So I’m trying to find a bathing suit for our Israel trip, but nothing seems to fit because my ass has exploded. This is depressing. I’ve been very tiny my whole life but after two years of being on a wide variety of oh-so-fun fertility hormones, things have changed. I feel like an animal.
BR: Blondie, why do you keep dressing like a schoolmarm?
Me: Because my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal.
BR: Why don’t you wear those sexy black pants tonight?
Me: Haha, I would love to, but my ass has exploded and I feel like an animal!
You try to explain this to friends and they say, “really? But you look great!” Which, by the way, is the CORRECT response.
But then you explain that they don’t have the “misfortune” of having to see you naked. You disclose that the hormones have made you gain 20 pounds, have given you stretch marks, and have left a permanent explosion of cellulite on your ass and thighs that never used to be there.
And then they say, “well that’s nothing – just wait until you have a baby!”
HA HA HA! Really person?? That’s so funny because I wish I could!
And that’s when the sad irony hits you. Your body’s in a perpetual state of growing and shrinking and feeling out of sorts. You endure big boobs, small boobs, bigger boobs, a swollen abdomen, nausea, a big ass, a bigger ass, big hips, fat pants, fatigue, anxiety, cramps, a muffin top, cellulite… and yet there’s no baby! Isn’t that funny?
But it’s not their fault. People who haven’t been through infertility really don’t know what to say. And usually they say the wrong thing. It can be hurtful at times, but you just have to remember that they really are trying to be helpful.
Some people (BR included) give you all sorts of unsolicited advice. They’ll tell you that you should “distract” yourself and take up a class or join a gym or something. Or be more social. Or try a different clinic. Or don’t think about it so much. Or try and “relax” and think “positive” thoughts. Or have you considered adoption? Or stop drinking coffee. Or stop drinking wine. The list goes on.
Unfortunately this “advice” is rarely helpful. In fact, it’s the opposite of helpful. It reinforces the idea that you’re probably doing something wrong, and that’s why you’re not getting pregnant. You’re already a bad mother and you’re not even pregnant yet.
And you learn very quickly that you have no control over fertility treatment – it controls you. Your ovaries are literally holding you hostage. You’re at the mercy of your cycle, the hormones, the doctor, the clinic, and a medically induced, totally unnatural schedule. You can’t make plans because you don’t know if you’ll be in the middle of a cycle, possibly pregnant, possibly devastated or drowning in hormonal hell.
So I find the most helpful thing that friends and family can say is actually very simple: “I’m very sorry you’re going through this, is there anything that I can do for you?” Or, “can I make you some chicken soup?”
That’s it. I don’t need “strategies” and “distractions” and “micromanagement” and “medical” advice from the internet, and “organic” cookbooks and all that crap. Just give me a little bit of sympathy and a hug, and some god-damned soup already.
I wish I could distract myself more though, especially when I’m in the throes of a cycle. But unfortunately when I’m eyeballs-deep in hormones, I can barely even commit to having dinner with someone. I end up cancelling a lot. And it’s not just because I feel like crap and have to use all my brain power to try and form a sentence – it’s also because I don’t want to unleash my hormonal wrath onto innocent members of society. I just figure it’s “safer” for everyone if I stay home and hide under the covers.
I’ve made the mistake of trying to go out in public a couple of times, but the hormones make me extremely self-conscious. It doesn’t go very well.
Friend: Oh my God, it’s so great to see you! How are you? Wow, everything looks so delicious on this menu, I can’t decide what I want. Actually I think I’ll have the pasta. What are you going to have?
Me: I… having… burger.
Followed by: What exactly does the waiter mean, do I want water.
Followed by: No, I will not take off my sunglasses because I can’t look anyone in the eye.
Followed by: How googly are my eyes right now.
Followed by: I… should have (sniff)… ordered (sniff)… the pi-zaa-aaah-aaaaah (sob).
Followed by: No, I don’t know how to get to my house Mr. Cab driver, isn’t that your job? Asshole??
Now unfortunately, as I mentioned in my last post, our last IVF cycle was a bust. It was our second attempt at IVF. Unfortunately the first time was also a bust, and since we only got one little not-quite-developed-embryo out of it, we had to do the egg retrieval all over again.
And since I’m considered a “low responder” to the medication, it was a miracle that we got 6 embryos this time. We were very optimistic. We also opted for genetic testing, just as a back-up.
So the day of the embryo transfer came. We went to the clinic. I was ushered into the special little waiting room. I changed into my gown and that stupid-looking blue hairnet, and was anxiously awaiting my turn while trying to ignore my very full bladder. BR was back there with me. We were too nervous to speak, but we both had our fingers crossed.
But then the Doctor came in and told us we had a problem. All of our embryos came back genetically abnormal. He said he was very sorry, but he couldn’t do the transfer.
I’m sorry, what? What was that again? No transfer? No transfer?? But I’m here and I’m all ready to go! I’m in my gown and this stupid-looking hat and I’m about to pee my pants and what do you mean abnormal?!
He couldn’t give us an explanation right then, but he assured us that it was nothing that either of us had done. He just said we should get dressed and go home. So we did. We were in shock.
That’s when I told BR that I needed to get away ASAP. So we went to Chicago. While we were there we had a phone call with our fertility doctor. We found out that we have an egg problem. My spindles – those little things in eggs that zip together pairs of chromosomes from egg and sperm – are, for lack of a better word, wonky. So instead of “pairs” of chromosomes, in some cases our embryos had 3 or 1 or none – a mistake which kept repeating itself.
And then the big crusher: Our doctor told us that he would only try IVF with us one more time and if it didn’t work, we’d have to get an egg donor.
A what?? But I’m only 35! And a late bloomer! And I’m very immature!
Needless to say, I was not happy with that answer. Neither of us were.
Now theoretically speaking, I believe that you could love any child – I really do. But when someone actually tells you that you probably won’t be able to have your own baby, it’s pretty crushing. This baby needs my DNA! It needs my DNA so it can balance out BR’s crazy robot DNA! What if the donor egg comes from someone who’s also a techie/evil genius/robot? What then?? And if it’s not my egg, will the baby even be Jewish?
SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. I cried the entire day. Literally. I literally cried all freaking day.
Which is why we’re now heading to Israel. For peace of mind I’ve decided not to google anything on the internet, but the technology is supposed to be very advanced over there. Apparently they can “repair” DNA.
So after a long, horrible day in a Chicago hotel room, full of tears and snotty kleenex and deep-dish pizza crumbs everywhere, BR rubbed my back and said something to try and make me feel better:
BR: Don’t worry Blondie. If this doesn’t work out I have a plan-B.
Me: (sniff) You do? What is it?