I wrote in Confessions of a Sister and Fellow Infertile that I feel like the odd barren woman out when it comes to the jealousy that often accompanies infertility. You see, I am largely immune to it. Sure I get that momentary pang in my chest when I pass a pregnant woman or see an infant, but for the most part I look at other’s pregnancy success as a huge accomplishment and I don’t let it bother me.
That is with the exception of family and other infertiles. In both those cases I glow as green as the the Jolly Green Giant exposed to radiation in a massive nuclear meltdown.
In my first post I described my heartache at being beaten to motherhood by those closest to me, my sister and my sister-in-law. In this one I will share a much more light-hearted but never-the-less true confession, I am wildly envious of my closest sisters in infertility.
Now don’t get me wrong, the only time I have ever cried tears over one of these women is when the “joy sucker” known as infertility kicks them in the uterus when they are already down. While I was pregnant with Spork, I felt total despair and cried buckets of tears for a dear online friend who lost twin boys only a few days after giving birth to them too soon.
Last year, I died a little bit inside when one of the first women I cycled with lost her baby to a miscarriage while she was struggling through a shift at work. I love these women and the community that surrounds us through this unfair, sometimes defeating, and otherwise lonely battle. I don’t know what I would do without them.
I suffer from extreme follicle envy. Not pregnancy or baby envy, follicle envy. I am fine with pregnancy and babies. In fact, I am seriously geeked when my infertile friends have strong positive beta results or climb back from no man’s land when a beta or a baby’s heart beat rallies and defeats the odds. I never, ever, envy that moment when they achieve their long anticipated dreams.
Now that is not to say that like most infertile women I don’t sometimes secretly wonder if they got my winning ticket in the baby lottery. After all, only a certain percentage of us IVFers will get pregnant. But I am smart enough to know that their success is independent of my own and does not mean imminent failure for me.
No, I don’t want their pregnancy tests with their two bright pink lines any more that I want their babies.
I just desperately desire their follicles.
Oh, and their textbook blastocysts too.
I want to have a follicle count that consistently hits in the 20s and embryos that are perfect quality and number in the double digits. I want enough embryos to “go to blast” with confidence. I long for those blasts to get there by day five and earn perfect 5AA grades.
I’ve never had that. My embryos are often fewer in number, a little slower and are average quality. If my embryos were in a beauty pageant, they would be like the smartest girl in high school standing next to all the Victoria Secret’s models all glammed up and ready to hit the runway. Sure mine are pretty enough and hopefully worthy in a way that really matters, but they are usually outdone in both number and physical beauty.
Even though it is illogical, there is no limit to my envy. Even when I know someone’s Reproductive Endocrinologist has overdone it, producing too many follicles and risking OHSS, I want to be in their stirrups. I want that basket full of eggs because what it really represents is a basket full of options, a veritable guarantee that a baby is in their future.*
Its nothing I could or would ever cry over, and just as it is with my family, deep down inside I am genuinely pulling for my infertile friends. When I hear of their fantastic results, it just hurts a little bit as I realize that those days have passed for me and my hopes of having a beautiful blast that grows into a baby will be realized a few embryos at a time and possibly over many cycles. I have to travel the long hard road and may be looking down the barrel at…wait for it… donors eggs.
Donors egg cyclers are not spared my envy either, however, with their young cycle buddies who also often have a lot of follicles and blastocysts. Plus this group has like the best odds of us all and they have already made that emotional and mental leap that I am still fighting against. What’s not to envy?*
Speaking of young, I really think its the young part that gets me if I am totally honest with myself.
I say this because the infertile women who really cause the little lump in my throat when I read their updates are the really young women who knock it out of the park on their first at bat. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I have seen so many of them join the infertility community and leave it before the pee is dry on that first positive pregnancy test.* I am happy for them, glad they will not have a need to build bonds with others the way I have after years and multiple treatments. And I am glad to be there for them too. Because I think they need me and others like me, if only for a short while.
I remember back when I started IVF. I was so nervous about posting for the very first time on my first infertility board. So many of the women there were so knowledge and slightly intimidating to me at the time. Here I was having to look up what BFP meant (Big Fat Positive) and they were talking about new technology and protocols and donor eggs, and blastocysts, and it all made my head spin. But I wanted to be a part of it and every time one of them got pregnant it made my heart almost explode with happiness. They were proof it could happen for anyone. It could be me someday. And of course it was. I have a beautiful baby. I got lucky.
But I am back here now, and I am one of those older “been there done that” ladies. A veteran of the war against infertility back on the front lines to fight again. Only now I am older and battle scarred. I am so weary and some days I just want to stop the fight. But I can’t stop the fight, not now and not ever. Because even if I were done fighting for me I would still need to fight for them.
So maybe that is what this follicle envy is all about. Its not about follicles, or embryos, or low FSH levels. Its not about odds or blastocysts or numbers.
Maybe its all about growing older, being jaded and battle worn.
Maybe I am just longing for the good ole’ days when I didn’t know better and I got lucky in spite of myself and my naiveté.
Whatever it is, I do love the infertile community and everyone in it. Old, young, gay, straight, married, single, male factor, tubal issues… whatever brought you here I am sorry you are here, but I am glad we are here together.
Still… I do sometimes wish I had your follicles and your beautiful blasts. Sorry for that one little detail.
* Yes I know infertility is not resolved by a first successful pregnancy, I am exaggerating for effect.
*studies actually show that too many eggs can impact quality, so it may not be all its cracked up to be, but still its hard not to want it.
*I know the decision to move to donor eggs is hard. I am not making light of it, I am once again just exaggerating for effect.