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01/29/2004

Lupron anniversary

The first wedding anniversary is known as the paper anniversary. I am not sure what the tradition is for celebrating ART-related anniversaries. A year ago today I started Lupron injections for my first IVF.

It's hard to believe it's been only a year. I certainly have made the most of it.

But it's also hard to believe it's been an entire year, a whole year spent doing very little beyond trying to procreate, with little — well, nothing — to show for it.

Perhaps this should be regarded as the straitjacket anniversary.

You didn't know me then. May I introduce you to the Julie of January 2003?

Like everyone else, we embarked on IVF with the expectation that it would work. Oh, we didn't think it would work immediately, the first time out of the gate — we were, we thought, fully prepared for the first cycle to be nothing more than a diagnostic tool. "IVF usually doesn't work," we'd tell each other in what was actually a twisted pep talk, "but we'll learn a lot from it." We'd plod through the first one, disappointed but determined, ready to apply that new knowledge to our second cycle, optimized to the hilt.

We were really rather smug.

I also believed — wait, I'm laughing too hard to type — that I'd make — ahahahaha, doubled over — dozens of perfect eggs and — oh, my sides hurt — a lively clutch of flawlessly dividing embryos, suitable for freezing. Oh. *fanning self*

My, how we all did laugh.

Recovering from the hilarity, I have to say that wasn't necessarily an unreasonable expectation based on my age and bloodwork. At 31 with an FSH hovering around 5, I couldn't have foreseen that I'd have only four mature eggs to work with. And at that point Paul's sperm certainly seemed able to swim the, oh, inch and a half from the edge of the dish to its egg-bearing center.

If I were inclined to be easy on my historical self, I'd say those facts might excuse my complacency. But, really, what was the January Julie thinking? We hadn't gotten pregnant. There was obviously something wrong. We'd expected IVF to uncover a cause for our infertility. It says a lot about my psychotic optimism that I was so blindsided when I learned there was a cause.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. That's the Julie of February. Quiet! Don't frighten her. If she sees her shadow she'll pop back down into her dank little hole and there'll be another six months of infertility.

Back to January. We didn't expect our first IVF to work, but we expected it to give us the necessary information to make our second cycle count. And we congratulated ourselves on our pragmatism.

My, how we all did la — oh, you know.

I firmly believed I wasn't going to become one of those women, the ones who went through cycle after cycle, refusing to take the hint. I thought that if three cycles didn't work, I'd be smart enough to stop and wouldn't look back. I am embarrassed by that now, to have thought of "those women" in such a way. What can I say? I get it now. I get it.

And I swore it wouldn't change me. I resisted the notion of changing with all my might, in fact, and I can be one determined mofo. Well, I know now that infertility changes people whether they think they need it or not, and I can even grudgingly admit that some of the changes have been positive. But in January I knew better. I laugh to think about it. (Okay, by "laugh" I mean, "shudder, appalled, then look uncomfortable and change the subject.")

The sole saving grace of the 2003 model (with optional trim package) is that she knew she was strong. I didn't know how strong, though — I didn't know how strong I'd eventually need to be. I believed I could handle whatever the process threw at me, without having the first idea of how bad it could get. The January Julie had spunk. ("Well, thank you." "I hate spunk.")

Happy anniversary.

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