As a note in her Christmas card, as well as in her thank you card, Myrtle expressed that we needed to communicate by speaking on the phone more often, and not just through texting. I thought she had a fair point, and I wondered if perhaps her nonchalant response to my second miscarriage reflected the fact that I informed her via text. Inspired by Body Shop Girl's suggestion to make realistic New Year's resolutions, I affirmed that I would make an effort to talk with Myrtle on a regular basis. I also resolved to assemble a proper earthquake emergency kit with provisions beyond beer. There hasn't been too much progress with that task, but it is only March.
While we were getting ready for our first transfer, Husband was assigned to umpire some top level collegiate field hockey matches on the east coast. This is a great accomplishment for him, as a few of these matches feature recent national champions, and this trip could help him work toward his goal of being selected to officiate games in the championship tourney. He spoke with me before accepting the assignment. I reminded him that we are not basing any future plans on a contingent if I become pregnant, but I quickly did the math; if FET#1 were to be successful, I would be between 34 and 36 weeks during his trip. Myrtle texted me when she heard that he would be staying with my parents during that time and asked I would be joining him. "It depends :)" I replied.
I was due to talk to Myrtle over the weekend after my BFN. I probably should have deferred, as I fully acknowledge I was in a much more sensitive state, but perhaps against my better judgement, I decided to face the music. "Oh, I'm so sorry..." she responded after I told her about my negative beta. "What's next?" she asked. I brought her up to date with our dilemma to transfer the final fro-yo versus starting a fresh IVF cycle.
"So, that's when you take shots to make lots of eggs..."
Well, you're not really making eggs, it's recruiting follicles, but she's got the idea...
"And you do that for how long -a month?"
"About 9 to 12 days. It mimics a normal follicular phase." Damn it! I used a technical term!
"Then the eggs are sperm are mixed and put back into your uterus..?"
OMG! She's finally grasped the concept!
"So, how many of these are you going to do?"
Earlier during that week, it occurred to me that if we do conceive and come out as recipients of infertility treatments, inevitably someone will ask just how much we spent to put a bun in my oven. My money was on Myrtle's father as being the one to ask that question. Tact is not exactly his forte, and Myrtle seemed to be reminding me that the apple doesn't fall from the tree. In my more delicate state, her innocuous question translated to: so how much time and money are you going to waste chasing this non-existent rainbow?
I informed her that our intention is to only do one more fresh cycle, and I expressed my concerns about coming to a point where we would transfer two or more embryos. "I resent the fact that I have to chose between having none or twins." I explained to her that beyond the health risks of a twin pregnancy, I feel we would really struggle with two as we don't have family close by to provide any help. "Well, can't you go to your parents and say, look we went through all this to give you a grandchild, can't you help us out to get a night nurse?"
I felt irritated as she seemed to be portraying me as some petulant spoilt little brat. I replied that I alone earn more than both my parents combined, so it feels a bit inappropriate to ask them for money. Fair enough, we do have a higher mortgage payment and reside in an area with a higher cost of living, but I also know my parents ended up owing the Feds when they filed their tax return and my Dad just learned he needs extensive dental work. Mostly, I resented the implication that I would be entitled to receive help from my parents. My grandfather used to say, "the world doesn't owe you a living" and I don't feel my parents owe us anything for giving them a grandchild. I know how much it would mean to them, but we're not trying to procreate for the purpose of producing a grandchild, so it doesn't seem right to expect anything in return.
Hoping to switch topics, I pointed out that I now would able to fly out to Connecticut in October, as I won't be 34 to 36 weeks pregnant at that time. Now, one would think Myrtle might say something such as, 'oh, yeah. I wouldn't want to fly cross country at that time in my pregnancy.' You know, like a normal person might offer. Nope. "Well, I flew to Vegas [for a work trip] when I was 28 weeks pregnant." she pointed out. (Actually she was only 25 weeks -yes I looked it up after we got off the phone!) Myrtle didn't stop there. "I worked until the day I delivered. I even did a show when I was eight months pregnant and everyone offered to get me a golf cart, but I insisted that I could walk around the venue." Yes Myrtle, we all remember what a fucking rock star you were during your pregnancy...
I often remind my patients that pregnancy and breastfeeding are not competitive sports. It pains me when I hear women create a hierarchy for motherhood. "Well I'm better because I had an all natural delivery while you wimped out and opted for an epidural, but we're both superior to those lazy women who took the easy route with a Caesarean." Erroneous notion as recovery from a C/section is much harder. "I'm more of a woman as I actually nursed my baby while you merely pumped milk, but we both outrank mothers who don't love their babies and poison them with blasphemous formula!" Yet, I feel my own emulous instincts take effect. I will not gain fifteen pounds in my first trimester. O-oh Myrtle walked a 5K while pregnant! I'll see that and raise her running a 10K! It seemed that Myrtle had moved beyond being subtle and was throwing down the gauntlet.
As I started to remind myself that it could all be a moot point as I many never be pregnant beyond six weeks, and hopefully if I ever am, I'll be wise enough not to doing anything stupid, perhaps Myrtle senses my doubts. "I still think that you have a crying mess of a baby in your future" was her creative wording to proclaim that it will happen! My initial instinct was to go with sarcasm, Oh yes Myrtle, your predictions have been so accurate to date. Please tell me what you see in your crystal ball... Yet I was struck by the way she emphaised the negative aspects of parenting. It took me many years to look beyond the negative aspects and appreciate the positive benefits. Then as the blessings felt more elusive, I placed less emphasis on the challenges. I thought I would take the opportunity to educate Myrtle that pregnancy and a baby do not necessarily heal all the scars created by infertility. "That's a sensitive issue, Myrtle. Many women who become parents after infertility treatment feel that they can't complain about the difficult aspects. You are still affected by infertility even if you have a baby. It's also harder when motherhood doesn't seem to live up to all your expectations. These women may be more vulnerable to postpartum depression" I actually couldn't find any evidence that cites infertility as a risk factor for postpartum depression, but it seems plausible.
Myrtle wasn't listening anyway. "Oh, you'll be calling me for advice when your baby won't stop crying and you're at your wit's end..." I'm actually the first to admit if I do have a baby I won't have a fucking clue what to do, but my reaction was: Wow, thanks for forecasting that I am going to be an absolute failure at parenting before I ever have the opportunity. The vote of confidence is appreciated! "I could send you videos of little Myrtle throwing a tantrum. That might serve as birth control! (light laughter)" Bitch, you did not just say that to an infertile woman with recurrent pregnancy loss who just failed an FET... "Myrtle... NOT HELPING!" Note to self: merely telling Myrtle when she's not helping...is not helping.
Although I didn't share any of this dialogue with her, the next day my local friend H sent me a link to an article entitled 'I'm so glad we're not friends anymore', which discussed when to break up with a long term friend. I didn't find that all the criteria applied, but it is time to consider that maybe Myrtle and I need to take a break for a while. I know Myrtle doesn't mean to be malicious; she's just truly clueless. After we became best friends in kindergarden, Myrtle and I were inseparable until we reached the eight grade and we got into a huge fight that ended our friendship. To this day, neither of us can remember what instigated the fight, but it led to us branching into two different paths as we entered high school. I became involved in sports and politics. Myrtle was in the school play and was editor of our senior yearbook. I excelled in science and maths; her strengths were arts and literature. By the time we graduated, years of personal growth led us to rekindle our friendship as two very distinct individuals.
Perhaps, once again we need to part as we both navigate through procreation, pregnancy and parenthood. I know Myrtle and I will always be in each other's lives, but I may need to redefine her role for the time being. I hope someday we'll find our way back.