More than once along this journey of trying to become a parent, people have asked how I get through it all. What is it, they ask, that keeps me from going insane? Aren’t I frustrated? How do I survive? I never have a good answer. Sometimes it’s patience. Sometimes it’s family and friends. Sometimes it’s coping mechanisms I’ve developped along the way.
And sometimes–most times, to be exact–it’s just the fact that I have no choice but to survive.
This week dealt another setback in the TTC (trying to conceive) journey. We were supposed to be doing IVF this month. I had already started the first two medications. I went in on Saturday to have a blood draw and ultrasound. The ultrasound looked great. The blood, not so much. As I mentioned on Monday, my estradiol did not go down enough. It needed to be below 100 and it was at 196. I was told to continue the medications I was on instead of starting new ones and to check back on Monday. I was told that if it did not go down I’d have the option of continuing the cycle with the risk of overstimulation of the ovaries and an overall negative outcome or to postpone and try to down regulate some more. Later that day I started a bonus period–a period that wasn’t at all necessary, but not totally unheard of at this stage in IVF. Of course, I started it without warning at a baseball game, so that was fun.
Monday came and once again the ultrasound looked great, but the blood did not. As a matter of fact, instead of going down, the damn estradiol went up. It was now 206. There was no options. There was no choosing. There was a cancelled cycle. In addition, I was told my platelets were high from the complete blood count workup they ran on Saturday. I’d have to retest in a week to see what was going on with that.
Not only was April IVF not happening, now, but I was pushed back a month, put back on birth control pills and told that there might be an additional issue to worry about. Of course, platelet count was one of those things that could mean a million different problems or absolutely nothing. This wasn’t the first time that particular count had been high. It signals inflammation and given all of the chronic illnesses I have that involve inflammation (IBS, allergies, etc.), it’s not exactly surprising.
I finished the day off on Monday. I went to the allergist as planned. Turns out I was running a slight fever on top of things. I don’t ever run fevers. I could have an infection of the Outbreak/Contagion variety and never run a fever. It’s just how my body works. Or doesn’t work. Whatever the case may be. I finished out the day and taught my class and came home.
And then I called in the next day.
My allergies were killing me. For all I knew, I still had a fever. I was mentally in need of not going into the office. So I stayed home. I watched some television. I ate some candy. But mostly I slept. And slept. And slept.
Today I have to start being human again. This isn’t the end of the road. It’s just a roadblock. This isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a streetcorner preacher proclaiming (likely wrongly so) that the end is near.
How do I put up with this? I don’t know. This month marks two years since I first went to the first fertility clinic. It’s been 28 months since we started trying altogether. My TTC punch card is full of holes from cycles I shouldn’t have had to endure. I should be going crazy by now. I should be freaking out more than I am. I should need a week’s vacation and not just a day of moping around.
But I won’t let myself.
When I was 16, my childhood best friend was killed in a car accident. We had grown apart in middle school, but had just started rekindling our friendship in the year or two preceding her death. At the time, I worked at Wendy’s in town. I hated that job. The people were rude. They gave me the shittiest assignments possible. Time dragged at best at that job and literally stopped at worst. For some unknown reason, some of the employees took to calling me RuPaul. I never understood it.
And the day of her funeral, I was scheduled to work in the afternoon. I was distraught. I was depressed. I was questioning so many things. On my dad’s insistence, I still went to work after her funeral. We may have been Catholic, but we definitely had that Protestant work ethic down pat. I cried as I wiped off trays. I sobbed in the back room multiple times. By the end of the day, it was like I had worked 48 hours straight. I went home and sobbed in bed and cried myself to sleep.
Whenever I think that I can’t go on…whenever I think that the road has gotten to be to tough and I need to call it a day…I think of my 16-year-old self wiping trays as tears fell down my face. It was a stupid lesson to learn. My dad can be a bit of a battle ax at times, and I’d never encourage anyone to force their kid to do that. There was no need for it. But my parents don’t deal well with emotions, so they tend to think working them off is the best way to go.
Despite all of the resentment I still feel about that incident, it’s always the one I think of at times like these. If I can go to work in a hostile environment after burying my childhood best friend, then I can keep moving forward. I can keep swimming. I can take a breath, hit something hard and continue fighting. I haven’t given up. Yes, this setback sucks balls of epic proportions, but it’s just a setback. It’s not the end of the world.
I’m still alive. I’m still fighting. I still have therapy and chocolate and iced tea. I still have silly cat videos and awesome Tumblrs to check. I still have the coping mechanisms I’ve put in place for myself. I still have my work and my school. I still have me.
So how do I keep on at this? Why haven’t I given up?
Simply put: I have no idea how to do anything but what I’m doing right now. My life in this realm is a Hobson’s Choice–I either take the options I’m given or I don’t. There’s no in between. For better or worse, I’m built to survive. My self-destruct switch is so far out of reach that I’ve forgotten it exists. I’m stubborn. I’m headstrong. I’m unwilling to listen to anything but the sound of my own dreams.
And when you couple that with Keyboard Cat, you have a indomitable spirit that just won’t let me say never.