It’s been a long time as I’ve been too intimidated. But today I’m nervously linking up again with the Red Dress Blog. My assignment: write a piece (fiction or non-fiction) inspired by a song. It can be any song of your choosing. If it is not clear from your story what the song is, throw us a bone and put a note at top or bottom of your post to let us know what you picked.
The song I chose is “Let Go” by Frou Frou. It’s on the Garden State soundtrack, which is one of my favorite movies ever. How can you not love Natalie Portman my girl crush and Zach Braff (he starred in it but also directed it)? Garden State was released in September 2004, when The Father Load and I were in the thick of our infertility.
Flying down I-435 at 7 a.m., heading to Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Again. My red sharps box sits smugly next to me in the passenger’s seat, half full of used needles. Evidence of my complete and utter failure as a woman. My body’s unwillingness to cooperate. A symbol of the perpetual emptiness of my womb, the laziness of my ovaries. And super! It’s the color of blood, the one thing any trying-desperately-to-conceive-woman dreads seeing. Well, aside from pregnant bellies, babies and birth announcements, that is.
“Let Go” is on repeat, blaring from the speakers in my navy blue VW Jetta. I’m trying to let go, to not worry that my ovaries aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. I’m “too busy writing your (my) own tragedy.” I have a full feeling, I’m bloated, I’ve been crying at every God damn commercial and if a pregnant belly even enters my peripheral vision, I lose my shit. Surely there’s something going on inside me, but I’m too scared to let hope in. The possibility of parenthood has always hovered just out of our reach. Today is the first ultrasound after weeks and weeks of injectible fertility drugs. First Lupron and birth control pills to supress me and mimic menopause, then daily cocktails of Gonal F and Repronex to rev me up and put my ovaries into overdrive. Eggs galore being the ultimate goal. Delicately balanced, of course, with the desire for quality over quantity.
This is my second round of in vitro, hence the reason I’m trying to let go. Because aside from all the money that’s been spent, I’m emotionally, physically, and mentally undone. I’m hollowed out, a fragile shell of a person. The idea of doing this song and dance again nauseates me. I want to be a mother, but at what price? There are plenty of other babies and young children already living in this world who need homes. Carrying a child in my womb isn’t necessary in order to be a mother or for said child to know he/she is mine. Sure, that part would be nice, but I’m not gonna quibble over that.
The other night our friend Yasmeen and her husband came by to visit. They were in from out of town and Yasmeen and I had grown close when we were both struggling to get pregnant in the early days. Then after a few weeks of not hearing from her, I got the dreaded call. Yasmeen was pregnant. I was happy for her, sad for me. I’m always being left behind.
When I go upstairs to greet them, her belly takes me by surprise and I start sobbing uncontrollably. I let her hug me even though there’s a part of me that wants nothing to do with her, that jealous, selfish part of me that’s so ugly I want to smother it. But the other side wins out, the side of me that wants what she has–life growing inside of her. I ask if I can touch her tummy. “Of course,” she says, smiling. I lightly lay my hands on her. Her belly is high and hard, so round. She is lucky. She is living my dream. Something thumps my right hand and I jump, and then start to cry harder, but can’t help the smile spreading across my face, which is now dripping with snot. I turn away and curl into The Father Load’s waiting arms, bury my face in his neck. Let go. Don’t hope that the drugs are working. Just don’t. LET GO.
I snap out of the memory and remind myself I never thought I’d get this far. Never even thought I could give myself multiple injections every day. The first time was the worst. Standing in the kitchen shaking and hyperventilating, leaning against the counter with one hand, my shirt pulled halfway up and tucked under my armpit. I’m embarrassed, though no one is there to watch me. It’s just a needle. How do drug addicts do this all the time, I think to myself. Then:
“Jump in. Whatcha waiting for? It’s all right.”
I pinch a small slab of skin from my lower abdomen, jab the needle in, and push the plunger. Done. Crying with relief, I call my mom and tell her I’ve done it. My husband comes home prepared to administer the shot, and I smile with tearstained cheeks and tell him he doesn’t need to worry about it. I’m beaming. And with each day, administering the shots becomes easier. I’m practically a pro.
There’s beauty in the beakdown. After weeks of injections and a tender, bruised belly, it’s time. They retrieve 14 good eggs, and we have two to transfer on the fifth day. Six days later I’m at home and feel a familiar wetness in my panties. A sob catches in my throat as I stop right there in the middle of my living room, yank my pants down and see the bright red blood.
no no no no no no no no no
I grab the phone and with shaking fingers dial my husband.
“I’m bleeding,” I say when he answers.
“I’m going to call and see if I can get in for a pregnancy test. I need to know this is over. I need closure. I need to move on. I can’t do this anymore.”
The Father Load is holding back his own tears and his voice has gotten so low I can barely hear it.
“Okay,” he mumbles.
“We’re going to adopt,” I say.
“Whatever you want,” he replies.
I hang up.
I call the nurse and after blubbering into the phone I finally make her understand what’s going on.
She puts me on hold.
For what seems like a long time.
Then she comes back on and tells me I can come in tomorrow morning, because today is really still too soon.
No sleep that night.
I stagger out of bed, zombie-like, and go through the motions of brushing my teeth, using the bathroom, putting in my contacts.
Before I know it I’m at the office with a tourniquet on my arm. And it’s like I don’t even know how I got there. I don’t remember having driven myself. But I did.
Then magically I’m back at home, as if transported. I feel nothing. I sit on the couch in silence, starting at the green patches of our yard coming back.
After two hours, the phone rings. I look at the Caller ID and it’s the nurse.
“Hello,” I say. Praying for the last time that this is some hellish mistake.
I am pregnant. With terribly low levels of progesterone, hence the bleeding. But after everything, I.Am.Pregnant.
I have let go of the desire for more children. We are enough. The four of us. My twin girls, my very patient husband, and me.
Someday I will have to let the girls go.
But not today.