Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The path not travelled

I've just read, rather belatedly, &Duck's post on losing her pregnancy recently.

Her experience was far more intrusive than ours, involving much more medical intervention, restriction of daily activities, vomiting and body shape changes. But she expressed exactly the frustration and despair of this whole pregnancy thing. It's been kind of hard around here lately, with much keeping of one's chin up. Lovergirl's really been miserable and I do this counterbalancing 'bright face' which even I find brittle and false.

It's not the loss of that particular pregnancy - we were only aware of it for a week. It just seems to have given us a spontaneous abortion of hope at the same time. Two years of inseminating and that was the first time we had managed to fertilise an egg. 'Okay, it's been two years but we're finally pregnant now, we're on our way,' was the mood of the week. Then we discover that just getting the egg & sperm introduced is merely the first hurdle; now we've gotta keep the thing stuck in there.

We felt we were entitled to a break, you know?

Lovergirl, in psychology hat, calls this "the Just World Fallacy" - the mistaken belief that good things happen to good people, and bad to bad, therefore I will get what I deserve. And I'm good, so I deserve good things.

(This is what comes into play when stupid people say things like 'If you would only resolve your anger you would cure yourself of cancer' and so on)

Every month, after inseminating, we would try really hard to ignore the tiny germ of hope but that pesky daydreaming crept in: 'Maybe this month we will get pregnant...' 'What do you think about Skylar/Britney/Kahute-spirit-of-the-trees as a name?' Every month a negative wee test would bring us back to earth. Disappointing, but not shattering.

Of course, once we really were pregnant it was all so much worse. You're not meant to plan or tell anyone for twelve weeks, and we knew the statistics: it's a high risk time. Nevertheless budgets were drawn up, along with idle conversations about layouts for the baby room, plans for naming ceremonies, education accounts, grandmother rosters...Okay, we were a bit overexcited. But still in a self-consciously idle, 'we know we're not supposed to plan yet,' kind of way. At least, I was. Lovergirl threw her whole heart into it.

Then a week later it all came crashing back down.

It takes two years to get pregnant and then we can't even keep it...And, annoyingly ( a mild name for the seething mass of resentment that slops around inside my gut), every other lesbian we know seems to get pregnant soon as they look at a turkey baster filled with sperm. And they don't seem to be any better/healthier/more resolved in their mothering issues.

In fact, we grumble resentfully to each other, we're sure they're worse.

Much less deserving.

I'm not sure whether I want to be encouraged to keep trying, or to well-adjustedly start to develop an alternative future vision of us as highly successful childfree academics/ social commentators/ well-respected film producers.

Pavlov's Cat has written about the choice made by degrees (both sorts of degrees, in her case) not to have children. It's interesting that some people blame this creeping non-choice on feminism. I understand the urge to blame it on someone. I cast about looking for people to blame. The list of possibilities includes
  • Lovergirl (we should have started sooner rather than wait until we had a stable relationship);
  • Grey, a man with whom, in my early 30s, I was in a (clandestine, still-identifying-as-a-lesbian, longer-post-required) relationship but didn't want children;
  • the obstetrician Dr K - there must be something else he could be doing. Maybe he's using dirty test tubes or something;
  • and of course my mother, always a standby blame figure (especially when one hangs around with psychologists). She was terrified I would end up a single mother like her four sisters (my mother was the only one who held out 'til she was married) and my numerous female cousins, N, M, M, T & G, who monotonous as clockwork all came home from school at sixteen (fifteen in T's case) and announced they were pregnant. If my mother hadn't been so overprotective I could be planning my child's 21st right now! (And oh wouldn't my life have been so much better... I believe N's seventeen year old daughter A, is 'very bright' and has 'a very good job in a bank'. The others, of course, are pregnant.)

I hadn't thought to blame feminism though. That opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Capitalism? Christianity? The Greens?

I'll get back to you.


Anonymous said...

From a pragmatic point of view, why don't you do both? Keep trying and start working on the other plans at the same time. This will buy you time and when the paths come to head and one has to give - you will THEN have to make a definitive decision.

Susoz said...

You're still only in your mid-30s, I think. Still a lot of time to try. In infertility circles, they say to have a fertility plan A and a fertility plan B and you can have non-fertility plans A and B running in parallel.
I know it seems like it took two years to get pregnant but actually it happened on just one day. And it was the first IVF, I believe? So there are grounds for optimism. Is your clinic the best in Brisbane? You can look up success stats on some official body whose name I can't remember. It could be worth moving to the best clinic with the best doctor. You could even think about coming to Sydney. There are many options, the future is not closed off to you.

Mikhela said...

Yes Anon, I think that's where we're heading....hence the move to Brisbane so L can go back to uni. I'm not sure what my Plan B is - which is why I have the mildly embarrassing life coach. What to do with the next 45 years of my life? and other self-indulgent musings (something one can do when childless)

Susoz I'm 38 & L turns 40 next month! so we do have a sense of running out of time - probably don't need to throw in the towel quite yet and I may be overdramatising but the biological clock is winding down I reckon. This was L's second IVF & I had a go a year ago.

I will track down those IVF stats, check that we actually do have a good dr - that's a good idea, thanks.