Yesterday we spent the morning at the fertility clinic, as per usual on day 3 of each cycle. The ultrasound showed some residual cysts so R had to have her blood drawn to see if the cysts were secreting estrogen (which would interfere with treatment and therefore require canceling the cycle). While we waited for the lab results we tried to focus on other things, a task that was made easier by a run around the lake during a rare Seattle sun break.
The lab work came back normal, and so the decision to proceed with one last round of treatment was ours to make. We decided to wait until our phone consult with Dr. T, which was scheduled for 11:30 (give or take 10 minutes) today. R and I made stealth exits from the usual Monday hubbub to take the call, and found ourselves frantically texting each other from our respective positions during the 40 minutes that lapsed between the appointed time and the phone’s first ring. I was sitting on a bench outside my classroom, feeling not unlike Dorothy and the gang, waiting to see the Wizard of Oz.
I think we both knew that Dr. T would say it’s time to move forward with IVF. But I guess we needed to hear her say it aloud, to both of us. After an awkward pause during which none of us knew who was going to speak first, Dr. T said “I think it’s time…” (insert sound of R’s voicemail asking us to leave a message after the tone.) I called R again, patched her through again and then endured another awkward pause which was shorter this time. “I think it’s time to move on, guys. And I’m so sorry.” Dr. T went on to explain how R’s eggs have had enough time to meet up with sperm from a number of different donors, and we’ve officially moved from the category of “low sperm exposure patient” (whose eggs just need some opportunities to mingle) to “infertility patient” (whose eggs required advanced scientific technology for fertilization).
The silence was deafening, and Dr. T did her best to fill the void with her usual mix of honesty, statistics, cautious optimism and creativity. It was obvious that she really empathized with us, though she acknowledged that she “can’t even begin to imagine” what we are going through. She offered a glimmer of hope, though, that we might qualify for the shared risk program, for which a couple pays an exorbitant sum up front for up to six IVF cycles, and is refunded 70% of said sum in case of treatment failure or general lack of interest in proceeding. Dr. T thought that I might even be a good candidate, and that maybe the risk program would allow each of us to try a round of IVF on the same plan. We got pretty excited by this possibility, and I hung up the phone musing over the possibility that I could carry our child (either mine or R’s). My hope lasted about an hour until I got a call from Bill, the clinic’s financial counselor, who quickly put the kabbash on this plan. The fees were even more exorbitant than we thought, and it turns out not only could we not share the plan, but also I don’t even qualify due to my history of endometriosis and my faulty lady parts. Bill was perfunctory, at best, and I think it worked out well for both of us that we were not speaking in person. I might have been forced to get scrappy.
R and I have spent the entire day texting and emailing about the decision we’ve yet to make. We need to start the treatment protocol tonight if we want to give it one last shot this month, before travel makes it difficult for us to follow the treatment plan and the dietary restrictions R’s acupuncturist recommends. I can’t shake the mental image of a scene I have witnessed on more than one occasion: a patient is dying, and the family or the medical staff falters while wrestling with the implications of resuscitation. Sometimes (many more times than we care to admit), it’s difficult to discern the difference between giving up and letting go, and the consequences weigh heavily.
I’m inclined to take the money we’d spend on one more roll of the dice and put it toward a nice vacation, during which we will grieve the loss of our longed for Bean, and welcome the possibility of a Bean who is already walking this earth and is longing for us. But I’ve also seen that sometimes the thing I’m looking for is just around the corner from the moment I’d started to lose any hope of finding it.