They say that God never gives us more than we can handle… and without fail, I want to punch them in the face for their ill-timed platitudes amidst tragedy.
As sure as I am that I’ve literally never found these words comforting at their time of utterance, I (begrudgingly) find the sentiment to be objectively true. It was true when I was 8 and my parents didn’t realize I’d become the smelly kid and had few friends. It was true when I was 12 and my mother’s rages became increasingly frequent. It was true when she left my senior year. It was true when I married and divorced a sociopath, which means that, by extension, it was true when he burned down our house and killed all of our pets, when we were repeatedly evicted/asked to move, and when I lost a baby. All of that made working two jobs and attending grad school a breeze and I suppose it must be true now. I have always survived and will continue to do so.
Surviving, however, doesn’t necessarily mean thriving. IVF is a harrowing and potentially heartbreaking process. Sure, we could be blessed with a plentiful retrieval and many healthy embryos, achieving pregnancy on the first try… or we could spend tens of thousands of dollars, suffer a half dozen miscarriages, and never actually have a baby. The former sounds wonderful, but while I’m sure the latter won’t kill me, I’m also certain it won’t make me stronger. It’s been almost ten years since the most traumatic time in my life and in many ways, I feel like I’ve just begun to recover. So, naturally, I’m worried about how the worst case scenario with infertility treatments will impact me long term. What kind of person will I be? What kind of wife? Will I even be able to weather the unique stressors of adoption from the state, with what’s left? Will I be irrevocably fragile and broken? Will I spend half my years trying to recover from the next one?
I’ve spent the better part of my life wondering exactly what broke my mother. Was it being adopted… the death of her father… marriage to my father… her brain tumor… divorce? Was there one pivotal moment or did a small fracture spread? Will my own fractures from my early twenties, which have finally begun to heal over, crack? Sure, I can survive IVF, but what does the quality of life look like on the other side? Am I a mom, grateful every day for the diapers and tantrums I once feared I’d never have… or am I shell of my former self, too shattered to consider other avenues?
We have a start date, July 18th and I’m supposed to be excited… but how can I be enthusiastic, when I don’t know what we’re starting? A family? My downward mental spiral? The beginning of everyone’s disappointment in me when my body inevitably doesn’t come through for them? A series of miscarriages and lifelong debt?
I’ve gone back and forth over the last month, from hopeful and optimistic to insistence on canceling the whole thing. Ultimately, however, I know that if I don’t, I’ll always regret it. If my aunt and uncle, who had triplets via IVF, hadn’t been brave enough to attempt the procedure in the first place, those three humans wouldn’t exist and all the impact on the world they’ll have would never occur. If I can’t do this, out of fear of my own fragility, I might never meet destined children. I’ll just have to risk the possibility that I might be destined none and this is how I discover that fact.
I promised Jake that if he could secure the funding, I’d find a way to go through with this… and so I must. There are undoubtedly countless couples who would be happy to attempt IVF themselves, but don’t have the option. I should be grateful… but I’m mostly terrified that it’s all for nothing and I won’t be the same woman on the other side, even if I do technically survive.