The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Impossible Progesterone

The late great monologist Spalding Gray wrote a single novel: Impossible Vacation. The main character, Brewster North, a thinly-veiled version of Spalding Gray himself is seeking that ultimate impossible vacation--the one where you leave all of your troubles in one space and continue unfettered into the next. He is constantly wandering, meandering, rather than facing the suicide of his mother head-on. And really, is there truly a way to meet something as horrific as a parent's suicide head-on?

The idea of the impossible vacation is both figurative (making a complete break with problems) and literal (the island of Bali). But it's the figurative that is always more interesting. Do we ever really take a vacation? Our jobs, our home--those are rarely the things we need a vacation from. Infertility, loss, arguments, disappointments--these are the things that demand a vacation in order to regroup, and yet, it is impossible to escape them. You bring them with you even if you end up on a beach in the South Pacific. You might escape them for a few minutes while you're engrossed in some chick lit or eating a particularly wonderful meal. But those troubles--the things you really need a break from in order to breathe--have a way of finding you at any hotel or friend's house. They creep in before you sleep or while you're floating in the ocean or even in the middle of laughing over something that someone said. It pops up unexpectedly like the horror movie ghost that you thought you had outrun. Grief and Frustration both hold sixth senses to find your whereabouts.

Five months ago, my OB ordered a progesterone test. He had filled my heart with hope about trying on our own, promising that the body sometimes came into hormonal realignment after a pregnancy. And it's true--it has certainly happened for many a stirrup queen--secondary fertility. It hasn't happened for us and I'm well past the point timewise where last time I had my feet in the stirrups. Some people take their time with the process. They avoid the RE because they don't want that diagnosis. I didn't care about the diagnosis as long as someone was doing something to get a baby to stay in my belly. I was in the RE's office the day after we passed through a year.

Primary Me wouldn't have waited more than a month for a progesterone test. Primary Me would have called after the first anovulatory month and said, "this isn't working. Shouldn't we treat the lack of ovulation and give progesterone as a protective measure?" Primary Me would have never understood Secondary Me. She probably wouldn't have wanted to hang out with her at all.

This test became Impossible Progesterone. Month after month, I wouldn't ovulate. Or I would ovulate but I'd be out of town. And then I wouldn't ovulate again. Five times I tried to take this test. And at the same time, focusing on this test was an escape. It was a meandering. I've been meandering, moseying towards the RE instead of sprinting in my best running shoes. And it's not like me. But this is how things have changed.

The last time there were two salaries. There was the fear that we would never be parents. There was the unknown. And there was just us--our debt was our own. But now, there is one salary. The fear and the unknown are gone and now there are two more people carrying the debt. Primary Me only listened to the whispers that still can be heard in the background: it will never work. You won't get to go through a babyhood. You will always feel like there are people missing in your home. Secondary Me has a second layer, a guttural voice that snarls at me over the whispered one: you're fucking greedy. And you're willing to mess with your health with fertility treatments. And that makes you an idiot because your existing children should come first. You're taking away from them to gamble on someone that you don't necessarily deserve to have. There are women who have no children. There are women who have one child. And you have fucking twins. You hit the jackpot the first time and now you're greedy enough to come back again. You don't deserve anything for that attitude.

The day before the test, I was having lunch with a friend who also has boy/girl twins and we were trying to figure out my meanderings. Why I can't run on a straight path directly towards the examination table. Why I'm willing to try to take a meaningless test for five cycles. There isn't an answer. Except that the road is both easier and harder this time around. And it looks like I should be able to run on it, and yet I'm finding that it's more like jogging in loose sand.

There are days that I believe beyond a doubt that I will have three children. There are days when I look into my deep future and see three children returning home for a holiday. Or my closer future where I see the twins getting to experience interacting with a younger sibling. If I didn't believe this, I would have turned the second bedroom into a playroom. I wouldn't look at the twins' toys with the thought in mind that a new baby may be crawling through the house soon, putting small pieces in his/her mouth.

And then there are other days when I listen to the guttural voice and think it's correct. I am greedy and I will realize that soon enough. And we will just stop. And if we don't come to a true stop, we'll come to a stall--that place where you stand in the crossroads for so long that you know that you can't make the decision anymore. It's too late. The path may still be out in front of you, but too much has happened, too much has passed, to take that first step on it. And then you either find a way to turn around and come home or you stand at the crossroads for the rest of your life.

I called for my appointment with the RE today. We'll go in November when things are changing for us financially--even if just minutely. It feels like the responsible choice, which is a bit of a joke when you're talking about treatments. Because, after all, what are treatments except a form of gambling with a really great payoff? You can end up spending thousands upon thousands with nothing to show for the hard work and money. Or you can end up spending thousands and thousands and walk away with the child you always dreamed you would have. But it's not exactly the safe option towards parenthood.

And I finally took my progesterone test. The one that is somewhat meaningless considering the other facts in place. But here is the joke. I called for my results today and my doctor is on vacation for the next week. He's taking the vacation that I can't take. Even if I've finally gotten the progesterone test out of the way. The other doctor said things look fine, and I listened to that as my uterus cramped and ached--the end of another ten day luteal phase. Everything is fine. Just relax. Go on a vacation. And wait a week for the doctor to call.


DD said...

I feel as if I'm on a forced vacation. "Nothing to do now but wait," and it's making me quite the basket case. And what am I vacationing for? Another chance to fail and that's what really, truly sucks. It would be a vacation if I knew at the end of my wait, there would be an answer.

I guess for me there will be an answer and it very well may be no.

How sucky to have waited as patiently as you have and then for your doc to take that precise time to take his own vacation.

Fertilize Me said...

I really think that is Just INSANELY CRUEL! Wait. As if we don't spend too much of our time waiting. Ugn, that just blows. I am sorry

LJ said...

Are you kidding me with the results? The doctor didn't make a contingency plan to give you the information.

That's the most horrendous thing I can think of.

I am sitting here STUNNED. That just sucks.

Adrienne said...

Can I project for a minute? You're still stuck on what your OB told you 5 months ago - that you can do this on your own. Sprinting to the OB, getting that test out of the way, that was an admission that maybe, just maybe, you can't. So you took your time getting there. It makes complete and total sense. And I could be completely and totally wrong ;-)

Changing Expectations said...

You're so right, you can't take a vacation from IF.

No one can give you the test results? Unbelievable.

SarahSews said...

That sucks. But if you can wait five months, a week will fly by.

I read this wondering what my problem is and suddenly worried that my abivilance about moving on with IVF might just mean that we won't. And that terrifies me. Damn it.

I like Adrienne's line of thinking though. And while we are at it, can I blame our doc too? Our lovely, locally acclaimed IVF doc told us we could get pg on our own (and a second one agreed). Maybe that's why I don't want to go back and give him my (I mean the bank's) $15K?

You've given me lots to think about as usual.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Yikes. Sounds like you've got a full blown war going on in your head. Hope you're able to keep the two competing forces under control...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I agree that there is no such thing as a vacation from IF. If there was it would be an island where there are no pg ladies, no babies, no happy children, no beaming grandparents and no stupid doctors (RE or OGYNs). Oh and no stupid relatives asking the stupid question" So when are you ...". You get my drift.

On a second note, this might be a stupid question but I don't know how to get the icon's and links for some of the sidebar items onto my blog. I would like to put a few of them on there (such as the infertility thread, the lost and found, etc.) but I don't know how. I can do a link but i wanted a click-able picture like you have. Can you tell me??

Samantha said...

You've summed the main shit of all IF treatment: waiting, waiting, waiting. Don't be too hard on yourself, it's difficult to determine when to push to move forward and when it's better to hang back.

Jess said...

I'm already struggling with what's best AFTER and we're only week 22 of my first pregnancy. But with a baby boy on the way and a baby girl at home, what is the answer? Is another child eventually greedy? What if it means not paying for all their college? Cars? Weddings? What if we get pregnant with twins next time?

Clusternut. It's all one big clusternut.

I lov ehow Dr's are always on vaca when you need them. During my m/c? My RE was in FL. During my last transfer and retreival? FL again.


mandolyn said...

Even though none of IF is based on merit or anything as beautifully simple as that, you DO deserve it. Having the twins and yearning for another certainly doesn't make you selfish or undeserving. Goodness, I ache for you. I'm so sorry things are so frustrating right now, Mel.

Michell said...

One of the reasons I love reading your blog so much is that you are always able to say so perfectly exactly what I had been feeling. I too have been moving slowly and much more slowly than I would really like towards the whole RE thing and because of fear. My fear is that I will be told you are too fat, I won't help you. I had planned to make an appointment in July and here it is mid August, now I'm waiting until September and 2 cycles for my appointment. Oh, and that whole can't get your lab results is shit. Makes me so angry.

Trish said...

The guilt will you get you whereever you go.
I'm sorry to see you struggling again.
I think that we spend so much time hoping for "just one, all I want is just one" and bargaining that if only you can just have ONE healthy baby, you'll never ask for more.. well.. then you find yourself wanting more, you feel like you're breaking your end of the bargain.
I think, though, that it's not a fair bargain to make. Fertiles don't have to beg for "just one."
You shouldn't have to beg for "just one more."
Plus, now you've experienced the joys of having children.. how could you NOT want to do it some more?

Ellen K. said...

We've spent more than an IVF cycle's worth on vacations -- and they have helped, even though IF was a stowaway.

I'm the older sister of twins (identical, boy-boy) and I've often said that if I had twins, I would stop right there. I love my brothers, but there was no competing with their twin bond, which intensified gender and personality differences. But having read more about twin pairs, I learned that my brothers' bond is unusually close even for identical twins, and I think fraternal, boy-girl twins would be less of an obstacle for a younger sibling.

Chris said...

"Hurry up and wait" seems to be the infertility slogan. It stinks. And I'm sorry you have to know it all too well.

Kim said...

Greedy? Selfish? I think not. You know what you may have to go through emotionally, physically, and financially to have a third child and still wanting to is anything but greedy. And you want it for the right reasons. You mentioned the twins having a younger sibling and growing your family - not shabby reasons at all.

And you're right you can't force IF out of your mind for a day let alone a week. Sorry about the bloodwork. That sucks!

Elizabeth said...

i can so totally relate to two themes in your post, the "no vacation" from infertility, and the meandering. Your post prompts me to ask myself what fuels my own meandering, what hidden hopes and fears? Because there's both.

KLTTX said...

I have been a lurker for a while now. I love reading your blog - get so much out of it. I am struggling with secondary IF too and sometimes I also feel greedy. I was blessed to have my DS but I feel like I have so much more love to share and my DS really wants a sibling and I'd love to be able to give that to him.

I just wanted to say thanks for sharing.

megan said...

i'm a bit mad at your OB right now. i'm sorry, Mel.
i'm glad you went ahead and made the call to your RE.

Bea said...

Well, I hope the test results are confirmed "good" for what that's worth. And here's hoping you don't have to go in November.