Monday, June 6, 2011

Infiltrated Again? Really?

A while back I wrote a post called "Stop Sneaking Up On Me!" about infertility weaseling its way into my favorite modes of escape. Books, movies, but mostly books. One book that caught me by complete surprise was The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs--a hilarious and informative memoir about his quest (and success) reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittannica. You read a blurb for a book like that and don't think "There is an infertility story hiding in there!" But there was. A.J. and his wife, Julie, were trying to have a baby and it wasn't going well. It was the entire second theme of the book. (SPOILER) They did get pregnant by the end through some unspecified infertility treatment that wasn't IVF, but they did find out via a phone call from a nurse. Slices of my own personal reality that I am really not looking to see reflected in my pleasure reading.

I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea, but I picked up The Year of Living Biblically, also by A.J. Jacobs. This time, instead of delving deep into the world of the encyclopedia, he immerses himself into taking the bible as literally as possible for a year. It looked funny. It looked informative. I checked it out of the FHS library at work.

Except I should have checked the copyright dates. I thought that it was earlier than The Know-It-All, but I have no idea why. I think maybe I forgot that there was an infertility subplot to that one. But, no. The book comes after, when his son is 2 years old. And about a half inch into the book the freaking infertility theme comes roaring back into play--they have been trying naturally again (why you would try naturally after having to use assistance the first time is a mystery to me) for a year. No dice. But then they decide to do IVF. Yay, IVF in my frivolous escape book! Just what I was hoping for! It wasn't quite as prevalent as in the other book, but still. Tales of needles, training for intramuscular injections. Magic Marker circles drawn on hindquarters. Julie saying "I hope this works because I don't think I can do this again." A sentiment I can totally understand, but coming from the side of having done a couple of these jobbies I am a little jaded. Why should it work on the first try? This was not the book I was looking for.

But, I have been sticking it out. Except now I am having a really hard time continuing. Because they had their egg retrieval, and their transfer (a nice 5-day transfer of two blastocyst embryos, must be nice to get to that point). The big decision day came. (SPOILER). Julie gets the call and it is... positive. But wait! She doesn't look happy anymore! Why? Because her numbers are super high, indicating that both embryos likely took (or, less likely, she has one hulk embryo). Not happy anymore. UPSET. So much so that there is the quote, "'Two-for-one deal,' she says flatly. 'Double the fun.'" I just about lost my shit and threw the book across the room.

I realize that I may be being a bit harsh on A.J. and Julie. Really, just Julie, because while A.J. is stunned he does sum up his feeling with "Be thankful, just be thankful." Twins are an incredible expense and increase the complications of pregnancy and delivery. But, I'm sorry--if you are doing IVF and you transferred two embryos, you have to have at least prepared yourself a little that there's a chance you might have twins. Frankly, I would be THRILLED to be in those shoes--first IVF, and positive with twins! (Granted, I'm starting from zero and they have a two-year-old, so going from one to three is a little different than going from zero to two.)

It makes me angry, because I would love to have twins result from my IVF. I would not say "Two for one deal" FLATLY. I would be jumping up and down (gently as not to accidentally dislodge said twin nuggets) and popping the non-alcoholic bubbly. But no... I am now reading a book where people are not thrilled that they are finally pregnant and managed to do it on the first round, not the third. If there is complaining about this twin pregnancy I think I will definitely put it up.

The problem is, I like the rest of this book. I like learning the lesser known stories of the bible, tawdry stories and odd laws and rules that I've never heard of. I like stories of A.J. riding the subway wearing all white non-mixed cloth garments, playing a 10 string harp and sporting his giant untrimmed beard. But I do not like reading about infertility when I don't mean to be reading about infertility. And I certainly don't like reading about people who achieve success on the first try of IVF and are upset because they got twins. There's elective single embryo transfer if you truly don't want twins (although the embryo could still split to identical twins, since the processes for IVF make the embryos more likely to cleave in that way). So I hope this subplot shuts the hell up so that I can enjoy the main thrust of the book.

It's only halfway through, so it's possible that there will be unfortunate outcomes (in which case I'll feel guilty for badmouthing this couple who were newly pregnant with twins from their first IVF in 2006ish). Or it's possible that, like everything else, it will all turn out just hunky-dory for them. They might complain the whole way through their pregnancy. And then I will have to save reading the rest of The Year of Living Biblically for another time, when I am ok with reading a book that is really partially about infertility. And when I am slightly less bitter about the whole thing.


  1. Jess - I enjoyed this post. I can sympathize in a similar way. Just a few days after coming home from the hospital empty handed, we went to see Fast Five to take our minds off of everything. Certainly Fast Five would be a safe movie to watch! But instead, one of the subplots was that one of the main characters was pregnant. I cried through most of the movie, but I stayed until the end, just to be rewarded to see her nine months pregnant despite all the risks she took in the early months. I agree it's not fair that these things sneak up on us! I love that you are sharing your journey. I really enjoy reading your blog. I think of you and your stories often. I wish you the best of luck - you really deserve it!

  2. Thanks Michelle! I'm so sorry you were sneak-attacked at such a difficult time. I think of you and wish for your happy ending, too.