So it dawned on me last night as I lay there in my bed wide awake wondering if my back would ever be the same again - this thing about feeling guilty for being cranky is just not fair to me or to anyone else. And then, in a sleep induced fog I realized that the guilt wasn't just limited to my bitching, no, I feel guilty about being pregnant sometimes. I feel guilty when I see friends of mine struggling to have a child. I feel guilty when I read other people's tragedies and tales of treatments. I feel like I didn't pay my dues this time in.
Its been a while since I shared our story and I know now there are some reading these words that never read earlier entries - so perhaps I should explain myself a tad. We entered our quest for kids as naive little parent-want-to-be's thinking it'd all be as easy as having some sex. And it wasn't. No, not by far. After a year of getting no where near a positive pregnancy test we sought out help. We did tests. We did Clomid. We got no where but increasingly ticked off with my OB/GYN practice over that charade. So we sought out the pros - the fertility doc. We did some more tests. We scheduled a laproscopy...and then we had a consult. The doctor laid out his opinion as plain as can be - if they found anything during surgery, no matter what they did to 'treat' it, he'd advise IVF. If we skipped the surgery we could just go to the IUI and frankly he wasn't convinced they'd find anything with the surgery anyway. He drew me a chart - your odds with IUI, your odds with IVF. Our odds with IVF were better no matter what path we took to get there.
I went home that night and we talked. We talked a lot. We weighed our options. We did some research. We stared at our bank account. We reached an agreement that we needed to start our family with money in the bank and so therefore we couldn't drain our resources on treatments. And all that left us with one option - a do or die shot at IVF. Long story short that shot failed miserably. Its not just that we weren't successful - no, we were abject failures at IVF. It was horrible. Yeah, we had eggs galore at one point. Only about 11 of which were deemed worthy after retrieval. Only 8 of those fertilized and only 3 of them survived to transfer day. . .one of which was showing certain signs of imminent death. We transferred two little not even quite yet blasts....and on beta day I bled and was rewarded for it all with a negative result. We were broken. We were tapped out physically and emotionally not to mention in danger of burning through our monetary resources if we choose to continue. I always think that if we had better luck with those collected egg cells we'd have been more willing to give IVF another go - but the simple idea that of so many bursting follicles we were left with two potentially viable embryos that went on to some place other than a live birth was just too demoralizing for us both.
So we choose to move on. We choose to go down the path where it was just the two of us - spoiling ourselves and our dog rotten. We choose to close the door tight behind us. And then nearly 3.5 years from the first time we tried to start our family we found ourselves staring at five separate positive home pregnancy tests. I have no idea what our troubles those years of treatments and tears - and I honestly today don't care because it really doesn't matter. The heartache will never leave me. I have my battle scars and I still cringe when I hear women find themselves unexpectedly 'saddled' with what they deem an unwanted pregnancy. It still twists a knife in my back to hear them bemoan their plight.
When our son was 17 months old we decided to give it another go. I'm only just recently 31. My husband though is 44 staring at 45's approach this fall. We couldn't wait. We didn't want to start with a new baby after he was 46 so it was try now or never. And we both expected that in the end we'd raise an only child -that we couldn't possibly get lucky enough to sneak past our infertility demons twice. . . but we did. In fact we did it the 2nd month we tried -- and there is my guilt. This time I didn't suffer. I didn't do shots. I didn't do migranes from high doses of little pills. This time I didn't stare at blank home pregnancy tests and cry tears that blurred the control line on me. This time I didn't even have time to worry what was wrong with us. I feel like I cheated somehow. And sometimes, when I'm gimping around in the midst of killer lower back pain, I think that this pregnancy's tough toll on my body is to make up for the easy road we took to it. I know, I'm a sick. ;)
But back to that first mentioned guilt - the one in which I feel bad for whining about my aches and pains. The thing is, fertility treatments suck big time. They hurt. They hurt in ways people that have never had to load their own syringe with Gonal-F or what-have-you will never know. Your ovaries are so swollen with excess maturing follicles yet they have no where to go but jammed up against all your other organs. Your stomach is swollen and bloated enough to make you look and feel like you're 10 weeks pregnant in your 'normal' clothes yet the only thing you've got to show for it is a date with Verasid and a doctor with a long needle. And that's just some of the physical pain. Then there's the emotions. Feeling betrayed by your own body. Feeling like the one thing every woman in the world is supposed to be here to do if she so chooses to play along - to procreate - is the one thing your body can't handle. You feel like you've failed. Like you're half a woman. A broken body that can't ever be whole.
Yeah, there's all that...but ALL of that doesn't take away the toll a pregnancy can take on your body as well. And there's the rub. The thing is there are pregnancies that are easy on the mom-to-be as getting pregnant is for some...and then there are others that make you want to find the nearest cave to crawl into and just hibernate till its over because anything has to be better than hanging your head over a toilet and puking up the very pills that are supposed to take all that puking-need away. Knowing that fertility is a gift not a given doesn't make my back hurt any less. It doesn't remove the pain in my hip that appears with each step I take. It doesn't massage away the inability to be comfortable in my own body.
And, at the same time, wishing I was about 8 weeks farther along than I actually am (which would put me at my due date, for what its worth) also doesn't mean I don't appreciate this growing child. I already feel connected to her in more ways than just the umbilical cord. She's part of me and always will be. I know when I watch my son that he's a gift. He's my miracle. And even if we never struggled he'd be the same. I didn't earn him by suffering; I was given him to love and to adore because that's just the way things are. And this one, is no different. I cherish my children and I don't take for granted their presence - even as I bitch about the return of