My Facebook feed is full of babies. And pregnancy announcements. All seconds, sometimes thirds. Same goes for my blog reader. If I’m completely honest–and what is this space for if not honesty?–that’s a big reason I started pulling away last summer and have spent so much time away since. I know that many of those pregnancies did not come without loss, heartache, medical intervention, lifestyle overhauls, countless injections, and copious amounts of money. I want to be nothing-but-happy for each and every one of them, but I have to admit that envy has crept back in. And it’s not always for the same reasons. Sometimes it’s because of the perceived ease of it all; sometimes it’s the well-timed age gap between number one and number two; sometimes it’s that treatment was not prohibited by time, money, and geography; and sometimes it’s that I’m caught completely off-guard.
One of the recent pregnancy announcements that popped up on Facebook was from a woman who has two children two years apart, the youngest of which is nine years old. She’s my age, and I have no idea whether or not this pregnancy was planned, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it. You know how with some people you’re on pins and needles, just waiting for the inevitable, and when it comes, it’s not easy, but you feel that tightness in your chest loosen a little, like you’d been holding your breath for months and hadn’t even realized it? Well, when I read her cryptic announcement, the opposite happened. I forgot how to breathe, like when you take a hard fall and get the wind knocked out of you, and there’s that moment of panic, when all the muscles around your lungs seize up and you feel like you might die before your diaphragm spasms back to life and you finally gasp for air.
With each announcement, I waver between envy and gratitude so violently I end up with whiplash. I want another child–or two–but getting there involves the transatlantic shipping of frozen embryos and a FET we can’t afford right now–all of which guarantees nothing. If we could just, I don’t know, have sex around the time I ovulate, things would be so much easier. On the other hand, I’ve only just started getting stretches of more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time, and I’d kind of like to keep that going for a while. There are days I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water with one child, and I’m left wondering how in the world I’d ever manage with two. The fact that my daughter is so wonderful–caring, smart, silly, spirited, and affectionate–is a double-edged sword. She should be enough, and she is, but having another one like her? Well, that would be twice as nice.
So we’ve started to set things in motion toward trying again. A few weeks ago, we got a letter from our former clinic, where our embryos are stored, saying that the partners are splitting up and each starting a solo practice. What would we like them to do with our embryos, and would we like a copy of our records while they’re at it? That led us to hurry up and see what our options were here. Would any of our treatment be covered by the NHS? (No.) How far would we have to travel to be treated at a clinic with decent stats? (Far.) Yesterday I made the call. We have a consultation appointment in Bristol in July. From there we can figure out the logistics of transporting our frozen future offspring across seven time zones, a process that the person in the lab I talked to guessed could take approximately six weeks.
I don’t have an adequate vocabulary to describe the waves of anxiety I feel at the mere thought of climbing aboard the treatment roller coaster again. And this time, it doesn’t just affect Hubby and me. There’s a two-year-old girl whose life could be turned upside down for anywhere from a few months to the next eighty-or-so years while we figure out whether or not she’ll be granted a sibling. How I handle that turbulence is going to determine, in large part, how she does the same, so I’ve got to be careful. It’s not do or die, like our attempts to bring her into the world, but it feels like there’s more at stake this time. Because if things go wrong, if we end up with heartbreak instead of a heartbeat, I can’t fall apart. I still have to be her mother. I don’t know if that will make things easier or harder this time around.