2017FertilityIVFTry Courage

IVF Update: It’s All Downhill From Here and Other Ambiguous Phrases

“It’s all downhill from here”  is a duplicitous phrase. It connotes both easy coasting ahead and some sort of decline. If someone yells it during a run race it’s hard to know whether they mean there are no hills ahead—which they only say if it’s a lie— or a general platitude like “You’re almost there!” It insinuates moving past some sort of peak, whether it’s a huge hill in the middle of a race or limping to the finish line after you went out way too hard and cracked.


“Being up for something” versus “being down for something.” Also confusing. Being up for something means you’re armed and ready to take it all on. You show up early and smile at the people who don’t seem as upbeat. You print an extra copy and sit at the front of the room. You raise your hand when there’s a call for questions. To start the process of IVF, you have to be up for something— the mental, financial, logistical—all of it.


And it’s funny how once you do get started though, whatever “it” is creates it’s own momentum—downhill, naturally— and it’s almost easier to keep going than to stop.


You’re really not up for it anymore so much as you’re down for it. You’ve already been lighting piles of money on fire a la F Society in Mr. Robot. You already skipped the conference, Thanksgiving with your family, the fall races, every swim since August 6th. You’ve already filled three personal sharps containers to the brim, made the switch to keto, screwed up your hair with DHEA, experienced 100 invasive ultrasounds. You’ve already lost touch with a dozen friends and tenx number of acquaintances who you now realize you only saw while riding bikes.


Your car automatically sets your commute to the reproductive endocrinologist’s office.


“Not going to make it to swim tomorrow,” used to be a guilty admission of a failure of willpower. Something you’d say around 10 PM—either because you stayed up too late watching a movie or went out to dinner on a weeknight and tried (two of) the recommended cocktail. Now it’s literally a joke, something you say then laugh because actually going to a swim would be ridiculous— a huge exception to the norm of not going.


It’s weird that you’re talking about swimming when you rarely think about it these days. Yet swimming is a good metaphor.  The correlation between effort and results is tenuous at best.


During your first retrieval you set a timer for all your injections. You made sure you were at home and iced the spots for at least 5′ beforehand. You saved multiple instances of prescribing information—you know— because pleasure reading . By the third retrieval you can uncap the syringe with your teeth as you’re driving down the road and stab yourself in the gut without looking. You can complete four separate injections in two minutes or less; you never use ice; you inject in a parking deck, a national forest, a restaurant bathroom.


Your phlebotomist gives you actual track marks.


Last week at the clinic for the required— near daily— appointments leading up to egg retrieval, you ask if anyone has had more than three egg retrievals.


The third egg retrieval seemed like a stopping point. Somewhere along the way you decided that three egg retrievals sounded reasonable and more than three was excessive. It was probably some sort of self protective mechanism. “Surely you’ll stop after this because it’s going to work. After all, look at everything that’s been invested! Hasn’t success been earned by now?” There are the ashes of the bajillion dollars; the countless instances of canceled plans; the opportunity cost of what-you-would-have-used all that spacetime for.


After asking, you were enlightened. One woman tried for seven years,  getting pregnant at the age of 50. Another became pregnant using donor eggs at age 57.  In other words, looking at the bell curve of what people go through to make a science baby, you are within two standard deviations of average. This realization is both gratifying and terrifying.


“Speed bump.” Four meanings. Irritating things that slow you down.  Every holiday, new cycle, failed retrieval pushes everything back one more month eventually adding up to a series of neverending speed bumps.


“Speed bump.” Increasing speed, like Google fiber is supposed to do.  You can’t believe it’s been almost a year since the decision was made. This process gives all of life a speed bump.


“Speed bump.” When your brain isn’t fried from hours of aerobic training, you can think clearly and use your brain in a way you forgot was possible. It’s how you imagine the drug in Limitless or, well, a speed bump. You sleep less; you write two novels in a month; you get up at 5 AM foe things other than #swimming; you finish your non-fiction manuscript in another month; you turn your entire life in a new direction.  You imagine completely new possibilities, gain new friends, lose others, resuscitate buried dreams.


“Speed bump.”  A euphemism for a massive interruption.  A hard stop. Something that breaks you out of cruise control. You needed a giant speed bump to even consider new possibilities, to take on new challenges.


These last four months have changed your life in ways you couldn’t even imagine.


Our lives, #teamrutledge. Had we been shown a glimpse of the whole process, had we known that everything that was to come from the start until today only to only be at this early step in the whole process, it would have seemed so frustrating, that much more daunting to even take on.


Thankfully God gives us only what we can handle.  One thing at a time. Day by day.


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