You know you’ve been in the fertility game too long when a friend tells you they’re pregnant and you look at them with total, utter confusion.
Friend: We’re pregnant!
Me: Oh my God! But… how?
Friend: What do you mean.
Me: Like, from doing it?
Me: With each other?
Me: That’s all you did. You just… did it. And now there’s a baby in there.
Me: Wow, that’s just… I had no idea people got pregnant like that anymore.
This past spring BR and I went through another long, painful round of fertility treatment. Number six. We’d had pretty crappy luck so far, so this time BR wasn’t taking any chances. We were going to the best clinic with the best doctor. We were going to New York.
At first I wasn’t really jazzed about this decision. I was comfortable at my usual clinic and I didn’t want to start all over again in a strange city away from home. But BR insisted.
BR: Blondie I’m not giving our idiot doctor any more money. All this time and he still hasn’t gotten us a baby!
Me: Yeah, but it’s not exactly a guarantee. I’m not really sure it’s the doctor’s fault… I’m kind of out of eggs.
BR: Of course it is! That’s why we’re going to another doctor! A Jewish doctor who knows what he’s doing! In New York!
So we flew to New York before the cycle began to meet our new doctor and to get some tests done. We also went to look at some hotels which would be suitable for me to stay in while I was there.
Me: Um, BR? Why do we keep looking at all these shitty hotels? I’m starting to get a little nervous.
BR: Blondie, I’ve looked up a bunch of prices and there’s no way you’re staying in a nice hotel while you’re here.
Me: What’s that supposed to mean?
BR: It means you’re going to have to lower your expectations. I’m not forking out a jillion dollars for you to live it up at the Plaza for three weeks.
Me: First of all BR, I’m not “living it up” during an IVF cycle. I’m suffering. Second of all, it wasn’t my idea to come to New York. So if you want me to stay here you better make sure I’m comfortable.
BR: Blondie! This baby is costing me a fortune! Do you know how painful this is for me?
Me: But you have a fortune! And you’re not the one going through it! And making me stay in the Bates Fucking Motel isn’t going to help me get pregnant!
BR: Oh really? You’re lucky I’m not making you stay over there!
Me: In that cardboard box. With that homeless man. Oh that’s nice.
BR: It is nice. Too nice. You’re getting spoiled.
But after a few days BR finally relented. I think he was just tired of listening to me cry. So we booked the room and a month later I was off to New York. BR came for the first couple of days to help me get settled in. But then he flew home and I was left to fend for myself in a big city while facing inevitable hormonal delirium.
And for approximately two and a half weeks, the cycle was relatively manageable. I pumped myself full of hormones, went to my appointments, ordered room service, napped, watched a bunch of trashy television and hid out in my hotel room. And I was sort of doing ok. So one night I called BR to wish him a happy birthday.
Me: Happy birthday BR! What are you doing tonight?
BR: I’m going for dinner with my parents.
Me: Oh that’s nice. Are they taking you to the strip club after? Haha.
BR: Ugh, Blondie… I’ve already been there so many times since you’ve been gone, I can’t go back for a while.
BR: I need at least a week off from the strip club.
Me: Are you telling me that the whole time I’ve been in New York enduring fertility torture alone, you’ve been whooping it up at the rippers?
BR: Blondie, I’m helping to support to single moms.
BR: It’s my way of giving back to the community.
Me: How charitable of you.
Was I annoyed by this? Oh slightly. He was at home having all sorts of scandalous fun while I was here suffering through yet another agonizing round of IVF.
But then I thought, what would the alternative be? Would the alternative be having him here to support me through this difficult treatment?
The alternative would be me trapped in a New York hotel room with BR for three weeks while trying to manage exhausting levels of physical, emotional and psychological stress.
The alternative would be having to hear things like, Blondie i’m bored. Blondie I’m hungry. Blondie massage my feet. Blondie stop complaining about the hormones and massage my feet. Blondie I’m still hungry. Blondie I don’t want to watch Mad Men. Blondie change the channel. Blondie turn the music back up. Blondie I don’t understand why you don’t want to listen to Rhianna really loud at 7am. Blondie where’s my Iphone. Blondie where’s my Ipad. Blondie. Blondie. Blondie. Blondie!!!
The alternative would be me losing my shit and eventually murdering him.
So that’s fine BR. If Cinnamon and Destynee are what it takes for you to leave me alone in New York with some well-deserved peace and quiet, then knock yourself out. “Make it rain” for all I care.
But then… BR came back. He came back for the egg retrieval and to make his small yet important contribution to the cycle. He blew in like a hurricane and as the door to the hotel room swung open I realized that my little cocoon of solitude was now ripped to shreds.
Me: BR you have to turn the TV down, it’s really loud. I can’t think.
BR: Blondie no one’s paying you to think.
Me: If you don’t turn the television down, I am literally going to punch you in the throat. Please turn it down and come and help me take this shot.
BR: What shot?
Me: The shot that’s supposed to induce ovulation. I have to take it at exactly 10:30 and I need your help sticking it in my butt.
BR: Are you coming on to me?
Me: NO! Now turn down the TV, get over here, and please help me with this giant fucking needle!
BR: Wow, that is a really big needle. How do you want to do this?
Me: Ok, I’m going to pull my pants down, lie on my stomach, and you’re going to gently stick the needle in my butt and carefully push the plunger. Ok?
BR: Blondie, I’m basically a surgeon. I’ve got this. Now take a deep breath and count to three.
Me: Ok. One… two… MOTHER OF FUUUCK! I said gently! GENTLY!
BR: Oh. Whoops. I thought I was supposed to jab it.
Me: Who said anything about jabbing?! I never said jab! That really hurt, what’s wrong with you!
BR: Blondie, you’re overreacting. That was way more stressful for me than it was for you. I’m tired now. Come and put me to bed.
Me: BR, you just stabbed me in the ass. My ass really hurts. So do my boobs. So does my head. And tomorrow I have to go and have my ovaries harvested, which I’m dreading. So maybe for once you could put me to bed.
BR: Blondie, shhhhh. Nobody likes a talky-talk. Now shutty your trappy and come tickle me to sleep.
So I did. I also contemplated smothering him with a pillow. Many times.
So after an anxiety-ridden, sleepless night it was time to go to the hospital for the egg retrieval. I was not looking forward to the procedure but I was looking forward to being heavily drugged. Now I won’t go into graphic detail about what an egg retrieval entails, but if you feel like barfing, google it.
Anyway, the retrieval sucked as usual but the recovery was no picnic either. I had a solid week of abdominal pain and swelling. I was put on progesterone shots which immediately made my boobs ache and my entire face break out. I couldn’t really move around without moaning like a wounded animal. I couldn’t really wear pants. I was only allowed to take Tylenol. And BR was my nurse.
All this for three piddly little eggs. Then a few days later it was time to have the embryos transferred. Miraculously all three eggs fertilized, and all three were put back in. I should have been happy (or at least hopeful) about this but I was so tired of being poked at like a barn animal that all I could do was quietly sob in the recovery room afterwards. I was just too exhausted and sore to do anything else.
But I was also mad. Mad that all of our hopes and efforts to have a family had resulted in… this. This wasn’t baby making. This was bullshit.
Then a couple of days later we flew home. I didn’t have high hopes for this cycle, so I spent the next couple of weeks waiting for my period to come. But then it didn’t. So I peed on a stick. And I was about to chuck it in the garbage when I thought I noticed a very faint, second line appear. What the… so I peed on another stick. Same thing.
A couple of days later our family doctor confirmed it. We were pregnant.
Once the initial shock and confusion wore off, I was thrilled. Panicked, but thrilled. But BR was a little more cautious. He wouldn’t allow himself to emotionally react to this baby until he knew we were in the clear. And until then, he took it upon himself to micromanage my every move.
BR: Blondie! You’re not supposed to be having coffee! Spit it out.
Me: BR, I’m allowed to have a cup of coffee. Stop overreacting.
BR: And what are you doing walking around?! You’re supposed to be lying down! Lie down!
Me: But our doctor said I can resume normal daily activities. I don’t think puttering around the house is going to kill me.
BR: Blondie, he obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He already lost a patient this year.
Me: Your grandmother – may she rest in peace – was 91. And this is not a high-risk pregnancy.
BR: It’s high-risk to me! Now put down that coffee and get back to bed!
So aside from BR acting crazier than usual, and having to hear lots of unsolicited advice from family, I was actually doing ok for the first couple of weeks. Until the nausea kicked in. And never. Let. Up.
This happened at about the same time we moved up to the cottage for the summer – which should ideally be a relaxing and tranquil place to be. It isn’t.
The “cottage” is an enormous property that functions more like a small hotel. We move up there with BR’s family, and there is a revolving door of guests from the moment we arrive until the moment we leave.
Allow me to sum it up for you: I was pregnant, constantly nauseous, and exhausted. I had a huge ass and raging acne from the progesterone. I was too sick to stand upright for more than a few minutes, let alone walk around. I was too hormonal to talk. And the cottage was full of people.
Now I don’t care how much you love your friends, family and in-laws – I don’t recommend this.
So I basically slept through the summer until it was time for our 12-week ultrasound. We drove back to the city and arrived at the hospital. BR was nervous, but I wasn’t. I was actually excited.
A nice, young technician performed the ultrasound and then called in another doctor to take a look. Neither of them said anything, they just nodded and smiled. It wasn’t until our own OBGYN came into the room that we were told there was no heartbeat.
No heartbeat. No baby.
We were devastated. But then it got slightly worse.
Me: So… what do I do now? About the pregnancy, I mean.
Doctor: You have two options. We can give you some medication to take at home which will induce a natural miscarriage, but the results can be a bit unpredictable. Or we can call you in a few days when there’s an opening and you can come back and have the fetus surgically removed.
Me: Well those both sound awesome.
I chose the latter. At least I would be knocked out.
So we left the hospital and drove back up to the cottage where we would have to break the news to everyone. I didn’t feel like speaking during the drive so I just numbly stared out the window… until BR provoked me.
BR: Blondie, don’t be upset. This will all work out eventually.
Me: I hope so. I don’t know how many more times I can do this.
BR: Blondie that’s loser talk. You need to be more positive.
Me: Oh really? About what exactly. The weight gain? The nausea? The exhaustion? The explosion of acne all over my face? The fact that I have to wait around for a phone call so I can go back to the hospital to have our baby removed? The fact that I have to go through another painful gynaecological procedure? The fact that once I recover I have to do this ALL OVER AGAIN?! THE FACT THAT WE HAVE NO BABY?! No BR. I think the only “positive” thing here is that I haven’t flung myself off a bridge yet.
BR: Blondie, come on. You’re not the only woman going through this. I think you should suck it up.
Me: (blinking and staring)
BR: It’s not like you have cancer.
Me: is that the most… helpful thing you could think of to say right now?
BR: Blondie, it’s not my job to be helpful. It’s my job to be in charge of getting us a baby. Damn it, why am I not allowed to just clone myself? All of this would be solved!
Me: (blinking and staring)
BR: Seriously, how awesome would it be to have a bunch of Me’s running around. I’m going to do some more research on this.
Me: Oh look, a liquor store. You can just… drop me off there.
And then summer was over. What a shit-show.
We planned for another round of IVF last month, but I cancelled at the last minute. I just wasn’t ready. BR was disappointed but I told him that I need a bit more time to recover. I think he understands. Or at the very least he hasn’t been pressuring me. And now I’m looking forward to another winter in Florida with the dogs and lots of visits with family and friends. I can walk the beach, get some sun, do some yoga and finally feel like myself again. I can allow myself to feel happy and fortunate for all of the things we do have.
Until the next cycle. But I’ll worry and blog about that later.