Fear and More Fear

Some people have led charmed lives, and I’m not one of them.  However, at age 41, my life is so wonderful that I sometimes fear that I will lose the happiness I have finally found.  I worry that my husband will be killed in a car accident, that he’ll have a heart attack or stroke, that my son will become critically ill, that I’ll never recover if anything happens to one or the other, therefore will be unable to console the remaining one.  And, now that I’m pregnant again, so against-the-odds pregnant, I’m worried that this pregnancy won’t last, that it won’t lead to another child or two.  And, I’m scared that if we do miraculously have twins, my husband’s quality of life will be negative affected by the stress of having to provide for two more children. 

I’ve been having sharp stomach pains since my embryo transfer, and last week I started to worry that I have an ectopic pregnancy, so not only will I not have a child, but also will lose a fallopian tube.  Then I started thinking rationally, when talking with a very rational friend who is a good influence on me, that having done in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which two embryos were transferred directly into my uterus, an ectopic pregnancy might be impossible.  After all, no sperm had traveled up my tubes to fertilize the egg in my ovaries, no embryos had needed to travel down my tubes to implant in my uterus.  All of this took place in a petri dish of some sort.  But, then I did an Internet search, and I learned that in 2-5% of IVF pregnancies, the embryo does implant in a tube, rather than in the uterus.  Some embryos do travel out of the wombs in which they were carefully placed, to the completely inhospitable fallopian tubes, where they can’t survive—and can also kill their mothers.

I have tried to will myself to be calm until Wednesday morning, when I have a 7:30 a.m. ultrasound appointment, and all will be revealed—whether I’m pregnant with one or two sons, whether one or both of them were too antsy to stay in my uterus and took off on adventures into my tube(s) instead.  But, I can’t do it.  Instead, I can’t sleep; I am sick to my stomach; I have canker sores in my mouth.  I’m already taking Prozac, and I still can’t calm down.  So then I worry that my body is such a nightmarish home for these embryos that they’ll try to eject, so they can have some peace.

I want both of these boys, both of my sons, which might seem irrational, considering that I’m 41, my husband is 43 ½, and we already have three sons, my stepsons, ages 15 and 13, and our son, age 4 1/2.  I didn’t start the IVF process wanting two more children, just one.  But, now that they’re both inside of me, now that my Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) pregnancy hormone levels have been so high that they both may have implanted, I am attached to both.  I’m thinking that the first two or three years of their lives will be brutal for me, but then they’ll always have each other to play with, to love, and my son and stepsons will have not just one, but two, younger brothers to adore them. 

I think about the holidays of the future, and how full they will be with twins added to our family.  Now, we have my stepsons every other Thanksgiving, so every other year, our family of three celebrates.  And, for the Christmas holidays, my favorite holidays, we have my stepsons only until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, when they have to be returned to their mother’s, so Christmas morning, I futilely try to spread out the small number of presents from Santa, presents just for our 4 ½-year-old, so it doesn’t look so bare under the tree.

I think about how much love will be in our home, how much joy, and, yes, how much chaos.  But, I grew up with four younger brothers, so it will be chaos that I am used to.

Then I worry about my sweet husband, who was content with our three children.  I think about how, because he was so terrified of multiples, I originally promised him that we would transfer only one embryo in the first IVF cycle, only one in the second IVF cycle, then two for our third and final attempt.  But, our chances of having a child were so low with only one embryo put in, only 10-15%. 

Plus, the side effects of the IVF medications were much worse than I’d expected, so, after my first, unsuccessful cycle, I questioned whether I could even go through the process three times. 

So, after our baby-girl embryo didn’t implant in our first cycle, even though she was strong and healthy, even though my too-small T-shaped uterus is now a slightly larger arcuate one, even though my uterine lining was the thickest it has ever been, I decided that it was idiotic to have transferred only one embryo.  No one with more than one viable embryo transfers just one, because it decreases the odds of success by half, to a failure rate of 85-90%.  And, I know couple after couple who transferred two embryos, which resulted in the birth of one child each time.

So I talked to my husband, and we agreed that we’d change our original plan and transfer two embryos, if we had two, during our second cycle, which meant that we’d have a 20-30% chance of having one child—still a 70-80% chance of failure.  Considering how difficult it is for me to have successful implantation, with seven intrauterine inseminations six years ago, when I was 35, and one unsuccessful  IVF cycle in May/June, already under my belt, it seemed the reasonable decision.  But, it was our reasonable decision in our attempt to have one more child.  So, if we have twins, which will put my husband under more financial pressure, he may never be able to reconcile the joy that our twin boys will bring with the financial stress they will add to our lives.  He will love them, he will be a wonderful father to them, but he, who already works 13 hours a day, will suffer considerable anxiety as a result of providing for them.

So, I need to become a best-selling author ASAP.  Now, how can I can get in touch with Oprah?

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