Wednesday 27 November 2013

The Bad Stuff is Easier to Believe...

In the postcoital bliss, after Vivian violated her 'no kissing on the lips' rule; she shared with Edward the turn of events that led her to become a hooker on the Hollywood Boulevard. Despite the fact that she made good grades in school, her mother was convinced that she would end up with some loser. "People put you down enough, you start to believe it." she explains.  Edward Lewis begs to differ by describing her to be a very bright and special woman.  Vivian isn't buying it. "The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?"

As I was only 14 or 15 when I first watched Pretty Woman, my fragile teenaged self esteem could totally relate to that line. Now more than twenty years later, I am an accomplished professional who generally holds a healthy degree of self confidence. Yet with regards to the prognosis for this pregnancy, I find myself falling into that trap: the bad stuff is easier to believe.

Perhaps some of it is bias from my own work experience. The bad stuff is easier to believe because I've seen so much of it. I've had hundreds of couples in my exam room, excited and hopeful about seeing their baby on ultrasound, only to have their dreams crushed after I discover a non-viable pregnancy. A little less frequent, I've received abnormal genetic results, and have prepared the expectant parents for some difficult decisions. Even more rare, an anatomy ultrasound reveals serious abnormalities to an unsuspecting couple who were hoping just to learn if they are having a boy or girl. Sometimes unthinkable tragedies occur without explanations. I know so many bad things are possible as I've witnessed them over the years. Why should I think that I'm immune to any of it?

Two days before my beta test, my aunt called to confirm what type of pie I would be baking bringing to Thanksgiving, so she could coordinate with what she would have my cousin make. The mere mention of my cousin immediately conjured jealousy and resentment that they were a first time IVF success which yielded a healthy and happy baby. The statistics started flying though my head: she was older -39 at the time of oocyte retrieval, but they were considered to be unexplained. We have a diagnosis of moderate male factor and my ovaries under-performed. I started to question how many embryos they transferred and when. I think they transferred more than one as I recall her husband expressing relief that there was only one baby when she announced her pregnancy. I wondered how many fro-yos they had. I know their numbers and experience hold absolutely no bearing on our potential for success or failure, but damn my curosity! I'm only five minutes pregnant, still far away from being considered a first time IVF success.

At the same time, what evidence did I have to suggest that this cycle wouldn't be successful? I am dubious about our embryo quality. My RE noted that he would have liked them to be of higher quality, but followed by describing that he has that wish for most patients in an, 'I'm never truly satisfied' way. Although I'm still paranoid about the possibility of twins, I'm not sure if either embryo can go the distance. Recently, when I expressed my concerns that IVF may not work to Myrtle, she mused "doesn't it always take a few rounds with IVF? I know people who went through it multiple times to get their two kids." This was after she asked me if there was an alternative treatment to IVF that I could employ. You see, Myrtle knows people who have gone through IVF...

The possibility of multiple treatment cycles is something you can only discuss with a fellow infertile. It was really intolerable to hear someone who conceived on her second attempt convey to me that it would take a lot longer and cost a lot more to become pregnant. Based on what? This arbitrary notion that it just takes multiple rounds of IVF to get a take home baby? That's just the way it is. It just takes multiple attempts. Based on Myrtle's vast and extensive experience with her infertile friends? It seemed just as injudicious as when Myrtle's friend forecasted that it would take six months for her to become pregnant. (That same friend also conceived during her first cycle off the pill).

As Husband has built his own support network and has shared our IVF journey with a few friends, I discovered that he has his own version of Myrtle. "No. Much worse," he describes. J is a fellow hockey umpire and he and Husband spend a lot of time together. When Husband first shared our fertility struggles, J humbly admitted that he couldn't relate as he recalls that at least two of his kids were conceived on the first or second time without condoms and he doesn't think they tried more than three months for their third. Fortunately, he never offered any foolish words of 'advice', but he couldn't grasp the concept when Husband informed him that we were barely pregnant. He would make himself available to cover for Husband in any of his games if I went into labour early. He volunteered his oldest daughter for baby sitting. He offered that he could have his mother make us some meals for when I'm postpartum and don't feel like cooking (which is different from When Husband dropped him off at his house after they returned from a tournament in Santa Barbara, he sent a text: "thanks for driving, say good night to Jane and the little one for me." (Yes, me and my little faintly positive pee stick...) I'm going to go out on a limb and presume that J's wife went 3 for 3 with her pregnancies.

The bad stuff may be easier to believe, but it doesn't mean I'm obligated to believe it. Feeling optimistic or hopeful is hard, but it doesn't meant it's not worth trying. I may not be as confident about our outcome as J (who is probably already planning the baby's first birthday..) but I don't need to be so consumed with self doubt. I found something to be excited about: whatever happens around the end of July/early August next year, I am cashing in on that promise for J's mother's cooking. Authentic homemade curry... now that is seriously good stuff...


  1. "The bad stuff may be easier to believe, but it doesn't mean I'm obligated to believe it." I love this! I am going to try to remember it when the worries start to creep in. I've not seen as much as you have in real life, but I've read enough blogs with heart breaking stories to still hold my breath, even in the second trimester.

    I'm glad to hear you have such a positive mind-set. I always tell me myself that worrying doesn't change the outcome and that helps a little too.

  2. Sometimes I'm very jealous of your knowledge of the science of everything, since I'm very dumb about infertility and just trying to learn everything on my own. I don't even know all the words in many of your posts! But I can see how it would also be scary having all that past experience and knowledge of everything that could possibly go wrong. It sounds like your staying positive. Thinking good thoughts for you!

  3. I am hoping and praying that the authentic homemade curry is going to be in your future because of the wonderful addition to your family next summer. :)

  4. I know what you mean about expecting the bad's definitely how I feel about my own chances. But at some point, when the good stuff starts happening, I can only imagine it would feel really awesome to start letting hope and excitement creep in there. At some point you're gonna have to!

  5. Even we as just blog readers have left much of the "ignorance is bliss" option behind, but for you it might be even harder, as you've just seen so many more cases go wrong - though I do hope you've also seen more cases where everything just ends well?
    I'm glad you are trying to be optimistic. I so much hope next summer brings wonderful changes for you - and some homemade curry, of course.

  6. It is easier to believe the bad stuff, but I love your amazing outlook on not having to buy into it. I love that you are trying to stay hopeful and positive despite your past experience and knowledge. I want this to work for your so badly Jane. I'm hoping for that happy ending with a take home baby and homemade curry!

    1. P.S. I've nominated you for the stork award as you have been one one of my biggest supporters and I live reading your blog! Info is on my own blog.