This past week I have started working in Critical Care again and I am quite happy about that. One thing has really bugged me though. My friend Sal works in this unit, but is presently on maternity leave. I am thrilled to show off pictures of her baby to anyone who asks, but inevitably the next question from well-intentioned colleagues are comments like "oh! You're next!" "When are you having babies?" "About time you got started, eh?!"
Part of me has come to expect these questions because I suppose they are innocent enough, and relevant enough to the conversation. I have my answer prepared : "We can't have kids." You would think that would be a conversation stopper, but it's not. I hear "Oh, you're still young, it'll happen"or "When you least expect it, that's when it'll happen." (These well-intentioned people should be Fertility Specialists.) I was given a 0.5% chance of getting pregnant and then there was still a 50% chance of staying pregnant. I don't usually bother with statistics, but this week it's been in my face. I am peri-menopausal. There is no doubt in the diagnosis, my Fertility Specialist sent me packing two years ago with an FSH of 67.
I have been having hot flashes this month that are driving me crazy. The heat starts in my hands, goes up my arms to my head. Then it settles under my bra-line and makes a bee-line down my legs where it feels like a million little pinpricks while my leg pores open up to sweat. I've had visions of how nice it would be to tear off my clothes and run outside to make snow-angels in the sub-zero temperatures we've been having. This lasts about a minute or two and then I'm searching for my sweaters or jackets that I've thrown off a minute earlier because I've got the chills. This happens a few times an hour, and although it's just a few minutes, I can't begin to tell you how uncomfortable it is.
Thankfully, my mood is pretty stable. I do not rip people's faces off when they ask me if I'm going to have kids. Even more thankfully, no one has asked me when my baby is due, because then I couldn't promise I wouldn't start ripping off faces.
As I said, it's been two years now since I've known that we wouldn't be able to have kids. Egg donation is the only possibility, and believe it or not, I do have a friend who has some frozen eggs and they have been offered to us. She now has two beautiful children and she and her husband do not plan to use the remaining eggs for themselves. Greg and I discussed this option and decided against it. While my friend has two healthy children, the eggs were harvested when she was 40. This isn't so much a problem, but the main issue is, is that they are friends of ours. Imagine using her DNA, having a child, and seeing our child and her children together. Biologically, they would be half-siblings. Psychologically, there are dozens of issues. Would my friend truly be able to separate herself from our child? How would her husband feel seeing our child that would look like a mix of Greg and his wife? What if their children died, would my friend want to be more involved with our child? How would it affect my friend's parents and in-laws, and her children, presuming this was not a big secret? And, how would it affect me? Would it make me feel less of a woman because our child is not part of my genetic make-up? Would a part of me always think of it as 'her' child? Or, should I be grateful that at least it would be part of Greg's DNA? These are a few of hundreds of questions we could ask ourselves, and I haven't even touched upon legal, ethical, financial issues.
So, I don't think Egg donation is such an easy option. Neither Greg nor I think it is an option for us, as exciting as it first sounded. And for other reasons, neither Greg nor I are interested in adoption.
I think I have to come up with a better response to people's well-intentioned questions, one where I don't feel like I have to be apologetic, or get into explanations about my early aging process.