Thursday, April 23, 2009


I have been in such denial about this IVF cycle that even though I've got a belly full of needle tracks, I hadn't really thought about it much beyond the logistics until today, when I realized that if my ovaries have given up in the last two years, I'll probably find that out tomorrow at the first scan. I remember being incredibly nervous before each scan the first time around, and much less worked up about the scans the second time (it's hard to get worked up about scans with a failed cycle under your belt--I had learned the hard way that there isn't any easy equation that converts x follicles to y babies), but I realized just today that it's all totally different this time, because, well, I'm 40 now. I mean I knew that the odds weren't great, but I hadn't thought through the fact that in one of possible bad scenarios, my ovaries don't respond to the meds at all, and that if that's going on, I'll find out tomorrow.

I guess I'm starting to feel a little invested. I suppose it was inevitable. Sigh.

To distract myself, I thought I'd tell you about our recent trip to the land of Mystery.

In a nutshell, it was a bit of a debacle. We have taken Mystery to her other homeland before, and she had a great time, but during that trip, we stayed at Mystery's brother's houses the whole time, except when we were in hotels (of our choosing). Mystery's brothers live in very nice villages near major urban areas, so we had short drives and relatively easy access to consumer goods and medical care. Not that we needed them. On that trip, the Egg was still breastfeeding almost exclusively, and anything worked as a toy, so she was pretty much all set as long as she had me.

This trip was different. Mystery was aching to take her to his parents' house (she did see her grandparents last year, but they had traveled to his brother's house for the occasion). I was reluctant, both because there is malaria in the area (not much, but more than none), and because it's a much longer drive, which makes a short trip far less pleasant. Oh, and then there's the no electricity thing. It's never been a problem for me, but it does make things a bit more complicated with a toddler.

But off we went. It seemed only fair. Or something like that. Anyway, we went. And within three days, Eggbert had developed a horrible case of diarrhea, had the worst heat rash ever, and had been bitten by some mystery insect that left a welt the width of her entire (not insubstantial) thigh. She had also gone on a hunger strike, accepting only water as sustenance. She wouldn't even drink milk! (Admittedly, this might have been due in part to the fact that only powdered milk or milk in those little UHT boxes was available, and Mysterious milk in boxes tends to have strange flavors added to it, for no reason that I can discern).

That was all just background, though. The real source of stress for me was that Eggbert's grandparents' house is a the exact opposite of childproof. (What on earth would the word for that be? Child-eating?) I spent every moment trying to keep her from running out the door into the busy street, to keep her out of the woodburning stove, to keep her away from the collection of knives and machetes, to keep her from knocking over the flimsy rack on the floor on which all of the (glass) dishes were carefully stacked, and to keep her out of the big jugs of cooking oil, motor oil, and other various and sundry forms of oil that were stored in corners of the house for no good reason that I could discern. There were also human hazards. Neighborhood "aunties" repeatedly came over to meet her, and then tried to take her home for a while, presumably to show her to their friends and families in the comfort of their own home. They were surprisingly hard to dissuade. Mystery once told one of them that Eggbert couldn't go out because she hadn't had her breakfast, and the auntie said "no problem, I can feed her!" By the time Eggbert got her first ever mystery fever (39 degrees C in her armpit, so probably about 39.5 orally), and I realized that the baby ibuprofin had spilled in our luggage and we had only one dose left, and were a three-hour drive from the nearest pharmacy (luckily, the baby tylenol hadn't spilled), I nearly lost my mind.

It was hard, dear reader. It was hard. We all made it home alive, and none the worse for wear, but I definitely have some new frown lines to show for the trip.

I realized after we got back to Korea (once I had stopped kissing the ground) that the reason that I found it so hard related in part to a difference in philosophy about the role of children. In the USA, and in Korea, adults shape their spaces and their habits around their children. We childproof, we clean, we plan our days around naptimes, etc. In the Land of Mystery, children live in the same world as adults. They learn to avoid hazards by experiencing them from very early in life. Nothing is hidden or sugar-coated for kids. They are cherished and adored, but adults don't reorganize their lives around kids. I can see the merits of living like that in theory, but in practice, I couldn't hack it. I am so glad to be "home."


Sarah said...

crossing everything for good news at the scan tomorrow! letting all the terror of IVF back into your life is no small thing. i wish you the best!!

Rachel Inbar said...

Wow. It's tiring just to read how you had to chase Egg all over the place! Can I say I'm glad you don't visit there that often?

As for the IVF. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you for a good scan tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

My MIL's house isn't childproofed either and I'm absolutely exhausted after an evening there -- I can't imagine staying longer in an even more dangerous environment.

All the best for today's scan. Hopefully any surprises are good ones.

Lut C. said...

I'm sorry the denial has worn out.
It's pretty handy at times like this.
I hope the scan shows convincing response to the meds. Fingers crossed.

3 hours away from medical care, that would make me very nervous.
Linnea is allergic to mosquito bites (and probably other insect bites too). I can image the look of that welt.

I wouldn't like to hand over my child to friendly neighbors just like that either, not mine or my parents. Factor in the cultural difference and knowing that people don't believe in childproofing their houses, wouldn't help one bit.

Marie-Baguette said...

You are one very brave woman!
I wonder if Land of Mystery is a Buddhist country -- in Thailand, I remember there was a lot of laissez faire because people accept deaths and accidents as more or less destiny. If you might lose a kid to a mosquito bite, maybe you care less about other dangers (such as ingesting motor oil).
I don't know about you but I feel very very protective of Max and I think that part of it is motivated by the fact that it was so hard to have a child.

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