In addition to dreaming about putting on sweats and never taking them off again, my mind wandered to what I’d eat for dinner that night. When you’ve been dieting for a while, fantasies are no longer about winning the lottery or having sexual relations with your favorite hot actor. They are about food. Last night, I was picturing cheese cake. What toppings I’d put on it. Would I eat it plain? Would it be American or Italian style? Oh, the things I’d do to that cheese cake! “You like that cheesecake? I bet you do…”
When I got to the part of showing my imagined dessert who was boss, I was interrupted by the next performer reminding me that I needed to bring him onstage in a few minutes. My imaginary cheesecake quickly morphed into a plate of grilled vegetables. Dammit.
“Any big plans this weekend?”, he asked.
I almost told him that I was going to start estrogen priming on Mother’s Day for my third IVF but as I studied this 21-year-old hipster who had a t-shirt on that read, “I’m not a proctologist but I know an asshole when I see one!”, I was pretty certain he wouldn’t appreciate my plight nor the irony that I would begin estrogen priming on Mother’s Day so I responded with a simple “Not really.”
He then went on to give me what felt like a four hour dissertation on his weekend. I sensed he asked me about my weekend solely so he could tell me about his. Eventually, he got to how he was sending his mom flowers for mother’s day. As he blabbering on about how pissed he was about how much money it cost, I thought to myself how great it would be if we had a “Mother-in-Law’s Day” where instead of sending flowers, we sent poison ivy.
As I pictured my mother-in-law scratching her hands and smiling to myself, Mr. Hipster asked me, “So... are you a mother?”
I was in no mood for this question and without much though, I responded with a snarky, “Does a funny mother fucker count?”
He chuckled briefly and then stared at me with a confused and somewhat afraid expression. I’ve been getting this look a lot lately.
Last month, I saw an interview with Oprah on the OWN channel where she talks about the universe trying to communicate things to you. She says it starts as a whisper and the more you ignore it, the louder it gets. I turned to my husband and asked him, “What do you think the universe is trying to tell you?”
“The universe is telling me to change the channel. The game is on.” he answered.
Now although I don’t know if I completely agree with Oprah’s theory (lord knows my husband doesn't), I do feel like I may have recently experienced the point she was trying to make.
In the last year of our trying to conceive, I’ve heard stories here and there about the effect autoimmune diseases have had on women trying to get pregnant or various anecdotes of women who have done multiple in vitros and then after the third, fourth or fifth one, they finally get a test that explains what the issue has been this whole time.
It’s because of this that every doctor I’ve gone to, I’ve asked if they could do autoimmune testing and every single doctor has said they don’t think it’s relevant and/or that they don’t “believe” in it. This cracks me up. I realize that finding something may not always help or that data on autoimmune diseases may be up for debate but to totally not believe in it? It’s not Santa Claus people. It’s a blood test for crying out loud. If you can test for something, then it exists.
So, what seemingly started as a whisper, in the last couple of months especially, became louder and louder. I started hearing more and more stories on this subject. Several found out they had a blood clotting disorders well into their trying to conceive efforts. Others found out that they had an autoimmune issue that created implantation problems. A few found out through a laparoscopy that showed one thing or another standing in the way of conceiving. I was reading about it on Twitter, on other people's blogs, in emails I was receiving and in people I was talking to.
In fact, this past Thursday night, the night before I hosted the show that wouldn’t end, my acupuncturist told me a story about a client of hers that had done five in vitros and who was about to do her sixth when she went to a doctor who did autoimmune testing. Previously, she had gotten pregnant three times through IVF but they all ended in miscarriages. When her recent blood work came back, they found out that her body was attacking any of the embryos they would transfer so they addressed the problem; she ended up getting pregnant naturally and is due in two months.
After acupuncture, I headed home and started thinking about this story. I thought about how they still don’t know why I haven’t gotten pregnant. That there aren’t even any real concrete theories. I started to think about how much I’m not looking forward to this third in vitro. That the term “estrogen priming” sounds like something you do with a pump and that Mother’s Day was this weekend and the thought of it was almost too much to bear.
Then, in the middle of the night, something happened that I can’t remember ever happening to me. I was dreaming about one thing or another (probably another kind of dessert I wish I could eat) when I woke up in a panic. It was like my subconscious was screaming at me. “Jay! You’ve GOT to get more blood work! Insist on getting these tests! Do it now! NOW!”
I’ve been known to worry. I can even obsess if I’ve got the time but this was different. This didn’t feel like I was scaring myself needlessly. This felt like I couldn’t be comfortable proceeding with this next in vitro without having additional tests done. Actually, it was stronger than that. It felt like my body was yelling at me that if I didn’t get this done, this next in vitro would be sure to fail. Obviously, this may not be true at all… but that’s not how it felt. I was a woman possessed.
I sat and stared at the clock waiting for it to be 9am. As soon as it was, I immediately called my clinic and left the following voice mail, “I know my doctor doesn’t feel autoimmune testing is necessary but I want it done. I also want any tests for blood clotting disorders. I’m about to spend my entire savings on this in vitro and I need to make sure we are covering all our bases. I don’t care how much it costs or when we do it, I want it done. Thank you very much.” Short of asking for a pony, a hug, and a slice of coffee cake, my message was clear: I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
I'm happy to report that at 1pm yesterday, I got all the blood work I requested. I also got that same look that Mr. Hipster ended up giving me later that night but frankly, I don’t give a shit. I don’t care if the whole clinic thinks I’m crazy. I had to have this done. I just had to.
Even though the rest of the day, I felt like crap (they took A LOT of blood), even though I did an entire show with a big ugly bruise on my right arm from where they drew the blood, even though these tests may not show anything, even though they are still more tests I could and maybe should do and even though this third in vitro may be the death of me, I’m still relieved I got them done as it’s that much more we can cross off the “Why the fuck can Jay not get pregnant?” list. And if they DO come back with something, anything that might help, then I’ll be that much more insanely relieved.
After the show, I was on the subway home and thought about the “Are you a mother?” question. I thought of a few more colorful answers like, “I’m a fairy godmother” or “I am a mother but I just don’t have kids yet.” or “Isn’t obvious? I’m a sexy mother fucker! Awww, yeah!” and then, out of nowhere, I had a thought that’s a tad silly but it brought me comfort.
I thought that, in a way, by insisting I get these tests done, I was my own mother. Of course, I have a mom. One that thinks I’m cursed (thanks mom!) but one who I’m close with and love dearly. Still though, right now, I’m mothering myself. I’m looking out for my best interest. I’m making sure that I’m getting the attention I feel I need. Hell, I’ll even give myself milk & cookies on the days that I need it! With regards to my fertility issues, I am my own mom and that’s actually kind of nice.
One quick final note, if you’re someone who is struggling with infertility, I wrote an “Infertility Contract” for the Fertility Authority this past week. It’s a contract you make with yourself in an effort to keep yourself sane during this insane time and I recommend you check it out: http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blogger/jay-bronte/2011/05/03/infertility-contract
And of course, if you’re someone who is a mom or soon to be a mom, then I truly wish you a very happy mother’s day. I am living vicariously through you and hope that you’re good fortune will rub off on us all!