I’m sitting here, thoroughly exhausted, trying to burn the hour between when I put my daughter to bed and when I get her back up to potty—without falling asleep myself. I will then take a dose of Tylenol PM or, no matter how exhausted I think I am, I will not fall asleep until 1 or 2 AM.
Today I met with the fertility specialist to discuss my “options”. He had called me yesterday after meeting with my oncologist and various other specialists during the conference held each Tuesday to discuss case files. This panel of experts talked about the 31 year old with aggressive breast cancer that knocked her over out of the blue, that may or may not be genetic. He called me. Wanted to meet today. I feel the timetable speeding up.
When I had my meltdown with the oncologist regarding fertility after chemo, she did what she could do to quell my worries, but really, if “putting your ovaries to sleep” was in any way comparable to egg harvesting, then they wouldn’t be harvesting the eggs of very many cancer patients. I do not like the idea of egg harvesting.
The problem is, I’m operating on the field of probabilities and statistics, of which I have no hard numbers—mostly because the numbers are irrelevant. There are “plenty” of women who have gone through chemo at some point in their life and have gone on to get pregnant will little or no trouble. There are also “plenty” of women who are as barren as a desert dune.
Has to do with the uncertain amount of eggs each woman is born with. There is currently no way to count how many rounds any one of us has left in the chamber. And for the women who go through chemo with no preservation measures taken, the ovaries absorb the drugs at much higher levels than if they were rendered dormant; the progressive saturation gradually kills the eggs.
But not all of them, for eggs or for women. There are about a dozen different variations of chemotherapy protocols, what drugs are used when and for how long. The longer a woman is in treatment, the more ovaries will absorb, the more eggs will die off.
I am in an “aggressive” treatment. Where many get two or three drugs, I’m getting four. And this is going to be a rough ride for six months. If I have a LOT of eggs, I could come out of it ok…provided my cycle gets back in check, because that’s the first step. If I have an average to lesser number of eggs, the chances are quite slim. That’s if I do nothing.
If I get the drug that will chemically throw me into menopause, then my ovaries would have to be woken back up with much the severity as a post-menopausal woman attempting to do the same. The cells themselves are younger, so that is on my side, but chemically, it’s not much different.
[Pause. It’s been an hour, time to check on daughter.]
These are the options if I really-truly have no desire to pursue egg harvesting. Things got a little emotional as I saw the writing on the walls, as they closed in around me.
Getting pregnant in a petri dish conjures a few images aside from the distraught 38 year olds who’ve tried and tried and tried (and are now completely ignored by society-at-large). For whatever reason, it seems very Hollywood. Perhaps due to the unusual percentage of actors birthing twins who swear they were conceived naturally.
You know what’s also Hollywood? Fake boobs, yet somehow I wrapped my head around that.
It’s also noticeably in the realm of reality television and any other fame whores not fortunate enough to sign away their family to a cable network. This is the 21st century equivalent to gladiator games, where we don’t have to stage the deaths of prisoners and slaves, because watching a long, slow, self-induced train wreck is so much more fun. The more children present to fuel the carnage, the better.
Finally, there are the twenty-somethings with no medical problems who have bought into the fertility industry’s propagated myths that if you have been trying for at least six, even three months and have not conceived then their intervention is necessary.
Because now that we can delay conception, we also must crave children on-demand.
Why do we act as if life is a cable show?
Because it is. These are the channels as I scroll through the menu: Looking to the healthy twenty-somethings, I allow myself self-righteous contempt. To the attention seekers, I allow a mixed bag of disgust for the parents, pity for the children, and anger to the system and society that thinks this is ok. To the actors, I’d give a passing shrug of indifference, at most an eye roll for the pretense. To the 38 year olds, three weeks ago merely a footnote in my worldview, I suppose I’m right there with you now. Sorry? Be friends?
Except the difference is, I already have a child. So who the hell am I to be getting chummy with those who’ve struggled?
"I already have mine. I wonder if I'm even allowed!" I spoke through tears, my frayed nerves failing me once again. And I don’t even have a partner whose desires would help me make a decision.
After time for collection and contemplation, I feel that if the hypothetical-he wanted to be a Daddy, then I would do it for him. But not for him, but because I would want for him to be a Daddy too. He would not be the hypothetical-he of which I speak if I did not want for him, on his behalf.
But he is not here, not right now. Only me and my dreams, my future.
What do I really want for me and what am I willing to go through to get what I want?
By my standards, egg harvesting is an unnecessary expense and will require an additional surgical procedure. It is extravagant and beyond the scope of my relatively simple, Spartan existence where a splurge is new panties on sale at Kohl’s with a coupon, despite my ability to do more for myself.
It is also entirely my choice separate from any associations to celebrities or to pseudo-celebrities or to the thoughtless or to those of whom we have thought less.
Am I willing to venture down a non-preferred path to potentially secure a priority which may not even come to fruition?
Am I setting myself up for heartache? To be a desperate 35 year old hearing the very real clock ticking as the years and men fly past her? (aside: references to my good-looking avatar are not appreciated at the moment)
But is this want a priority or just a preference?
After my fertility consultation, I went for a standard eye exam to re-up my prescriptions. I knew this needed to happen soon as I watch the timetable speed up around me. Funny thing is that I really enjoyed it since for the first time in a month, I spoke to a doctor and felt normal. I have vision insurance this time around and for the first time in my life I picked out frames that I liked without heavily considering what I could afford. They run a special on a second pair, so I opted for designer frames in addition to a pair with subtlety. My balance after insurance for two pairs of glasses was 288.92. “Wow! You have great insurance!” said the rep. Her expression sounded very authentic, but I was unconvinced. It is her job to make me secure in my purchase. I hesitated. I really didn’t need the Guess frames, did I? Yes I did. For the first time in my life, I need to enjoy the things that I want for no other reason than because I want them.
I want for him to be a Daddy, whoever he is. I would do it because I want to, for no other reason than because I want to.