As if I hadn’t already noted all the many things that pissed me off about my latest baseline appointment, there’s still one more thing hanging over my head. Maybe I’m being ridiculous, maybe I just enjoy being miserable (highly possible), but I haz a gripe. And it all comes down to my silly quest for “normal.”
I accepted long ago that nothing about getting pregnant would be normal. Despite what health class taught me, getting pregnant hasn’t been as easy as just removing the condom from the banana. My conception story will not involve candles, bubbly, and seduction. It takes pills, probes, and pricks (needles, not the fun kind) to get me knocked up. And, we’re still working on the keeping me knocked up end of the equation.
All this has left me with a strong desire to have as “normal” a pregnancy and delivery as possible. That is, if we ever get to that stage.
Now, I’m an academic. I know as well as the next person how nebulous a term such as “normal” is. I’ve spent years of my life in classrooms as both teacher and student arguing away the concept of some monolithic, inherent normalcy. But, when it’s pregnancy we’re talking about, I have a very clear sense of what is normal. I don’t want a high risk pregnancy, I don’t want a pre-term birth, I don’t want constant appointments with high-risk OBs (maternal fetal medicine doctors – MFM). I want to finally make it past the first trimester, I want to complain about my swollen ankles, and I want to fucking glow.
Yes, so much of this is out of my control, and in some ways the high risk ship may have already sailed. My autoimmune issues have killed at least one viable fetus; my prior ectopic puts me at risk of another; my questionable ANA findings in the past months may indicate an AI disorder that could put me and any baby I carry at risk; PCOS and Hashimoto’s both carry increased risks of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, low birth weight, and all kinds of other fun things; and, then there is just the simple fact that, as the regular loser of infertility Russian roulette, I can’t help but think that if something bad could happen, it will happen to me. Let’s set aside for the moment any questions of why, if all these things are true, I’d ever think in a million years it’s a good idea to become pregnant. No, not for any good reason, but mainly because that’s the one question that haunts me day in and day out. It’s the one question I have no good answer for. My general answer is still about as well developed as the response, “Babies are cute. I want one.”
But, returning to the matter at hand, there is one very real, very tangible thing I can do to try and prevent an unnecessarily high risk pregnancy. And, it’s something my RE office does not seem to want to help me with. Put simply, I don’t want multiples.
Now, let me clarify (back-pedal?) a bit, before anyone starts to take offense (which is so totally NOT the point of this post).
First, I know not all twin pregnancies are super high-risk/abnormal, just as surely as I know a singleton pregnancy can have oodles of unforeseen complications. Living in the land of IF for as long as I have, I know many, many women who have had happy, healthy twin pregnancies. I don’t have as much personal experience with triplet or higher pregnancies (see, we aren’t just all out to be Octomom!), but I’m sure there are some wonderful stories to be shared there. (And, please do share them if you’d like in the comments below!) But, a twin (or higher) pregnancy will just always be different from a singleton pregnancy. I’ve had enough “different,” I kind of want “boring.”
Second, I know that there is no way to totally control for the possibility of a multiples pregnancy. Interestingly enough, the highest-risk multiple pregnancy I’ve encountered among my IF friends was one that was naturally conceived without the assistance of fertility meds. An IF friend in the computer was blessed with dear daughter (DD) #1 after over a year of trying in 2011, and when it came time to try for #2 was blindsided by a naturally conceived monoamniotic-monochorionic (“MoMo”) twin pregnancy. I’m thinking about her regularly these days since she was admitted as an in-patient last week at 25w for regular monitoring throughout the remainder of the pregnancy – a plan that had been in place since the twins were first found to be MoMo’s. The babies and mom are doing wonderfully, but they do serve as yet another (much needed) reminder to me of that so trite, so overused, yet so accurate expression, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I know I cannot totally control for the possibility of a multiple pregnancy, but when you are being monitored as closely as I am and are so highly aware of the number and size of follicles you brew up any given cycle, it’s hard not to have the, “how many follies are too many follies?” refrain echoing through your mind.
Third, if we’re being entirely honest here, I (OMFG-deepest-darkest-secret-don’t-tell-anyone-kthanksbye!) really want twins. And, the reasons are many:
- My dad’s dad (my paternal grandfather) was a twin. I never met him (my dad barely new him — he was killed in a plane accident when my dad was 7), but I still found this incredibly cool. Telling a little girl that twins run in her family means said little girl starts planning her future as a mother of twins. Course, I didn’t know then that I’d grow to hate my fertile forebearers. Flaunting their fecundity while I sit here and fail repeatedly…
- As an only child, I always planned on having at least two children of my own. Now, I doubt that will happen. And, not just because we’re perilously close to giving up this whole having kids thing altogether, but also because if we do succeed in the coming months, I can’t see myself wanting to spend the first 4 years of my child’s life going through this all again in the hopes of #2. So, two at once? Instant family.
- I’ll totally go there. For what we’ve paid to have these fictitious future children of ours? We totally deserve a two-for-one deal!
- This might be the weirdest reason of all, but I totally want people to ask me whether my (future fictitious may-never-happen) children were from fertility treatments. Infertility is such a huge part of my life that I can’t see myself being willing to stop talking about it once I have children. I’d like to think I’d welcome the ignorant comments about how my bundles of joy were conceived as they’d provide yet another invitation to educate the idiotic fertiles all around me about what’s what. I know every time I see a set of twins I silently go, “I wonder if she’s one of us?” I’d be happy to walk up to someone like me in the future and gladly say, “I’m totally one of you!”
But, ultimately, a singleton pregnancy comes with fewer risks than a multiple pregnancy, and I’m done being a sky-diver after nearly 4 years of falling out of the sky. If we’re going to have to go through so much hell just to get pregnant, I can’t help but feel that we should actually get to *gulp* enjoy it. Once you’ve earned your IF card you should totally be able to give birth painlessly, at exactly the most convenient time, once the baby is well and fully cooked, and with a minimum of drama. I spent far more of my young life with doctors in a steady stream of exam rooms than I ever anticipated, I’d be totally chill if pregnancy were one of the few times where I could confidently tell all the doctors to fuck off and let me body do what it’s supposed to. Will that happen? No. But a girl can dream…
And, it also won’t likely happen because my RE seems hellbent on making me the next Kate Gosselin. Last cycle had it’s ups and downs, but it started off with a very simple argument. The nurse wanted to start young, PCOS-stricken me off on 150IU Gonal-F. I wanted to not have my ovaries explode. We agreed to disagree, she agreed it was my body (no kidding?), and I started on 75IU instead. Seven days of 75IU later, they finished me off with 4 days of 112.5IU, and I produced two plump follies of the same size. One from righty, one from lefty. I was supremely happy. Odds of one fertilizing seemed strong, the outside chance of twins was worrisome, but, as we all now know, I’m totally (secretly) down with twins. Sure, there was the small chance that one (or both!) could split resulting in a triplet or quad pregnancy, but that seemed about as likely as me actually getting pregnant in the first place so I dealt. Of course, just as I was mentally preparing myself for a long, protracted beta hell and nightly conversations about how long this one will last, we got the news that I wasn’t remotely pregnant. Silly me. Silly hope.
So, this time, I entered the clinic saying we were willing to be more aggressive. By that I meant I’d consider an IUI and would love to talk to someone (anyone!) about a future IVF, but apparently the nurse heard instead, “Sign me up for my own reality show!” So, no arguing this time. I’m on 150IU Gonal-F which I started on Monday night. I did get her to agree I could drop down to 75IU tonight and tomorrow so that we didn’t totally screw ourselves over before we could get back in for monitoring on Friday. So, we’ll get the verdict on Friday. Did 2 days of 150IU and 2 of 75IU cause a follie boom, or am I just a total paranoid freak hanging on far too tightly to the hope of a normal anything on this bumpy road to baby? The Lupron headache and my tighter-fitting pants are backing me up at the moment, though…