Saturday, December 10, 2005

Update, and a confession

Had my MRI yesterday afternoon. I have to admit it was kind of freaky--I made the mistake of opening my eyes for a second as I was being slid into the tube and I saw just how close above me the top of the tube was. Kept my eyes squeezed shut the whole rest of the time (including when they slid me out to inject contrast dye for the final image) and tried to do my deep abdominal yoga breathing to relax--as much as I could do while holding perfectly still, anyway. Results will be to Dr. S. by Tuesday, they said.

And now for a confession: I've been reading infertility blogs for quite a while (lurking, never commenting) and I have to admit to having felt a secret sense of superiority. I know that sounds terrible. It was reading about all the bitterness that did it. In all my innocence, having never done ART, I knew on an intellectual level--thought I understood better than most, I believed--that infertility takes a heavy emotional toll on those who experience it. And when I saw the brave women who had experienced loss after loss--whether multiple unsuccessful rounds of IUIs and IVFs, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages, etc.--I understood that they must be in so much pain, even though I couldn't possibly imagine what it was like, and I knew they had every right to be angry and bitter. But some people, who had been through less (there it is: the who's-suffered-most mentality) seemed angry and bitter all out of proportion to what they'd experienced. Only two years of infertility and you're already so bitter? I thought. That will never be me. I didn't like the resentment of every pregnant woman who passed by, the immediate leaping to the conclusion that every person with a well-meaning but ill-considered stupid comment should be eviscerated on the spot, the pathetic drowning of sorrows in chocolate. I didn't want to be like that.

God, I was insufferably holier-than-thou.

And now, after a mere year and a half of "trying" (though I've been in an infertile mental space for much longer--someday I'll write out the whole story), after a single fucked-up IUI cycle, I have had my smug superiority crushed and thrown back in my face. It's been a hard week, no doubt--I did plenty of sobbing after my last phone call with my RE's nurse (big reason my husband wants to switch doctors--he hates seeing me suffer like that and wants to eliminate the source.) But today I surprised myself. One of my closest friends, I'll call him C., called with news about another mutual friend: his wife is pregnant, of course. Just out of her first trimester. (To put this in perspective: They have been married less than a year, and have only been living on the same continent for the last 5 months.) I tried and failed to muster up some enthusiasm, which I think annoyed C., because he was so over-the-moon about it himself. Then I hung up the phone and big fat tears started sliding down my face. I hated my friends for being pregnant, hated C. for bringing me the news (he has no idea we've been going through infertility, clueless boy that he is), hated myself for being broken inside (in the emotional sense as well as the girly-bits sense). I wanted to scream at the unfairness of it all. And then I realized: I have become a Bitter Infertile. (Then I ate a huge piece of strawberry shortcake. Standing in the kitchen in my nightgown. At 3 pm.)

This sort of relates to something else I've been thinking and saying lately, that you never know what you can deal with until you're asked to deal with it. (Which is NOT the same as that "God/life doesn't give you anything you're not strong enough to handle" crap, which I do not believe at all.) Along the same lines as the secret superiority thing, I could never quite imagine being one of those women who goes through three, four, five cycles of IVF or more, or who keeps trying despite life-threatening complications in a previous pregnancy. Emotionally and financially, I could handle one round of IVF, I thought. Then I'd have to move on, probably to adoption. I just couldn't justify continuing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on something that might never work.

Then a few days ago I was talking to a friend who's had her own experience with a Mullerian duct abnormality. I was telling her about my probable unicornuate uterus diagnosis, and about the scary pregnancy statistics associated with it--as high as 40% miscarriage rate, according to some sources. And she asked me if those odds were bad enough to make me not want to risk getting pregnant at all. I told her it was way too early to tell, that I didn't know what I'd be able to deal with until I was faced with it, that if she asked me again after I'd had multiple miscarriages I might say so. That I didn't know if I could be as strong or as persistent as the women whose stories I've gotten to know on the internet, who have had miscarriage after miscarriage and keep trying.

But as I was saying this, I felt something surge inside me. I knew--knew--that just deciding not to get pregnant would never be an option for me. I want to carry and give birth to my child, and I knew in that instant that I am willing to go through five kinds of hell to make that happen.

And if IVF ends up being the only way I can get there? Then I can't swear that I wouldn't be willing to try again and again, to spend any amount of money and do whatever it takes.

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