Sunday, April 19, 2009


I have Tuesdays off this semester. Sometimes I feel a twinge—not exactly of guilt, but perhaps of slackness, that I petitioned out of a required production class and now I have this “free day” that no one else in my class has. I know in my head I’ve spent years doing set work, and more years than that doing production office work, but it is indicative of the power of being placed in any social setting, that it’s difficult not to think that you should be doing—and valuing—what other people are doing and valuing. (Which is why, in general, I think it is good (good as in functional) to find social groups that can support and propel you in the things you want to do—be that writing, or political activism, or going on a diet. Although I see an inherent danger, if one dives into and accepts a value system presented by a social group, without much real, individual reflection on the matter...but I digress.)

What I have to remind myself, or maybe not remind myself, but struggle to reconcile, is that I am not at the same part of my life as most of my classmates, and although our life experiences led us all to the same school, our lives are not exactly at the same juncture. For instance, many of my “free” Tuesdays of late, have been, in fact, not free, but dedicated to doctor’s visits. Some of these are a result of my past illness, and some not.

In fact the last three, the gynocologist, the endocrinologist, and the infertility clinic, were not related, except insofar as the illness and its aftermath have contributed to our letting time pass us by. The last time we talked to a doctor about baby-making (pre-cancer) we were reassured, told we “had time,” and advised to try on our own for another year before jumping into any treatments.

Six years later, it is a different story. The endocrinologist reluctantly gave me a prescription for Clomid, but urged that we not fool around, but go straight to an infertility clinic as time is growing short. At the infertility clinic, our doctor explained that forty is not the magic number, but that it is the marker that seems to indicate a lot of changes in outcome, so they were very happy to see me some months shy of that number.

I have always been adamant that I did not want to put myself through the emotional gauntlet I have seen friends traverse, with tests and drugs, then stronger drugs, then IVF, which sometimes works, and just as often does not…

But, as the years have passed and I've realized that Paul—and sometimes I—still unconsciously referred to hypothetical kids, I figured it would be better to really consider our options now than to look back years from now and regret what we didn’t do.

The state of mind that is “future regret management” is a tricky one. Its key characteristic is that you have to believe you did all you could in the given circumstances. When I went to the endocrinologist, I thought a couple cycles of Clomid would be enough to stave off any demons of regret—that it would mean we tried. But she made it clear that without combining the drug with IUI, it wouldn’t be a real effort at all. So "trying" quickly became redefined as continuing a little further down the path.

There, our doctor explained that the Clomid IUI combo at our age only has a 5% success rate per cycle. But if we did injectable drugs (which aren’t referred to by name, but simply as “injectables”), we could raise those chance to 15-20%.

Of course, we would exceed our spending cap of $3000 before completing one cycle, but what if, in the future, a few thousand dollars doesn’t mean that much? How do we explain our decision to spend what at the time seemed like a lot of money for something that we knew was unlikely to work? (And who exactly am I explaining myself to, in these imagined conversations, is a topic for another post.)

By doubling our investment again, we could again double our chances:
$12,000 equals one round of IVF with a 40% success rate.

This is something we’d never considered. I have never wanted to subject my body to something that extreme, and how could we justify spending that amount—and let’s be clear, that money source would be yet more student loans-- on less than a 50-50 chance of bringing a kid into the world—and that’s without even thinking about how we don’t really have the resources to raise any but a completely healthy baby once he’s born.

So that’s a step we decided we wouldn’t take, and decided we would be fine with that. No regrets.

Until we considered that everything would be cheaper in Thailand.

And that’s a whole other can of worms.

First how ever, I need to get through the first round of tests.

The next one is on Tuesday.

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