How to Eat a Word Sandwich

As Dr. A was closing up shop after the embryo transfer he peered over his minute square glasses and said,

“Now, all my patients tell me the next two weeks are completely miserable. The best advice I can give you is to try to keep yourselves busy, but not too busy (that was for R). Do your best to avoid obsessing…am I pregnant am I not? Did it work…did it not? Try to just think positively, but not obsessively.”

I practically rolled my eyes and simultaneously blew the dust of my fingertips, all casual like. This dude obviously had no clue what freaking pros we are at managing the two week wait. We’ve only done this about a hundred 17 times over the last three years. Get real!

Cue Tuesday morning. I woke up in a cold sweat, burdened by a sinking feeling. My old friends Fear and Doubt were nipping at my heels. I tried to ignore them. They bit harder. My mom texted me just as I was starting to panic. She asked how things were going and I admitted my steely confidence had evaporated and I wanted it back. I stared at the photo of our two perfect embryos, and a few hours later I had recovered my hope. Mom also sent me a link to an article about creating a visioning board, and I have some ideas for making something similar. I think the project will keep me busy and hopeful (Doctor’s orders!) and give me something tangible to hold on to. But in the mean time, I’m eating a big ol’ word sandwich. And that brings me around to today’s subject: eating your words.

Let me tell you, I am becoming a P-R-O at eating my words. When we first started this whole adventure, some of our friends referred us to their lesbian friends who’d gotten pregnant by various means. One of them was a woman in my office, Rebecca, who was kind enough to meet us for lunch one day at a local vegan cafe. I still remember sitting there, listening to her story about trying to conceive for six years, and ultimately succeeding through IVF. I’m sure I had a Judgey McJudgerson look on my face, because she said

“You know, we can judge women for spending money on IVF, but I actually believe it should be covered by insurance.  We live in a society where it is often difficult for women to bear children and launch successful careers, and they need to do both at roughly the same time. Until we value the role of women as mothers and workers, we’re all sort of complicit in the role that reproductive medicine plays in our society and it shouldn’t be a burden that individual families have to bear.”

I considered her point, but didn’t agree with it. When we left I told R that Rebecca’s advocacy for insurance coverage for IVF was ludicrous, and I declared that I would never undergo invitro fertilization. Never!

And here we are, friends, entering week two of the two week wait after our first (and hopefully last) round of IVF. In the three years since our vegan lunch with Rebecca I’ve learned a great deal about the difficult choices women (and men) have to make as they try to create a family. I’ve learned that I can never know the full extent of another person’s suffering, nor how it shaped their journey to parenthood. Each family walks its own path and manages the twists and turns as it sees fit, and could use a relief station instead of judgement.

So yeah, Dr. A’s other patients are correct–the two week wait post IVF is HARD. Turns out that if I’m a pro at anything, it’s eating my words. My advice? When forced to eat a word sandwich, try to smile – you’ll need the room.