When he had finished, Alice would say, "When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea."
"That is all very well, little Alice," said her grandfather, "but there is a third thing you must do."
"What is that?" asked Alice.
"You must do something to make the world more beautiful," said her grandfather.
"All right," said Alice. But she did not know what that could be.
--Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Not long after my early August post, I got my period and we decided to get serious about trying for number two. I sort of started charting (I say "sort of" because I periodically forget to take my temperature in the morning - it's just not habit yet.), used some OPKs, and I even went back to acupuncture. Things went pretty well, I ovulated, we timed things right. And then last week we were on vacation and I didn't take my temperature at all.
I wondered if we could possibly be so lucky to get pregnant on the first try this time. I could see that Jeeves was feeling a little hopeful when he asked when I'm supposed to get my period. Yesterday was our first full day back from vacation and even though it was a Sunday, Jeeves had to go to work. I was feeling depressed, but quite energetic and not tired at all thanks to some extra sleep. I wondered if my depression was cause-based or maybe PMS? Or maybe pregnancy hormones? But I knew I wasn't pregnant. I just knew. The lack of tiredness was a dead giveaway. That night I wondered again if maybe it had worked? I decided to take my temperature before I went to sleep, just as a baseline. It was 97.6. My temp was never that low when awake while pregnant with Max. So there was my answer.
This morning it was 97.3. Definitely not pregnant. A couple of hours later, my period came, a day early. Jeeves and I were both a little bummed. It's silly, really. Most fertiles don't get pregnant the first month they try, so what's the likelihood that an infertile couple like us would? I knew that these couple of months of trying are just to cover the bases before going back to the doctor and the logical part of my brain knew that we would be going back to a doctor. But another part hoped we'd be that urban legend (not so much a legend - aside from the fact that I personally know 6 women who got pregnant naturally after IVF, I read a study recently that suggested up to 20% of previously diagnosed infertile women experienced spontaneous conception after live birth of a child conceived through ART).
My mind raced ahead to the doctor and what would happen if our tests this time indicated we were worse off than 3 years ago when we were originally tested. A friend of mine from my infertile moms group did IVF and now has a son a couple of weeks older than Max. They had a diagnosis of male factor. When they were testing years ago, he had low count - usually around 2 million. They had a frozen sample but decided to destroy it because frozen isn't usually recommended. A few weeks ago they went back for testing and he now has zero sperm. Zero. In typical Megs fashion, my mind can't help but think of that story. Sure, my numbers were good 3 years ago. But I'm 37 now. What if my eggs have gone to shit? What if they tell me that IVF isn't even recommended because my numbers are so bad? What if Jeeves goes from 1% morphology to 0%?
Well, the answers to those "what ifs" are that we will probably walk away if a doctor tells us that treatment is unlikely to work for us. I know families who have used donor egg or sperm or have adopted when a second child can't happen with their own gametes. Or some couples who decide they want to foster or adopt for a second child anyway. And while all of those possibilities would have been considered if we had been unable to have Max, now that we have Max we are more limited in how far we're prepared to go. And I personally feel that I cannot dedicate years of my life to this endeavor again. So even though I think it is usually very silly to draw a line in the sand when it comes to family-building, for now I need to draw a line in the sand and say if a doctor tells us we are unlikely to have a child through ART, we will stop. We will move on with our lives.
The thought of being told that we are done makes me sad. And I do realize that I have jumped way, way ahead of myself. But I think back to the first month we tried before we knew what was coming, and I just need to make this leap right now. I needed to scratch that itch.
If you've been reading this blog for awhile, it is probably apparent to you that I am a planner and I need contingency plans.
It was a hazy and very humid day in Brooklyn today and I decided to take Max down to the swings by the water. It's a good stretch of the legs. As we were walking, my mind went to that place wherein a doctor tells us that medical intervention is unlikely to give us another child. And after feeling sad, I started wondering what I would do after we decide that we're done trying. I didn't know. I remembered a children's book called Miss Rumphius.
My friend Meg gave me a copy of Miss Rumphius for my birthday at some point in my 20s. Miss Rumphius tells the story of Alice, who as a child listens to her grandfather's stories of his life. And, as the quote above explains, she decides to do three things in life: travel to faraway places, grow old by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful. Alice grows up, becomes a librarian, and becomes known as Miss Rumphius. She's able to accomplish her first two goals with ease, but struggles to figure out how to make the world more beautiful. (Spoiler alert - she figures it out, and passes along her words of wisdom to her great-niece). It's a really wonderful story - I highly recommend it.
At each point in her story, Miss Rumphius doesn't map out and plan every little thing she is going to do. She has a general idea of the goals in her life and when the time feels right, she works on a goal.
I do not know yet what I want my life to be if we are done building our family. I think I want to go work in a library. And I want to resume traveling to faraway places, something that will be easier as Max gets older. And I want to do something to make the world more beautiful, though I do not yet know what that can be. And that is okay. When the time comes, I will move forward, I hope with enthusiasm and alacrity, but I'll settle for grace. And I will accept that right now I am working towards one goal. I'll try not to leap too far ahead or make up contingency plans if we are ultimately unable to have a baby. I'll let myself feel whatever I am going to feel about it. Today, I felt a little disappointed that this cycle didn't work out. I felt a little sad to remember the taste of that disappointment when my temperature drops, and to realize I may have many more cycles of that ahead. I will remember there are many good things ahead too, not the least of which was my son's giggles as I pushed him on the swing.