Saturday, September 12, 2020

Bump In The Road


If you thought cold feet only happened with weddings, think again. Doubt can sabotage anything, and as my transfer date approached, it made me question whether or not the donor-donorembryo idea was wise. And as Oprah says, “When in doubt, don't.”

The trigger was financial. I’d been keeping a Google spreadsheet of all of our fertility-related healthcare expenses so that I could deduct them off our taxes. One day, I highlighted the column and looked at the total. Holy shit. We weren’t even pregnant yet and we had already spent over $35K! That included the vasectomy reversal, reproductive therapist appointment, bloodwork and ultrasounds, medications, and the donor-donor embryo program fee, but I hadn’t even factored in travel to West Coast IVF for the transfer yet. And what if it didn’t work the first time? I’d have to shell out for another round of ultrasounds, medications, plane tickets, and accommodations.

We would never spend this amount of money on anything – not on our house, or continuing education, or even our own health. It was my entire annual salary from the most lucrative year I’d had in over a decade as a freelancer. I might never see money like that again. And now it was all gone.

Or was it? We could still cancel the cycle with West Coast IVF and get our $21K refunded, minus an administrative fee. But if we did that, I was sure they’d never let us back in the program if I changed my mind in the future.

There's no room for ambivalence in infertility. You're either in or you're out. And I wasn't sure where I was anymore.

My fears: that I wouldn’t get pregnant. That I would get pregnant and that something would happen to my husband or me after the baby was born, making one of us a single parent. That I would regret having a baby. That I would love the baby but that we would be so broke that I’d have to take a job I hated – and that would take me away from the baby – to replenish the funds we spent making the baby.

My hopes: that I would get pregnant on the first try. That we would all live long and healthy lives. That having the baby would make us deliriously happy. That the money we spent on bringing our baby into the world would be replenished, one way or another, and if it wasn’t, that it wouldn’t matter because we’d love her so much.

“Money is rational. Having a child is emotional. That’s why you’re having a hard time,” my husband said when I admitted to my newfound confusion.

If money were not an issue, I would be all in with the donor-donor embryo program. But money was an issue. So ‘round and ‘round my little squirrel brain went.

If I thought too much about it, I would get angry – angry that there were couples out there that not only got to make babies for free, at home, but couples who got pregnant accidentally – no appointments, no procedures, no expenditures. Just “Whoops! We made a baby!” People who didn’t even want to be parents got pregnant all the time. It was so unfair. 

As strong as my faith was, God sure had a lot of explaining to do about why infertility was a thing. 

“I wish I could just call up the God Hotline and talk to Him. I don’t like feeling so afraid and alone. I don’t like feeling like I’m taking everything into my own hands. I don’t like not knowing what the future holds,” I wrote in my journal. “I cycle back and forth between freaking out and trying to trust.”

My husband was not pushing one way or the other. He wanted whatever I wanted. If only I knew what I wanted! Oh, to be a man and be able to “take it or leave it” when it comes to having kids!

I couldn’t escape the crazy-making deliberation on my own, so I made an appointment with a therapist who treated me in my 20s when I had an eating disorder. We’ll call her Shania. She was still beanpole skinny, with dark curly hair and a take-no-prisoners attitude. And she was still good at calling me on my shit.

After explaining the fertility circus we’d been through over the past seven months, I told her I was having doubts about moving forward.

“Who is the baby good for?” Shania asked.

Good question. I had to sit with that for a minute.

“For me,” I finally said.

I divorced my teens’ dad when they were both still in diapers. We had joint custody, so when my daughters were little, I only saw them half of the week, and on my days, my mom helped me out a lot – maybe too much. There were times I felt like I didn’t get to raise my own kids, and when I was with them, I was completely overwhelmed with the responsibilities of being a single mom while also trying to establish a career, find love again, and recover from anorexia. I hardly needed to explain this to Shania – she’d gone through it with me in therapy.

“Having another baby would be a reparative experience,” Shania stated.

“Exactly!” I said. “Reparative” was the perfect word. “Though I don’t think my family will see it that way. I feel like my mom thinks I’m a bad parent and is going to wonder why I’d want to have another child.”

“You’re not bad at parenting,” Shania said. “You were parenting the best you could under bad circumstances. Those girls were always taken care of – either you cared for them or you found care for them. You didn’t take such good care of yourself, though.”

She had me there.

“How do you want to parent differently this time, with this baby?” she asked.

“I’d like to not get divorced and just be there for her all the time,” I said. (As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized that “being there for her all the time” was likely impossible, but it’s good to have goals, right?)

Shania had other probing questions, which I attempted to answer:

Q: On a scale of one to 10, where are you emotionally and intellectually with wanting to have the baby?
A: Emotionally: nine. Intellectually: seven.

Q: What is your gut telling you to do?
A: It changes. Today, it says, “Go for it!”

Q: Could you wait another six months, or even a year, and then decide?
A: Sure, we could, but we’ll just be that much older.

Q: Is the embryo transfer a rock you have to turn over to get closure with the fertility challenges?
A: Yes, I think it is.

“There is no right or wrong decision here,” Shania said at the end of the session. “If I felt strongly one way or another, I’d try to steer you in that direction.”  

That was not entirely helpful, but her lack of conviction somehow strengthened mine. I wanted to do this. No, I had to. I needed to know that I had tried everything in our power to have a baby. If the Universe or God or whoever is responsible for reproductive outcomes wasn’t willing to grant us the opportunity to be parents, I would find a way to accept it and move on. But I wasn’t going to give up. Not yet.

When I told my husband we were sticking with our transfer date of Aug. 27, he said, “Fuck it, let’s roll!”

I liked that philosophy. I just hoped it was the right one.

Now I just had to get to Sacramento

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