I’m about to be interviewed on Kitty Talk, a local TV show, about the comedic web series I’ve created called How to Buy a Baby. My segment is about to begin but I am in day five of my two week wait and due for my second of four progesterone suppositories of the day. I hear the sound technician waiting for me at the door as I fumble with the applicator, wash it and shove it in the pocket of my black Anthropologie jumpsuit that I hope makes me look like a casually cool infertile.
“Bringing comedy to a very serious topic,” the beautiful host, Surbhi, says as the cameras begin to roll.
“I’m so excited to be here!” I say, smiling. And I am excited. I’m excited and proud to be talking about this series I’m writing about a couple who struggles with infertility in the funniest way possible, and as I’m saying this and smiling, I feel progesterone leaking out of me and I begin to panic that it is not just the melted suppository that is seeping out but also the single embryo we had transferred last week and that this latest IVF cycle has also failed. We had already had to give up on my husband’s sperm but are hopeful that we might still be able to make a baby with my eggs.
“What I love about you is that you actually deal with a sense of comedy and humour,” Sunny, the second gorgeous host says. “Some people take it to heart and are very sad about it.”
“Yes,” I agree, still smiling, not wanting to look like one of the sad people she is talking about. “When we were first diagnosed, my husband and I made the decision to do our best to laugh at infertility, because it’s painful enough” I say. I mean this and then make the same go-to joke I always make-the one about how my husband and I maybe haven’t tried the right position yet and that’s why we haven’t been able to have a baby. The hosts and I laugh and chat and then when the segment is over I rush back to the bathroom. I squint my eyes, as I look at my underwear, checking to see if I’m bleeding. And there it is, right there, the evidence that this latest round also didn’t work. I sink to the bathroom floor of the news station and hold my knees into my chest. I’m petrified and anxious and unsure and feel like a fraud. Here I am, telling others to smile in the face of adversity while I lie on a public bathroom floor in the fetal position, unable to move. Since being diagnosed with infertility, I have been living in this awful half space of trying to see the humour in our predicament while my body bloats and bleeds and fights.
Over the years, my husband and I have laughed in the face of infertility as much as we could. What else is there to do but laugh at me having to stick my ass out for him or pinch my tummy fat for him to inject me? My husband and I joked that we would get pregnant as soon as the one baby store in our neighbourhood went out of business and when it did and we weren’t we laughed that we had been thinking too far ahead and we would get pregnant when the maternity store down the street from us folded (it did and we didn’t). I laughed when the ultrasound technician advised me, cheerily, one morning, to “have a lot of sex tonight!” because I was ovulating. I was being inseminated with donor sperm. For the fourth time. That was funny to me-that you could stick ultrasound wands up the vaginas of infertile women every single morning and still not understand. Not really.
I wrote, a year ago, that my husband and I would be okay-that no matter what we would be okay because we have a dog and a cat and each other and our house is full of love. But if I am being totally honest, I thought, deep down in my ovaries, that infertility treatments would work for us. I thought that it would be hard and expensive but eventually we would have a baby. Eventually, we would be okay. Seven rounds of fertility treatments didn’t work. We are desperate to love a child and are not sure now how we are going to become parents when neither of us is physically able to make a baby. We are now looking for an egg donor and a sperm donor or an embryo donor or to adopt and amidst all these difficult decisions and the crushing weight of the question of whether my husband and I will have the chance to hold a baby, I worry that I will never laugh again. I worry that this is all too much and our love and our spirits will crack under the weight of it all.
We order a pizza the night we find out our last round of fertility treatments didn’t work and chew together in silence. We are both so sad and I am feeling so sick as I come off the hormones and it is difficult to comfort each other. What is there left to say? We love each other, we are sorry we are going through this, we will be okay? We have said it all already and still we hurt.
“I thought pizza would cheer me up,” I finally turn to my husband and say, between large bites. “But it’s just pizza and we still can’t have a baby.”
I start to giggle, thinking of the idea that pizza could somehow cure our infertility. Then I start to laugh, real deep belly laughs. My husband starts to laugh too and there we are, the two of us side by side on the couch, with dried tears down our cheeks laughing as we eat pizza together.
We will be okay. Whether we are lucky enough or not to ever become parents, we will be okay. We will hold each other close. We will celebrate our love. We will eat pizza and laugh until our sides hurt.