Credit for today’s title goes to Llew and relates to yesterday’s main event: the transfer proceeded as hoped, and we now have a blast[ocyst] on board. I’m currently waiting to hear if any of its companions are fit to freeze, and if so, how many. “Back up,” my granddad always used to say, “ you must have back up.” As you can imagine, Granddad and I understood each other very well. There’s no running out of toilet paper at my house.
IVF is a crazy old numbers game, though. After having 9 dividing little petri-dish-dwellers one day, it went back up to 10 the next, so we were looking surprisingly robust. Still, I knew there would be a big dip from day 4 to 5, they warned us about that last time (it’s why they like keeping them under observation until day 5, because eggs can still look perfect on days 3-4, but just won’t cut the mustard at blast stage), and sure enough when we arrived at the clinic yesterday, we found our troops decimated: one blastocyst to transfer, with a possible 3 to freeze, but even then they said it was too soon to say. They’re going to confirm if we have any back up sometime today, so I’m just trying not to think about it. I can’t influence the result.
And now the next part of the waiting game is underway. I said to my friend T that it’s Groundhog Day, and it really is. I’ve been here before. But one thing is different, and that’s the precise, mysterious and unique nature of the blast that’s hopefully making itself comfortable. It’s different every single time. Is this one destined to be our little friend? I don’t know. I just do not know. But it’s a new chance, and I feel hopeful just for getting to take it.
In other news, Llew and I went on a date the night before the transfer, and we saw a great play at the Ensemble Theatre: Ninety, by Joanna Murray-Smith. Heady writing – whip smart, hilarious, and wrenching – with pitch perfect performances from the two cast members (I wonder if Joanna Murray-Smith is remotely conscious of how commercially compelling such a modest cast list is…? Producers must love her!), Brian Meegan as William and Kate Raison as Isabel. William, Isabel’s ex-husband, agrees to spend 90 minutes with her before he flies off to marry another woman, and Isabel uses the time to try to persuade William that he should give their love for each other another chance.
We absolutely loved it, and Llew in particular is pretty hard to impress. I’m not a harsh critic of live performance, as a general rule, because I’m always so utterly entranced by the elaborate three-dimensional game of make-believe. I have retained what I know is a juvenile awe of the stage, and am always disposed in its wild favour. You have to really abominably stink before the lunatic grin is wiped from my face. I just adore being there, in the dark, watching the players construct a temporary universe out of thin air. It gives me a little rush just sitting here thinking about it now, far from the stalls, squinting in the glaring light of reality and the everyday.
All this might make you think you can’t trust a review from me, the beaming idiot in the audience, but I know a wise, true play when I see one, and Ninety, a deceptively simple work structurally, verily crackles with the universals. First rate. So much so that I was very curious about Murray-Smith’s CV, and the niggling question of why I hadn’t seen any of her previous work. It seems at least part of the answer lies here.
Sadly it was all over in, well, ninety, and since it began at the blue-rinse happy hour of 6 pm (we were the youngest in the audience by about three decades), we were able to make a night of it by heading off for a leisurely dinner afterwards (usually the plays start at 8 and we can be found bolting food on a street corner in the half hour beforehand – Llew actually had an easier job leaving work at 5:30 than he ever has leaving work at seven!). Llew was in full ‘solicitous husband’ mode, having already booked a table for two at the just opened Manly Pavilion restaurant. I guess in a way it was like leaving the kids with the babysitters… except I don’t know what time they call lights out at the lab.
One final word, and of course it’s on books: that Dave Eggers short story collection How We Are Hungry contains some unforgettable writing I know I’ll return to, and which I highly recommend to anyone, but perhaps particularly those who struggle with their own short form writing, as I do; Kirsten Reed’s debut novel The Ice Age I think I’ll review properly next post; I’m now reading DeLillo’s latest Point Omega (and yes, I really should have gotten off my arse and asked to review it for one of the papers…because – and look, this is a slightly embarrassing, altogether foreign concept – it’s possible, even likely, that I’m the preeminent DeLillo scholar in this country, so it’s ludicrous to the point of actual shame not doing anything with that) and Hilary Mantel’s An Experiment in Love. As for my redrafting, well, I’d better get back to it. The elves are still on strike.
POSTSCRIPT: Okay, so tales of the unexpected continue unabated: of yesterday’s three possible blasts for freezing, they’ve frozen….four. Four! Wow! Apparently an extra one caught up… which is what our second blast from round one did. It’s still on ice because we decided to go for another round, and now it’s got company. Again, there’s no guarantee any of them will survive thawing or prove to be stayers, but they each represent a microscopic chance, and no one can ask for more than that. They’re our little sleeping beauties.