Sitting, those moments before we had lost L. but knew that we would, before he was born, holding on my husband's hand as if we could clasp ourselves together against the truth. Making him promise me that we would try again to get pregnant and bring a child out into the world. Even in my hysteria, I made it a promise that was safe for him to answer, impossible for him to refuse. Promise me yes, but we could decide, later that it wasn't the right thing to do. Promise me yes, but we could look up in a few months and know that the risks of trying again were just too great. Promise me yes, but we might realize that our family was as right as it could be in the aftermath of so much wrong.
Who is that girl on the couch, half wild-eyed, lapsing into a stare at nothing? What exactly was she pleading for? What did she think she knew?
She thought this of herself: that she had become a kind of expert at loss. Embattled, but also experienced. What was ahead: difficulty, certainly. Likely months of disappointment. Fumbling with OPKs and squinting at purple lines that can take a nuclear physicist to decipher. Anxious, tedious two-week waits. Allow a year of trying, the grief counselor and I reasoned together, to help combat the month in-month out inching up of hope, plummeting despair. Consider the risk, even, of a miscarriage in there before the pregnancy would take that would go on to be our next child. I had lost pregnancies and survived before, hadn't I? I knew what it was to try again. Ascertain the trouble ahead and stick a name to it so as to keep yourself sane when you are, in fact, darkly crazy in loss.
The only way through is forward.
To return to that decision to try again and to start: that's the hard thing.
Or so I thought.
The responsible wait for physical healing and then for test results. Meetings with genetics counselor and geneticist to go back over L's case and make sure there were no genetic markers that might impede a healthy pregnancy in the future. Blood tests for lingering evidence of infection that could have turned development so awry. A phone call checking back with the OB. Sitting down, husband and I, in the RE's office, just for his professional advice. Each says: No promises. But otherwise all clear. Go ahead. Try.
Then the numbers. The tyranny of numbers. Unexpectedly bad FSH results. That devastation. Looking flat and solid into the reality that we might not even have the chance at another child. Cycles that were perfectly on schedule before trying now, suddenly, confirming my body's age and trouble. One cycle runs long for days on end. Next cycle stops far short. No blood. Early blood. Blood into vials at the RE's office. Results that the nurse calls to tell me our specialist brilliant doctor is "perplexed." Only the tests that tell us nothing come back good.
Stop seeing the grief counselor, knowing her well enough to read pity in her eyes. Refuse reality--too full up.
Go here: Acupuncture needles. Bitter herbs. Prayer. Love. Sex. Refusing wine. Sneaking wine. Wheatgrass. Prayers to a panoply of gods and whomevers. Yoga. Reiki from the next door neighbor (her other main patient a man who was burned over 98% of his body. A fellow hopeless). A startled look at the kitchen countertop, with its bottles and concoctions, that shows me smack oblong in the funhouse mirror.I have become the woman I'm certain I've made fun of and had sometime sworn I'd never be.
Truth? I'd give my last nickel to the snake-oil salesman if only he scribbles Hope and Baby on the list of his elixir's promises.
Off the couch, moving, frantic, can't sit still. Trying to conceive, trying everything, trying to find hope in the air, in the trees, in the mud left from too much winter. To sit down, to slow down, means to stop. And I just can't do that. Not yet.