Science Baby 12 and A Death in the Family


J and I have been trying for a kid using IVF (and constantly failing at it) while my Aunt Eva has been in hospice.

Yesterday Eva died. Lost consciousness on Saturday, passed Monday.

In the midst of life, we are in death, my mom would say when I was growing up and someone in the family kicked the bucket. When I was younger, the people dying were a generation older than my mom — my mom’s aunts and uncles and parents. Now it’s her siblings and cousins and friends.

I wasn’t super close to Eva except for one year when I lived in the top floor of a duplex apartment in Connecticut and she and her son lived on the ground level. My mom and dad had just gotten divorced and I was eleven years old. Just about old enough to recognize how offbeat she was — unemployed, jewelry-maker, between husbands three and four at the time. She shared the following life secrets with me: Most women really do like sex. Not all drugs are bad — try some and make up your own mind. Patrick Swayze is the hottest man on Earth.

Today I think about her as J texts me. J had a blood test this morning and the results came back. Her hCG levels are still going up, slowly, despite beginning to bleed yesterday, her body starting the process of clearing itself out after our embryo transfer into her womb failed to take. She cried. She said she was losing our baby. This isn’t the first time she’s said that. I tell her it’s not our baby, it’s just a clump of cells. She doesn’t want to hear it. She wants to be at fault. I tell her it’s not her fault. We did everything we could, the two of us. Took all the supplements the doctors recommended, all the drugs, all the shots, went into all the appointments, everything everything everything.

No, it’s me, she insisted.

I’m tired of it. The fatigue of this – IVF and trying to have a child together — always being the centerpiece of our relationship — it’s exhausting. I want to go back to just being a couple. Instead even when we are watching TV together she is now looking for other ways to have a child, or refinements to the procedure. Maybe we can do PRP, she says yesterday while we’re ostensibly viewing the reboot of Twin Peaks. What do you think?

I don’t know I tell her.

We have nothing to lose, she says, her finger flicking over her phone, scrolling through Reddit Text, people talking about this and that in various IVF threads.

What is this procedure? What does it do to your health? What does it cost?

Over the course of the next twenty minutes I learn that PRP is blood therapy for ovaries and may improve egg quality. Average cost: 5k. Not serious health risks.  Supposedly.

5K is about the same as the cost as a trip to Paris for most of a week. We don’t make money as fast as we are spending it right now. It concerns me. We are going into my savings — savings that are supposed to be for retirement.

So there’s plenty to lose. We’re living a lifestyle that our incomes don’t support. It makes me anxious inside.

She doesn’t care. There is no listening to me anymore. There is her, her need to have a child, her ideas to get there. It’s most of what we talk about, most of what she does on the computer now, her hobby and obsession.

I am dead fucking sick of it but I cannot tell her this because it would upset her but holding it together when she comes up with a new idea is difficult.  She drops the latest idea on me.

Let’s go to Paris and then take a flight to Greece because PRP treatment is cheaper there, only 1000 or so US

Me: Great so now we are going to make our vacation which was supposed to be a break from IVF — a chance to recharge from all of this — into an IVF stress fest.

Her: It won’t be stressful

Yes it will be, we will be stressing about how to get there and how to prepare and you will be exhausted afterwards and you may not think about this but I will worry if you don’t recover quickly, I will be in a strange country looking for medical help. This sounds like a bad idea.

I start thinking that J is taking a trip into CrackPotVille, a place where people obsess on topics that the general public barely even knows exist, gobble up pseudoscience, open their wallets to snake-oil salesmen in an attempt to achieve fantastical goals that they feel might otherwise be closed off from them.

J cares less and less about how I feel about anything. There are her feelings: the loss of our child, the cramps from the miscarriage, the sadness of feeling shut out from motherhood. And then there are mine, which don’t exist, because I am the perfect supportive man and I enable her to live her dreams while having none of my own.

Eva was a feeling person. Eva pursued what she wanted all the time. She went through five husbands before the end. She smoked and drank and partied and didn’t look back at the trail of broken men behind her.  People who place too much importance on their feelings leave a wake of destruction behind them.

I worry that by doggedly pursuing IVF we will be putting ourselves in financial jeopardy. We will continue to hurt our own relationship. That I will start disconnecting from her. I already feel it. I want to tell her, look, we agreed to get through this miscarriage and take a break from IVF planning for a while. This has to stop. We need a break from this.

Here is something nobody tells you about IVF. There is never any break from it. There is one appointment after another and after each appointment you are again waiting for the next one, the next egg extraction, the next jerkoff into a cup, the next test for levels of this or that in the man or the woman, you are constantly on the phone with pharmacies and tracking down shipments and there is shit in your REFRIGERATOR ffs because some of the meds need to be cold, and you will do all of this in secret because you cannot talk about this with your friends and family, they will never understand. You will hang out with your friends less because you have to support your emotionally fragile partner jacked up on hormones A to Z and you will make a lot of excuses about why you can’t do this or that and people will start to think you are checking out from life and you sort of are because you have completely jacked into IVF instead, living the dream, the IVF LYFE. You fail and the doctor says let’s try the next cycle with fewer hormones or more supplements or whatever. You spend money on nothing but pain and must pretend this doesn’t bother you because the possibility of having a child is PRICELESS.

It makes me angry. I want a kid, sure, but not at any cost. Some costs are too high.

Jennie asks yesterday why I am not more excited about the PRP treatment, she tells me she is getting optimistic about it, and this is the only point over the weekend where I share my real feelings, I couldn’t help it, she caught me at a low-energy point and I couldn’t summon the energy to put my verbal filters in place and I just said yeah forgive me for not wanting to do another five week course in failure where I do 100% of the work around the house and you do nothing except worry about IVF and I feel we don’t have a relationship, we just have the Science Baby project, like we’re college kids working on a class project together that don’t otherwise hang out or share any other interests, we can’t even have sex during long stretches of these things, I lose both emotional and physical closeness with you, forgive me for not wanting to just JUMP RIGHT BACK INTO THIS.

Right after I said that, J started to get upset, and that’s when my mom called and shared the news about Eva passing. Probably a good thing. We avoided an argument. J said she was sorry about Eva. My mom was upset and sad and said she thinks she’ll go soon too and I somehow summoned the strength to tell her she’s fine and I expect she’s going to live a very long time yet. My mom asked how the transfer went — we hadn’t told her yet — and I had to tell her the truth: There would be no baby from this transfer.

Are you going to try again, she asks on speaker phone with Jennie listening.

Absolutely I say.

In the midst of death, we are in life, she says.

I cannot disagree.

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3 weeks ago

I’m so sad to read of your loss 🙁 IVF is the devil and a nightmare of a roller coaster I’d never wish on anyone. I have no idea your location or clinic you’re using – CNY does PRP for $1,600 stand alone or $600 if you have them do it during an egg retrieval. Two egg retrievals, three transfers, the billion of tests before/after and alllllll the travel costs put together was still cheaper for us than one single round at a closer clinic. May be worth looking into.

3 weeks ago

@onemoreday02 Thanks for the pointers.  I will check CNY, New York is totally do-able for us, this is very helpful.

2 weeks ago

That is just all around rough. I’m sorry you’re both going through it. I can imagine how stressful it would be on your relationship.

Keep an open conversation with her. You may both benefit from that. <3

2 weeks ago

I’m sorry about Eva.  Women put so much value in having a child, some to the point where it defines who they are.  It sounds like Jennie doesn’t realize the amount of strain this is putting on your relationship.  It’s tough… I understand.  Well not the IVF stuff, but I do understand being put on the back burner if you will for other causes.  Once that baby is born, you get a whole lot of the same treatment when you become 2nd fiddle… Hell, I feel I am less appreciated than the cats these days.  I guess that is the life of being a man these days… 😐

2 weeks ago

I understand your feelings and frustrations.  My daughter went through IVF with her wife, and the stress was hard enough to crack an egg on.  No pun intended.

I’m glad you’re writing this.  I’m glad you’re “talking” to someone.  I don’t know how well I would deal with this.

I think you’re amazing.