Unwittingly or not, approximately every six months, Sweetie and I have reevaluated our plan for getting pregnant. The first iteration was determining if IUI was the right choice, the second was whether to take a break after the miscarriage and try on our own. Now, we think it is a good idea to meet with Dr. Uterus to see about whether we need to revise the treatment plan to avoid the bi-monthly roiding of the ovaries that essentially cuts our months to try in half. Who knows what he’ll say, but it feels better to reevaluate and make him aware of our concerns.
In my thrashing to Sweetie about our status as almost the Only Couple Without Children or Are Even Pregnant (it was said very dramatically), he offered that we could speed up our plan on when (and if) to try IVF. So far, IUI with stims has been our method of choice and worked for us. We have tenatively discussed doing IVF if we don’t have a pregnancy in the next six months.
I know that the success rate for IVF is much higher, but I don’t kid myself about the emotional, financial and physical toll that it can take. My initial thought is “why make it even more of a math problem than it already is?” We know that IUI works and we know that IVF is a huge undertaking. At the same time, I can’t shake the feeling that we have been treading water these past two years waiting to embark on that next quest that we have identified for ourselves.
I’m really torn. Part of me is enticed by the success rate and that we could get this over with so quickly and not have to see Dr. Uterus for some time. The other part of me is justifiably concerned about how hard it will be to deal with if an IVF cycle fails (which is very possible). Not only will we have invested so much in it, there will be little embryos who could have become children that will not have made it. I don’t know.
I do know that at least for now, I’m still content to ride the IUI train as far as it takes me. My impatience is not nearly to the level of moving on to IVF immediately, despite my thrashing. The reality is that IVF will not help my thrashing. Realizing that my thrashing is more about my need to keep up with the Joneses and less about my realistic desire to get pregnant will help my thrashing.
I am the consummate overachiever. I was in all of the Gifted and Talented classes in school, I did the AP thing (although not the sciences – I’m not crazy), and I used my SATs to get into a very good school. I did very well in grad school and am doing well in my professional life. I even aced my driver’s test when I was 16. In all of my 31 years, the only thing I have failed was a test in a stupid biology class. It was a horrible feeling.
Since then, I haven’t failed at anything I have tried. Except this. And I have failed spectacularly. What is so galling is what a public failure it is. Your waistline never changes, your boobs never get bigger, you don’t have The Glow. People who see you week after week know that you aren’t succeeding. You begin to regret telling so many people when you started because you know that you will get The Question eventually and you will have to state the obvious (since you aren’t huge and you don’t have a baby in tow) and wait for them to ask the Other Question (so, what’s the problem?). You begin to withdraw from those who you knew, particularly your friends who have managed to succeed in this particular endeavour.
I, like many of my peers, was always told that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything (or something to that effect). That’s not really accurate because it assumes that you have control over what you put your mind to. How many writers have put their mind to writing the next Great American Novel but it never makes it to an agent? How many kids go to Hollywood every year trying to break into acting and end up doing porn? How many women think that it will be easy as pie to get pregnant and then wind up amongst the ranks of the infertile?
Failure has never really been an option for me because that would imply that I wasn’t working hard enough, studying hard enough or putting enough of myself toward reaching a particular goal. I am doing everything within my power to get pregnant and have a baby and I am still failing. My inner shrink is saying that by focusing on just this one aspect, I am setting myself up for failure. I am succeeding in other areas of life – I have a wonderful marriage, two beautiful and healthy furry beasts, friends, a good job, a home, a nice car, etc.
I also know that getting pregnant is actually the easiest part of the journey. Having the child, raising the child, loving the child and parenting the child until you die are really the hard parts and where the stakes of failure are not just personal but arguably involve society as a whole. The failure of a parent to effectively raise their child results in terrible things everyday. The moral of the story, then, is that the consequence of getting pregnant and having a child raises the spectre of failure much more often and profoundly than the (probably temporary) failure to get pregnant at all. And, maybe it isn’t such a horrible thing to fail once in a while.
When we started our journey to have children, we were the first couple in our group to do so. Some had just gotten married the previous fall, others were focusing on being married for a while. Fast forward two and a half years, and with the exception of one other couple, we are now the only ones without children or who aren’t pregnant. For someone who has consistently measured the pace of her life against others (a major flaw, I know), this has been particularly hard. I can’t help but feel left behind. They are embarking on a journey that so far I cannot imagine (well, past 10 weeks at least) and they are making plans that Sweetie and I can only talk about in the abstract.
I know deep down that this is not a race and the person to cross the finish line first doesn’t necessarily win. But, I find it deeply unfair that we have been trying for so long and some of our friends already have toddlers. It is even more unfair that we lost the first baby we were ever able to make and no one else we know has had to go through this. If I believed in God, I would be very tempted right now to be asking how this could happen. Given that I don’t believe in God, I know that there are just some unfair things in the world. I have lead a very charmed life up until now and this is apparently my particular Rough Spot. Still, as a control freak, I wish I had some choice over which portion of my life would get the Rough Spot treatment.
I am also forced to confront another bad habit of mine. Whenever friends tell us that they are pregnant, I say the right things and ooh and aah over the pictures. But, deep down, I cut them out of my life. I can’t bear to have my failure thrown back in my face everyday (at least that’s what it feels like). My best friend is now pregnant (and even waited to tell me because she knew what a basket case I’ve been) and I know that I can’t cut her out of my life. I will have to deal with this. My answer is to let her know that I am genuinuely happy, but there are just some things that I won’t be able to share with her. I can’t look at ultrasound pictures and I don’t think I can hear about a heartbeat. It is still too painful because it brings back memories of the day that I found out our little one had died. But, I can be happy for her and let her know that I’m happy and I can hope that she won’t change so much when she has the baby that I won’t be able to completely relate.
I know this is selfish, but in infertility, the name of the game is self-preservation.
Last Tuesday found me in my therapist’s office crying uncontrollably and unable to pinpoint the exact nature of what was bothering me. There were all kinds of extraneous factors, but there was no one thing. Usually when I get to the point of crying at the drop of a hat it’s either hormones or there is something really bothering me that is not readily apparent. I wasn’t particularly hormonal since the day before I found out we were benched due to the latest cyst and thus, not shooting up with Menopur.
That left the Unknown Thing That Was Bothering Me. What is amazing is even right after my miscarriage, I wasn’t as upset as I was this time. True, it was right about the time that I was supposed to have been due had I not lost the baby, but I really think I had reached the breaking point, the point where I could no longer afford to be optimistic or to hope because each time, that hope or optimism was inevitably killed. Everytime, I went through the same grief, anguish and general unhappiness that I think my soul just said no more.
So what does this mean? It means that rather than focusing all of my energy every single month on whether this will be The Month, I’m going to try to focus on other areas of my life that make me happy. I’m going to focus on advancing my career, convincing Sweetie that we need to get a dog, learning how to sew quilts and clothes from patterns, and gardening.
It does not mean that I’m quitting. Far from it. We are still trying – optimal boning time (OBT) started just yesterday and we are on track. What I have quit doing, however, is hoping. I have to in order to save my sanity. It’s the shift in thinking to accept that it may not happen, but that it would be nice if it did. It’s the shift in focusing on enjoying the life that we have rather than planning for the life that we don’t. I really think this is the only way that I will be able to function in a world where you will always run into someone who is pregnant, an old friend who has had a baby or the latest celebrity to beat the clock and have twins at 48.
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to be successful 100% of the time in shifting my thinking. But, it’s a new goal in and of itself and it is actually a relief to give up calculating how far along I will be whenever I make plans more than two months in the future or thinking that some activity will jinx my chances.
The shift did help me realize that if I had the baby I would be knee deep in screaming infant and I would not have been able to participate in the largest deal of my entire career, which was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, score one for the shift.