25 July 2012

Tender reality

But, see, the fact is, I'm 45.

We are blessed and lucky to have Della. We have been struck by the very best type of lightning, won the very best type of lottery, bucked the very worst kind of odds...

I don't know how many IUIs we did, but I remember the feeling like the procedure should have been something *more*-- more what? Romantic? MOMENTOUS? Something that conveyed the immensity of the possibility that a BABY may result... yeah, well,  no.

When we began, I had a definite limit to the kind of intervention I would try-- I knew I would never inject myself with anything, so big was my hatred of needles, so innocently certain was I of my NEVERNESS.

Then, time passed, and things did not work.  What I knew shifted. Never turned to maybe turned to finding myself one fine day staring down the business end of a lupron needle.

I remember that first IVF cycle attempt, the one with the bad drug reaction that left big welts on my belly, reordering meds... and then the shock of empty follicles. No eggs retrieved, not one. None.

I remember the second IVF cycle, the single follicle, the cancellation before retrieval, the last minute conversion to IUI, the totally surprising pregnancy. The heartbeat, the hope written every day into a notebook, the loss. Oh the loss. I will never forget how it felt to learn that the pregnancy was over, that Sprout was gone. I thought I would die from it. I will never forget the morning of the D&C. How I felt when I went to sleep. Or how I felt when I woke up.
Then the wait for the HCG to get back down after the miscarriage.
The wait. The wait. The wait.
It was Spring.

Then a few more IUIs since nothing seemed to be playing out right to try another IVF... oh, those IUIs helped me feel I was doing something. After all, we did achieve a pregnancy that way once upon a time. Lightning could strike twice. Couldn't it?

then, finally, alignment in the universe: an IVF, perfectly played, 5 embryos, negative.

then another IVF, perfectly played, 2 embryos, negative.

then my clinic broke up with me, telling me that it was time to stop trying. and oh, the pain of that. the pain drove me to rebound with a new clinic, a new protocol, and
IVF attempt #5, 2 embryos
the lightest and slowest developing positive line that any pee stick has ever shown...
one miraculous heartbeat
one profound and profoundly stressful pregnancy, one long-ass, intense labor followed by urgent C section in the dark of the earliest part of morning.

And one perfect Della.

Many of the folks I cycled with in the beginning have already had another baby.
More and more people are asking when we'll have another.
Saying how great it would be to have a mini-Doug.
How great it would be if we had more kids.
And I think:
Yeah, see, but I'm 45. We spent 3 years.  At least 60K we are still paying.  And oh, the rollercoaster. The heartbreak. And this time it would be donor eggs, a totally different ball of wax emotionally for me. And with no big paying job. No way to really do this. Really, no way to do this that is even on the far side of reasonable.

But, in this moment, I also get why people want to have more babies when their first one is this age. I know, if we had embryos, I would be working toward an FET right now in spite of everything pragmatic and reasonable.
I know, I know, that I could not love anyone more than I love Della, and that this urge, this longing, this sort of sadness, this is about something else, some weird biological imperative maybe, some *something*. 
I know it comes from a place of love, thinking of More-- Della is so spicy, so smart and funny and beautiful, of course we would welcome more!

I look younger than I am, which is a blessing in many situations. But not when it comes to this question.
Doug works with folks in their 20s. They just don't know that time runs out. They ask with such innocence, such delight in Doug, such delight in imagining how cool it would be to have a little mini-Doug running around....
The lady at the farmer's market, holding her 5th, talking about how as each new one turns 1 she begins to plan, telling me that I won't regret it if I have another, and yes it is hard to do it while working, but it is * so worth it *...yeah, well....

It is strangely hard to know we are done.

Even though this is not a capital L LONGING, it is hard to hear folks ask without some visceral ache, knowing it is not an option for us.  It is hard to have it come up, and let it go without a really deep wistfulness. Without the possibility. Without the ability to just change our minds and go for it.
This is a grief of a different kind. A quieter kind. The boat has sailed kind. The not even possible enough to revel in regret kind.
This just is.
And these past days, thanks to the innocent delight and questions from an abundance of strangers, the thing that it is, is really tender.


Anonymous said...

Um...I can't tell if you're 100% sure on this. But, you know, donor embryo (relatively little $$) is the way I would go if I were in your shoes. And I kind of was in your shoes.

an anon (who had her DE daughter at the age of 46)

Of course, ignore this if you're sure you're done. Only you (collective) know what's right for your family.

Carrie1074 said...

I can certainly understand your feelings. When we got married I got pregnant right away and sadly miscarried...3 times. Finally the fourth time I got pregnant, everything went fairly well and we have a wonderful 8 year old son. When he was 2 we decided to try for #2. I thought for sure it would be easy, because getting pregnant was easy for me, the hard part was staying pregnant. Well, here we are 6 years later and I have not been able to get pregnant. My husband is 43 and has some medical issues and I am almost 38. I have finally come to the realization that we are done and it is heartbreaking. On the other hand I know we are blessed to have our son and that there are so many others who are not as lucky as we are. I must admit too that it really bothers me to see women who are pregnant or with baby who truly do not need to have a child.
I really do understand your feelings. :(

Michele said...

I know the grief you're talking about. It's there for me too. I'm happy with all we have, but there i also the pain of knowing that, save a miracle, this road is over. And you're right- it's something we just have to mourn and work through.

Sending hugs...

Joannah said...

Oh, yes. I know the feeling well. If Michael were here, I'd do almost anything to have another.

I get asked the same thing because I look young, and some people don't know that I'm a widow. "Is this your first?" "Wait until you have another!"

Michael and I have a friend whose wife had their first (after much ART and failed adoptions) at 47. Don't know if it was a donor egg, or not. Not my business at all. But it makes me think/hope that if a good man shows up in our life in the not too distant future, that there's a possibility.

But, probably not.

I always thought I'd have three or four children, and a long marriage. Life just didn't turn out like I thought it would - at all. But that doesn't take away from the wonderfulness that is Michaela, and that she probably saved my (emotional) life.

Some people just don't know how blessed they are. At least we do. Our girls are miracles.

Lisa said...

You are such an eloquent writer. I have my sweet Adam and we are going to try one last IVF for number 2. I am half way to understanding every single word of this post. I hope our last chance IVF works but if it doesn't, I will face this same tender reality and, while its not the same grief that I would have felt had we not been able to have any children, it is still grief. I am thinking of you and Doug and sweet Della.