Cheers, dear readers,
Cathy here of the Dynamic Infertility Duo, Eric and Cathy. Well, isn’t that a strange title? Ha! So be it! As we like to say in my rock band Surrender Friday, “It Is What It Is.” Speaking of my rock band, as I was deciding what to highlight in this week’s post, I remembered a vital detail in my story that is important to bring to light:
Dealing with what other people think about our actions and decisions about such controversial topics as infertility and IVF treatment.
Last I left you on our timeline, Eric and I had just undergone one natural cycle IVF treatment. We didn’t even get to the implantation stage, as my one egg did not fertilize with Eric’s hand-selected sperm (a technique called the ICSI process). We were highly disappointed, but not licked yet. Along with our doctor’s recommendation, we had made the brave decision to go for the big guns: hormone-induced IVF treatment. It was expensive in our case (health insurance covered literally nothing), complicated (what to do with all of these vials and syringes! How was I going to figure it out! Can’t a nurse just come home and live with me to help me?), emotionally exhausting (the roller coaster of emotions is difficult to describe – from extreme hopefulness to total despair, and everything in between) and … well, overwhelming. Also, we realized that keeping all that we were going through virtually a secret from our acquaintances and co-workers was equally difficult and exhausting. How do you keep showing up at work with a bright smile on your face leading your respective teams when you are trying to will your reproductive parts to cooperate with you and the kind doctors, all while telling little fibs about all of these doctor’s appointments that you have to keep running off to?
It was getting to be too much. Something had to give.
Meanwhile, my band was having some modest success. Our music was tight. We were getting somewhat consistent “gigs”, and I enjoyed the distraction of coming to practice each week to work on something other than scientific baby-making, maintaining my job and my other worries. One of my guitarists was getting anxious and a bit demanding about us learning more and more songs, and getting more consistent gigs. I could feel the pressure mounting. What I needed was LESS PRESSURE as I was about to embark on the most expensive and important medical procedure of my life. It also dawned on me that I was jealous that as male musicians, family creation does not have to affect one’s ability to be a member of a band. The wife and mother must literally bear the burden of the medical condition of “pregnancy” while the male partner can keep up their requirements with their bandmates. Yet as a female singer and musician, how could I possibly meet all of the demands that my body would require going through IVF treatment and hopefully pregnancy and birth, AND still remain a practicing member in a band? Begin inner turmoil…
After much deliberation and discussion with Eric, I decided that it was time that I took a break from SOMETHING if I was going to give this one attempt we had at hormone-induced IVF a fighting chance – and that was taking a hiatus from the band. As I wrote the letter that I was going to send them (which was easier than face to face, as remember talking about our faulty “private parts” and my unfruitful womb is EXTREMELY EMBARRASSING). As I hit “send” on the email, I reminded myself that these guys were my friends. We’d been in this band for several years at that point. If you remember, I had an old emotional wound as far as band members go, in that my previous band had decided to replace me instead of honor the several months of mourning time that I had requested when my father had died (and I was thus devastated with grief). But I thought, this band was different. These were mature, honest, loving men and fathers. They would understand.
So off my heartfelt letter went, where I let them know that I needed a short break (if the IVF attempt didn’t work) from the band, or possibly a long break (if the IVF attempt worked, and I felt that I needed to “take it easy” during the first trimester or possibly the entire pregnancy and birth). What a strange and uncomfortable letter to write! And so much was at stake! So many emotions and thoughts were swirling through my head. And wow, I was still worrying about how I was going to figure out what to do with all of those little vials and syringes of hormones I was supposed to be injecting into my body shortly!
The letter was not met very well, much to my chagrin and surprise. Several of my bandmates were angry with me. They felt that they had the “rug pulled out from under them” right when our band was doing well. Why didn’t I tell them that I was trying to get pregnant? (Very few people tell others, not even close friends, that they are “trying to get pregnant”. That’s personal). Why didn’t I tell them I was going through treatment? (Who wants to tell ANYONE, let alone band members “hey guys, my genitals don’t work right, and I have to pay an entire hospital tens of thousands of dollars to get my husband’s squirmy bits to dance with my messed up, old eggs?” Nope, not dying to tell people that, nor do I feel I have to until I HAVE TO, which was right at that moment). I frankly was hurt by their reaction. One of my guitarists was very sympathetic as he very much wanted to be a father, and was starting to have some difficulty, he told me in private. And my drummer was also a dear, saying, “do whatever you need to do. I am here for you.”
In the moment, I had to process this mixed reaction as quickly as I could, so that I could go back to focusing on getting through the next four weeks, while still maintaining my demanding position with my company, and keep those paychecks coming to pay for all of this.
The moral of the story is this: There are moments in life where we need to do whatever we think is right. And it is vital not to let other’s thoughts, feelings and opinions on the matter derail us from our goal and our path. Each person’s journey is their own to steer. And we can only simply revel in the moments where we are all on the same path.
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.
This post is also available in: Arabic