Yesterday we started care at a new fertility clinic. So long, Dr. S, and Hey There, Dr. T. We were both really nervous about the appointment because we honestly didn’t know if Dr. T would send us away with no hope for a biological child–a reality I feel guilty admitting we aren’t quite ready to face. To brace myself for the meeting, I began looking into our adoption options again, which seem fairly limited because we are a same sex couple with neither the money to pay the exorbitant private adoption fees nor the emotional strength to bond with and raise a foster child who may be removed from us after months or years in our care. But still, I wanted to have some hope to hold on to in the event that Dr. T advised us to stop TTC.
We were in Dr. T’s office for three hours, the majority of that time was spent with her. She gave us a layperson’s version of a talk she gave recently, flipping through powerpoint slides on her computer and using fairly complex graphs from clinical studies to explain her plan for us. I was in nerd heaven. R said she just wanted a pie chart. That reminded me of one of my stats professors, who thought there was only one legitimate use for pie charts, pictured below.
In the end a pie chart might have been more helpful because all the the charts and statistics are just sitting in one giant word salad in my brain. But the gist of it is that even accounting for 4 poorly timed cycles, we are in the unfortunate position of having passed through the stages of TTC that had the highest probability of success and entered the stage that yields diminishing returns for the same effort (and cost). That was disappointing to hear out loud, but not so different than what we already suspected. There is no explanation for our lack of success thus far, which is really frustrating, but I’m glad that none of us is interested in wasting time trying to suss that out.
Dr. T suggests 1-3 more cycles before we call it quits and move on to IVF or adoption. She’s stepping up our game by adding in two more medications, one of which is an injection R will have to take for 5-7 days. These medications will not only increase our chance of pregnancy but also the risk of twins or higher order multiples, so the first cycle will be a little nerve wracking while we figure out how R’s body responds to the injections. We have to go to the doctor multiple times this month for more tests and closer monitoring to be sure we don’t end up with an octomom situation. It all feels very invasive and it’s hard to know where to draw the line and say ‘we’ve given it our best shot but now it’s time to re-envision our family.’
Each month it feels like we are renegotiating boundaries between us and medical intervention, between us and the amount of risk we are willing to accept, between us and the amount of money we are willing to part with, between us and the KD. It’s an emotionally grueling process to constantly make decisions about these factors that could have a long term impact on our health, finances, and social life. It’s also difficult to make all these decisions in front of others (doctors, KD, a small group of family and friends) and wonder if we seem crazy or selfish. One of the women who responded to the quandary I wrote about the other day had this to say about her experience with infertility treatment:
We went through infertility for at least 5 years. For many of our close friends and family member, however, it was a very fertile time. This was extremely hard on us. In spite of trying to access our best selves – their fertility represented a lot of heart ache…at seeing we could not do what “anyone” could do….and our heart ache at feeling jealousy and anger instead of joy over a loved one’s miraculous pregnancy. It felt wrong to feel that way, but it also felt wrong to have to have shots in the butt every night. Wrong at having to talk to doctors about our sex life. Major life ick.
If you are pregnant, God bless you and your beautiful child. You are entitled to your joy, whether you struggled or not! Joy!
But…your friend/sister/cousin who is in infertility hell (mourning/hope/mourning and on and on) is in heartfelt pain – most likely masked, but it is deep and sad and life altering. I get it. We went through it.
During this time in our lives, it was almost impossible for people to know what to say. Yet, somehow, one dear friend said the most touching and poignant thing to me: “I have no idea what you are going through, but I want you to know I will always be here for you.”
Done! That said it all – even those of us who have gone through and survived infertility are different. True, we have a commonality, but our reaction to the same ludicrous invasions of privacy and dashing of “normal dreams” is highly different.
I think her comments on how invasive this whole process is, and how unrelenting the cycle of hope and mourning, are a clear window into the pain we have experienced over the last year and a half. But I think we are stronger for it, cheesy as that sounds. Our relationship has been tested and strengthened by the conversations we’ve been forced to have, by the decisions we’ve had to make, and by the coordinated effort this whole endeavor has required. And we’ve learned to let it be one piece of life–occasionally at the center, but not always. I hope that some day Bean will occupy its place, and we’ll have a whole new set of decisions to make.