Thursday, 29 August 2013

Keepin' it real?

Here we sit, in the waning days of summer, (and perhaps for the first time in the history of ever, this country has produced a season worthy of that moniker, though not without some considerable and pretty laughable fanfare, I can tell you. Listen people of the British Isles: 33˚C is kind of, uh...normal where I come from.) And here I sit, trying to just be in the moment, and soak up every last ray of sun and enjoyment and not think ahead to the scary, uncertain cooler days to come. I really am trying. We're sitting on the terrace every night until well after the sun sets and we need extra layers, taking languid walks along the coast, and - this being that self-indulgent five days at the beginning of my cycle when nothing feels off limits and my self-imposed alcohol sanctions don't resemble Sharia law - enjoying plenty of these and these.

 Last weekend was the final long weekend of the season, and so we took ourselves off to Notting Hill Carnival along with one million other Londoners. We soaked up all the pleasures the event has to offer: a colourful kaleidoscope of sequins and feathers, the best jerk chicken this side of the Caribbean, ginger beer and steel drums and salsa and that distinctive brand of listless/audacious gyrating amid millions of sweaty bodies that can only be described as 'pleasurable' in the context of carnival.





 And it was a sublime, childless couple-y thing to do. We even managed genuine smiles at all the adorable families out with their adorable offspring.  So there are definite moments.

But then, well...there are other moments.

We're in the process of undergoing numerous humiliating and/or invasive procedures gathering all the necessary body data in anticipation of our upcoming IVF. H has undergone yet another sperm analysis, this time (for the first time) in the confines of the clinic itself, so as to insure 'optimal freshness'. (My dear, slightly OCD husband returned insisting he'd developed a rash as a result of sitting 'on that couch'. I saw nothing.) Bright and early next Monday I'll be in for my first ever antral follicle count. Our appointment to review all this stuff is not until the end of Sept; the clinic offered us the 4th, but that was impossible since it's also the day I start my new job, and anyway it seemed scarily close when we booked. I naively thought a few extra weeks might help us process all this. After that, there is a mandatory information session that we're expected to attend, and by the time we get through all the hoops, realistically we're looking at an IVF cycle by late October/early November. A long way off still, but nonetheless, very real and getting moreso all the time. (Suddenly, I feel like we're hurtling, headlong without helmets, along that long and winding road.)

The other day, as the impending signs of my period's arrival were hitting me particularly hard, I told H: 'I don't want to do this anymore. I just want it to be finished'. And it's true.

I don't feel particularly optimistic about IVF. And I know it's already a bad sign that we're both so exhausted before we even hop on that crazy train, where the best of the invasive, mind-bending, hormone-altering procedures and processes are yet to come. This is not how I would have chosen to approach all this you guys. It's not even that I'm afraid of all that stuff, though I know I have reason to be. But the fact is, even if this were to work, there's nothing to say it wouldn't just end in yet another loss. IVF provides absolutely no assurance, (particularly given my dismal track record), of a healthy, viable pregnancy. And I don't know if I have the reserves to face that right now.

I just want it to be finished.

Confession: I really wanted to be one of those people who, on the eve of getting all down and dirty with an RE's office, syringes and catheters, was just all of a sudden like, 'We conceived spontaneously! No need for IVF after all!' I wanted that to be our narrative arc. 

Those people exist, right? It's not just an urban legend.

I don't think this is a case of denial though. On the contrary, I feel like lately, when I can't help but let my mind wander from the here and now to the what's-to-come, I'm all realist. And sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't just conserve our energy, stop fighting, and accept a life made up of sublime, childless couple-y things. Would that be so bad? Would it be enough?


17 comments:

  1. I am glad you are giving this a little room in your brain. These are super hard decisions and I wish no one had to make them. It is hard for me to spend time thinking about whether we would be OK if we never had kids. But I think it is important to contemplate. Especially when we/you are about to take another (exhausting) step. Hoping you take teh time to mull this over and come to a decision. We will be here to read and support you!

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    1. I think you're right, Kimberly. It's a necessary part of the process to sit with these thoughts, and for me, there is even a certain kind of comfort in knowing I am strong enough to contemplate not only a possible child-free future, but one which could be genuinely happy and full of pleasures. Thanks for being here!

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  2. Oh my gosh, your last two questions. Would that be so bad? Would that be enough? That about sums everything up right there, doesn't it? I suppose if we had the answer to those questions, all of this would be a million times easier.

    I hope you find peace and happiness wherever this winding road takes you. Either way, I know you are a strong woman and you will find a way to be happy no matter what. I just hope you end up with a baby :)

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    1. Thank you my friend. I guess these are questions we all must grapple with in our way. And as strong as I know I am, it would be wondeful if, for once the universe decided to test that in a slightly less intensive way!

      Today is a better day, and I'm back to holding out hope for the baby alternative too :)

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  3. I love your pictures of the carnival. They reminded me of New Orleans :) And those evenings on the terrace sound heavenly! I understand that feeling of having so much ahead in the coming months. I hope your new job will be busy and rewarding and keep you distracted from all the agonizing waiting and wondering on the IVF front. I'm so excited for you as you start this journey, and I will be checking eagerly for updates. I think if anyone could live a fulfilled life of sublime, childless couple-y things, it would be you and H; but I will be hoping, instead, that you get to have the family that you deserve oh so much. Thinking of you, friend.

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    1. Oh Annie, thank you for your excitement. It means more than you can know at a time when it's not always easy for me to find a reason to be excited for myself. I so much appreciate your being here.

      I'd like to think H and I are perfectly capable of living a sublime life come what may...after all, there are lots of heavenly terrace moments. For now, I'm trying to find my hopefulness again for many such nights interrupted by evening feeds and daiper changes.

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  4. Those are tough questions, and ones I think we all face at some point on this twisted road. Only you and H can answer them, but I think it's good that you're taking the time to consider them, especially as you move forward with the next big steps. IVF is scary and invasive, and there are no guarantees, but I am hopeful for you. Although, if those urban legends exist, surely you deserve to be one of them!

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    1. Thank you Daryl! As much as we realize how healthy it is to consider those questions, I'd love it if we could propogate that urban legend...or even just get a less sensational but equally surprising IVF baby.

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  5. Those questions are very very hard. It's what makes this so awful, the uncertainty, the questions, and the fact that it's not a choice.
    As for IVF, maybe 6 IUIs trained me well, but it was not awful at all. It probably had to do with the fact that the staff at our clinic were extremely nice, smiley, encouraging, understanding... and really took the time to listen to you. If you had a freak out at any moment, you could just call and ask, they had a line for it. (My husband also had to deliver his erm sample right there... which was weird but I do think it is better for the preservation of the little tadpoles). Checking the follicle growth was ok, or, I don't care about the transvaginal invader or being naked anymore. The injections did not hurt, and luckily, I did not get hormonal side effects, maybe, tiredness sometimes but that's it. There was blood taken, but I guess I am used to it / it does not bother me. The follicle / egg retrieval was a bit painful, even with pethidine (but I could have chosen to be fully sedated... except I wanted to see). It felt like little kicks, and my left ovary was a lot more sensitive than the right one. After it was over I was a bit dizzy / nauseous, but I stayed there and slept for an hour or so until I was OK and the husband was holding my hand the whole time.
    As with this whole shenanigans... (at least for me) it is the emotional part that is difficult, the waiting, the never knowing what it will be, the constant fears.
    I really really am hoping for you. Really truly.
    And I totally wanted to be one of those couples who conceived magically before fertility treatments... but that's not the case.

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    1. Thank you for all your good wishes Amanda; they mean a lot!

      I think I am really ok with the physical invasiveness...I have undergone treatment for cancer, and most of the procedures for that were far more painful/uncomfortable/invasive than anything IVF will dish out. Like you, I think it's the seemingly endless months of emotional uncertainy that are just. so. daunting right now. We're both tired of that already.

      One way or the other, the next few months will reveal what's in store for us. And I'm trying to be ok no matter what that is. One day, one breath at a time.

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  6. Remember, it's always okay to take a break. Sometimes, emotions run too high and you get tired. And it's okay to step back and take a break. This applies to pretty much all things in life. Public speaking. Grieving. New careers. Everything.

    Wishing you happy thoughts :)

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and reading Iris!

      You're right that sometimes taking a break is the best course of action. The thing is, for us right now a big part of the fatigue factor is coming from how drawn out this whole process has been; meaning that a break would only prolong the agony...For now, we're just going to soldier on and hope for the best!

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  7. 'giving yourselves time to breath'. I would imagine that notion seems impossible. Holidays from our own brains and bodies would be good. Go for it head first, exhausted, and you will cope, you will do it. You have certainly got through all the other trials. You sound like together you can climb mountains. One step at a time. We (blog followers) are helping to carry your metaphoric kit. X

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    1. Sally, you always just *totally get it* my friend. This is just what we're doing: head first, exhausted, trusting in the universe and ourselves that we'll cope, somehow. Your presence and understanding is such a great comfort as we climb. I'm sending so many good wishes your way.

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  8. It's all so overwhelming to begin, isn't it? I will say that when we got our first schedule and calendar, it seemed like it would take forever and then was over before I knew it. It was hard in some ways, but the injections weren't as bad as I thought they'd be.

    The mental part's the hardest, in my opinion. The fear at every step that things are or aren't progressing as they should, the waiting and hoping. I wish we could all just skip it and go right to the baby part.

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    1. I suspect you're right: the just beginning it is one of the hardest things (not that I'm kidding myself that the actual process is fun and games).

      Yes, my mental state is ragged beyond belief; I don't really know how or why I'm continuing some days. I still think that loss moms like us should get an automatic free pass. Sending huge hugs my friend.

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  9. Oh, Sadie. While our situations are different, I can so relate to this. I'm sending you big hugs as you contemplate and ponder things that you never thought you'd have to.

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