Thursday, October 24, 2013

As Nature Intended?

When God told Adam and Eve to go forth and procreate, I’m pretty sure He didn’t mean for them to don white lab coats over their fig leaves, and huddle down in a lab to play with petri dishes and test tubes in order to create Cain and Abel. Conservative activists have probably use arguments such as this to express their belief that assisted reproduction is against God’s plan.

As someone who is not particularly religious, but does believe in God, I had not thought very much about that perspective. Truth is, I’ve always believed that God is love, and He wants people to live good lives and share their love, with whomever they see fit.  And if people need help having a child to share their love with, why shouldn’t they get it? But I had a bit of strange moment two days ago when I attended my first IVF class. As I was watching the video of the IVF process at RMA’s lab, the truly clinical nature of the process struck me more forcibly than ever before. All I could think was, is this how it was meant to be?

For a few minutes, I sat there, wondering about this. Was it OK to be trying to get pregnant this way? To entrust my fertility to my fellow man (or woman), instead of going about it the natural way? Of course, in my case, it’s never going to happen the natural way, so….

It was an odd few minutes, because I never thought that the moral implications of this process were an issue for me. The feeling didn’t last, though. All I needed to do was look around the room at the four couples in the room, waiting, and hoping for a child to love. And that brought me all the way back to what I’ve always believed. God is love, and He would not have given mankind the inspiration to create these processes to assist life if He did not want doctors to use the technology to help these couples have children to love. And, yes, that applies to me too. This is the only way for me to give birth to a child. I cannot believe that this is against what God, or nature, intended.


One last note about Tuesday’s class from an emotional perspective (I’ll have an entry this weekend about the upcoming process. Preview – no abdominal surgery!). Going into this process, I knew it would be difficult, and lonely at times. I’ve talked about that in this blog. But, there are times when it really hits home, and Tuesday’s class was one of those times. As I sat in the two-hour class, and looked around, I saw the four couples, several female staffers, and one other female student who was on her own. It became evident, however, that she had a partner who just could not be there that day. So, I was the only single woman there, trying to have a baby on my own. I know that I’m not the only one that RMA works with, by any means. But, in that class, as I looked at the couples at the desks, and saw the husbands holding their wives’ hands reassuringly, I felt an overwhelming sense of loneliness. In that moment, I wanted more than anything for someone to be there to hold my hand.

The feeling did pass, of course, and was replaced with another new sensation. As I sat at the back table (of course!), contemplating these feelings of loneliness, a sudden thought entered my head – These people are taking this step together, and that’s wonderful; but I’m doing it alone, and that’s courageous. I never really thought about that before, but it suddenly seemed so obvious. There are so many women who want to have children, but are too afraid to do it on their own. I am the last person who would ever judge another woman for her choices – there are so many things behind every choice. And this choice is definitely not for everyone. But it never really occurred to me until Tuesday just how much courage this choice takes. It made me reflect on the last few years as well, and realize how much courage it has taken to reinvent myself after losing Mom and Dad. And I’m going to allow myself to be proud of having the courage to find a way to have a child to share my love with, and know that I will have the courage to face whatever comes to me.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

“The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ [Moms]/Gang Aft Agley”

Everyone has a plan. Everyone thinks they can decide how things will turn out, and then it will happen. We’ve heard it before, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” And I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I always make plans, and think that, by stating that this is how I want things to go, then the universe will cooperate. Boy has the universe had a chuckle or two (or ten) at my expense over the years. But do I learn? No. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I keep thinking that a good plan is all I need for success.

And so it went with becoming a mom. I had a plan. I’d get pregnant by the end of the summer so that I could teach all year and then have the baby at the end of the school year. That way I would not have to miss unnecessary time at work, and I would not have to be pregnant during a hot and humid New York summer. I’d also be three months along at least by Christmas, which meant I could announce it in my Christmas cards. Hear the universe laughing? It’s an annoying, grating kind of laugh, like a Loon drifting along a lake at dusk, shattering the tranquility with its brash call.

So, what does all this mean? Well, when last I wrote, I was dealing with the issue of high estrogen levels, which was confirmed to be the result of ovarian cysts. We’ll call those the halcyon days, when that’s all I had to worry about. Because now that’s just number three on the list. Because why would I have only one complication? When you only have one complication, you’re clearly not trying hard enough. Enter a  blocked fallopian tube and a uterine fibroid. Yep, I’ve got the trifecta. I'm so proud.

Backing up slightly- After we discovered the cysts, I had to give myself a shot of Ovidrel, to stimulate ovulation and hopefully get rid of the cysts (Yay for an extra period this month!). In the meantime, I had the HSG test. The doctor I had, Dr. B. was amazing. It is a difficult procedure, especially for someone like me, and he was so gentle and talked me through everything. It was not nearly as bad as I feared. It was through this test that we found the fibroid and the blocked right fallopian tube.

I followed up with Dr. K., and he did another ultrasound (joy), to try and confirm the fibroid. It was hard for him to tell, so he wants to do a Saline Sonogram to confirm it. If it is in the uterine cavity, then I will have to get it removed. Otherwise, if the embryo attaches over the fibroid, it could cause a miscarriage. Thankfully, it’s a minimally invasive procedure, with no incisions, and a quick recovery (2-4 weeks before trying again to get pregnant). God bless Dr. K., too, who emailed me right back last week at Friends Lake and talked me off the edge of fear that I would not be able to get pregnant at all because of this. I told him flat out that his quick and reasonable response made it possible for me to enjoy one of the last weekends of the season up there, with Keith.

Of course, complicating the complications is my elderly age of 39. As Dr. K. and I discussed, the approach would be very different if I were ten years younger. But I’m not, and so conservative approaches are out the window – bye, bye! Dr. K. and I have come to the decision (one I was already close to making anyway), that IVF is going to be my best bet now. With a blocked tube, it’s a role of the dice each month to see if the egg would come out of the other side, and I have a greater chance of an ectopic pregnancy, even if I do get pregnant. And, we can’t stretch this out for months and months. There’s no telling when I’ll fall off the cliff of infertility – next year, or five years from now. Or even later, who knows? But I can’t take that chance. So, IVF it is.

I’m having the saline sonogram Friday. If there is no need to remove the fibroid, then the first IVF can be done in November. If it does need to be removed, I’m hoping the first IVF can be done in December. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait until January (the lab that needs to grow my baby is closed for the holidays).

So much for plans. No Christmas card announcement. Pregnant over the summer. Delivery at the beginning of next school year (all God-willing, of course!). But you know, what? Turns out I don’t care. I just want to be pregnant with a healthy baby. I like to think that these delays are just because Mom and Dad are looking for just the right baby for me up there, and it’s taking them a little longer. If I have a baby by this time next year, I will be very happy. If I don’t? Well, I’ll just adapt my plan again!