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12/13/2003

For the record

Among the photocopied pages from my file is the psychological evaluation the state requires before a couple undergoes IVF. I should note that said evaluation was performed by one of the cadre of skilled and caring mental health professionals getupgrrl captures brilliantly, velveteen and all.

I will treat you to some highlights from the report, with my comments:

[Julie and Paul] cite major ambivalence about having a child as their reason for wanting to significantly limit the number of embryos put back... A year later, I now invite my doctors to reinstall as many embryos as my body can manage to make. I don't really lose sleep these days over the possiblility of high-order multiples.

They report they currently have a nice lifestyle and are not 100 percent convinced that they desire to be parents... I felt it would be dishonest not to acknowledge some reservations about the ways our life would change. We do have a comfortable life (I would never have said "lifestyle"), and children will change that drastically, in some ways for the worse. Funny, though — I never saw this as a sign of ambivalence, as the psychologist clearly did. I saw and see it more as a gesture toward pragmatism, and possibly a sign of our true commitment to having children, even though we know we'll be losing some of the things we love about our life together.

[Julie and Paul]...report a history of anxiety and depression which they seem to be managing quite well together as a team...They both deny low self-esteem...Both deny thoughts of death and suicidal ideation. No evidence of delusions or hallucinations. Oh. Good. Not delusional. Whew. And if you were looking for problems with my self-esteem, it's not low you'd need to worry about.

[Julie and Paul] are a couple coming to seek fertility treatment but with expressed ambivalence about the procedure... I think you'd have to be a nutjob fruitbat wingnut not to feel ambivalence about the procedure. They stick needles into your ovaries, for crying out loud.

They do have concerns about the new responsibilities of having a child. I think their ambivalence will enable them to accept the results of any negative outcome of this treatment. This bit near the end sent me into a rage last night, and I find myself getting sputtery about it again. Can you see why? Wait, I'll rephrase it to make the infuriating part obvious: Because they're not sure they want a child, they will breathe a sigh of relief if this voodoo shit doesn't work. First of all, we are sure we want a child, and recognizing that it won't all be moonlight, roses, and unsoiled fuzzy sleepers doesn't dull that desire. Second, I defy anyone to "accept" the "negative outcome of this treatment" — the many Gothic ways in which things have gone haywire for us this year — with anything but rage, anguish, and a feeling of powerlessness so profound that I can barely make myself pick up the phone to order the next round of drugs. If my "ambivalence" makes this easier, I'd hate to see how people with "delusions or hallucinations" about the romance of parenthood handle it.

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