. But I definitely have a healthy dose of reality and skepticism thrown in with my positivity. Part self-preservation, and I think part logical preparedness. In the end, only time will tell.