Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Odds and Ends

About a week ago I was talking to my friend Jen about how odds/percentages really mess with your head. She had some pretty astute observations. To wit: Let’s pretend your RE tells you that you have a fifty percent chance of an IVF cycle working (and that is generous, bt let’s just suppose for simplicity’s sake). That is a coin toss. A one-in-two chance. A 50-50 shot. Do you skip home, humming to yourself that you are just a transfer away from becoming a mom? Hardly. You insist it won’t work, claim the odds are not in your favor and remain depressed until your cycle return proves you right.

But then take this scenario. You go to get your nuchal scan and you get your blood work back. And your doctor says that you have a 1 in 3,000 chance at a chromosomal abnormality. One in three thousand is by all standards a very low risk. Keep in mind that in NYC, only 337 babies are born every day. Even ten days, one of those babies will be born with a chromosomal abnormality. That is a .0003 chance of a chromosomal abnormality. That is a very tiny number. Do you go home and sleep peacefully, knowing the odds are on your side that you will have a perfectly healthy baby? No. You are positive that you are in the unlucky .0003 percent and rush into an amnio right away, which, any way you slice it, has a risk factor greater than the chance of chromosomal abnormality. (Yep, and I did an amnio, too, knowing all of this.)

These odds fuck with your head.

I know I am beating a dead horse here and perhaps preaching to the choir, but it is so hard after such a long road to wake up on the positive side of things. No matter how slim the odds are of something bad happening, I find a way to squeeze myself in that tiny space and live there, if only for a moment, and sometimes for days and days.

I justify this insanity by clinging to the notion that I was somehow wrong and na├»ve to embrace pregnancy the first time around. After all, I was over the moon the first time I was pregnant, already shopping at baby stores at just six weeks and rubbing my non-existent belly. I felt invincible: We took so long to get here, so nothing bad could possibly happen. Ha. That m/c hit me like a freight train. Infertility’s cruel joke: It takes you forever to get pregnant and then your baby dies. And the second m/c was twice as hard. And the third: Suffice it to say that it is a slight miracle that I endured it and that my relationship came through—stronger, I’d like to think—than before.

I read in a book that if you overfeed one sense you are most likely starving another. You can interpret that in so many ways, but for me I saw it as this: I spent all of my time trying to have a baby that I neglected every other part of my life. I was convinced my life was a waste without children. I thought my life had no meaning without children. I though Nicole and I would never be a family.

It was a slow process, but eventually the lessons sank in. Nicole and I already were a family, and to act like it was incomplete was disrespectful of what we had. My life wasn’t a waste. And I will be fulfilled, with or without children. Children won’t fill a hole in my life; they can only enhance it.

And then we did IVF for the third time and, magically, it worked. Maybe it was because there were things that I needed to learn before I could become a mother (if the universe really works that way). Or it was just random coin-toss luck.

Where is all this coming from? I’m not sure. Maybe because that fear is still in me and not a single day passes without some visit to that dark place. Maybe it’s because I spent more than 24 hours thinking about baby furniture and baby showers and due dates. I just picked out a lighting fixture for the babies’ room. Right now, I’m trying to feel the good, to embrace the light, to feel the joy of pregnancy and not just the fear. But I can’t shake the feeling that bad things have happened when I let myself go there before. It’s sad, because before I know it, June will be here and I will have spent all these months not living the joy.

Above picture is my 22 week belly (measuring at 27.5 weeks) in the doorway of what will be the babies' room.


Bri said...

Oh, I so know what you mean. I can't imagine waking up and feeling positive about this, even after an amnio. And I think I am in for trouble each time I spend even 5 minutes thinking cute, sweet, positive thoughts about August and beyond. I am trying to just accept this for what it is and not be too, too sad that I don't get a completely cute, happy pregnancy, but it is hard. I am finding it really hard as I start telling my co-workers and they get that excited, happy look and I just want to say "MAYBE" after everything they say.

K J and the kids said...

I know exactly what you mean.
I tried to be like other people and accept that I was pregnant and enjoy it. I couldn't....every time they would put the ultra sound wand on my stomach....I would hold my breath and watch the techs facial expression to make sure things were still ok.
You worry the whole pregnancy and then when they come out it's a whole different set of worries. They never stop. You worry that they will stop breathing, that they will get a some weird disease, that they will get hit by a car, that they will be teased by the other kids for having two moms.
We worry because we love them so much. Because we are afraid of loosing that miracle, that amazing life that everyone talks about.

You just won the jackpot girl. But your pay out is over a lifetime.

Calliope said...

holy shit this was an eye opener for me.
I am SO in the place of thinking everything in my life is effed up b/c I can't have a kid. This was a very well put kick in my pants...not that you wrote this just for me, but thank you just the same.

lagiulia said...

Beautiful, awesome belly. Are you carrying pretty comfortably? You look like it. I guess comfortable is relative at this point, though.
It was hard for me to relax during my pregnancy, and given all that you went through with your IF experiences, I'm sure it must be significantly harder for you. All I can say is, nervous or calm, content or scared, ready or not, the babies will arrive and that will be that. It's funny how that happens.
Still reading and loving your blog!

Stacie said...

IF is so hard. I hate how it robs us of our joy in pregnancy, hanging on like an unwanted guest even after science and luck should have shown it the door.

That said, you look beautiful. Would that I had looked so good.

Dee said...

I can relate as well. Our entire pregnancy is about odd and percentages. I they bring NO comfort. Even if the odds or percentages are on your side your consumed with the chance you might be on the other side. It sucks! It's so hard to enjoy when there is so much to worry about. And this is just the beginning. Wait until they're born!

Your blossoming belly looks adorable! Grow twin baby girls grow!