Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Slippery Slopes

After my second miscarriage, I spoke to a fertility specialist about what might be happening with my body. He listed things that might be wrong with me and/or with my partner, testing we (mostly I) could undergo, and what could be done if any of those tests revealed issues. "There is only a fifty percent chance of uncovering the problem anyway," he told me, and about the same chance that another pregnancy would succeed without intervention.

I went home to think about it.

I knew already that I would not undergo testing for the sake of reassurance, since nothing short of a healthy baby would convince me that I could make a healthy baby. I knew I wouldn't take "it's impossible" for an answer either. Haven't we all heard stories of miracle pregnancies on the heels of such dark diagnoses?

But what if they found something wrong and had treatment options at the ready? Where would I draw the line? There will be no injected hormones, no egg retrievals or donor eggs, no invitro procedures for me. I won't even use progesterone creams. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that. I congratulate everyone who's found success with these things. But it's not for me. If my body isn't prepared to make a baby, I don't plan to force it. Perhaps I'm too passive or too fatalistic, or too paranoid about western medicine, or perhaps I just don't want a baby badly enough, but this just seems like a slippery slope of financial and emotional drain.

There will be no first child in my forties either; I feel my age, my energy waning. I don't want to wait any longer. I want a child, but if it doesn't happen, I can move through the sadness and let it go. I'll find another outlet for my creative energy.

Less than two weeks after this became clear to me, in the midst of another baby-making attempt, my husband abandoned our marriage. It was painful, of course, but before long I was breathing a sigh of thankful relief for the miscarriages, for the fact that I wasn't pregnant again yet, and for the understanding that I would be okay child-free. It is strange how life can twist what looks like bad luck into good.

Of course, I know that the opposite is also true: what seems like good luck can also go sour. My "wonderful Mr. New Wonderful," as one of my dear readers describes J~, could lose his charm in a few months time. We could have a falling out. I could be pregnant and consumed by fear and regret. The practical thing would be to wait, to test our relationship further, to be less impulsive about it all. But I care very little for practicality at this point. My entire approach to my last relationship was practical. I played it safe for twelve years, struggling to elicit the kind of love and straightforward communication I receive easily now from J~. I was appreciative anyway, accepting of the flaws, and still, it blew up in my face.

I have no illusions that this new fantasy fabulousness will not change. Issues will churn up to the surface. We'll deal with them in our sincere and imperfect way. There will be added richness, no doubt. There might be unexpected tragedy, who knows. But it all comes down to this: I'm ready. We're ready. We're getting our house in order, literally and figuratively, and we're not afraid.

Speaking of being unafraid, I ovulated earlier than usual this month. This kind of unpredictable biological syncopation is exactly why they say the rhythm method doesn't work. We knew it, we risked it, and I have no shame about it. Yes, it would've been more practical to wait. But a week from now, if I discover that I'm pregnant, I won't be complaining. There will be hella logistical details to wrangle into place, to be certain. There will also be a great deal of celebrating to do.


Anonymous said...

Anon again ... sounds like your desire for a baby is more important than the person you have it with. It sounds as if new Mr. Wonderful could be anyone, as long as it's not your ex or anyone that reminds you of your ex. That's not just impulsive, it's unhealthy. You sound manic and panicked. To paraphrase your own words, "I'll loose three cycles to have this tooth surgery, but then afterwords, I can get right back to trying ..." Whew. Does J~ have the same sense of urgency?
A blood panel is very painless and will tell you where your hormone and thyroid levels are at--excellent information, regardless of your need to conceive RIGHT NOW.
Is there a huge difference between 36 and 40? If your energy is on a downward slope so quickly, is there something else going on?
Last, you are getting instant motherhood. ~J has a child. You are his Mother, Mom and Ma, no matter what. Instantly. Is this child not enough at the moment? Can you not give him the time he deserves to get to know you and vice versa? Does he not count?

Nik said...

Although sometimes when I read this blog I worry that you are acting a bit rashly, but I wouldn't call it "manic and panicked," perhaps impetuous and a wee blindered. Just because you can articulate your craziness doesn't mean that many of us haven't been crazy ourselves. Anon has some good points but I hate for you to be chastised for cataloguing your optimism. I hope it works out. Sometimes without any calculation, it does. Sometimes, even with the most sincere calculation, it doesn't.

Amy said...

thank you nik, I needed that.

And to you, my dear anonymous friend, I'm pleased you care so much as to get so riled up about my recklessness. I understand that in my place, you would do things very differently. You would not be able to live with my choices. Luckily, you are not me! And luckily for me, I don't need your approval! (Though I wouldn't mind your good wishes!)

I don't deny that the possibility exists that I'm headed for disaster. The possibility also exists that I'm headed for great joy and fulfillment. Realistically, I'm sure there will be moments when I feel both. But if everything blows up in my face, then I'll write about picking up the pieces, the lessons I learn in the process. Bottom line is, I'm on the path that is my life, walking in the direction that feels right, maybe even running in that direction - call it manic, or call it vigorous, whatever you'd like, for me it feels very alive, and I feel good. If things don't work out, I'll still be pleased that I tried.

I care very much for J~, by the way, and for his son, and I'm honored to be welcomed into their family, whether or not another child ever comes along. I put a great deal of thought and energy into caring for their well-being. Don't mistake the fact that I write less about them than babymaking for evidence to the contrary. After all, this is a blog about reproductive challenges and decisions. That is the focus of my writing. Not the entire focus of my life.

Most of all, I sincerely thank you for reading, and for sharing your thoughts in return! I hope you'll stay tuned to see how it all works out.

Her Grace said...


I'm glad you aren't taking anon's comments too much to heart.

You aren't writing an advice column, or shouting from the rooftops what every woman in your situation should do. You are writing about what you are doing at this point in your life.

I don't think you sound desperate to have a baby with just any old guy at all. You've already said you won't persue fertility treatments -- you've said you can handle a life without a child if that's the hand you're dealt.
You've found the man who you believe is the love of your life and you're jumping with both feet -- some people would think that admirable.

And I do understand the difference between 36 and 40. I'm 34 and my husband is 40 and while I occasionally think of having a third down the road, he says enough, and I respect that. He doesn't want to be a parent of a newborn at 45. It's only a difference of four or five years, but it's a personal choice we just don't want to make.

I had this blood panel anon is pushing you to have. It didn't answer even one of my fertility questions when I was struggling to conceive. There are a lot of reasons for infertility and you've stated not wanting to go down that particular medical path. If this blood test turns up nothing, anon, then are you going to push her to have something else done when she clearly doesn't want medical intervention?

When I was TTC it became clear we couldn't do it on our own. Initially we tried Clomid and it appeared that wasn't going to work so I started Metformin and it messed with my blood sugar so much I had to quit taking it. That was my wall. I too was unsure I wanted to go any farther medically, so I understand your choice. We were prepared to step back and regroup when thankfully, I conceived my firstborn on our second to last round of clomid. So while I barely dipped my toe into the ocean that is infertility, I understand your wanting to stay on the shore. It's an extremely personal choice.

Sorry this is so long..I've been lurking for a while and guess I had a lot to say!

Anonymous said...

Anon again,

I appreciate what you are saying, BORN. But you are seeing things, including what I said, in black and white, all-or-nothing terms. I am sorry I sounded harsh.

There is a happy medium between rigid attempts to plan and control your life and a reckless, laissez faire approach. As an adult, you do have real choices and options that are somewhere in the middle.

To respond to what Bethany said, I'm worried about your behaviors and feelings, BORN, and I never said you were preaching or offering a how-to to any other woman. This is all about YOU. And I'm not telling you what to do, just sharing my perceptions, however limited from this blog space. I can't hear inflection or see body language from typepad.

I'm very concerned about You and your time to grieve and heal from your loss, which I am sorry for, by the way. Your gains with J~ doesn't diminish what you have lost.

I'm very concerned about J~s son, who is not the adult here, who is powerless in this situation, and has no choice but to have you be a part of his life and another mother to him. I believe he deserves time spent living with you, getting to know you and trusting you. You may think he's accepted you, but you all have not truly lived with each other, permanently, as a family yet. Why not try that first?

And I'm not suggesting you are with just any old man, clearly you are enamored with your new love. But you don't know him well and long enough to say for certain he is an adequate partner for you for the long haul. What he may be is good enough right now to impregnate you. You've gotten all the green lights, but you are in the honeymoon phase, and just as important, coming off a bad trip from the ex.

Maybe you don't need a long-haul partner that you build a life with, through boring as well as exciting times and long after the "babies" are adults and gone? Maybe you just need a baby, and you need one right now, this instant. That's perfectly OK to have those feelings and desires.

But you've chosen a man who is fathering a child, a child who needs a mother, a real everyday, flesh-and-blood, here-for-good, not-gone-in-a-year-or two, Mom. I can promise you, that's exactly what his son needs. And he needs time adjusting to you and your new important role in his life.

To wrap it up, I think you are seeing your life in an all-or-nothing way, it might blow up or be beyond your wildest dreams. Once again, two extremes.

I'd like you to be open to the possibility of if you make moderate choices, find that less dramatic place to move from, it will be somewhere in between, and it can be wonderful and include you and J having more children, and you and J being together for a lifetime.

Regarding the advice (hopefully not assvice) to get one tube of blood drawn and find some things out, it is helpful for women in general, regardless of conception desires. If they find something off, it could be as simple as slightly sluggish or overactive thyroid, you can make the decision to treat it or not. Often the endocrine and thyroid change in the 30s. That's not a big medical intervention at all. It's good to have a baseline. Information is good, it gives you more options for your overall health. and, if we return to the fertility and childbearing aspect of it, it would be sad, if let's say a year from now or two, and you hadn't gotten pregnant, or had many miscarriages, it was something simple like a blood disorder that could be treated with baby aspirin, or it was a slight hormonal imbalance that could have been treated with the pill. Bethany is right. They could do a panel and find nothing, but normal healthy levels. In that case, you need to go out dancing and celebrate! They could also find something easily treatable. Something that lets you carry your pregnancies to term.

Just a thought. One tube of blood. Perhaps no clear answers, but closer than you were before. Again, a personal choice, and there is no right or wrong answer.

I do wish you the best and lots of luck! I am happy for your new family and your bright future. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your journey.

Anonymous said...

Alot of valid points on both sides.

In anon's defense, I had some minor blood work done after my miscarriage mainly just to see if I had a thyroid problem or was even ovulating at all (it's amazing what they can tell from a drop!), which by the way, all came back normal. Like you, I didn't want to become a "lab rat" and become a slave to scientists so in my mind I knew how far I would allow the testing to go. My husband had an analysis done on him and lo and behold we found out what the problem was. My limit was doing IVF for both financial and emotional reasons and I went as far as having IUI's - 3 to be exact, none of which worked, so I stopped altogether.

For me, I did the bloodwork to rule things out rather than use it as a stepping stone for more treatment.

Although you do appear to be confused as what to do next, I think all your readers want to see you succeed and hope nothing but the best for you!

chaos_girl said...

I've been lurking on your blog for a while, but have yet to comment...

It's interesting to see that your life mirrors mine in a few details. Particularly meeting someone who feels like Mr. Right so soon- even though Mr. Right has a child of his own. Does his boy live with him most of the time? I cannot remember...

I met my husband in July and moved in with him in August. I had a daughter from my prior marriage who was with me full-time and he had a son that was with him full-time from his previous marriage. Were we impetuous? Yes. Should we have waited longer? Yes. Was it RIGHT for US? Yes. I was working, he was working. The kids were in school/daycare. I was attending college. There was absolutely no ability for us to even SEE each other once the college semester picked up. We were in love- we took the plunge together...

Did we take the kids with us over the waterfall? Well, yes- I guess we did. Was that right? Probably not- but then again, you are always taking risks as a parent. Every single day, you decide things that might be risky for your kids, believe it or not.

We married on April 1st, 2004. We've just recently had a little boy after two miscarriages... I DID get some testing done- just enough to have Prometrium recommended for a luteal phase defect. That first cycle back TTC, we had our successful pregnancy.

Anyways, I won't tell you that your behavior isn't risky- to your heart and to everyone around you. But life is about taking chances. Sometimes things just CLICK.

As far as the child already involved in the picture- I hate how people act like children are abused if their parents become involved in new relationships after divorce. As long as it isn't repetitive man after man after man (or woman in this case) being paraded into and then out of the house- this isn't going to damage the child nor his sense of being or self-worth. JMHO.


Anonymous said...

I knew I wanted to marry my husband the night we met. I slept with him on the first date, and we bought the first house we looked at. He's the opposite, loads every decision with piles of consideration . I think we balance each other out.

I rely a lot on what my gut (and my heart) tell me. He relies on his brain. Maybe the difference between you and anon is similar.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't change a thing about my life today.
That said, things can always go wrong, but they can go wrong if you sit back and wait OR if you think them through. Life's a gamble, hope you win the jackpot.

Amy said...

This is a record number of comments for me! I'm honored to hear from all of you, and thank you very much for your sharing your good wishes, thoughts, and personal experiences. Also, very glad to meet some of you lurkers out there! Keep in touch!