I’m sitting on the couch with my stomach bloated like a beach ball from the Metformin.  I look like I’m six months pregnant, but of course, I’m not.  I thought I was getting off easy in the side effect department.  For the first two weeks, I had some bloating and discomfort in the evenings after taking it, but that was about all. Now, about three weeks in – surprise! – it’s making me pretty miserable.  I’ve been getting waves of stomach cramps since sometime in the middle of the night.  In between, I just feel huge and uncomfortable, and then every 10 minutes or so I have the cramps. Anyway, that’s not what I meant to write about, but with my babyless, bloated belly sticking out in front of me, it was hard to ignore.

I just noticed that our next door neighbor is visibly pregnant.  She has a 3 year-old adorable little girl (just the age I’m especially nuts about) who I watched grow from an infant.  If things had gone the way we intended, I’d be in the exact same place right now – with one little kid and pregnant with the second.  After awhile it ends up feeling like this state of struggling with infertility is just what my life is supposed to be, and that it’ll be this way forever.  All the sacrifices, changes, alterations – the childlessness, inability to plan ahead, the weight gain, amassing prescription medication bottles, lack of sex drive, the isolation –  they’re just how things ARE. But it doesn’t have to be that way.  I could decide I’ve had enough.

I think I’ve almost decided that if we have the exact same results this cycle – not just that I’m not pregnant, but that most of my eggs don’t fertilize – I might move on to donor eggs for the next cycle.  I think a three year struggle may be enough for us.  I’m still working through it, but I’m seriously considering it.   This will be my fourth IVF, and we can be covered for seven (we got a freebie at my old clinic through a technicality).  J initially assured me that we could use all our covered cycles on attempts with my eggs if I wanted.  He very sweetly wanted to be as supportive as possible and knows the whole thing means more to me than it does to him.  I think we’re both getting tired, though, and we want to have our lives back.  Now he even pays more attention to kids and babies we encounter than I do.  His desire to be a father is palpable.  He’s going to be 42 next April.  Is it just selfish of me to make him wait while we take the time to exhaust all of our tries?  Will there be any joy left in our marriage after all that?

Another thought that’s making me lean towards DE is how many other problems it would solve.  We wouldn’t feel quite as rushed for a second baby, because my age would be less of a factor.  We would likely have frozen eggs from our donor for a FET sibling.  Even more compelling is the thought that I might be more likely to feel safe from miscarriage, and would be able to enjoy my pregnancy with at least a little less fear.  Dr. Bedside-Manner, my RE, made it very clear to me that because my eggs seem so rotten, I’m at a very high risk for miscarriage.  Thanks, doc.  Gee, I had no idea and SO needed to hear that right before starting my cycle.

I still have moments of sadness.  I’m reading a novel where the narrator describes seeing his wife’s exact, unique expression of passionate determination on his little son’s face.  That passage broke my heart a little.  It seems like such a huge thing to give up sometimes.  How much of who a person is comes from genetics?  We have no idea.  It’s so much more than picking out the right hair and eye color.  What about their spirit – the energy they give off?  Maybe the reality is that the option of having a biological child is not really mine to give up.  Maybe that’s just how things are, and I’ll be happier if I accept it and move on.

We have a yoga place near us called “The Blissful Monkey.”  J teases me by calling me “Clenched Monkey Fist,” because I’m SO not the epitome of zen easygoingness.  I admit that somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that with determination, hard work, and focus, I could steer most things where I want them to go. IF, more than anything else, has taught me that I’m SO not in control.  I don’t know what or who is, but it’s certainly not me.

I recently was talking to a good friend of mine about DE.  I told her I was feeling more comfortable with it, but that I’d have misgivings when I’d imagine a possible DE child that didn’t want to do art projects, for instance. She told me that her (biological) daughter is surprisingly unlike herself, and that her son doesn’t have his father’s musical passion and talent – something he would have loved to share with his child.  Ultimately, a child is going to be its own person, and I’m not going to be able to steer him or her – whether a DE child or not – exactly where I want.  Maybe sharing my genetics provides yet another illusion of control, but nothing more.  I guess I’m filled with more questions right now than anything else.  I’ll get there.  In the meantime, I can only hope that the lessons I’ve learned through my struggle with infertility will make me better able to cope with the ultimate out-of-control situation – parenthood.

– Patience