Pyramids of Wrath

I am a hair’s breadth from complete infertility. It’s not a matter of trying more, waiting longer, getting healthier, or finding a different donor. I have “decreased ovarian reserve,” and what few & funky eggs I have left are going very, very fast.

To explain the situation, I defer to Dr. Rose’s thoughts expressed on (I added the bold):

“Decreased ovarian reserve is one of the more difficult diagnoses that a patient can have. That is because such patients are much more difficult to help to achieve pregnancy since the normal tools to achieve pregnancy don’t work as well. Some patients will likely have at most a few years of potential fertility left, so the situation is urgent. Some may have limited or no fertility left, but the process of finding this out, at times, involves a process of trial and error.

A woman is born with one to two million eggs. Although she will ovulate only three to four hundred of them, the rest will essentially wither away until there are none left. She will then be menopausal. Most of the time, the eggs are in a protected state with a small group of them constantly being released from this protection. We do not know what causes the ovary to change the status of these eggs, so we refer to it as a women’s biological clock. Those eggs that have left this arrested state will go on and ovulate provided they receive optimal hormonal stimulation. If they don’t get this stimulation, they soon undergo an actively defined degeneration (called apoptosis).

One way of defining decreased ovarian reserve is when a woman has fewer than 25,000 eggs in her ovaries. Statistically this occurs around age 38. Fertility is still present until around 42 years old and, for most women, therapy to achieve pregnancy is still a reasonable thing to do. Menopause (no eggs) occurs around age 51. However, these numbers are only averages and these events have a distribution around these averages. For example, many women don’t experience menopause until well past age 51. Similarly about 10% of all women will have decreased ovarian reserve by age 32. In a practice such as mine, where women are self-selected to come here on the basis of not being able to get pregnant, the incidence of decreased ovarian reserve is even higher.”

Besides crying and forcing my mom to visit from AZ, I do not know what to do with myself. Talk to people about what you’re going through, some may advise. The problem is that I hate everybody right now. Wait a second, you may think to yourself, I am a family member or close friend of yours. You can’t possibly hate me! Alas, my hormones have become a badminton birdie, and not even you are spared. I realize blogging the fact that I hate all people will not serve me well. No one will want to be supportive of a hater.

But here’s my real beef: People say stupid shit. I say stupid shit to other people. It’s a problem. At some point, supportive listening became a game of one-upmanship, or, its slightly less disgusting cousin, advice giving/pseudo-sympathetic encouragement. So, while I allow my hormonal rage to dictate my hyperbolic use of the word “hate,” I do insist that something bad has happened (maybe it’s increased narcissistic reserve?), and people just don’t seem to get how to really be present for someone else.

In my lower state of being, I have devised the following pyramids to explain the order of my “hatred” (most hated, from top down):

Tomorrow we go to the fertility clinic to discuss the latest blood test results (the already diagnosed egg depletion and its light-speed trajectory). We will also meet with a financial planner to help us hand over $22,000 (not including the tests needed to be approved for the $22,000 deal). I remember thinking that IVF was a very expensive crap-shoot when I thought the chances were 50/50. Then I thought my chances kind of sucked when I was told my personal success rate was looking more like 20-30%. Now, I don’t know whether to scratch my watch or wind my ass (thanks Dolly!), because I cannot see the point in even trying IVF. Sure, there’s no good reason why I couldn’t get pregnant with K’s eggs; except that there was also no good reason that a healthy  33-, then 34-, then 35-year-old wouldn’t get pregnant with fresh sperm. Something always comes up! I am a walking, breathing exception. Hardly anyone gets infection from a laparoscopic appendectomy (check!), only 10% of the human race gets to be a gay-class citizen (check!!), it’s unusual for someone my age to have decreased ovarian reserve (check!!!). At this rate, if I were to get pregnant, I’d probably be in the 1% of women who give birth to dinosaur babies!


11 Responses to “Pyramids of Wrath”

  1. 1 John February 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    I remember when my father died. I was in my early 20’s. His death was unexpected. I paid close attention to what people said to me at the funeral home, because I wanted to note which of their comments worked. I’m not sure what I expected by the term “worked;” perhaps I hoped that something that some friend said would make me feel better, of help me put it all in perspective.

    Nothing worked.

    But I felt better. Because my friends, and my Dad’s friends, showed up.

    Your friends, and even some strangers (like my friend who asked me to send you the support group information), are showing up for you as you go through this experience. We are along for the long haul. We can’t make it better for you, or solve the grief of facing an expensive process that, to date, has not worked for you. All we can do is show up.

    But that’s not entirely true, either. Many people, friends and family, have given or offered you their time and other resources – even the one(s) reviled for offering to share time with their children. Professionals have done their work conscientiously, though, perhaps, with less grace than they might have mustered on better days.

    The reality is that your hopes have been frustrated as the world has reasserted its nature to be unfair. Yes, the emotions that you are feeling now are valid. Other emotions that you might feel would be equally valid. You have a right to feel however you actually feel, just as the world has a right to fulfill its nature by being unjust. But your friends, family, and professionals do not, I believe, deserve to be hated for showing up and not knowing how to make it all better.

    It’s okay for you to hate us. We love you and so we can take it. Just don’t think it means that we deserve to be hated.

    IMHO, of course.

    • 2 mamawannabe February 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks for your comment and continued support, John. No one I know deserves to be hated. It’s not really about anyone but me. That’s why I have my blog. I can get out my frustrations, record the crazy rantings of a hormonally manipulated woman, and move forward. I hope you will not feel badly, like I truly hate you. Because I don’t. I love my friends and family. Even when they say stupid shit. I love them for holding me (physically and non-physically). I love them for loving me despite the stupid shit I say.

  2. 3 Amy Watson February 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    You are totally allowed to hate me, and anyone else you deem hate-able– and I’ll endeavor to not say stupid shit– but do want to let you know you and K are loved– and I know that your journey is far from over. You have supporters all along the way, even if we can’t offer anything valuable other than our good thoughts. Thank you for your candor and willingness to share your feelings.

    • 4 mamawannabe February 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm

      Thanks Amy! I know some people might be more sensitive about how they express themselves in a blog, but I guess I’m just not them. Thanks, too, for being who you are because you’re kick-ass. I truly don’t hate anyone (except the Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin types). In my aggravated state, the word “hate” is a convenient and obviously over-the-top way of consolidating the agonizing jealousy and myriad other feelings. I love you and Dan and your gorgeous kids.

  3. 5 The Wife February 9, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Your pyramids are hilarious, but the true beauty of fluctuating hormones is that a person need not do or be anything to bring on the wrath of Caesar (if Caesar were experiencing irregular menstrual cycles, breast tenderness, mood swings, urinary stress incontinence, exacerbated migraines, or other side effects of a rapid shift in estrogen). I don’t even have to inject hormones under my skin 3 times a day for weeks on end like you get to in order to wonder why you insist on ruining my life every four weeks immediately after I ovulate. Why, babe, why?

    I love your straight-forwardness regarding feelings logical and otherwise. The preposterous, absurd feelings often don’t get spoken (or blogged!) because sensitivity to misinterpretation is a great censor…but raw emotions don’t stop and meditate on politeness and rationality. Expressing the not-so-pretty parts has been validating to readers who are sharing this crazy process, and it makes room for the rest of the picture to come into focus.

  4. 6 Becky February 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Love you guys~ I *HATE* that you’re going through this– it really really sucks.

  5. 7 E and C February 10, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Even if Ericka and I don’t quite fit into your pyramid (although it may be reasonable to reserve a spot for people who could have had kids but choose not to), you can hate us. Our love for you and K can take it. And even if we don’t have the right words or a fairy wand to make it better, our hearts are with you.

  6. 8 Josh February 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I accept my position on your first pyramid and leave it at that so I don’t end up on the second one.

  7. 10 anne February 11, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve at 33. I was devastated. I’m so sorry you have to go through this, it’s so wildly unfair.

    • 11 mamawannabe February 11, 2011 at 2:24 am

      Thanks for sharing this with me. It helps to know I’m not alone. The phrase “wildly unfair” is a good one; being told you are plenty young to get pregnant by everyone for years just because it’s true for 90% of women and then finding out that it’s bullshit… yeah. I can’t imagine myself in this life not having a baby. If that’s how it goes down, the grieving will be immense.

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