Thursday, January 22, 2009

Noodle salad with a side of anxiety

First off, this is not meant to be a depressing post. It is my attempt to put a bunch of things together that have been floating around in my brain like seaweed. Last Saturday night I got very little sleep. Mo and I had a bit of a quibble earlier over nothing, but otherwise things seemed fine...or were they? I had a twinge of anxiety - that feeling I get which I cannot quite put my finger on. It starts sometimes like a stealth ninja, a bit of unease, edginess, impatience. Everything seems to become personal, especially when I am tired.

That line of Jack Nicholson playing the eccentric loony Melvin Udall kept running through my head "What if this is as good as it gets?" In the past two years our lives together have been occupied with IVF (and for the period of time when IVF was not occupying our lives I created my own mini-drama - but that is another story). IVF sucks, but it does create structure to our personal lives. It has all the key elements of a dramatic presentation, except so far it has always finished with a sad ending.

Nonetheless, somewhere in the back of our minds, when actively wiping away our tears, is the thought of "next time". And that is where Saturday night kicked in - the realization that someday we will get tired of watching this drama (or too poor to pay for it). Hopefully, of course, we will have a happy ending before then, but what if we don't? Playing this out together has been good material for filling our early days of marriage together. What will we do without it? The anxiety - and at the time I didn't know what I was really anxious about - got so bad I felt like popping out of my skin.

I fell asleep and woke up peacefully Sunday, but this feeling of anxiety kept surging through my body the next few days. Mo and I had just spent an amazing few days in the Mayan Riviera. What could be bothering me? In the end, I don't think it is just one thing, but rather the culmination of stressors.

Having this hiatus from IVF cycles has been a good time to regroup. I think going away made us both realize how much we love each other and how good we are together. It doesn't take the drama of IVF to make us work as one. We don't need a reproductive endocrinologist, andrologist, urologist, embryologist, phlebotomist, anesthesiologist, or IVF nurse to make us complete. Baby or no baby we have each other and that is pretty great.

Before we got married, Mo and I discussed our individual dreams and expectations for having children together. I guess I never really seriously entertained the possibility we would have so much difficulty and I never contemplated the scenario where we would be post-IVF with no kids (PINK). We have now have had that conversation and I feel much better, much more grounded.

In "As Good as It Gets," Melvin counters the statement that everybody has terrible stories to get over: "Some have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad." I guess I am just coming back around to realizing that Mo and I love each other and our lives - no matter what IVF does for us - will be filled with love and friends and noodle salads.



  1. Thank you for your perspective! My husband and I have been through miscarriages and infertility for the past 3 years. I am so thankful that he keeps me grounded. He wants kids as badly as I do, but he keeps reminding me exactly what you wrote about: we have eachother, and that alone makes us really lucky!! We have a lot of great stuff in our lives. Sometimes that is over-shadowed by the things we think we need to complete us. Kids will be a great addition to our lives, but the reality is that we are already complete just as a couple.

    Good luck to you guys!

  2. Will,
    Thanks so much for sharing and it's great that the both of you are happy together regardless, that you want each other regardless, not every couple has this joyfull resolution.

    The truth is couples are not made out of just the good experiencs, roses don't grow on a sandy beach but in a well fertilized area...

  3. This realization - that we have each other and even as 2 it is a wonderful thing and something we are lucky to have - is honestly what has gotten us out of bed these last 2 months.

    It is so interesting, isn't it - the structure that IVF gives to our lives - ok, now its time to start getting ready for the next cycle, ok, here are the days of the cycle, ok now we have the 2 week wait...if nothing else, there is structure, a framework.

    Thanks so much for your perspective. Mo is a lucky lady.

  4. This is a really, really thought provoking post. Most days I can't even begin to think of my life in terms of "What if this is good as it gets? or the PINK mentality - I'm not sure my brain or my heart are ready to go there. "Next time" is what gets me through each and every day - that & the love and support of my husband.

    Mo & me - we're two lucky, lucky ladies! :)

  5. I don't think it's a depressing post at all. You are absolutely right. It's so frighteningly easy to lose sight of each other while on this bloody merry-go-round. The breaks from cycling, whether we chose to take them or were forced to, were essential to keeping our sanity and our marriage together. Infertility is to marriage what erosion is to earth. Scary stuff, man. You're just helpless...

    I know we're lucky - at least we're on the same page in this process. But there are still days when my throat closes up in panic and my temper flares without warning. Stress, much? And I have to slow down and remind myself that we still have noodle salad and friends. Our story is our own.

    You just have to love Melvin, don't you?

    Thank you for sharing this - it's so helpful to hear a couple's point of view..

  6. Will - thanks for the post - I have just begun to think about PINK. I keep telling myself that it would not be bad at all, I love my husband so much and he is my best friend. I keep telling myself that we could be happy. I do not think I believe it yet.

  7. IVF tends to take over everything. sometimes it's hard to remember how and why we got to there in the first place.

  8. One of my favorite movie quotes! We are in the same boat...3 failed IVF's under our belt and beginning another in March. I have to believe that we are blessed right where we are. Focusing on what we do have rather that the nagging question of "is this as good as it gets?"

  9. I appreciated you post, I have been struggling with the idea of PINK except we would be PIOK, and I know how blessed we are. I have so much guilt that maybe I am just wasting my time and that takes away from not just me and DH, but our son. I get impatient with him and then I wonder what the hell I'm doing. Sorry to go on, but you really made me think. Good luck to you and Mo no matter what.

  10. I always think of IF and IVF as this shadow that follows me is one of the first thoughts I have in the morning and the last at night. No matter how happy I might feel in a given moment, it seems like it's impossible to realize full joy when there is this undeniable shadow. So it makes perfect sense that you would have these twinges of anxiety you can't quite put your finger on even despite your vacation and your happy realization that no matter what, you two are blessed. Thanks for sharing this perspective...I wish for you two to lose your shadow this year.

  11. sometimes it is really helpful to fully explore the worst-case scenario, and you found that even if you are in the PINK, you have a fulfilling and loving relationship.

    thank you for this wonderful post.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing this perspective. I've been thinking a lot about what happens if we don't get a baby out of all this, and I haven't been able to find any peace in my own head. When I read your post though, it was very comforting.

  13. I love this post. Thanks Will for sharing your side of things. Sometimes it does take a trip to a foreign place to find some perspective. Good thing that you both found out that IVF is not needed to have you together as a team. I guess I am also starting to realize that the partnership and the marriage, being what we already have, come first and foremost and we can't forget to nurture this important part of our lives no matter what.


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