THE PREGNANCY HOOK
Can you really be considered a woman with being a mother? How does a man handle his part in the seemingly two-role feature of Mommy and Baby? Krissi Marie VIcker confronts the anguish in IVF treatments and the struggle just to become a mother while Suzanne Scott's hyper-realistic artwork, inspired by fishing trips with her late father, asks us to wonder where the line lies between the dream and reality of motherhood.
excerpts from "Ordinary Miracles"
By krissi marie vicker
…“Your count is low,” she said.
And my heart sank. I saw the pigment of my husband’s cheeks fall off his face and blend in to our pink carpeted floor. His spirits were somewhere down there too. It was like his manhood had just been taken away. To be fair, my husband has a pretty strong sense of self, and this didn’t destroy his “manhood.” Between his sizable working parts and his overzealous sex drive, he and I both thought there wouldn’t be a problem in this department. So when we found out about his substandard results, it was shocking.
There was a real sense of helplessness and denial for my husband. He later told me, “How could I have great performance in the bedroom and bet totally compatible with my partner and not be able to conceive?”
We figured out on our own what no one had ever told us. Performance and fertility have nothing to do with each other, not for a man or a woman. In fact, they are not even remotely connected to one another.
…As it got closer and closer to noon, which was around the time they told us they’d call, my anxiety heightened. Every minute was taking days, and as the time went on, I felt worse and worse. Is it bad news, and are they holding out on telling me? I thought.
Finally, after our last stop, when we were in the car heading home, my cell phone rang. Once they verified they were talking to me, I could hear the nurse breathe deep.
“Well it’s positive…but…”
But? But what? How could there be a “but” with a statement like that? I thought.
“It’s only faintly positive,” she said.
“How low is it?” I asked hesitantly.
“It’s 9.5. We’ve seen this before. It could go either way at this point.” I knew by then that an HCG level of anything over five was pregnant. But my level was way closer to five than I would have liked. “Your estrogen levels were so low,” she added. “Please increase your patches to three a day and come back in to repeat the blood test in two days.” I hung up and told Rob what she said.
“We’re pregnant! Oh my God!” he shouted. “Why do you look so upset?”
“I just don’t know what to think,” I said, “I wish it was higher.” Then I just started to cry.
This was not the news we were ready to share with anyone, not yet anyway, not until we knew what was going on for sure. We had kept this cycle mostly a secret from most of our friends and family anyway. The last cycle and the pain of the news were just too much to bear. So this time, we figured we’d share news only when we had good news to share.
Consequently, I was left with my beak thoughts, and the only place I had found solace in the past few months was my message boards. I finally got my big fat positive (BFP), as it was coined on the boards for women who finally stepped into the world of mother-to-be-hood. But my positive wasn’t big, and it certainly wasn’t fat. Everyone who responded began to pray and sent positive thoughts my way. I was hoping to find others who might have started with a low number like mine and all went well afterward, but no one wrote any similar stories. And I knew in the pit of my stomach that it wasn’t good.
I called my mother to see how she was feeling. I told her I wasn’t feeling well and I’d come up to see her the next day. I just didn’t have the energy, and rest was probably the best thing for my tiny embryo and me.
The next day my older sister called me while I was just getting out of bed. My mom’s breathing was very shallow that morning and she asked us to come down to see her as soon as we could. When I got there, she had a breathing tube in her nose and looked flushed and disoriented. I needed to tell her. I thought it would help her know that her prayers finally came true for me, even if it were only short-lived. SO I whispered in her ear before I left, “Mom, you have to hold on because I’m just a little bit pregnant now.”
Her eyes opened wildly, and she pulled me close into a hug with a smile. As I waked out, I saw a tear running down her cheek.
…I posted on the boards to update our sad news. And I wrote about the “brighter side” of things, that this time we actually did get pregnant even if it were just for a weekend. I mentioned our plans to start a new fresh cycle right away, my ideas about trying acupuncture, and my hopes of having a relaxing cycle through the summer without the stress of work. People were amazed at my resolve, telling me that my positive outlook was an inspiration. That felt good, but I still felt like a mess. Part of me wanted to move on and not dwell on my sorrow, and the other part needed to grieve. I was muddled with heartache and a profound yearning that seemed unattainable.
I knew through that I was lucky in a way. I had lost this baby early. There would have been many more tears and a much heavier heart if I had lost him or her weeks down the line. And a faint positive was a hell of a lot better than a definite negative. It was something to grab onto.
I read in one IVF book that I had experienced a “chemical pregnancy.” It was basically a very early miscarriage, which gives a positive pregnancy reading in the beginning stages but miscarries before a heartbeat is detected. It was hard to wrap my head around the word “chemical,” as if my body somehow poisoned the embryos inside of me. It was truly heart-wrenching.