As I sit down to write this today I am looking at our suitcases on the floor, all four of them, and I thinking that I should be packing. I am thinking that I should be planning for my three-hour long class tonight, I am thinking that I should be doing laundry. I should be making my son’s bed. I should be emptying the dishwasher. But what I really want to do is take a nap. It’s been a long couple of weeks.
Last week Jerimiah and I met with our lovely doctor, who by the way, is beautiful and smart. She is kind. She is optimistic. She is matter-of-fact. She is humble. She sits behind her large desk, in her khaki-colored room, her degrees hanging on the wall, next to her plaques that say, “Charlotte’s Best of the Best”, “Voted Number One in Charlotte”, “Best Doctors of North Carolina” and she says things like, “I don’t know why people have a hard time getting an appointment with me!” And we laugh, knowingly. It took us four months to see her.
But what I love most about her is that she is thorough. This is new for us. Our PCP is the same. They take the time to listen. They want you to know everything. They want to give you all the answers so that you can make a very important decision. They don’t like it when a test comes up short. They don’t like to look at us and say, “I don’t know”. But that is what our OB said to us last week. “I don’t know”. She doesn’t know what the problem is. In fact, she doesn’t see a problem at all. By her account, and the tests we have both been through, there is no reason why we shouldn’t have three kids if we wanted them. We are young-ish, 35 is no longer a death sentence (that was good to know), we are fairly healthy (we are both working on losing weight), and internally our bodies are doing exactly what they are supposed to be. His little swimmers are strong and many. My tubes are clear, my eggs are abundant; together we are a powerhouse of baby-making potential. So what the hell?
“Unexplained infertility,” that’s what she said with a cringe. She didn’t like to say it. It bothers her. She is a student of science. Of medicine. Of finding out why something works or doesn’t. She was as frustrated as we were. Then came the statistics. About 20% of couple suffer from this. There are various success rates for the various “help” you can get. There are three tiers of “help”.
Tier one is doing nothing different, just tracking on your own and keep trying. Keep a positive attitude. Don’t make sex a chore. Try to reduce your stress levels, y’all know I’m real good at that…
Tier two is “some help” by way of a medication taken daily that would help release eggs. Then we could choose to be monitored via ultrasound to make sure they are working. The sperm could be collected, cleaned up, then inserted to give us the best chance of conception.
Tier three is the mack-daddy of them all: IVF.
We had made it clear to our doctor early on, that because infertility is not covered by insurance, that IVF is out of the realm of possibilities for us. The cost is too crazy, the risks are too high. We felt we would be better served to take that kind of money and put it into the adoption process. Now I am not bashing anyone who has done IVF. If it were free or greatly reduced by insurance, I would have said sign me up! In fact, with the technologies they have now, they could all but guarantee that we would not have another child with a chromosomal disorder. We could choose how many eggs we wanted, I’m sure there is even a way to make your kid a rocket scientist during that embryo procedure. And for many it is the only way they can have a baby. But for us, knowing that we have been successful twice before at this, it doesn’t seem worth it. Besides, if nothing works we still have one amazing kid, so we are already lucky!
Tier two sounded appealing, I’ll tell you why. Tier two doesn’t ensure that we will get pregnant, none of the tiers do actually, but tier two makes it feel natural. It makes if feel holistic. Tier two makes you feel like it is possible and that the help is just that safety net under your high climb.
So we went with tier two. Kind of.
It isn’t a drastic step. We know this. And the pills that she put me on, Clomid, aren’t exactly magic. In fact, they have risks and side effects, but what pill doesn’t? The side effects, she explained, can last for up to three weeks a month, even though you only take five pills. The side effects can range from a little moodiness to full-out PMS symptoms. I think Jerimiah’s eyes got pretty wide when she said that. Who wants me to be PMS-ing for three weeks at a time?! I don’t want me to be that way. He certainly doesn’t want it. But you take the good with the bad in a situation like this.
She assured me that the worst that happens is I decide I don’t want to hang anymore and I quit. The risks are a little bigger. A normal couple has a 1% chance of having twins. On Clomid that number goes up to an 8% chance. Now some of you might be thinking, that is not a lot. And some of you might be thinking, well you want a baby, what is wrong with two? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with two and I would happily have twins and hug them and love them and spank them just like a singleton. What scares us, after having been through what we have, is two babies mean double the risk. Double the problems. Double the chance that they sit us in a darkened room one sunny afternoon and tell us that we lost one, or two babies. Two babies means anxiety.
So, we sat silent for a bit. We listened to our doctor say she was sorry. Say she wished, and didn’t wish, she would have seen a problem. And we agreed. Problems would have had different solutions. Or problems would have been bigger hurdles.
So we didn’t fully commit to the WHOLE tier, just the medicine now. I can only take it for three months, then we have to reevaluate. But she is confident. And we are optimistic. And somewhere, someone probably needs month-long PMS Missy in their life. Even if it is just my neighbor Dennis who needs an ass-kicking every now and then.
So as we embark on this fabulous, fun, family vacation this week I just have to carry an extra pill bottle with me. But it is fine, my Xanax won’t be lonely! I will start popping them on the cruise ship and then I may or may not commit mass murder two days later when someone looks at me wrong at the breakfast buffet. I mean, I dunno, I will keep y’all posted.