I picked up Peggy Orenstein’s book again last night. Her book entitled, Waiting for Daisy, A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and one Women’s Quest to Become a Mother, really resonates with me. In fact, I have fantasies about writing my own novel and even though the final chapter hasn’t been written yet, I have been toying with the following book title: Waiting for Godot: A Tale of Countless Blog Posts, 1000 Sonograms, 80 vials of menupur, 20 Syringes, Several IUI’s, One Surgery and One Successful Egg Drop.
At first blush, it might seem strange that I love this book as much as I do because Orenstein is Jewish and straight and I am African –American, Christian and lesbian, but if I have learned one thing recently, I have learned that the TTC journey peals back layers of difference, revealing a core of connection and hope.
I also need to also say that Orenstein experienced much more than I have during the course of her four year TTC journey, including several miscarriages, cancer, IVF and FET.
Yet her story still profoundly speaks to me.
I picked up her book again last night not only because nails the TTC journey, and not only because her book is one of the few that makes me cry tears of sorrow and laugh out loud. I revisited Waiting for Daisy because Orenstein adeptly deals with two themes I have been thinking about lately: TTC addiction and self-doubt.
Earlier in the week, I wrote that I had a love hate relationship with the TTC hamster wheel, but I think it can also be classified as an addiction.
I don’t know exactly how I got here. For Orenstein, Clomid was her gateway drug.
“Clomid was my gateway drug: the one you take because, Why not—everyone’s doing it. Just five tiny pills. They’ll give you a boost, maybe get you where you need to go. It’s true, some women can stop there. For others, Clomid becomes infertility’s version of Reefer Madness. First you smoke a little grass, then you’re selling your body on a street corner for crack. First you pop a little Clomid, suddenly you’re taking out a second mortgage for another round of IVF. You’ve become hope’s b*tch, willing to destroy your career, your marriage, your self-respect for another taste of its seductive high. Here are your eggs. Here are your eggs on Clomid. Get the picture?”
Even though I can relate to feeling like ‘hopes b*tch’, I don’t think that Clomid was the gateway to my addiction. For me, it was my very first visit to my RE’s office where I was filled with possibility. I thought it would be easy to get pregnant and I didn’t even consider what would happen if I didn’t. I could say, though, that Clomid kind of cinched it for me. After my first clomid cycle I was open to injectible cycles and surgery. And please stay tuned for what comes next. I have definitely fallen down the rabbit hole. And I would like to get out, but I am not sure how.
I also love Orenstein’s book because she grapples with her feminism in the face of a burning desire to have a baby. For most of my life, like Orenstein, I never wanted to have children. It just didn’t resonate with me. I didn’t want to be tied down and I did not want the responsibility. I told myself that I didn't need to have a child to feel complete. I told myself that that idea was something that they told women of my parent’s generation so they would stay at home and be dependent on their husbands. I was determined not to fall for that trap. And then suddenly when I turned 37, something in me changed. I don't exactly know how or why. But I do know that it has developed into a full obsession. I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to accept and get a handle on because I am not one of those women who ‘always wanted to have a baby’.
Orenstein writes, “at one time, I would have told a woman like me that childlessness was not her problem; it was her inability to recognize the value in all that she had; in all that she’d built for herself. But I had become the woman I once pitied, the one who was easily swayed by gross oversimplifications that collapsed all of life’s complexities into the convenient box of ‘waited too long.”
And just the other day when my RE was explaining to me yet again about ovarian reserve and what happens to a women’s body after age 35, I started thinking, “have I waited too long?” Is this going to happen for me? Even though intellectually, I know for a fact that I can and will feel fulfilled no matter what happens on this journey, it’s hard to keep sight of that in the fact of more sonograms, needles and bloat. And I understand that those needles in some way represent some form of hope and that I should be grateful for the opportunity to try again. And I am. But I am a long way from the finish line.