“Wow, you’re a gassy one. Look at those intestines!” the ultrasound tech said as she searched for my specks of ovaries. They can never find my ovaries, which skirt the ultrasound wand and shrink behind organs and scar tissue. I also imagine them the size of shriveled peas – greenish, wrinkly orbs –so I’m sure that can’t help matters.
This is our third cycle with the fertility specialist. Getting my blood drawn yesterday the nurse asked how I was, and I replied, “Oh, you know, the usual,” and she said, “This is old hat already, isn’t it?” and she was right. Like the drive to work, I arrive at my doctor without knowing how I got there. The crease of my right arm is perpetually black and blue from needle pricks, and I can fill out their insurance and call-back forms with my eyes closed. Somehow along the way I even memorized my insurance ID, a long code of letters and numerals that I recite like my social security number.
Sometimes I think, “Why are we doing this?” With my Crohn’s, IC, and everything else that has run amok, why? With the strong possibility of passing on an auto-immune disorder, why? With overpopulation, American super-sized carbon footprints, a future and quality of life I worry about – why? I have no other answer that it is a biologically selfish need. That we feel we’d be good parents, have the love and resources to raise a child sensitive to others and the world around him or her. And that my body – my breasts, my hips – ache to do what they were meant for.
Sometimes I feel we can’t win. I read articles on the population crisis, or numbers of unemployed, and comments linked to these articles chastise “the breeders”. And I can’t deny: I raise my eye at large families, too. I, too, learned about carrying capacity in 11th grade and vowed never to have more than a couple of children. But still. It doesn’t feel right – it feels I’m doing something wrong. Then I read commentary about the rise in fertility drugs and how these families should just let nature take its course. “It’s called survival of the fittest; there’s a reason some women can’t get pregnant,” they’ll say. Today I read an article regarding the lax regulations in adopting Haitian children after this year’s earthquake. There was no due process, no checks and balances to ensure these children didn’t have families. It’s an admittedly questionable situation, but readers chimed in and said adoption is nothing more than child trafficking – a child-hungry, rich, Western convention to exploit the children of developing nations. "And how dare you take these children from their culture and language!" they cry. And I know all of these things aren’t true, but they have nuances of my own insecurities in all of them. I feel defensive and judged. And I start questioning everything.
What about the people who just want to nurture one child? Is it wrong to want my body to work as it should? To have the ability to do what so many others may take for granted? So now when I disclose to anyone our course – the fertility drugs, the doctor visits – I’m quick to add, “But we’re not looking for a gaggle of children – just one!” and laugh.
The business of having a baby is a delicate dance.