Three years ago this week was a big week for us. Huge. Monumental, even. On August 3, 2013, bright and early on a Sunday morning we drove the forty some-odd miles down to the Georgia Perimeter to Georgia Reproductive Specialists because it was egg retrieval day and time for Mike to make his dutiful “deposit.” We were both nervous wrecks. It was a seminal moment – on so many levels. The other day, when reminiscing, I borrowed heavily from one of my favorite poets and penned a little “Red Wheelbarrow” parody:
so much depends
a sterile dixie cup
glazed with hard
beside the petri
Because so much did depend on that day and that cup and that petri dish. And luckily, Mike’s swimmers were reliable little guys. And don’t get me started on the generous and steadfast nature of our donor and her eggs. I wish there were a way to explain to you and to her how truly indebted we are for her incredible sacrifice. I know it wasn’t easy. She endured hormone shots and blood draws, ovarian hyper-stimulation and surgical egg retrieval — which I understand was hardly, as the old song goes, “Easy Like Sunday Morning”– which was when she drove to our clinic, just after daybreak, to tender our eggs. She is my hero… and I will never know who she is.
But I know that she is strong. I know that she is selfless. I know that she went through pain and agony and tremendous risk to incubate new life for a couple she didn’t know, would never even meet. Ever. And she delivered – like the Stork; like Santa Claus; like the sunrise; like the rainbow . She delivered little bundles of promise and beauty and perfection and joy aspirated through a needle into plastic culture dishes. Science and nature. Miracles and medicine. Magic and mathematics. To God be the Glory – and talk about Amazing Grace. Our donor has it. She lived it. She is it.
We had arranged with GRS to do a shared cycle, which meant that the clinic would receive half of the eggs she produced and we would receive the other half. It was kind of a BOGO deal with a twist: Buy One, Give One — the only IVF plan we could feasibly afford on teachers’ salaries. It was a gamble that paid off beautifully, thanks to our donor and the quality of her fierce follicles. We ended up with five beautifully round and robust little embryos. And it turns out we only needed two. Our donor was THAT good. And to give credit where credit’s due, so was Mike’s baby batter.
We received our first pictures of our boys on August 8, 2013. Their bubbly little personalities shining through, even in that first portrait. Every anniversary, I’ve stacked that first photo on top of a current one, and this year is no exception. It’s amazing how two such distinct and brilliant little people can come from such microscopic origins.
Parker Isaac and Tate Michael.
We knew we wanted names with symbolic heft. From the moment we decided to pursue IVF, we christened a boy Isaac, as a nod to the grace of God and the Old Testament story of Abraham and Sarah. If you aren’t familiar or in case you’ve forgotten, it is the tale of God’s promise to a barren couple that they would have a son, even though Sarah was ninety at the time. If not for modern medicine and miracles, I would’ve been beyond childbearing age myself (though nowhere near 90, thank you very much). So Isaac was a given from the get go. We also knew we wanted a Michael — to pay homage to Mike and his father and grandfather before him. And Tate was my grandmother’s brother and a name I have always loved, so that was an easy one, too. The fourth one, though, was a bit harder to come by. We rooted and rummaged through Nameberry, voting and vetoing as our little guys grew from the size of newts to arctic puffins before finally deciding on Parker — a tribute to Mike’s Korean heritage, where Park is a common surname. So there. We had names. Now to decide who would be whom…
We didn’t want the firstborn to have Michael attached to his name for a very important reason. There is a tradition in many Asian cultures (and to be fair, Judeo-Christian societies as well) where the Number One son receives the birthright and the blessings and Number Two plays second fiddle (or second gayageum, I guess, if we’re talking Korean here…) Anyways, we were more than willing to part ways with such unjust, blatant favoritism. So we knew that Baby B would be Tate Michael and receive the honor of his father’s name. And Baby A would be Parker Isaac and receive the honor of biblical promise. Both boys would receive beautifully perfect namesakes.
Now apparently the boys battled it out in utero to determine who would be — not firstborn — but last. In typical “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” fashion, Tate, who had been Baby A (which simply means, the baby closest to the cervix) for more than seven months, scrambled up my ribcage like a set of monkey bars at the last available second and grabbed tight, therein winning the title of Tate Michael. Parker, who had been Baby B for almost the duration of the pregnancy saw the world a whopping one minute earlier than his brother and won the moniker, Parker Isaac.
In keeping with that Korean surname first name, Parker’s eyes are more Asian, like dark-roasted almonds. His smile is deep and wide and his skin is the color of moonstones. He is our gentle giant, giver of bear hugs, open-mouthed kisses and truck trivia. He can tell a backhoe from an excavator, a car transporter from a semi and he LOVES to share his knowledge. And he is his father’s mini me.
Tate, on the other hand, looks like me (or at least that’s what people tell me, and I’ll take it– even if it is technically impossible). And just like me, he loves books. From the time he could clutch one, he’s had a book in his hand. And a song on his lips. He sings from sunup to sundown – or at least AT sunup and sundown because we hear it on the monitor. There is no sweeter alarm clock than hearing such classic toddler tunes as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Wheels on the Bus” … although hearing them at 2:20 AM if he accidentally wakes up can be a wee bit spooky.
So this week is always a huge week for us. On August 3, 2013 Mike did his fatherly duty with a few minutes of hard labor and a plastic covered remote control. Five fizzy, fertilized, egg-splitting days later, on August 8th, our beloved fertility doc, in his white coat and hair net, siphoned our embryos into the core of my being, where they immediately took up residency in my heart and soul. I became a mother again for the third and fourth time. And for the first time to boys. Mike became a father. The girls became sisters to brothers.
August 8th is legendary.