Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Letting Go. Or Not.

I've been ruminating on questions raised by my last post, namely, have I truly given up on pregnancy, and if not, why not continue to pursue answers? Why risk another miscarriage?

Such good questions, such simple questions. I've been soul-searching for weeks.

This is what I've figured out so far:

No, I haven't yet given up, not fully anyway, in spite of my fervent wish to the contrary. There is still a glimmer of hope, like an ember in an otherwise dying fire. Add a little kindling – a well-timed cycle, pronounced premenstrual symptoms, a bunny in the front yard – and the whole thing is ablaze again.

But kindling is easy to come by. There are flare-ups every month. I find the prospect of stoking and tending the fire, gathering the heavy logs of sustained desire and a pursuit of purposeful intervention, utterly overwhelming. Why? Well, for one, the hope simply isn't very strong. I am discouraged by the idea that all that work and heartache could be for naught.

And then there is the shame. Somehow I feel foolish still longing for a baby after all these years. I suppose I've felt foolish all along, so strongly have I absorbed the message that smart, talented, interesting women have more important things to do than make babies. Or if they do make babies, and raise children, they do so with ease and only peripheral attention, akin to a trip to the bathroom in the midst of writing a fascinating dissertation. It's a terrible, sexist notion, one I know is patently invalid, but I live in a sexist culture, and in spite of myself, I've absorbed and internalized a measure of this thinking. It creeps in when I least expect it and requires concentration to banish.

And then there's the issue of pursuing effective medical help. I don't trust doctors easily. I mustered the courage to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist at one point, J~ and I went together. The doctor leaned way back in his chair and spoke in a relaxed, weary tone, going on about how underfunded research is in this field and how nobody really knows anything, reinforcing my feeling that it's all a crap shoot anyway.

I was relieved and pleased with this doctor at the time, so afraid was I of a salesman's fake smile and hucksterish enthusiasm, pushing me toward interventions that made me uncomfortable. Just sign on the dotted line and hand me your life savings, please. Now lie still on the table and we'll see if we can get to the bottom of this.

But then I started wondering maybe if this jaded-seeming doctor would have treated me differently if J~ and I were younger, if I seemed a more promising candidate. A letter came from the practice, two weeks after our appointment, announcing this doctor's decision to retire.

I never followed up.

I haven't tried another doctor.

J~ and I are talking about going to someone else, maybe someone recommended to me on this blog. The ball is in my court.

I keep putting it off.


Anna said...

I remember the shame! I'd lie down on the table in the RE's office and make all these apologetic jokes about being old (and Christ, I was only 35-36 at the time).

And the waiting room...the waiting room! The humiliation of sitting in there with a bunch of other 35+ women who all thought they could roll the dice and put things off until they were "ready." Gah. Reading your post brings all that back.

I was so afraid I'd end up being told, "You're just too old. Loser."

Here's the thing, though. You can get pregnant on your own. That's a very good sign. I can't imagine this road would lead you down to IVF with PGD and a bunch of other scary acronyms. You're not crazy to retain some hope for a successful pregnancy that doesn't involve a whole bunch of interventions. It might involve, though, some progesterone supplements or aspirin, or, maybe, a daily shot of a blood thinner. I had to do this and I was freaked out about it, but honestly, once it was time to shoot up? It was nothing. It took a minute and it didn't hurt much at all, and it gave me the feeling that I had an active hand in preventing another loss. Most importantly, the result of that daily inconvenience is sleeping upstairs right now.

When I first heard I had to take BLOOD THINNERS, of course...totally freaked out. But actually doing it? Just something to remember after flossing. And that was the extent of the medical interference in an otherwise peaceful and spiritually rich and joyful pregnancy.

(and maybe your losses had nothing to do with clotting -- I've just had so many docs, even an acupuncturist say to me in the past year, "yeah, I don't know what it is about this clotting thing, but we're seeing so many women with repeat miscarriages who respond well with...")

I say all this, and yet, the blessing is that you seem to know that there's a beautiful life in store for you if you decide that, in the end, you want to let motherhood go. Ambivalently, but finally. I know a lot of women who wish they could have your perspective.

Such a tough decision. There are sacrifices to motherhood, for sure. It's harder to pursue those all-consuming projects. At least, for a while (and my sample is limited, at just a year in). There are things I really do miss about life before baby. Mostly I feel exceedingly grateful to have found an answer and a treatment for my losses. But if your own generativity is best expressed through your art, then you'll leave your mark and nurture the world in that way.

Blah, blah. All this is just to say that, from your words, it feels like there is something holding you back from clarity either way. Some fear about the medical route that isn't necessarily based in truth, and that needs to be cleared before you can really move forward.

PS~Erin said...

Oh goodness.... I just stumbled over here from kirtsy and I just had to say something... Not sure what, really, as your journey is your journey and can in no way be compared to mine, but I do have a little empathy/insight/care to offer up to you.

Forgive me if I am asking repetitive questions that you have already answered in other spots on your blog... I haven't yet read more than this post, the title to the one below, and some of your left sidebar.

Have you considered acupuncture? I swear it is the reason for my son. I would be happy to discuss it with you if you want to email me perfectsentiment (at) gmail (.) com

I recommend the book, The Infertility Cure by Rancine Lewis. I was/am not so into Chinese Medicine and honestly thought it was a bunch of mumbo jumbo even through my first few visits. The book clearly states you don't have to understand it for it to work. And it worked for us. And saved my pregnancy before I could miscarry my son. 3 women since have had children after visiting my dr. I found her through acufinder online. I looked for a fertility specialist from China and that narrowed my search quite a bit. I could go on and on and would be happy to talk to you abt it.

I feel your pain and have felt some of your desperation at times. I hate that anyone has to go through it. I'm sorry.


Parenthood For Me said...

what a beautiful post about your struggle. I was 26 when TTC and because I was young, I feel now (5 yrs later) that I was dismissed in a way. They made it seem like even though we had both male and female factor diagnosis' that with a little help, we would have a baby. It didn't happen.

battynurse said...

Coming over from Kirtsy via LFCA. This is a great post. I love what you said about hope. It's so true. Good luck if you decide to try the doctor thing again.

Frinee said...

hi, i have never written a comment on a blog before but ran into this earlier today and it has not left me.

i have a feeling it's because i do lots of work with women in similar situations. the work i do is very gentle, effective and can be done over the phone. take a look at no pressure here, just an offer to try something that so many women have found to finally end their insanity.

one way to describe the work is to imagine you are on a boat that is attached to a dock and are wanting to go out to sea. you remove the rope that is keeping the boat from going out there only to find that the boat is still not moving away from the dock. this allows you to recognize and tend to all the ropes underneath the water that are attaching your boat to the dock, unbeknownst to you. once those get acknowledged and released then your boat is free to move away from the dock and you are free to sail.

it is by far the most powerful and subtle work i have come across. while the structure i use is found on the tatlife site, the implementation i use is somewhat different, it is more inclusive. i fully believe that there are a million ways to get to center, and am hopeful that you will find your path to be as nurturing and heart-opening. this is just one way.

Paula said...

Having endured infertility, none of the options are easy. Abandoning a hope is not easy, as you know. Jumping onto hope's roller coaster is not easy either.

I'm a feminist in a field where wanting children is not the norm. Still, while pursuing my Ph.D. and trying quietly to create a family despite the difficulties in doing so, I felt like I was pursuing both my dreams. Surrounding myself with fascinating, intelligent academic women during that uncertain phase of my life helped me, too.

I'm one of those people who isn't a quitter (even when perhaps I should be). I'm persistent. So, here I am with two children thanks to infertility treatments, and (after a long leave of absence) I am completing my Ph.D. dissertation while teaching at a small college. (Raising children is infinitely more complex and time-consuming--and wonderful--than a trip to the bathroom, while writing that "fascinating diss."!! But I like to think I'm also setting a good example for my sons, that we are lifelong learners!)

Admittedly, there were many tearful times after we jumped on the infertility treatment roller coaster that I wished we had never started, or that I could erase those dreams from my mind, but it was part of life's journey for us. And it's so cliché to say that I can't imagine my life without my sons, but it's also true. In the end, I'm happy I didn't let either dream go, but you need to make the choice that's right for you. Kids definitely become the center and the priority, with creative pursuits slowing.

Good luck exploring the options and pursuing your many inspiring dreams.

Suzanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne said...

My dear friend - CGH at CCRM.

I have such great success stories and after 8 IVF cycles I think I can give you some sound advice - shall we talk on the phone? I'd love that - after all these years of reading your blog I feel you are my friend....and every time I read that you feel like you are Ok and done - my psychic energy tells me that.....keep checking the blog. So - let's talk.

email me - suzsmith at aol dot com or through my blog (

xo - Suzanne