statistics

Statistics Shmastistics (Friday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. It's the Friday before a long weekend. You're not really planning to do any work today anyway are you? Do you really want to be known as the company kiss-ass? Who says peer pressure ends at twelfth grade?) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How statistically challenged I am, fertility-speaking. Right.  My ovaries were about to celebrate their 41st birthday when they first saw the light of a Reproductive Endocrinologist's probe.

True, the statistics were stacked against me:

There was only a remote chance I was going to get pregnant using my own eggs.

But a 1 in 4 chance I would fall and break a hip trying to hoist myself onto the examination table.

There was a slim chance I'd ever give birth to a baby.

But a 1 in 3 chance that, by the time the baby was 2, he or she would have more teeth than I did.

But you know what? There was that now-infamous study in the mid-'80's stating that the probability of a single, white, college educated woman getting married past age 35 was 5%.

And, as Newsweek added:  At age 40 that same woman "would have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist" than of ever getting married. 

So, here I was, a 37 1/2 year old single white, Jewish, college educated woman, living in NYC at the time of 9-11.

But I ask you (and Newsweek if they're listening): What are the probabilities that a straight woman would meet her straight future husband at a gay Chanukah party?

And what are the statistics on neither of them, each pushing 39, having never been married before?

And what are the numbers on neither of them having had children before?

And what is the likelihood that he would be exactly nine days older than she?

And what are the odds that at age 42 she would have kids with her own eggs?

And what are the stats on them being born from frozen embryos? 

Yeah, so, where the hell was Newsweek when all of this was going on?

The answer in it all can be found, obviously in the NY Mets.  (There's a segue for ya. Sorry for the whiplash.)

My friend Kathy Foronjy made a great documentary about my people: NY Mets baseball fans, called "Mathematically Alive".

For those of you non-diehard baseball fans, the title refers to this: As the baseball season progresses, and your team continues to suck, you start to realize that they may not be able to ever catch up to the team that's in the lead of your division.

So then, refusing to accept what seems to be inevitable to everyone else, you get out your pencil, paper, and calculator and you crunch those numbers.

"Okay, so if Atlanta loses the next three games, and the Phillies win one but lose the next six, and Washington loses one but wins eight, and the Mets win every game but one between now and September....The Mets will win the division!

So, they're not statistically in great shape.........but they are definitely "Mathematically Alive".

So, for all of you old broads out there, or those who have blockages or PCOS or too high this or extremely low that and whose doctor, sister-in-law and the loser who sits next to you at work have thrown statistics at you left and right:

Yes, be informed and then do what ya gotta....and remember, in 2006, even though it was late in my season, I won my division.

Listen I gotta go. I've got to find some new statistics to throw in somebody's face.

Statistics Shmastistics (Wednesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. If you're going to hear me kvetch about being told I was  too old to get pregnant, you may as well get the full cumulative effect. By tomorrow my voice will sound like an ambulance siren in your head. By Friday, a police car chase over three states) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. How, according to the fertility clinic's statistics, things didn't look too good for this old broad.

If the statistics were correct, something in my body would implode way before I ever got pregnant and/or had a baby:

Maybe my estrogen levels would drop until my voice changed and I had sudden urges to open beer with my teeth (and then, even worse, drink the damn thing).  

I'd live the rest of my days childless, trying to maneuver around to see the hair accumulate on my back.

And the rest of my nights filling my empty ovaries with Keebler Fudge-Striped cookies. (I feel sure that's where they would go next, once my stomach and colon hit capacity. Like the overflow parking at the State Fair.)

So according to Resolve.org (a truly fantastic resource, all kidding aside), every statistic was compiled with me in mind:

"1 in 8 couples in the U.S. have fertility issues".

Maybe we should just move to Singapore. 11.4% of the households there are millionaires.

And why concentrate on the negative? "1 in 8 couples have fertility issues." Can't we just say:

"7 in 8 couples don't have fertility issues and get pregnant after heavy fondling" and leave it at that? 

"A couple age 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month."

Okay, so my husband and I didn't even meet until we were pushing 39. Did we have normal functioning reproductive systems then? Couldn't say.

The closest I can state with confidence is that we had normal functioning external reproductive organs. (Geez, I tried to put that as nicely as I could. I think I failed miserably.)

Okay, so between 29 and 33, there is a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of getting pregnant each month.

So, when we got married and started trying at age 39 1/2, there was, let's see, --carry the 2. Add the 4. And he's 9 days older than I am, and February is the 2nd month, and we were married on a Sunday... in Florida which is in a different time zone from New York I think...

Okay... so the day we got married there was a 0 in 2800 chance I would get pregnant in any give month.

Listen I gotta go. I have to find a mirror to stand in front of to do some positive affirmations: "You're young and beautiful." "Your reproductive organs have not shriveled like a worm in the sun."

I'll talk with you again tomorrow. I promise there is a light at the end of my dark long tunnel (take that anyway you like)

Statistics Shmastistics (Tuesday)

(Start with "Monday" if you can. I feel that I was amusing yesterday. If you agree, please feel free to email your friends. If you disagree, let it be your own dirty little secret.) So what were we talking about? Oh right. How nobody at my first fertility clinic go-round bothered us with statistics.

We then proceeded to our second fertility clinic (it's like eating M & M's: You can't stop at just one) and found out how truly merciful that first joint had been.

We didn't know the success rate of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) before I went through four cycles of it, but we suspected it might be a shot in the dark. Perhaps I should rephrase that.

The next step was IVF. My husband and I were thrown into a room with 4 or 5 other happy couples. Like most orientations, it was completely disorienting. (And the fluorescent lights didn't help any.)

We were all handed a stack of paperwork: Charts and percentage signs galore.

All I recall is that all roads led to: "We're screwed".

To refresh my memory, I just glanced a moment ago at the website of the clinic where I had my treatments. Happy to report, they are still in business.

It would be quite disconcerting to find I had put my money, trust, and family expansion in the hands of a prominent medical facility who, a few short years later, had sold out to Wal-Mart.

Needless to say, I'd likely never order anything from the deli counter... and would wonder obsessively whose future generations had previously been stored where the Ben & Jerry's now resided. (And where music icon Jerry Garcia has been cryogenized as a luscious dessert)

So, I went onto my clinic's website (I did pay for at least a wing or two of it) and there were those depressing numbers.

Those pesky digits are forever on the case of all of us old broads who have some nutty idea about conceiving. As if  having a baby is our last lucid thought before  Alzheimer's takes hold... Or maybe the first sign of its onset.

First I saw on the chart: "Under 35" Then: "1979"

I thought "Woo hoo! I was under 35 in 1979!"

Then I realized that "1979" was not meant to be a year, but rather how many immature eggs (oocytes) women under 35 had produced at that clinic during a six year period.

Using their own, non-donor, fresh embryos via IVF, 52% of them had resulted in live deliveries.

Women 35-37: 44 %  had resulted in live deliveries 

Women 38-40: 32%   

Women 40-41: 20%

So there I was, nestled between the 20% and "Lori, why don't you just give it up and learn how to play canasta?" percentile.

That was just the first path along the statistical road to "We're Screwed".

Listen, I gotta go: The U.S. Open tennis is on tonight. We used to go all the time when we lived in Queens. I miss the great players and the smell of $16 hamburgers wafting through the night air.

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.

Statistics Shmastistics (Monday)

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of being told anything when I first entered a fertility clinic. I know I must have said something like: "Hi, my name's Lori. This is my husband. We're both pretty old. Can we still have kids or should we just buy an RV and travel? And we don't mean to rush you, but there's a movie that we'd like to catch that starts at one."

The only thing I recall even approaching a statistic came after the doctor saw my age on the... what do you call it... forms? (I'm leaning towards saying "application", but what the hell was I applying for?

"Hi, I'm Lori. I heard your clinic was looking to expand its geriatric division. Something about your oldest client graduating or passing away or moving into a senior community where they don't allow babies.

Anyway, I'm trying to have my first child even though my girlfriends from high school all have kids with BA's... so I think I'm an excellent candidate. Here's my resume. Yes, those are the actual dates I attended school.")

So like I was saying... The only thing the doctor ever said to us that even approached a statistic was: "How long have you been trying to get pregnant?" I told him "a year". And he said "That's long enough." 

Let the fertility treatments begin.

Then I went to my second clinic:  The first one had been such a merry moment in our newlywed lives, we thought we'd heighten the experience by going fertility clinic hopping.

It's like bar hopping except there's no laughter or enjoyment, and your "bar" tab is about $15,000...

Then again, you have no worries about waking up the next morning, looking over, and being unpleasantly surprised at whom you've been sharing your sheets with either.

All things considered, if you're planning to visit NYC any time soon do yourself a favor: Skip the fertility clinic tour. It doesn't include either the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

And for the $15,000 IVF fee you'll save, you could see five Broadway shows and maybe even have brunch.

So we really had never been burdened with any infertility statistics.  Ignorance had never been more blissful. Then we got to the  second fertility joint, when the numbers came out...and all hell broke loose.

Listen, I gotta go. There's a knocking on my back door. "Lori. I know you're in there." I went to a wonderful mind/body/spirit conference today where I left all of my negative energy... and I think its found its way back. 

I'll talk with ya again tomorrow.