Monday, June 2, 2014

Fairy Tales

I don't know why I'm still so incredulous. I was shocked two years ago when I didn't get pregnant the first month we started trying, shocked that another year passed with no luck, and shocked that all three IUIs failed last summer. You'd think the surprise and disbelief at my own infertility would have worn off by now. And yet, there I was, staring at my email message from the embryologist telling me that none of my measly three eggs had fertilized.

What?! None of them? You literally placed a sperm inside each egg and nothing happened? What are they, two seventh graders forced to play seven minutes in Heaven who don't know their asses from their elbows? It seemed to defy the laws of nature that an egg and a sperm placed next to each other wouldn't just do what they were placed on this earth to do. Disbelief is an understatement.

I knew that the IVF process could likely be filled with disappointment. I just didn't expect that disappointment to come so early. I never expected that I would only produce three eggs, and I certainly never expected to cancel my transfer because none of them fertilized.

And yet, I've been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for two years. So, yeah, it makes sense that this wouldn't work. It makes sense that there might actually be something wrong. So why was I still so surprised? I think this is partly the fault of secondary infertility. I have had a child naturally, so everyone (including me) assumes that I will simply be able to have another baby, but what if my instant pregnancy with Ella was just a fluke? Perhaps infertility is my norm, and she was just an incredible miracle.

Who knows? Apparently no one because my doctor, one of the leading fertility specialists in New England, has been just as surprised as me.

I was discussing this incredulity with my girlfriend Christina this afternoon. It was right after our discussion of the latest episode of Game of Thrones, and she said, "Being surprised about your infertility is kind of like being surprised that a main character in Game of Thrones was killed."

I realized that this is a perfect analogy. Right at the beginning of the series they killed Ned Stark, the beloved hero, followed by his son and wife, two of the main characters. In episode after episode, horrible things happen to characters I adore, and still, every time it happens, I am shocked. Sunday night's episode was no exception. We were all rooting for the charismatic Oberyn Martell to avenge his sister's death by killing the monstrously evil Gregor Clegane (better known as The Mountain) and to also win the fight to save the wrongly imprisoned Tyrion from execution.
Before the episode began, my husband reminded me that this isn't an ordinary show. It is very possible that Oberyn will die and that Tyrion will die, and that every single person we love will die because George R. R. Martin is a sociopathic plot writer. And still, there I was watching breathlessly as Oberyn pierced The Mountain through the chest, bringing him to the floor. "He won!" I thought. "He did it!" and then, of course, The Mountain grabbed Oberyn by the leg, pulled him to the ground, and well... I'll spare you the details.

So there I was, shocked and angry once more. How could Oberyn die? This was supposed to be his Inigo Montoya moment! After the difficult news of my failed transfer, I felt as wronged as Oberyn Martell. He'd been waiting years for this moment, and he was so close to victory! I wanted to defeat infertility as much as he wanted to defeat The Mountain. He deserves it! We both do! And that's when I realized what the incredulity is all about. The real reason I continue to be shocked by  Martin's plot lines is because I still believe that just because you deserve something, you will get it. I want the heroes to win, and I guess I am the hero of this story. But your mother has been telling you for years that life isn't always fair. Just because you deserve something doesn't mean you'll get it. Sometimes the good guy loses.

This is a sad story, and it makes me wonder why we continue to place ourselves in the path of disappointment, over and over again. Why don't I simply stop watching Game of Thrones? For the same reason I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to discuss my next round of IVF.

Because no matter how naive it sounds, part of me still believes in fairy tales and that maybe, just maybe, the good guy will win this time.  


  1. My dear neice Jeni, I just want to tell you how brave and proud I am of you. This is a difficult time for you and Mike but I do believe you will have what you so very much deserve . I love you very much, Aunt Kathy

  2. To my wonderful daughter and terrific son in law I wish you all you want in life but most of all I wish you complete happiness for what you have