When I was doing stand-up comedy in NYC years ago, I went for color analysis to figure out what shades of make-up and clothes would be best for me to wear onstage. Back then, when it came to “right” colors and “wrong” colors, every person on the planet was divided into the four seasons. I was declared to be an autumn as was my fellow-comedian friend, Jane Stroll. In fact, Jane had a bit in her act: “I’m an autumn: A short season where things wither and die.” Autumn has always been my favorite season but back when I first tried to get pregnant, I was indeed in the autumn of my fertility and it felt exactly like Jane had described in her act..
I had no indications that I would ever have trouble getting pregnant. Sure I knew that older women have a harder time but nobody ever thinks that’s going to be them. And celebrities do it all the time: “Hey, Kelly Preston had a baby at 48! And Janet Jackson was 50!: If they can do it so can I! After all, what have they got that I don’t except maybe great health insurance and extreme wealth to cover their co-pays giving them access to medical options that I’ve never even heard of!!”
It was four months before my 39th birthday when I got married and therefore started trying to get pregnant. (Call me old-fashioned.) For over a year, I tried on my own to get pregnant. (well, not totally on my own. I'm not a complete idiot.) That’s when it first hit me that there really might be something to this whole “fertility autumn” thing. Jane’s whole “wither and die” scenario. What the hell kind of autumn was this? Autumn to me meant pumpkins, hayrides, candy apples, and the state fair not blood tests, hormone shots, egg retrievals, and nightly butt injections. The emotional roller coaster of infertility was about as close as this crap ever came to the state fair. “Your egg retrieval went great! We got 112 eggs out of you! (Yay!) But only 10 of them became embryos. (Aww) But they all made it to day 5 for transfer! (Yay!) But you didn’t get pregnant. (Aww) But we froze other embryos that we can try! (Yay!)
To be honest, it’s amazing to me how women so openly discuss every step of their infertility / IVF adventure in online groups. They’re incredible. They ask questions. They seek advice. They give comfort and encouragement. I sure didn’t. When something comes into my life that’s so overwhelming, so all-consuming as infertility, I kind of tune out. I went through the motions okay. I went to the fertility clinic. I went to all of my appointments. I did what I was told and not anything more. I never did special diets or ovulation kits or took my temperature,or even took home pregnancy tests. On the positive side of my denial: I never read any statistics on what a long shot it was to get pregnant at 41.
"When you're 28, the chance of getting pregnant in the first three months of trying is 1 in 2. At 32, it's 1 in 12. At 38, it's 1 in 1200. At your age, it's 1 in 54 million... better odds than winning the Power Ball lottery… but only slightly."
Every autumn, my family and I do a corn maze. We're notoriously terrible at it. It can be the same exact maze every year and it still takes us two hours to find our way out. I’m sure we make the exact same wrong turns every year. One year, there had been a storm that ripped through the maze the week before we went leaving half of it gone altogether and the other half cut down to about four feet high. Didn’t matter. Just because we could see the exit the entire time doesn’t mean we could figure out how to get to it any faster. They give you a flag so if you get lost and give up you can wave it and the staff will come rescue you. Throughout the fun-filled afternoon you can hear the sweet sound of wives yelling at their husbands: "We've been in here forever! Everybody’s hungry and exhausted. Will you wave the damn flag already?!!"
All things considered, I'd rather be hopelessly lost in a corn maze than an infertility maze.... and I've been hopelessly lost in both... a few times.
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Coming Soon! Laughing IS Conceivable No Matter How Many You’re Carrying: Insanity in its Infancy. (That green book right there.)