I've been away (working this time - just flogged). I'm back. I am catching up, once again.

I had a dream the other night and in it they told me I had cancer. It was a slow-moving kind - I could look forward to a good-quality life stretching years, or even decades into the future - but it was also incurable, and they advised against further pregnancies lest the compromise to my immune system loosed the beast within. I woke up wondering what I'd do with the frozen embryos. I like to say it's behind me, but sometimes it's not.

Here's where we're at: I feel we should use them some day and just see what happens, but I am currently in no mood to go back to the fertility clinic and I don't see myself being in that mood for quite some time. As PB and SB mature, I find myself wanting, in fact, to start the gradual move back to being a fully independent person, with the types of goals and aspirations which are hers and hers alone; which have nothing to do with the more vicarious achievements of potty training or beginning to read. Not that I don't take pleasure in those things - it's impossible not to be pleased when PB delights in being able to count all the way to one hundred by himself with only the minor omission of the number fourteen (always fourteen), or when SB finally, after much trying, works out how to get her shoes onto her own feet and stamps around looking smug as a bastard. But ultimately those achievements are theirs, not mine. I want to think of them as theirs, not mine. I want them to live out their own lives, not mine. And part of that is building my own life, which is not theirs. I can't start to do it if we're going back to the clinic next year to roll the dice with our frozen embryos.

Not only that, but I'm kind of tired of babies for the time being. The first time around was a steep learning curve. The second time was a chance to put our new knowledge to practice. The third time would be, I think, kind of same old same-old. I don't want to raise a child with that kind of attitude - on the off-chance, of course, that a live birth results, and on the greater chance that it doesn't, I guess I also don't want to have to make up my own mind to walk away.

My current preference is to leave the embryos in the freezer for eight to ten years before getting into it all again. By then, I'd have had time to do a few things. I'd be old enough that trying naturally or through further ART would be seriously uninspiring, and pursuing other avenues such as donors or adoption would be such a new ball game that walking away would be a relatively simple choice to make. And if it did work, scrambling to remember everything I ever knew about babies would be an interesting challenge - one I could share with my teen/tweenage kids.

Mr Bea disagrees. He doesn't want the decision hanging over his head - he wants it behind him. Wants it all behind him, one way or another, within the next year or two. I suppose it won't come to a head really, then, for at least another twelve, if not twenty-four, months, and - gosh - by then, I could be living with a slow-moving but incurable cancer, thus changing the decision entirely.

---

Of all the people I know, face-to-face, who have suffered infertility, one couple remains childless. The woman of the couple is now forty-two - old enough that trying naturally or through ART is getting kind of uninspiring, and of course adoption or third-party reproduction is this whole other ball game. Last time I spoke to her it was a year ago, she said she was fine, and that "if it [was] going to happen it would happen in its own time". I want to bring it up again when the situation suits, just to let them know I would talk it through with them if talking it through is something they think might help. At least, I mostly want to do that, but I have become aware of a niggling hesitation, and I have only just begun to pin it down: I think I'm afraid of being judged.

I have no problem with the fact that other people will make different choices from mine in the same situation, and on top of that - let's face it - two cases are rarely so identical that we can accurately use the word "same". But I think I have a problem when other people reason in a way that judges my reasoning.

There's a difference between saying, "I prefer to follow where life leads," and, "I figured Someone was trying to tell me Something." The first is a value-neutral statement about one person's preferences. The second is a value-laden statement asserting the existence of some supreme force or entity who knows best and whose messages have a particular interpretation which should be adhered to. It particularly irks me that those who use the latter argument almost always use tools, wear clothes, and take other kinds of medicine. Headache pills, perhaps. Sometimes they even fly in planes or sail in ships, as if Someone wasn't trying to say, "Take the no-wings-no-flippers hint, guys." I just don't believe that everything that was "meant to be" was meant to be easy, and I'm pretty sure a quick flick through most theological, philosophical or moral teachings would back me up.

I like to say it's behind me, but sometimes it's not.


8 Comments

MrsSpock said...

We had always thought we wanted at least 3. It's hard to break that meme in your head once it's been there so long.

The reality is that 2 small children are exhausting enough, and this infancy through age 5 phase is quite tough and not as enjoyable as we thought it would be.

I, too, am missing being able to focus more on my career/writing. I just turned down a promotion, which was the right decision for us now, but was hard. Finding time to write is almost impossible.

I have very good health reasons to not be pregnant again- I am thinking I am going to be diagnosed with MS very soon and fear there is the possibility of lupus as well- and there is no doubt pregnancy was the trigger.

Mr S wants to make that final decision by next year- a physical impossibility for me- mostly because he will be 45 next year and does not want to have children at home when he retires. So I think the writing is on the wall.

I am waiting for the final diagnosis to be made this summer, and then I am 100% sure my OB will advise against further children. But I'm still finding that hard. The ending is hard. It will probably be a vasectomy for us next year instead of a new baby, and there is something very bittersweet about knowing I will never get to hear that gallupping little heartbeat inside of me again.

Ellen K. said...

Glad to hear from you! There must be something about the number 14, because I. and N. always skip it as well, and in one of our preschool song books, there's a song called "Counting to 15" that emphasizes "14 too."

The girls are off to preschool a couple of mornings each week this fall, and the following year they will go at least every morning if not full days. I feel sorry for my grandmothers, who spent 2 decades on a reproductive treadmill. My dad always reminds me that he and his siblings did a lot of the housework, but they weren't the ones getting up in the middle of the night for years on end.

Serenity said...

Welcome back. It's funny you mention meant to be in the last paragraph, I posted today about the very notion. Because of course we are cycling again, and I do wonder if Someone is trying to tell me Something.

Anyway, I hope you and Mr. Bea Are able to find a middle ground.

Geohde said...

Bea,

I always love your posts. Thoughtful, you are. I think that now I have gotten over the shock of having three I wouldn't mind hte idea of one more many eyars down the track but biology and my crappy implantation rate make that unlikely, amongst other things. But for me, albeit with a two for one starting deal, the third child was stilla whole new world.

g

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Damn, there is so much to chew on in this post.

I will start with how much this resonated with me: "But ultimately those achievements are theirs, not mine. I want to think of them as theirs, not mine. I want them to live out their own lives, not mine." Parenting IS a very selfish act, but when you think of it in those terms, it's also a selfless act that you put your own possible achievements on hold to help someone else meet theirs.

Vee said...

That is not a dream that is a nightmare!

My lone embryo is still in limbo, although I know I will never cycle again, I still don't know what to do with it. It's tricky. I hope you and Mr B come to some agreement that makes you both happy.

Natalie said...

I've been thinking about baby #3 for a while now. I don't have anything tying us to #3 except that I always thought we would have three kiddos. But the last difficult pregnancy and birth after years of loss seem to say to me that we should be done. I also think of all the "me" things I have put on hold for my years of trying and having babies. If I could just decide once and for all that I am done, I could give away my baby things, and move on. Start making plans to do all those things I have put on hold. But it lingers in the back of my mind, that third baby... Time will probably make the decision for me.

Anonymous said...


You have made your blog more interesting than most that I read. Thanks for that.

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