Cycling

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Chapter Two

“So,” Dr. Gray said as my tears stopped. “How have you been?”

I laughed while wiping the tear streaks off my cheeks with a tissue that she handed me. “What a terrible question!”

“Well, it got a smile out of you.”

“It’s been rough,” I replied after a pause to consider the real answer. “Ben and I are walking on eggshells with each other. No one wants to be the one who brings up whether we should try again. No one wants to be the one who says we shouldn’t. So…we’re just not talking about it.”

“But you’re here,” she replied. “So you do want to try again.”

“I don’t know. I just want to think about it. You know, you look at that blinking little heartbeat on the ultrasound, and it never occurs to you that you’re going to have to go through all this again.”

“If this helps as you consider the process, you could think of this as an effort to give your son a sibling just like you would have if Daniel had lived. This isn’t just to give yourselves a living child.”

“Oh, God, I hope we get a living one this time.”

“Well, you know I can’t make promises. I can’t even promise that we can get you pregnant again. We’ve discussed the success rates for IFV before. They’re good, but not great.”

“Would you keep going if you were me?”

It was the one thing I needed to hear from her, from someone who knew exactly what Ben and I had gone through over the past few years. She knew better than anyone what we’d gone through to get here, and what we’d have to go through to move forward.

Dr. Gray frowned, pursing her lips. Then, “I don’t like to tell patients what I would or wouldn’t do. I usually try to stick to my opinion as a medical professional rather than as an IVF veteran.”

“I need to figure out what would be best,” I replied. “And I don’t know if IVF would be. I don’t know if we need to start thinking about adoption, or surrogacy or…kidnapping, or something.”

“Kidnapping is off the table,” she replied. “I like to discourage my patients from turning criminal.”

“Well, then, what are my other options?”

“Honestly, I think IVF is going fine with you. One pregnancy in three tries isn’t bad. You’re not the most enthusiastic responder I’ve ever seen, as far as eggs retrieved, but we could change your dosing and try to get more eggs.”

“But what if I just can’t carry a pregnancy to term?” I asked. “What if there’s something wrong with me?”

“No one has seen any evidence that there’s anything wrong with you, Elise.”

“But what if there is and all of you doctors keep missing it?”

“Would you be more comfortable moving on to something else? We can talk about surrogacy, if you want a child who’s biologically related to you. We can talk about adoption, though I will refer you to a lawyer for that.”

“How would surrogacy work?”

“Just like regular IVF, except that when transfer happens, the embryos go into her instead of you.”

“What if she goes crazy and won’t give the baby back?”

“Well, that doesn’t happen in real life, it’s just something they make up for TV movies. Are you being difficult on purpose?”

“I’m trying to make sure I ask every question that Ben might come up with. I want to make sure I’m ready for that conversation.”

“And you think Ben would be worried that a surrogate would steal your child?”

“You make it sound kind of ridiculous.”

“That’s because it is, Elise.”

“You’d do IVF again,” I said. “If you were me.”

“I told you, I don’t like to say that. I want you to do what you’re comfortable doing.”

“Humor me.”

She paused. “Yes, I would.”

“How many more tries would you give it?”

“Assuming I had infinite amounts of money?”

“Oh, please. You and your husband own a fertility clinic. You practically get IVF for free.”

“That point aside,” she replied, “I think I’d give it two or three more tries. We’d tweak your treatment after each cycle, assuming they don’t work. If you don’t get pregnant in three tries, then we’d look more aggressively at why. And maybe try something else.”

“Are you saying pregnant as just a positive beta?”

“Yes.”

“And as long as I can get positive pregnancy tests, you wouldn’t change anything.”

“We’d run tests if you had another loss. Maybe we’d look at having you take baby aspirin or continuing the progesterone a little longer into the pregnancy. But for the most part, I’m pleased with what I’ve seen from you.”

“Right up until I lost my baby and ruined the success rate for your clinic.”

“Right up ’til then, yes,” she replied with a slight smile. “Obviously I was devastated for you and Ben, but I have no reason to think we can’t get you pregnant again.”

“But there are no guarantees.”

“Right.”

“So…what if we fail?”

“I don’t like to think of it as failure.”

“Oh, okay. What word would you prefer? I wouldn’t want to bruise your sensitive ego.”

Dr. Gray laughed. “Let’s just say don’t succeed.”

“As if it’s a totally different thing from failure.”

“Yes.”

“All right, and if we don’t succeed?”

“Well, have you thought about adoption?”

“Of course I have.”

“And?”

“I don’t think it’s for me. I don’t know Ben’s thoughts on the subject, but I have to think that if either of us considered adoption as a solution, we would have done it. Or, I guess, started the paperwork. There’s something about adoption that feels like I’d be waiting around for other people to make things happen. I like being able to control my fertility. Well, as much as I can. And I’d feel like I was taking someone else’s child. I don’t know if I can get over that.”

“I know it’s scary to get back on the horse after a loss like this,” Dr. Gray said. “I wouldn’t blame you if you were too scared to keep going.”

“Do you think another loss might make me lose my mind?”

“That’s a question for a mental health professional, not a reproduction specialist.”

“Should I be in therapy?”

“Do you think you need therapy?”

I shrugged. “I’m better now than I was. Right afterward, right after we lost him, I probably did. But I feel different now. Motivated? Determined?”

“Is that how you’re going to try to get through more treatment? Determination?”

“Well, I’ve got to do something. I want to be a mother. A mother of a living, breathing child. I guess that’s what’s going to get me through this.”

“How is Ben? What’s going to get him through this?”

“He wants to be a parent at least as much as I do.”

“Is he ready to try again?”

“I don’t know. Part of me isn’t sure I’m ready, but at least now I can go to him and tell him what you and I talked about, and we’ll figure it out together.”

“You don’t have to start right away. You can take some time to get used to the idea of coming back.”

“We’ve had plenty of break time. If we’re going to do this again, we’ll have to start before either of us chickens out.”

“I don’t want you to get your medication and the needles and rethink your decision.”

“Once we have a child, it’s totally worth all of this, right? The pain and the ungodly sums of money?”

“Totally worth everything.”

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