I’ve been avoiding my blog because I haven’t sorted out how to write about my recent disappointments. The quick: I’m not pregnant. After five vaginal ultrasounds and anxiety-producing blood draws I got a “trigger shot” which is a shot that goes into the hip to promote ovulation. Then I went in the next day for the IUI. When the doctor analyzed the sperm he determined that my donor had a low sperm count. As in get-a-refund-low sperm count. In layman’s terms, only 7% of his little swimmers could swim in a straight line (to presumably meet the egg). Earlier that day I’d made a quarterback decision to order another vial, same day delivery (aka $1,000) and have my friend E do a 2nd IUI the following morning, at home. This was before I knew my donor was a dud. Those 7% didn’t make it either morning. I’m hoping to get a refund for the vial that was analyzed. Unfortunately, I have to eat the cost for the other five vials, since the only analysis of those vials were my friends and I … well, looking at them. I was upset. Well, truth be told, I got a little crazy. The doctor had me on nine hormone pills a day post IUI, for the two week wait. When the nurse called me and told me I wasn’t pregnant and that the doctor was not available for a post-procedure consult, I lost the plot. I turned into an unhinged, desperate lady on the phone, accosting the messenger.
Are you telling me the doctor won’t talk to me? I just spent #$^%& dollars (shamefully, I went there) at your clinic and now my body is all jacked up, I’m on all these hormones and I just want to talk to the doctor! I’ll talk to him on the phone, I don’t care. Doesn’t he OWE ME a follow up?!
I’m so sorry, but he doesn’t really do that. Would you like to set up an appointment to meet again and talk about trying again?
Will that cost me money?
Well yes, it’ll cost the initial consult fee of $150.
I looked down at my arm, which was still bruised and hurting from the confirmation-you’re-not-pregnant blood draw earlier that day. The nurse had dropped the cotton ball when she was ready to pull the needle out and had me reach across the room to grab another one for her, with the needle in my arm. It was an accident, but the needle moved in my arm when I moved and created an ache that I hadn’t experienced prior to that particular blood draw.
Are you serious? He won’t just talk to me and let me know what he suggests now? I just want to know if my eggs are good. Was it solely the sperm? Do I have fertility issues? How long until my body gets back to normal? What about all these hormones?!
I’m embarrassed to say that I was almost yelling by this point. I wasn’t truly yelling, but I wasn’t just talking either.
Well, I uh can talk to the doctor and uh call you back.
I gathered the shred of composure I had left and told the nurse I’d collect myself and get back to her in a few days.
Then I walked into a client session.
The whole scene was not one of my better life moments.
That was a week ago. Since then I’ve stopped all the extra hormones, decided to see a therapist for a little while and have slowly started to think about the next step. I’ve decided to take this month off, mostly because of finances, but also for some sanity. And perspective, as elusive as it is at times.
I’m sure all this sounds terribly dramatic for those of you that haven’t experienced infertility, or trying to have a baby on your own. I think it would to me. I can hear the judge in my own head: get a grip; it takes a while; you can’t get pregnant if you don’t chill out and relax. I know, I know. And still … you know–if you’ve been down any semblance of this road, how crazy sneaks up on you. It becomes a primal face-off: maternal desire meets unbridled emotion.
Longing and capitulation; then repeat.
Last night I made tapioca pudding, which is what I do when I’m feeling down or stressed. The rhythmic slowness of stirring the milk, eggs, sugar and tapioca from liquid to pudding soothes me. The transformation of the elements offers perspective. I think, ultimately, this is what most spirituality and therapy boils down to: a reduction. In foodie terms a reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor … I’m realizing that as I’m up against the most elemental parts of myself, everything does intensify. I’m being exposed to what I’m fundamentally made of; my relationship with impulse control, tenacity, trusting the process, trusting God, vulnerability, hope and renewal. It all gets cracked open and exposed, with or without my consent. Recapitulation. Last night I made pudding, which made me happy. It was really good too, I might add.
I’m not really desperate or hopeless or unhinged, in the grander sense of the words. I can pick back up, try again and maybe again, and life will take its course. Right now I’m a student of my own process, learning what I’m made of and what I can endure. That’s life-giving and edifying, in it’s own paradoxical way.
Recently I read this line by J.M. Barrie in his book The Little White Bird: Shall we make a new rule in life … always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?
Kinder than necessary. What a marvelous line. Kinder than is necessary. I love that line, that concept, because it reminds me that we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness. Kindness to others, to ourselves, to God and the universe when they serve up the wrong order. In the face of primal rage, there’s the primal counterparts too — love and grace and the simpleness of kindness.
So I grapple with this and other existential truths while I’m researching other sperm banks, more pregnancy options, having drinks with friends, going to NFL games and laughing when things are funny.
Keep Calm and Carry On. So cliche; so true.