Boiled down to its essence, inferitility treatment is a numbers game. Everything about the process is quantified – number of follicles, number of sperm, percentage of motility, dosage of medication, size of cysts, size of follicles, number of eggs retrieved, number fertilized, number transferred, HCG number, number of heartbeats, heartbeat rate, measurements of the fetus, days of pregnancy, number of miscarriages, the list just goes on and on. And, statistics loom large with every decision, from how many IUIs to try to how aggressive to be in the number of blasts that are transferred during IVF. Numbers are everywhere in infertility, often making a clinical process seem even more cold.
You would think that there were some areas that were immune from being quantified, such as feelings. Ah, if only. When I was filling out the questionnaire for the acupuncturist last week, that last wall fell with this question:
On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being the lowest and ten being the highest, how would you describe your current level of hopefulness towards attaining your fertility goals?
Rather than treat this as one of those quizzes in Cosmo where you put down the answer that you know gets you the most points and proves that you really are boyfriend material, I knew that I needed to answer the question truthfully. Much like you are instructed to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind in a Rorschach test, I circled the first number that came to mind:
I used to have hope of probably around 7. If I could pinpoint that moment when my hope dipped below the magic halfway point of 5, though, it would be when I learned that my second miscarriage was also a monosomy, after we had been assured that it probably wouldn’t happen again. I lost a lot of hope in that fiasco and most of it has not returned. I don’t know if it ever will. Like money, you learn not to put too much hope on the line lest you lose it all.
I have no idea what the acupuncturist will do with this information. Like the rest of the questionnaire, it may go unread. But, I thought it was interesting that of all of the things that we have left in this journey of infertility that have not been reduced to numbers, couldn’t they have left hope alone?