After two months of doing the injectables I was to head to the infertility clinic to have one last vaginal sonogram to see how many eggs I had produced. Now, usually when I ovulated I’d get some soreness on my left side. Ironically, that was the side where I usually produced two eggs. And so, as we were headed to the clinic I told Carol that I was definitely feeling more soreness than usual. That made me think I had for sure produced more eggs. BUT, we couldn’t know until we had the sonogram.
When we arrived that day the waiting room was once again filled. I always looked around at everyone’s faces. I could tell who was just starting the process and who had gone through many rounds. It was always evident on the faces. After waiting 30 minutes we were called to the back and into the examining room. The nurse told me to go to the restroom to empty my bladder and then to undress from the waste down, put on the gown and lie on the table. Well at that point I didn’t have to pee, so I undressed, grabbed a gown and hopped on the table. It was another 20 minutes before the doctor came. She seemed very focused that day and not on us. It was clear she was bothered by something. Hey, folks, can be in a good mood all of the time. She didn’t say much to us and started the vaginal sonogram. We were all silent as she started looking at the monitor while moving around the “wand” inside of me. As she was looking she said,”You’re bladder is full. The reason you needed to empty it is so that we can better see things.” I really felt chastised by her. I figured it wouldn’t have been worth trying to explain that I didn’t have to go initially but after waiting for so long (and by the time she had gotten there), I did have to go. I asked her if she wanted me to go. Listen, I didn’t want to hinder her being able to see in any way, shape or form. She told me it was OK and that she needed to go ahead looking.
After what seemed like forever she finally told us what she saw. She must have realized how curt she had been previously because she was back to her usual self at this point. She told us she was disappointed to only see 4 viable follicles. She told us there were about 9 but only 4 were good. She was surprised because normally women produce a lot more while on the injectables. When she was done, she asked me to sit up and she took a seat in front of me. Aware of our money situation she knew we had no other options for the injectables. She began talking to us about IVF which is where they remove the egg/eggs, fertilize it in a petri dish and then implant it into the uterus. As she was explaining it to us I knew we were done. That was a procedure that was easily $10,000 a pop. It was not something we could do. Carol told the doctor there was no way we could do that procedure. The doctor told us she understood but also added,”Please know we never expect a patient to pay it all at once. We understand how expensive it is. We want you to know our office does offer a payment plan.” I don’t know why but every time this doctor would tell us something else about how her facility helped her patient’s, we were shocked. We couldn’t believe it. BUT, even with a payment plan that still was worrisome to us to do. It was very expensive and something we’d still have to pay whether broken down into payments or not. We already felt as if we were throwing our money out the window each time it didn’t work. But, it was on a much smaller scale compared to the IVF procedure.
Meanwhile, even though we knew we weren’t going to do IVF we were curious about the procedure. Carol asked her, “And does that mean having multiple babies?” The doctor explained that the way she did the procedure (implanting so many eggs) she statistically had a high number of women who had triplets. Well, that was all we needed to hear. There was NO WAY we could have afforded that. AND I don’t mean the procedure we were thinking about just the raising of 3 children plus Judah. One more, yes, but not two or three. And there was a huge possibility of even more. I will never forget that day. Carol and I looked at each other and told the doctor that IVF was not an option for us. We asked her if we could go ahead and do our last insemination? She knew we were disappointed with the number of eggs the injectable had me produce. However, she was positive. She told us that at least I had doubled my chances.
We made an appointment to come in the next morning for our final insemination. While returning home that day we realized Judah didn’t have school the next day (when we were to have the insemination), so we’d have to find someone to babysit him. That evening after many phone calls and no one to watch Judah, we concluded we’d just take him with us to the insemination. We had a portable movie player which we figured he could watch during the procedure. It wasn’t ideal but it was what it was.
The next morning we packed some toys and the portable movie player for Judah and went headed to the infertility clinic for our last try. Once there we explained to the woman at the front desk that we had to bring our son. She seemed used to it and said it wasn’t a problem. After waiting for about 45 minutes we were all called back to one of the examination rooms. The nurse told us where we could set Judah up and while Carol got him comfortable, I undressed, put on my gown, lied down on the table and waited. Judah who was usually curious about what I was doing never asked. He was busy watching his movie. Carol explained to him that once the doctor came he’d have to be very quiet and let Mom and Momma do what they needed to do with the doctor. Listen, Judah was always a good kid. He was never disruptive at all. We knew he’d do just fine with us.
When the doctor came into the room she greeted Judah and asked him what he was watching. Judah told her but he clearly was in grossed and not interested in anything else happening in the room. Even so the doctor told me she’d keep me well covered so Judah wouldn’t see. Meanwhile, I never cared. We were always open with Judah and in fact he had even come with me to an OP/GYN appointment. And during that appointment stood by the doctor asking her what she was doing. Was I uncomfortable? No, not at all. Not sure why but I wasn’t.
Anyway, I was nervous when the doctor started the procedure. This was it. One last and final try. Would it be bashert or was only Judah in my cards? The answer would come soon enough. After the doctor was done, she once again did her good luck ritual of rubbing my legs and wishing us the best for “it” to take. Now I must admit it was awkward when the doctor turned off the light before leaving the room. Judah liked it because he could see his movie a lot better. But after the doctor turned on the timer Judah started asking questions. What’s that noise? Why did the doctor turn on a timer? And so we just told him it was to tell us how long I had to lie down. Judah was satisfied with our answer and went back to his movie.
Once the timer went off and I got dressed, the nurse told us to please contact them to let them know where we were in two weeks. She too wishes us well and we were headed out. I have to tell you that I felt an overwhelming sadness that day. It was beautiful outside- great weather. But, I felt sad. On our way home Carol said, “Let’s explore.” And so she took one of the exits off the highway. While driving we noticed a sign that there was going to be a parade in one of the little towns. Carol asked if I was up to it but before I could answer Judah was clearly excited to go. There was no way I could say no. Plus, it was a good way to get our mind off of things. When we pulled into the town we could see people starting to position themselves on the parade route. Carol didn’t want me moving around too much. She would laugh that she didn’t want any of the sperm falling out. We found a great parking spot right next to where we could sit to watch the parade. Carol remembered that we had folding chairs in the trunk so she took them out for us to sit. Judah was thrilled. It was awesome watching him and how excited he was. I so appreciated Carol doing that for us that day. Going straight home would have been so depressing. We needed that time together as a family.
Of course waiting for the two weeks to end was incredibly hard. I had never felt the pressure as I did this last time. I also was much more emotional about it. I suppose, folks, I knew the answer but I never wanted to admit it. Sadly, just before the two weeks was up (for me to take the pregnancy test) my period started. While sitting on the toilet that day, I cried and cried and cried. It was one of the saddest days of my life. It was not meant to be. Me having another child was no going to happen and that realization had hit me very hard. I have to tell y’all. I had thought for a brief moment that I would convince Carol to do one round of IVF but I knew in my heart that wasn’t fair to Judah. I needed to stop shoving that square peg into that round hole. I knew trying to get pregnant just didn’t involve me. I had to not only consider Judah but I had to think about the person I loved the most, Carol. More than anything, it wasn’t fair to her.
Not having another child was incredibly emotionally painful. Each time a friend would announce they were pregnant, I’d have to take a deep breath (and put on my fake smile) before I could congratulate them. Jealous? HELL YES! And during my OB/GYN visits I would avoid looking or sitting next to anyone who was pregnant. It broke my heart. I suppose I was able to get through some of the pain by thinking that some how, some day it would happen. It was weird. I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen but it helped for me to leave it open. I suppose I could continue to dream, yes? Along with dreaming I also knew things happened for a reason. I wanted to know why me not having another child was to be bashert. Why wasn’t it meant to be? I knew for that answer to come I needed to give it time. Oh how that “patience” kept creeping into my life and oh, how I hated it. Not a great virtue I had but one I kept having to learn.
Right after my last insemination I had to keep busy to keep my mind off of the baby thing. And so I decided to finally start on my mom’s family tree (as I had already done my dad’s). Because my mom had died when I was 15 years old there wasn’t a lot that I knew. And so, I started with my sister who was seven years older. I also spoke to other people who knew my mom with hopes they could give me information. It didn’t take long before I was able to find (and speak to) several of my mom’s cousins. Many of them were already in their 70’s and a couple well in their 80’s. And so I had a series of questions written down to ask as I spoke to each of them. You know: who were my mom’s grandparents? Who were their kids? When were they born? When did they die? What did they die of? My questions were your typical questions. And even though I may have had the birth/ death dates of a relative I always asked the others just to confirm they were correct. It was amazing how my mom’s family were so consistent. I learned that if I got a date from one of them, it was correct. If they didn’t know, they’d tell me without even attempting.
OK, so I’m sure you’re wondering how any of this has to do with why I wasn’t meant to get pregnant. Well, I’m getting there, so hold on a minute.
One afternoon Carol was asking me about how my research was going on my mom’s family tree. I told her I had spoken to at least 5 cousins of my mom’s and had gotten tons of information. She was interested so I started to tell her the information I had gotten. Only as I was telling her about my mom’s aunts did the dawning hit. See, through this research I had discovered that my mom’s 4 aunts (and possibly 5) had all died of breast cancer. They were all between the ages of 38-40 when they were diagnosed with the disease. Carol pointed this out to me and then asked me when it was my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I told her that my mom was 42 but she had had problems two year’s prior which suggested she actually had it earlier (but she refused to go to the doctor). And then Carol asked me how old my sister was when she had her breast cancer. My sister was 37. At that point without Carol saying another word, I knew I needed to go see a doctor. Even though I had been getting mammograms every 6 months I knew that alone was not going to protect me.
On Tuesday, January 15th (ironically the anniversary of my mom’s death 22 years prior), 2008 I (and Carol) met with a breast health specialist. After a lot of talking and research, folks, I decided my best option was to have a double mastectomy. On May 5th, 2008 I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Five years later on March 4, 2013 after finding two possible tumors I would have to have a hysterectomy which put a final end to my dream of having another child. One day I plan to write about these surgeries but not now. I’m just not ready.
I have to tell you. Here was how I saw my entire having a second baby journey. If I had gotten pregnant there was no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t have researched my mom’s family tree for at least another few years (if at all). The baby and Judah would have taken up my time. The thought that I would have been oblivious to my risks (with getting breast cancer and possibly gotten it) was scary. Thinking about the ages of those women in my family, I had a high risk of getting it at anytime since I was already 38. The pain of miscarrying and not being able to get pregnant again and again brought me to a place emotionally where I wanted my mom. I suppose doing her family tree to me was how I could fill that void. And so, I felt not being able to get pregnant was the catalyst I needed to propel me into getting started. AND I felt strongly that my mom was at the helm of it all.
I have always had a strong belief in “Bashert”. Some feel bashert comes from G-d. I don’t at all. TO me it is more like how things are supposed to go and no matter what we do, we can’t change it. You know when you line up dominoes one perfectly behind the other and then you push the first one over? What happens? One falls onto the one behind it forcing it to fall which was course is known as the dominoes effect. Well, each domino can only fall in one direction. I could hope for it to fall in a different direction but the domino in front could only make it happen. And so that is how I see life in many ways. I wanted my life to go in a different direction but that was not how the “dominoes” were meant to fall. Was I happy about it? HELL NO? But I couldn’t force my life in a different direction no matter how hard I tried and I certainly did try hard. ALSO, sometimes we need a little coercing from our loved ones especially those who are no longer with us. They sometimes seem to have the power to give us the little pushes that no one else can give us. And for that I am so incredibly thankful.
Listen, if I had had another child and had not been interested in doing my mom’s family tree, would I have gotten breast cancer? Could it have been caught early? Who the hell knows? BUT because of my belief in Bashert, I do believe I was in some kind of danger. I will never know exactly (the danger) but that doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter because I know in my heart the truth. I strongly believe because of my sister’s bravery and my mom’s guiding love I was given a second chance at life. It was by NO MEANS IN HELL what I wanted but there was NO WAY IN HELL I was ever going to fight against what was meant to be.
With the hopes of having another baby behind me it was time and important that I focused on my family. I had a child that I was incredibly thankful for having. He had and has filled me with great, great joy. It will be that joy that I will share with you in my next and final chapter.