Infertility is a mindf*ck. I could write a whole series of posts on how this process has changed me– little of it positive. Yeah, yeah… I know. Find silver linings and all that other bullshit, but I also believe in letting myself have all the feelings. Like even the bad ones.
Of the many side effects, I learned how to navigate the complexities of treatments. I learned to not have expectations on timelines or outcomes. Full throttle it armed with copious notes, spreadsheets, and injectibles, knowing that none of it was given. Expect to be let down, frustrated, disappointed, then go back to my well of resilience and hope there was still something left.
Oh, the arguments I had with my insurance. The test results that came back inconclusive, resulting in more tests that confirmed or denied nothing.
I learned that this is hard.
When I made the appointment with Dr. Petrel a few weeks ago, I was preparing myself to get back into the arena. I was suiting up– filling out forms, calling my insurance, going through my timeline to familiarize myself with the jargon I had willfully forgotten in the last two years.
Mr. O and I went in to see Dr. Petrel together with an agreement– we’ll try our one frostie, but only if it looks like it will survive thawing and be a good candidate for implantation. If not, fine. No more extreme measures.
I went to my appointment yesterday ready to try to start, with the full expectation that I would walk out with a list of more questions. I brought a notebook so I could take notes because I remembered how easily my heart could make me numb in doctor’s appointments.
I also remembered how miserable waiting rooms are. How you look around at the other people in the room and wonder where they are– are they on their 3rd IVF cycle? Did they just learn they were pregnant? Are they like me or are they one of those “freaks” who gets pregnant without really trying?
But before I could start building their stories, Dr. Petrel appeared in the door and ushered Mr. O and I into her office. She was just as I remembered- kind, upbeat, but also no bullshit. She got right down to business.
Petrel called our embryologist. Our embryo is stellar. It Triple A bonded, or whatever grading system they use. She suspects it has a 95% chance of thawing. So what we need to determine is how my uterus is doing post pregnancy, though since my periods have been pretty regular in frequency and flow, she is optimistic. Still, I’ll need a sonohystogram to make sure, and a few blood tests to make sure my thyroid is behaving.
Then well, that’s it. A sonohystogram, a check on my hormones, then we can get this baby-making started. Depending on those results, I could even technically just introduce the embryo as part of my natural cycle. No (or I should say, fewer) drugs required. Theoretically, our cycle could start in November, almost exactly when the cycle that begat Chick began.
I walked out of the office in a haze. What? Isn’t this supposed to be harder? Isn’t this supposed to take longer?
More importantly, am I really ready for this? Then again, are we ever?
A few weeks ago, a large packet arrived in my mailbox from my RE’s office. I remember this packet well. Lots of forms, check lists, maps to various offices… I didn’t open it.
“Oh, I know what’s in there.” Then like the diligent slacker I am, I completely ignored it until last night. I ripped it open, and started to fill out the forms.
The basic demographic stuff was fine. But when I hit the section on how long I’d be trying to conceive, I stumbled. I mean, how do I even answer that question? Do I go back almost 3 years to when this whole madness began? Do I start when Mr. O and I started talking about Deux? So I did what all of us do when faced with questions too difficult or painful to answer- I ignored them.
I could not, however, ignore the looming specter of Incompetence Insurance. You may recall that my insurance has a special phone number for us infertiles– the Infertility Hotline. In a flash, I flipped through those memories: the call, the laundry list of personal questions to someone who entered them into a database to determine my coverage… most of all, I remember the several days I had to wait for an appointment with one of their clinicians to open up. I don’t have days!
I called this morning, prepared to through my very best diva-style temper tantrum. Lo and behold, I didn’t have to. Since I’m already diagnosed, I didn’t need the uncomfortable calls, the endless precertification processes, or treatment codes. Nope, I just roll into Dr. Petrel’s office tomorrow with a half completed questionnaire, and I’m all set.
It’s the tiny victories, my friends.
I did it.
I made an appointment with Dr. Petrel to talk about Part Deux. This time around, it all feels very different.
a) I got an appointment almost immediately, rather than having to wait 10 weeks like before. I will be seeing her in just two weeks. Eeeek! I supposed this is one of the benefits of being an old-timer in the IF community- less waiting. In truth, I know this is only the beginning of a long series of tests, arguments with my insurance, and so much more. But I appreciate that there was one less hoop to jump through. Or perhaps just a shorter hoop.
b) Maybe it’s because this is not my first infertility rodeo, but I feel less apprehensive. I don’t know if that’s really the word I’m looking for. Before I would hold my breath waiting for every test, sure that one of them would reveal the truth of why we couldn’t get pregnant. This is one of the downsides of an “unexplained” diagnosis. You don’t know anything, so it seems like the problem could be everything. In my craziest moments, I was convinced tests would come back explaining that I didn’t actually have a uterus. Thaaaat’s what the problem is! Now, it seems like the next few months of tests are more like fact finding rather than waiting for a death sentence. Like an adventurous exploration of my lady bits to see if they can be colonized, rather than say… Shackleton’s ill-fated Trans-Antarctic Expedition. (Spoiler Alert: it didn’t end well.)
c) If I’m 100% honest with myself, I’m also much more at peace with whatever outcome. We have one frostie in storage, and Mr. O and I have agreed we’ll give it shot. Yes, I would like to have another child or I wouldn’t be doing this. At the same time, Chick is lovely. Our family is lovely. If it turns out we stay a trio rather than becoming a quartet, it’s okay. That’s not to say that I won’t feel sad if the transfer doesn’t work, I miscarry, or any of the other things that could stop a pregnancy before it really starts. But… well, the stakes don’t feel quite as high.
Maybe my mom’s death and becoming a parent in my own right have changed me– I now know worrying about every potential wrong turn doesn’t actually prevent any of it from happening. Preparedness doesn’t really count for much in the end. Endurance, the ship sailed by Shackleton, was built for maximum durability by expert shipbuilders. No one could have foreseen the storms and conditions that caused the crew to abandon her. The ship was eventually crushed, while her crew drifted for months on sheets of ice. And yet this expedition is often described as one of the best examples perseverance when all hope is lost.
Shackleton and every one of his crew members survived.