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Laugh Until You Cry (and Then Laugh Again)

a blog by Suzanne Rico, May 1, 2012

At the beginning of our third IVF try, feeling beaten by repeated miscarriages and the financial suck of infertility, my husband and I went to Palm Springs for the weekend. We thought perhaps that starting the parade of baby-making shots in a warm, stress-free environment would help us succeed. But that night, just imagine my surprise (and stress!) when we discovered that instead of grabbing the Gonal-F vial from the fridge on our way out the door, my sweet hubby had grabbed the dog’s ear medicine instead. Back he drove to LA, faster than a drug runner at the U.S. border, returning at 2 a.m. to first jab a needle into my butt cheek and then pass out cold. For the rest of the cycle, we laughed about it — and that felt good.

Laughing is about all you can do when one of the million things that can go wrong during an IVF cycle does. Laughter kept me sane during the dark hours when I was sure that every other female on the planet would get (and stay) pregnant except me. My husband and I managed to joke about expensive, high-tech add-ons like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) (sounds like something for the Bionic Man!) and decidedly unglamorous, but necessary, fertile cervical mucous.

“Hey honey! I’m fertical!” I would shout to my husband, using our own short hand for this icky term. “Get in here!” And then we would giggle about how it was really more exhausting than fun to have scheduled sex five nights in a row.

Toward the end, after being caught in the vicious cycle of infertility for three years, laughter kept me from going under. I would catch myself cracking up about something my dog did or co-worker said and realize that somewhere deep inside, the old Suzanne — the old “who-gives-a-crap-if-I’m-fertile-or-not Suzanne” — still had a pulse. When I laughed, I’d feel, just for a moment, like everything was possible.

After my third miscarriage (I count the time I got pregnant with twins as two, since I lost one at 6 weeks and one at 12) I received a card in the mail from the office manager at my gynecologist’s office. On a blue background, a boy was sitting in a sliver of quarter moon with stars twinkling all around him. The caption said “Believe” in beautiful cursive letters. I sat in my kitchen staring at this shadowed child — who lived only in my imagination — and saw that he was smiling. And somehow, my belief that I would, someday, be a mother came creeping back, like a mouse trying to see if the coast was clear. That’s when it occurred to me that belief, or faith, is one of the most important things you need to survive an infertility battle. It ranks right up there with laughing out loud.


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