I don’t know why but early in our relationship, I talked to my then-boyfriend about having children. I expected that I would have difficulties and might not even be able to have them. I wanted him to know.
My grandmother, who was a primary caretaker for me and my brother and many of my cousins at one point or another, had just died, and I was in Philadelphia for her passage and funeral. Matteo and I were chatting via text. I suppose I got to thinking of relationships, death, life, since all she ever wanted for me was marriage and children. I was more than a little wrecked with grief, so it’s no surprise to me that this very heavy conversation was instigated via text message. As surprising as it may be to some, I am not a fan of having my emotions on display.
I remember still that my then-boyfriend said that he had always wanted a family; we would just have to see what would come. This, of course, foretold the partnership that we would come to have.
Three years later in our relationship and here we are, trying to get pregnant. It’s been over a year now of that, with the last 6 months or so of fertility doctor collaboration/torture, because some of the tests to get to the point of IUI are nothing short of torture.
Today, I had rather troubling news. It would seem that the medication I have lately been taking made what was most likely a hidden, underlying condition blossom: endometrial polyps. In just two weeks, what were probably miniscule internal blips, ballooned to over a centimeter each in size. Just at the point where they become a problem. Instead of multiple follicles, I got the news of a few endometrial polyps. Joy! [insert sarcasm]
In 90% of cases, the polyps are totally benign, though, according to my doctor, studies indicate that they can be a root cause to infertility. I didn’t ask about the 10%, because I know that I tend to be a special case. I’m allergic to everything, sensitive to medication as common as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I end up in the hospital if I’m exposed to too much gluten. I’m allergic to mold, dust, dogs, cats, grass, pine trees, peanuts, and just about all life in between. The list is like over 70 things that I’m allergic to, most of them extreme. I’m also rarely sick because my overactive immune system destroys all germs with a fierceness any bullied kid on a playground would envy; it also attacks the healthy parts of me, but beggars can’t be choosers, I hear. I blame growing up between an airport, sewage treatment plant, oil refinery, and a swamp … oh, and formula as an infant (because it’s all the rage to say that breastfeeding is the cure-all for everything). I’m great at parties, though. Fantastic barometer for houses and possibly better than house inspectors in the mold department. These are not good skills/sensitivities when it comes to getting pregnant.
So, if I don’t get pregnant with this round of IUI, then I’ll need a hysteroscopy, which is just an easy outpatient procedure to remove the polyps before I can start a new cycle again. Complications in this procedure are very rare.
But it all had me thinking of death. A few months back now I tried to get my partner to talk about wills. It’s young people who need wills, my mother has said, and she’s right. When things get complicated and you are in your 80s or 90s, people recognize that you have had a good life; they don’t keep you on the machines too long. Death is not as prolonged with medical treatments. When you are in your 30s or 40s or younger, folks don’t want to let go. You go in for an outpatient procedure, have complications, go on life support, and wind up in medically induced purgatory while your partner, kids, and parents battle over who they think knew you best and knows your wishes. Usually, there’s a larger God/religion discussion. Really, it’s a lot of folk who have unresolved issues or hopes for you that they think a miracle is going to resolve.
No, thank you.
Forget about the finances. The reality is that I have just barely more assets than debts: enough with the insurance to cover my funeral (cremation all the way), student loan debt, and maybe a little on the house. I’m far more concerned with how fertility treatments may have put me at risk for an early death and the telenovela of death bed decisions where I’m the one in the bed dying… I’m probably being dramatic.
Still, health outcomes for Afro-Latina women when it comes to cancer are just not good, and the doctor said 90% of all polyps are benign. This is also not my first cancer scare. The doc didn’t talk about the 10% that aren’t benign or what percentage of them are women of color. She also didn’t know my file (making several errors about my case), seemed to talk quickly over the errors that some of the staff in that office made in this cycle, and seemed to underestimate my intelligence. Not good signs for positive and dignified care.
Not a lot of confidence in the medical personnel with whom I am working … but I’m also not so trusting of doctors (for good reason after a lifetime of medically situated microaggressions).
So just to be clear:
1. I’m getting through this cycle and then seeking medical care elsewhere … with folks who actually read my file and care about me as a human being.
2. If I die before I write my will, my brother and spouse split everything after my funeral costs are paid for, and, if I’m brain dead or unable to live without medical intervention and machines, I’ll take option #2 and the great blue yonder, please. To be clearer: try to save me and if saving fails, turn off the damn machines.
3. Getting pregnant shouldn’t make me think about death. It’s supposed to be all rainbows and cakes and puffy clouds … or maybe getting pregnant isn’t just that. If so, I’ll take more real stories about those complications, please. I’m realizing that, for many of us who would be parents, having kids ain’t a crystal stair, just like our lives (to misquote “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes).
#14of52, #twt, #52essays2017