Sunday, January 24, 2010


"If at first you don't succeed/try try again
Step up to the mic/and die again
This is the next lifetime and you want to battle
You must like reincarnation/or the smell of carnations"
- "Raspberry Fields", Cannibal Ox

So we've tried three cycles since we lost the boys. Each one hasn't worked. Not even close. And oddly enough, I don't feel worse for it. Maybe I'm just numb, inured to disappointment after tragedy. Or maybe losing the boys was some sort of large NO, and ever since, I've just assumed this was never meant to be, and keep trying because I don't want to say we didn't try. Is it masochism if it doesn't hurt anymore?

There's a part of me that's given up. That has to assume that we aren't going to have biological children and needs to start getting used to the idea. Inoculation. Introduce the pain a little bit at a time until it builds up a resistance. Let it hurt a little bit all the time until the pain is manageable. Get used to it. Get accustomed to it. And the last year has been rough for me, but never so rough at once that it felt like a real struggle.

I've grieved the boys. S got worse and I had to take care of her while trying to finally transition into a career. I put the boys and my own pain aside because S couldn't get out of bed. There were days I honestly thought I'd come home and find her body on the bed. That today was the day. Not because she was going to kill herself but because the medication and the depression would eventually reach critical mass. Maybe the line between deliberately killing yourself to end the pain and accidentally killing yourself in the process of managing the pain is so thin as to be academic. But that was a hard year. Always alert, always vigilant.

Then things started to get better - counseling, better medication strategies, talks with doctors that helped absolve S of some of the guilt she felt. Started putting our life back together, engaging it what we called "Operation Grow The Fuck Up" - get back to living, being social, managing the daily business of living and climb up out of the grief, the long dark hole. And part of that meant trying again.

The first couple of cycles didn't work, and apparently part of it was because S's endometriosis had come back. One laparotomy later, we try the next cycle. Lots of drugs, lots of pills, and two IUI's this time. And it didn't work. Why? Well, why not?

I teach a class on child development. The first semester it was just a horrible irony. Those who can't, teach. The second semester it felt more integrative, critical examinations of parenthood, childhood, fertility, the social constructions that shape us from conception onward. This third semester I've taught it, it's fine. I know what to do with it now, and I know what role my own experience can play. Part of what I teach is the probability of conception. Only 10-15% of conceptions successfully implant. And all we're doing with the pills and the shots and the vitamins and the hormones and the centrifuging and the catheters is getting us to that 10-15% place. We're marshalling huge amounts of technology to do what two people do anyway. So at a certain point, it's a numbers game. Try, try again.

We've got one last cycle in us, I think. It's taken a long time for S and I to get to the point where we both feel this way. I was there some time ago, she wasn't. But the cost of beating our head against the wall, of coming up on the wrong side of the numbers again and again is getting too high. It might work, it might not. I think if it works, it'll be a surprise. If not, we'll need to start saving up for a shot at IVF. Our only shot, most likely. But nobody can say we didn't try, try, and try again. And again, and again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In transit

There's an old prison maxim - "Drink a lot of water, and walk slow." Drink a lot of water because it keeps your system flushed out, and walk slow because you're going nowhere fast.

Being stuck at an airport always reminds me of this.

Long story short - RE appointment scheduled earlier than we thought it would be, try to fly standby out of Seattle only to be told that all other flights are overbooked already. Wouldn't be too much of a hassle, except my scheduled flight is a redeye that leaves at 11:30pm. So here I am at the airport for the next 9 hours or so. As much as I'm impatient and in a hurry when I travel by air (as my inhumanly patient wife would tell you), being stuck here for a ridiculously long time tends to put me in a contemplative state. I walk slow and look around.

Airports are weird. They have aspirations to permanence - shops, restaurants - but they're essentially places of impermanence. They aren't destinations, they're ways of getting you to your destination. We are only here to be elsewhere. We're in transit, suspended between here and there.

Cycling is like that. We know entirely too much about what it takes to have a child, we have our attention called to every detail in ways that you wouldn't if you were just doing what comes naturally and hoping for the stork to unload his storky payload over the house. We are doing what comes unnaturally. There is no "baby dust" here. Well, there are ashes. I'd like to ask some of those "baby dust" people if those count. We know what the costs are, in dollars and tears and moments lost. With every cycle we hold our breath, caught between "it's over" and "it's just beginning." In transit, suspended between here and there.

This one isn't looking good. S stimmed hard, but only one out of four follicles showed any significant growth by the ultrasound. I'm going to be going right from the airport to the appointment, which might make for the least hallowed/sacred/whatever attempt at conception in my life. S is starting to wonder if we shouldn't just quit IUIs and start saving up for IVF. I'm starting to wonder the same thing. And so we hang between "do we" or "don't we", with everything in the middle up for grabs.

And the first person to ask me why we don't "just adopt" is getting punched in the throat.