Prepare for the Best, Hope for the Best

Even though our infertility goals are still undefined, I’ve been moving forward step by step.  Should Ryan and I conjure up the funding and the guts to do IVF in January, I want to be prepared.  There have been an awful lot of administrative tasks to take care of on the back end, so best to get things out of the way while I can.

This week I got a ton of blood work done (infectious diseases, blood cell count, etc.), ordered by Dr. Mean, performed by Kaiser, and fully covered by insurance.  All tests came back normal.

I found out after the fact Ryan was supposed to get blood work done, too.  Oops.  Ordering that today.

I also met with a neurologist and officially got the ok to stop taking my seizure medicine! Hurrah! Not having this Rx on my medical history majorly un-complicates my life.

With no seizure medication on my profile I was able to order Dr. Mean’s preferred birth control.  As many know, birth control is the very first preliminary step of IVF.  Getting closer….

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Dipping my feet in the water of Plan B

It’s strange, but lately I’ve been trying on the idea of remaining childless, and it’s not terribly impossible.  Very much undesired and uncomfortable yes, but not impossible.

I can only feel this option out after I eliminate all peripheral fears and concerns about family and babies, and just isolate REPRODUCTION.  For example, if I could be guaranteed that I’d never be alone at holidays, would be exceptionally well cared for and happy in my old age, would never have to explain to a single person why we weren’t having kids, etc., would I be ok with not having children?

The answer is I might be just fine.  Marriage would be a little more straight-forward and perhaps easier to navigate.  We’d have so much more money and so much more freedom. No poorly-behaved kids with bad attitudes in our immaculate home! I might return to my beloved previous career of Public Accounting, which I left because I didn’t want to work the 60 hr work weeks while rearing the baby I was trying to conceive. Life would go on, and I remind myself the inevitable moments of regret and disappointment would be dealt with day-to-day, and not totally consume or dictate my years on this earth.  I’d be ok.

It’s a risk-and-reward equation.  If we stick our necks out with IVF and child-rearing, I know we’ll be rewarded.  But could not having children also be a great risk ready to birth a greater reward?  Could choosing Plan B and taking the unexpected, unanticipated life course perhaps be the more courageous choice?

Today, maybe so.  If I lived in a vacuum, even more so.  Call it an upward mood swing, hormones, whatever, I’ll willingly try on the idea.

I still have the overwhelming fear that I’d regret it later on.  I do not live in a vacuum, and would constantly hear the question “when are you having kids?” and see everyone else around me do it.  Leah would be next, and I fear the strength required to stick to my resolve and intentional childfree good attitude while my sister gets pregnant and has babies of her own.

Ryan is currently doing all he can to avoid conversations about our Big Decision.  I’m hoping it’s mulling over in his brain, consciously or not, and the truth of his heart will surface.  While we are suspended in this balance, I’ll try on the idea.

Infertilty is hard on a marriage

I’ve read a great many infertility blogs featuring incredibly strong women, tremendous loss, great joy, and kind, supportive husbands who operate in the peripheral.  These optimistic husbands go to and from work, keep a sense of humor about the chlomid rages and eagerly hold their wives’ hands through embryo transfers.

What I don’t hear much about is the husbands who aren’t sure, afraid, or are maybe being pushed or drowned out by the deafening tick of their wives’ biological clocks.  I don’t hear about spouses disagreeing over fertility treatments, the arguments about money and deciding when to stop even if there are still options.

Maybe I’m an anomaly, because women with Type-A husbands like Ryan are too Type-B to be blogging about it.  But I’m going to.

My husband can be selfish.  He also can be a ton of fun, an animal lover, and deeply compassionate for the needy.  He will make an incredible father.  However, he is selfish.  (For the record, I’m no picnic, either.)

To be happy, Ryan dreams of some pretty attainable things:  A dog.  A good football game on a big screen tv.  A top-of-the-line leather recliner and an expensive mountain bike in the garage. Clean sheets on the bed, cheese-its in the cabinet.  A wife in a pleasant mood.

My list of things to make me happy aren’t quite so easy to come by: Sell our house and buy a newer, bigger one.  Have babies and grow our family.  Get my husband to go to church with me regularly.  Pay off our debts.  Create a safe, happy, haven of a home.

I am not daunted by the money and effort required to get some of the things I want in life.  It would be nice if Ryan were a cheerleader, or better yet, a workhorse along side me, but I can handle reality.  The catch is when I try to check some things off my list, I interfere with Ryan’s vision of long days in the recliner watching sports and eating snacks. And like I said, Ryan can be selfish.  He doesn’t yield easily when it comes to surrendering his Happy.

In our last discussion about having babies Ryan said he’s not so sure he wants to “spend $15,000 on a problem.” In his defense, he said this tongue-in-cheek, not fully thinking of a baby as a “problem,” but also very wise in acknowledging that babies complicate lives and can turn a marriage upside down.

Anyone?  Anyone else hear this?  I say most likely he’ll look back one day and think that was the best $15,000 ever spent.  But today he sees IVF as taking money out his pocket, disrupting the football game and inserting a tyrannical wife and screaming child in his house.  I get it.

In my 3 years experience I’ve found marriage to be delicate and scary.  As a Christians we don’t believe in divorce, so there is no fear of anyone leaving, but there are land mines everyday leading to arguments, unhappiness, misery.  I wonder if married life would change for the worse if we have a child.  If so, and Ryan holds me responsible for the decision to do IVF, this could decimate our relationship. But joining the ranks of those who miscarry or remain childless certainly puts strain on a marriage, too.  Truly, God knew what He was doing when he created pregnancy as a byproduct of the most insatiable physical urge.  If everyone had to pay $15K to add a baby to married life, women everywhere would be begging and pleading and men would be freaking out.  No, the only way a marriage can survive IVF is if each of us gets on board of our own volition.

However, I can’t let it go.  I can’t at this point say “ok Ryan, I understand your fear and want you to be happy, so we don’t have to do this.”  We do that with all kinds of things in marriage, but giving up children and a family is a whole different caliber of compromise.

Years ago when Ryan’s seasoned, 25-year-old, new girlfriend asked “Do you want to get married one day?  Do you want to have kids one day?” he gave two enthusiastic YES’s! I never thought to ask him “what if we are infertile?”

No doubt he’s been caught off guard watching me sink to new levels of desperation. The crafty, roll-with-the-punches, I-don’t-need-a-man-to-define-me girl he met is now unnaturally preoccupied with babies, motherhood and breastfeeding.  Especially for $15,000? So not me.  When people change- that’s another thing that’s hard on a marriage.  It’s all just hard.

Seizures

I started having seizures when I was 16, and I’m not going to lie, they were bad.  My brain’s seizure of choice was the Grand Mal, the most heinous, consuming and damaging in the seizure world.  Once I had a seizure while walking down the stairs and ended up with a black eye.  I lost my driver’s license (temporarily) and was put on all kinds of different drugs.

While the seizures were bad, they were infrequent – about once a year.  Eventually my body outgrew the raging hormones of adolescence, my hobbies outgrew drinking and staying out late, and my brain also outgrew the seizures.  In retrospect, I was very lucky.  It’s been 8 years since my last seizure although I still take a very low dose of oxcarbezapine, an anti-seizure medication.

A few years back I asked my neurologist if I should go off the meds, if they’d be harmful during pregnancy.  He said no, as long as I took plenty of folic acid.  He also told me this: The risks of any pregnancy out there having a birth defect of some sort is 1%-2%.  A pregnancy with an epileptic mother adds an additional 1%-2%.  And on top of THAT when the mother is taking medication (even if not necessarily harmful) there is another 1%-2% chance of risk.

So that bumps ME from the 1%-2% range of everyone out there to the 3%-6% range of medicated epileptic.  I decided a long time ago if I ever get pregnant, I’m stopping the seizure meds.  Since there is no drinking or wild nights anyway (a personal recipe for epileptic disaster), reducing risks from the 3%-6% range to the 2%-4% range seems like a no brainer. Ryan’s a little iffy about my decision, I know my parents would freak out, but doctors have kind of left it up to me.

So I was surprised last week when I went to the OBGYN (a pap, hurrah) and her main focus out of everything pregnancy and IVF related was the seizures.  She tells me she will not prescribe birth control until I get the ok from the neurologist, and she seems to think if/when I’m pregnant I’ll need to INCREASE my seizure medication.

Huh?  That’s a first.  I suppose the OBGYN is the one most concerned about the baby, not fertility or getting pregnant, but the baby.  As she put it, if the BC messed up my liver’s ability to process the seizure medication and I had a seizure, getting pregnant is absolutely 100% off the table.  A person having regular seizures has no business getting pregnant because a seizure is that catastrophic to a baby.

Another reason I say I am extraordinarily lucky to have outgrown my seizures.  They were a pain in my teenage/ young adult ass with all the parental concern, suspended license and brutal medications, but thank God they stopped.  I’m free.

I forget sometimes that I’ve already cleared one monstrous medical road block to pregnancy.  Why let another one hold me back?