Body, Health
comments 26

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margit

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An IVF procedure (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Over the last three years, my body has slowly closed up shop. Four months between periods, then six, then almost a full year.

So, I guess we’re done here.

It’s a weird, bittersweet feeling — no more bloats, stains and mishaps. I’ve started to feel as if I’ve floated into another galaxy, where most of my friends are still on Planet Menses.

That one time a year when it does arrive, it’s cause for a minor celebration. I secretly tell myself, maybe, just maybe at 47, I could still have a kid. Even though I know it’s a distant, nearly improbable concept. I do have a few friends who’ve had planned kids at 45 or even second and third “oops” kids at 45-plus — one, in fact, who grabbed me by the proverbial collar the other day, glared at me and said, “what have I done?!?”

[pullquote]I’d never once fantasized about the perfect family, being a mom, spending time packing up carrot sticks in plastic baggies. That was, until I met my wonderful husband, who would, unquestionably, be the perfect dad.[/pullquote]

I went through the casual beginnings of an in vitro fertilization (IVF) process over the course of a couple years from 2008 until 2010. I say casual because I wasn’t 100% sure I was ready for a kid. I adore kids, my five nieces and one nephew, but I’d mentally fast-forward my own progeny to soccer practices and eventual drug-use (because in my future, I wildly ignore my child and am too busy working and writing and being selfish). It often felt overwhelming and wrong. I’d never once fantasized about the perfect family, being a mom, spending time packing up carrot sticks in plastic baggies. That was, until I met my wonderful husband, who would, unquestionably, be the perfect dad.

When we married, my husband was a 38-year-old architect; I was a 40-year-old editorial director. Neither of us had been previously hitched; we were both just busy working at demanding jobs while waiting for the one. He was, and is, the one.

So I thought I’d give it a shot. A last ditch effort to get pregnant. I wanted to see his beautiful face in a child.

Problem was, I just couldn’t get the blood to show up. I had an ovarian cyst in the way, and very irregular periods. Even finding a vein was a pokey proposition. The nurse would jab and jab my arm to find a viable vein that would deliver necessary information about the status of my fertility, my cycle and whatever else. Turned out, I also had — and have — a high sedimentation (sed) rate, which marks inflammation. They couldn’t figure out why that was. (It’s always fascinated me: the more you dig around, the more you’ll discover. Occasionally, it’s better not to know.)

Some of my issues, I credited to being overweight too, which doesn’t make trying to have a child any easier. I thought, well maybe I can shed 20 pounds fast, but it just added an extra layer of stress and panic.

Through the tests, it was revealed that I had about half an egg left, so we needed to move quickly.

While I discovered a newfound interest in having a baby, my body had already decided it was done.

The first doctor I saw, Dr. No-Bedside-Manner, handed me an overly Xeroxed drawing of a uterus and drew all over it as he described the fertility process in under one minute. And he urged me to get cracking on those eggs. That at 39, I had half the fertility I had at 31, and between 39 and 41, it would drop by another half again, and between 41 and 42, well forget about it. Time was a-wastin’. It’s worth noting that since then, the Atlantic published an article that those statistics were oversold. But I bought into his fear, even if I found another, drastically more compassionate doctor at Cornell Weill. (Much later I’d read that the other doc got a 2.5 on Vitals.com and someone commented, “At the end of our Doctor-patient relationship, he told me to ‘take a vacation’ and I’d probably get pregnant.”)

That second doctor was much more encouraging, until the blood tests and sonograms to check out that cyst, and a period that just never came, revealed I was a trickier patient. I bought the fertility drugs, but never actually went through a single cycle. We couldn’t even get to that stage.

I saw a famous baby-inducing acupuncturist, started eating special (barely edible) herbs and taking prenatal vitamins and lots of folic acid, but nothing appeared to help.

Finally, we called it.

It was during a visit to the doctor at Cornell Weill when she told us, “You have a 5% chance of succeeding here.” Which I restated to her as “you mean a 95% chance of failure.”

“That’s right,” she said. “And even if the egg ‘takes,’ the chance of a successful delivery is even lower.”

We didn’t like those odds. I looked at my husband, his beautiful face wet with a tear.

Resignation.

We didn’t lose a baby, we never even had an egg and sperm shake hands. But it was a loss nonetheless and the doctor sent us to grief counseling.

If I’m honest, there was an ounce of relief, too; that part of me that had never been sure of my ability to mother came back with a force. Reading someone like Tamar, in the pages of this site, I’m in awe of her assuredness. I was never that clear.

But every time I hear someone complain about their period, forgetting their tampons, grousing about the pain, I’m reminded of the blood that just wouldn’t show up when I needed it.

26 Comments

  1. Jody Jones
    Jody says

    I’m glad you shared, sunshine. It’s hard. Thought I would have a big litter. Never found a co-owner. Gotta be multitudes harder when you have. And want to. And Goddess doesn’t agree.

  2. Jody Jones
    Jody says

    Also: I’m still throwing out stuff. And I wonder: Do I keep fucking and see what happens?

  3. If it makes you feel any better, it’s probably for the best. I had my last baby at 38, and I am so freaking tired at 45. Love him and his brother of course, but honestly, they have aged the hell out of me. Plus I basically gave up my career. So there’s that. By the time my time is my own again, I will be an old lady. And seriously, I cannot even imagine going through newborn sleep deprivation over 40. It was crazy brutal at 38. Also, my marriage barely survived having little kids. Real talk. Enjoy the path you’re on, it’s all good. <3

  4. Margit Detweiler

    MsL thank you for your candor and well wishes, we all choose a path don’t we — I’m sorry you gave up your career. Energy was actually a factor for me too — would my body be able to handle the effort? XO

  5. Cherisse Gardner
    Cherisse says

    Thank you for sharing Margit, going through as well as sharing that couldn’t have been easy. Still, your strength and courage and honesty tells me that you two you be amazing parents. Any thought of adopting? If so there will be one extremely blessed child coming up in this world.

  6. “Are You There God, it’s Me, Margaret” was one of my most favorite books growing up because it was so honest and real. And yet, well into adulthood, it’s a lot harder to be honest and candid about our bodies and our feelings. In keeping with the egg theme, you’ve “cracked” one of the hardest things about womanhood: infertility. Kudos.

  7. I just found you and this awesome site through a friend. Love this piece, Margit! It takes guts to tell the truth about this stuff. To me, the toughest part is digging deep enough to unearth the truth. Then to tell it as beautifully as you have, that’s a gift. To all of us.

  8. Alisong says

    Hey Margit. Thank for from the bottom of my achy-for-more-than-one-child heart. I was an only child. Lonely and scared. The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to be a mom and have more than one kid. But getting pregnant was almost impossible. A miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and years of treatments with nothing in the oven meant that I was destined to be the mom of an only child. I had only one egg. My son is a real miracle. Being a mom is the hardest job I have ever had. I hear it’s the most rewarding too. Thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciate your honesty. You inspire me.

  9. Joanne Bamberger says

    what about adoption? Fertility treatments weren’t kid to us. But today we have an amazing 15 year old daughter thanks to adoption

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  11. Thank you for this. I had always wanted a large family (I thought 12 kids at one point before I knew what birthing entailed!) and had got the wishes down to a reasonable three by the time I was in my 20s. Unfortunately I never found a partner and, although I seriously considered adopting when I was in my 40s, I couldn’t really afford it. It was still a sad day in my early 50s when I realised I could no longer physically have children.

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  15. Janine says

    This story hit my fb at such the right time in my life. Wow truly believe this was GOD sent.

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