Friday, November 13, 2015

The Monkey

Ma Lei went to the hospital this Wednesday, eleven days after her second in vitro implantation. We both were secretly thinking she probably was pregnant, and it turns out we were right.

She'd been having all kinds of abdominal pain, her skin had been breaking out, she was going to the bathroom with unusual frequency, and she was hungry at strange times. (That last isn't so far out of the normal for her. For a skinny thing, that woman can eat!) Anyway, we didn't talk about her various symptoms too much, because we didn't want to get our hopes up, but I'd been thinking for quite a while that her body was doing something. After we'd gotten the news, when I finally told her about my suspicions, I used the Chinese for "home renovation."

Her numbers were high. Very high. High enough to mean she is definitely not only pregnant, but very healthily so. Her doctor told her to stop taking some of the medicines that other patients have to take for three months.

Ma Lei is afraid those super-high numbers suggest she's having twins. Of course we'll be happy either way, but we would both much rather have a singleton.

As it happens, next year is the Year of the Monkey. This is fitting, since I've always referred to children as monkeys. If we indeed get two, we'll have enough to fill a small exhibit in the Hall of Monkeys at the Dalian Zoo.

I was thinking she's eleven days pregnant, but Ma Lei reminded me about the time her embryos spent in the incubator. In a sense, she's at 30+ days already! I guess that would make her due in July. The doctor actually told her the due date, but she was in shock and literally doesn't remember a single word said to her after that magical number 176. Even though we both rationally thought she was 80% likely to be pregnant, we'd managed to keep our emotional expectations low. The news hit us both like 120 volts.

Whatever else ails the Chinese healthcare system, reproductive health is considered to be a bright point. If there's nothing else the Chinese care about, it's having babies. This is an entirely private, non-governmental system, with many of the doctors trained overseas. They make good money, compared with their government-employee counterparts in the general-purpose hospitals. They're not innovators, but they are excellent practitioners. I've been consistently impressed with their professional level, throughout the process.

If this indeed is the last we have to see of the fertility clinic, I got off with quite a bargain. Ma Lei saved every receipt from every trip to the hospital, every medicine she had to inject herself with. Tonight, she brought out the stack for me to tally up the damage — and we were both pleasantly surprised. Converted from yuan to dollars at the current rate, it came to $5000. It could have cost as much as twice that, if her health hadn't been so good all the way through the process. Even at that, I think it wouldn't be bad, compared to what the same treatment would've cost in the US. Nevertheless, Ma Lei fully intends to present the monkey(s) with a bill at some point in the future. It's the Chinese way!

Now we're trying once again to keep our expectations low. We're well aware that the first three months are perilous.  However, her health has been off-the-charts good all the way through the process. She's promised not to lift anything heavier than an ankle-biting doglet, and to eat plenty of real food (the ramen noodles she loves so much relegated to snacks to fill her belly). We're going to do everything that's in our control to stack the odds in this (these?) babies' favor.

I know there's a lot we can't control, so there may be bad news any time. But just in case everything goes well, we've put ourselves on a waiting list for a cage for four in the Hall of Monkeys at the Dalian Zoo.

UPDATE: 26 April, 2016. Ma Lei has indeed been healthy throughout the first seven months of her pregnancy, and it looks as though we'll have a boy monkey in early July. Fingers still are crossed, of course, because there's never a sure thing until the little monkey is actually born. His name, by the way, is Roman Carl Garmong.

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