Cash Panda: the IVF journey

The pregnancy test was negative. I cried. I was at the doctor’s surgery and the tears came unexpectedly and uncontrollably. Not a flood, not that kind of crying. But crying that came from somewhere deep within, a deep yearning and loss. They surprised me. They came from a deep well of feeling that I hadn’t until then recognised. Now I had to.
The test result itself wasn’t totally unexpected. I had started bleeding and had felt a change in my body in the days beforehand. My period was late. I am sure I was pregnant briefly. It was that really early pregnancy many women get, which is not destined to last. Those early two to three weeks are so tenuous. Life in those early stages is so fragile, like blossom in a mild spring wind.
I felt the pregnancy within 36 hours of having unprotected sex. I had been at a dear friend’s wedding. You know the story: two of us in the wedding party drink loads and hook up. There was only one condom. Ah well, fuck it, we thought, whisky pumping through my veins, something equally strong pumping through his. We had great, carefree sex.
It was in bed, confronted by the lack of a condom, that I first noticed something in me, something new. It wasn’t just about the sex, there was something else going on. It was like my body was saying, no yelling, “I need sperm”. It was a little frightening, quite primal. I tucked that idea away until I felt what I assume are pregnancy hormones kicking in. Then I was worried.  How tacky would that be? Getting pregnant having a one night stand at a friend’s wedding? But that new part of me kept replying: well why not? Take the opportunity while it’s there. That voice finally made itself heard in the doctor’s office weeks later. I could no longer ignore it.
So this is the honest catalyst to my current journey through IVF.  It’s not the total background. My ex-partner of 8 years and I had been trying, at least in name, for two years before our breakup a year before the friend’s wedding. There were all sorts of complications with this, including the extent of his opposition to having children which I only found out after years of trying. I will talk about that moment of realisation in a later post. It was devastating.
After the breakup I was also revelling in my rediscovered attraction to women. So I knew that I couldn’t rely on the chance of unprotected sex with men (or the other health implications), let alone finding a long-term male partner, to help me get pregnant. I was 38 years old. As the obstetrician kindly pointed out at my first appointment: you are 40 next year, you don’t have time to wait. It was not only a plug for their profit-making service. She was right. I signed up to IVF that day.
So, there you have it. I found myself at 38, single after a very long relationship and faced with what feels like my last chance to fulfil one of my life’s dreams, to bare and raise a child. I’ve fought with many feminist friends over this idea (both silently-internally, and occasionally raucously in the pub). I know that women do not need to have a child to have a fulfilling life. Of course! That includes me. But personally, I can only imagine the joy that bringing another human into this crazy world would bring, and I want to experience this for real. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. And surely the point of being a feminist is to support women’s choices, not close them off with ugly anti-child moralism. Anyway… (putting defences down)…
I’ve decided to write about this crazy, scary, awe-inspiring, heartbreaking and overwhelmingly costly journey. It’s been about a year now, with one egg collection and three embryo transfers under my belt. No success yet, but I have learnt a lot about myself, about a whole new area of science to me, and about how deep our society’s conservative social values run. More about this in future posts.
My blog name is inspired by a serious question raised by a friend recently: but what if you’re a panda? We were talking about the fragility of life and how hard it is to create even with all the amazing scientific advances that we now have access to. She asked, what if you can only get pregnant during a full moon, at one time in the year, with only exactly the right sperm? It’s a serious question which I want to re-direct at the IVF process itself.
It’s important to remember when going through IVF that science isn’t infallible. Far from it! And when we’re talking about something as mysterious and complicated and emotional as creating human life, we really have no idea. Yet, us IVF patients bet thousands and thousands of dollars on what is essentially a gamble with some improved odds.
Some days I really feel like that, like a Cash Panda. Some days I feel like a mother-in-waiting. At the moment I am both, clinging to the hope that I don’t one day have to face closing off both those options.
By: Cash Panda
Image taken from Scorpions and Centaurs photostream on Flickr under Creative Commons Licence. 
This entry was posted in Uncategorized by MsElouise. Bookmark the permalink.

About MsElouise

MsElouise is a community programs worker and feminist from Melbourne Australia. She likes to travel, write, rant and make people feel uncomfortable about their assumptions. She hopes to one day be remembered for changing the world just a little bit. Right now she does this by proving that teenage girls are a higher order of beings.

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