What feels like about a million years ago (but I know is only about ten or fifteen) is that I dreamed of a different life. My dreams generally involved traveling, getting my graduate degree(s) and career plans. It’s sort of strange to think now, but children were always a sort of footnote to all those ideas. I mean, sure, I planned to have them, but they weren’t a huge factor in my thoughts. Then we started trying to get pregnant, and suddenly, all I wanted was a baby. Even before the infertility, it was as though a hibernating biological drive woke up at that moment.
When I miscarried, when we knew that more treatments were likely, when we realized this really wasn’t going to happen without even more procedures, more fertility medications, more heartache, a part of me started to rebel. I was and am so angry. What had happened to all the other dreams?
This is not to disparage women who have always wanted babies, whose great life goal was to have children. It’s just that it was not mine, personally. Until now.
I guess it comes down to this: finding the place to draw the line. To push away, say I am done. I am done with being invaded. Done with watching every bit of our savings disappear. Done putting my life on hold.
The problem, of course, is where exactly to draw that line.
The line is a nebulous thing that dances somewhere out ahead of us. Sometimes I’ve almost caught it, and before I know it, it’s slipped away again, lost in the murky, unformed future.
At first, I thought of infertility as a minor setback. I’d have a few uncomfortable ultrasounds, some pills and then we’d be pregnant. Then we moved on to the RE, and my infertility would be fixed by a few rounds of injected fertility medications, and maybe IUI. We thought we’d spend what to us seemed a large sum of money, but it wouldn’t be so much, we’d have to delay a few purchases and dreams, but of course, a baby was worth it.
But now we’re here. We’re at that fork in the road, where to take one path means the very real loss of another. We do this plenty of other times in life, but up until now, I had believed, deep down, that I could still have most of what I wanted. Despite the unexpected detour of infertility, we would get our baby and get back on the road I’d always intended to be on. Maybe a year or two late, but certainly not never.
Now I’m not so sure.
Certainly, if we’d managed to have babies in the usual manner, our lives would have changed drastically. I’ve finally reached that age where I’m starting to recognize that some of the plans Arthur and I made in our early to mid-twenties were wildly optimistic.
But at this point, I’m realistically looking at a minimum of around $20,000 and another year or two of hard slogging through treatments and possibly pregnancy before any chance of a live baby. Oh, sure, it’s possible that the upcoming frozen cycle could work. It’s possible we could get surprised. The one thing I’ve learned in infertility treatments, however, is that counting on the improbable tends to leave me with a broken heart and a massive panic attack when I have to make yet another decision about treatment.
That means that pursuing my master’s degree is simply out of the question right now. I cannot, in good conscience, rack up more debt. I do not have the time in my life with the demands of infertility treatment being what they are to set aside the hours I’d need each week to truly focus on academic work in the way I would need. If I was lucky enough to get pregnant, I want to spend time with that baby, because there’s a very real possibility that baby would be my only one.
I’ve made choices, and I’m fine with the ones I’ve made so far, but it makes me wonder: how much more?
All of this sounds like such middle class, privileged worries, I know. And there’s a part of me that hates myself for it. Miriam Zoll hit the nail on the head when she wrote in her article “Generation I.V.F” and notes that of the ten things she wishes she had known about IVF that “Treatments Costs a Fortune. Be Prepared to Confront Your Privilege”. Yep, I’m there.
That’s the thing. I’ve never applied so many resources to one problem and been unable to really reach the goal. Some of that expectation, of applying various fixes, solutions, and expecting a tangible result, yes, is definitely my privilege showing. I’m lucky to have a choice at all.
But it’s amazing how fast one month of Clomid and optimism of being ‘fixed’ turns into a year of treatments. Compared to plenty of others, I haven’t lost that much of my life or savings to infertility, but I’m starting to see how one treatment segues into the next and into the next almost seamlessly.
So, yet again: back to that place to draw the line.
I don’t have an answer.
Revised 1-29-14. Like I said, it’s all a slippery concept for me right now, and some of the stuff I’d written, on further reflection, didn’t work for me. And because I’m a compulsive editor. Even if I should really just stop messing around with the thing and let it go.