You gotta vent every now and then, don’t you? Well, here I go.
I know that on this ‘journey’ you’re supposed to be a warrior, a fighter, strong and serene, doing what you can and accepting that the universe will provide at just the right time.
Well, fuck that. Sorry, but we’re just feeling low these days. Really low. We did things right. We were thoughtful and conscientious. We got married when I was 33 and he was 30 — plenty of time to get all our “trying to conceive” done by the reproductively cursed age of 35. We’d have one when I was 34, then get pregnant the next year and have baby number two when I was 36. Boom, done. We were excited, motivated, and ready. Healthy, active, and happy.
We moved from New York to my home state of Oklahoma, where there’s family nearby, it’s more spacious, and the cost of living is reasonable, to start our family. And we came with a nice nest egg of $30,000, saved carefully over a few years. Amazingly, as Ahmed was building his web design business and I was writing my book, we managed not to touch that money. We still had it as a cushion, a way to take a chance on growing or augmenting Ahmed’s business (some ideas don’t pay for themselves for several months), allowing me to write a third book, traveling somewhere really exciting, and/or putting a down payment on a house.
This is us, happy, before we ever started trying for kids
Until months and years and two surgeries for endometriosis went by, and half of our savings ($15,000) went to our first three IVFs and two FETs in Istanbul.
And they failed. Two failed cycles with no transfer, one miscarried FET, and one big fat negative after being stuck in an absolutely sweltering Istanbul for six weeks for FET #2 with no air conditioning. That’s probably why I ovulated through my estrogen patches, which is probably why the FET failed. My doctor that time was a patronizing jackass. I told him I was afraid I was sweating through my estrogen patches and begged him to check me mid-cycle — an eminently reasonable and simple request that would have taken him five minutes, and that most doctors do routinely. He refused. God only knows what that refusal has cost us.
And now here we are. I’m 36, which means in the absolute best case scenario, we’ll have twins when I’m 37 (and God knows plenty can go wrong with twins, especially when they’re you’re first and you’ve entered ‘advanced maternal age’), and in the second-best, I’ll have my second kid when I’m pushing forty. Not something that was ever in our plans. And these are our two best possible scenarios. It could be plenty worse.
Dammit, I still routinely get asked if I’m in college. Why can’t I look young on the inside, too?
(No judgment, by the way, for women having children at any age. This just wasn’t our plan.)
We can keep trying naturally as long as we want, but our chances still aren’t good, and my endometriosis (probably) comes back more and more every month. (The only way to know for sure is to do another surgery.) Which means it’ll be smart to try to figure out what to do next, pro-active-like. Which most likely means another $15,000 or so for any option besides foster adoption (which we’re gun-shy about after three years of heartbreak) — the end of our nest egg. The end of our cushion, our pocket of freedom we were so careful to save for ourselves.
And insurance doesn’t cover anything — as if your reproductive system is some kind of trifling luxury. I feel like we’re being punished. I feel like we’ve been robbed. And what if the next thing doesn’t work? Then we’re really screwed. Broke and childless, when we could have had two kids by now and some of our nest egg still left over.
I know, I know. Shit happens. You can do your part in the best possible faith, work your ass off, pay your dues, and the universe still might not deliver. The universe is not Domino’s fucking Pizza.
But it just sucks that our first three years of marriage, which should have been so blissful and exciting, have turned into a long expensive nightmare of procedures and heartbreak and grieving. Grieving something that, once at least, almost was (the embryo we miscarried was a chromosomally normal boy), but in general is just absent. We’re empty inside, feeling constantly choked and helpless, like our life is passing us by. Every anniversary brings us not joy but dread — another goddamn year gone.
We try not to feel that way, but it’s like being told not to think of an elephant.
Three prime years, wasted. Not wasted entirely, of course. But as far as the most important thing to us — those years we could have spent with our kids are gone. Sure, we played a metric crap-ton of soccer, and I did some book tours that took me through several US states and six new countries (Scotland, the Netherlands, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE). Ahmed and I spent six months together in Istanbul (though not really by choice — that’s how long it took to do three IVFs and our first FET, which ended in miscarriage). We had some good times despite the crazy stress.
And we spent money we didn’t have to go on a huge 6,000-mile road trip through New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming this spring (and hit a deer outside Yellowstone, which cost us an extra thousand bucks), thinking it would be our last chance before a baby was on the way. (And it probably is — however and whenever a baby gets here, we can’t afford to do that shit again for a long time.)
And Ahmed taught himself web design and has turned it into a living, though business is down lately, which adds that much more stress for us. My novel is almost done, but I could have finished it in two years instead of three if I didn’t spend so much time distracted and depressed, or so many endless hours researching the very latest in reproductive science. That time feels wasted, too. I mean, normally fertile people don’t even have to think about that shit. (And yeah, I shouldn’t be so obsessive. But when it comes to the most important thing in my life, it’s damned hard not to be.) And, of course, the novel may never bring in a dime for us (though several freelance editing projects did), but I kept putting off getting a ‘real job’ because I kept thinking I’d be pregnant any month now…
Anyway, as Ahmed has said, all that other stuff starts to feel hollow when the ‘main dish’ isn’t there.
We really don’t want to feel that way. But we do.
And I’m SO BORED with this bullshit, I can only imagine how little anyone else wants to talk or think about it, so I just swallow it and try to act normal, even if it’s a baby shower for the third baby of a cousin who’s younger than me, or a family gathering with my six nephews who are growing older every day but should have grown up as cousins with our kids.
I know that someone else’s gain isn’t my loss. But our loss is our loss. And we’re reminded of it constantly.
With our nest egg gone, we’re going to have to probably get more conventional jobs and abandon our little dreams. We’re already living at the bare minimum, in a small apartment cooking our own food, not even paying for Netflix or cable or cell phones (except my $7-a-month pay-as-you-go flip phone for emergencies), rarely going out except to play soccer (which is free except for our league games). Most of the TV we watch is pirated and has Turkish subtitles (which is really annoying when they start speaking Valyrian on Game of Thrones). There’s not much more fat to trim. But we have to start saving again, or how the hell are we going to actually raise kids?
Sigh. It was all planned out so beautifully, so carefully. It just sucks that, through no fault of our own, it somehow turned into this sad, broke shit.
And believe me, I know our lives are blessed in so many ways. And I shouldn’t focus too much on what I don’t have. And for a couple of years I was pretty OK. But after three years? It’s hard for either of us to have faith in anything, and it’s unthinkable for us not to have kids. So we feel squeezed and trapped in so many ways — and I, at least, also feel guilty for not handling it better, for not being the strong and fearless person I thought I was. This shit has ground my ass down.
So, that’s my little pity party. I’ve been holding it in for a while, and holding it in doesn’t work well for me. I gotta spew it eventually. Purge it.
Hopefully I’ll feel a little lighter tomorrow.