Flirting with IVF


Back when I was flirting with IVF, I remember sitting in the waiting room of the fertility office. It was cold and sterile, at least is in my memory. And as I sat there I felt like I had failed as a woman. I was as cold and sterile as the chair I was sitting in.

To make matters worse, the fertility doctor had a giant portrait of his family (wife and two kids) hanging in his office. Now when I say giant, think big and then multiply it about 20 times. They were not there to represent an IVF success story, it was just the doctor’s aesthetic. Their little eyes (giant only because of the size of the picture) looked at me as if to say “you couldn’t do this.”

Needless to say, my IVF journey was short lived for many reasons. I wasn’t that fertile anymore due to chemo, plus taking hormones would have introduced too much risk to my health. But what stood out for me most was the sense that I was no longer a real woman. It was a primal loss of desirability.

To get to the other side I had to grieve my ability to have a biological child. I also had to address my sexuality. Take a look at what made me feel desirable and tap into a part of myself that was all too easy to ignore…until it wasn’t.

I found creative tools to do that – from sexy selfies to flirting with strangers online – the details of which I will share at some point. There was a lot of going from the outside in. Focusing on the external to get to the internal. I had to overcome judgements of vanity and admit that I wanted to be attractive not just to myself but to other people. And as I gained that confidence, the confidence that other people saw me as desirable, it became less important for me to seek that kind of attention. Addressing it head on got it off my plate so I could focus on other things.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with aging and have not completely let go of my desire to be attractive. But it’s not the most prominent issue I deal with anymore. My guess is it’s because I honored it and gave it a voice. When stuffing it would have only made it worse.

As far as IVF goes, I’m glad I stepped away from pursuing that. I applaud anyone who goes down that path. It’s a beautiful thing, creating life. And for those of us who can’t do it in that way, we get to find other ways to create.

To kid or not to kid…

Do I want kids? That’s always been the question…

For a while I really wanted them. Being pregnant looked like a vacation (funny thinking of that now because I’m sure it’s not) and the idea of passing down family traditions appealed to me.

After my initial cancer diagnosis, having kids freaked me out. Mainly because I didn’t like the idea of something foreign growing inside of me.

I know having a life inside of you is different from having cancer grow inside of you, but giving my body over to anything else started to scare me. Plus, I was unable to imagine wanting to give up my life and make someone else a priority.

And then wanting kids came back. My husband really wants them. I know we would be great parents. And, of course, there was that visit to my radiation oncologist who looked at me one day and said, “It wouldn’t be fair of you to have kids, You don’t want to spread your genes.” Don’t tell me what to do and never put down my genes! That was four years ago…

Fast forward and I have been straddling this issue all this time. Now with my new diagnosis (BC metastasis in the bone and possibly liver) the kid option is off the table in this lifetime.

I still don’t know that I want them. But I hate being told I can’t have them. There is a grieving of that possibility that runs deep even though I may very well have chosen against motherhood.

Writing this now, I am trying to think of something I thought I could never do again because of my condition. My hip hurts from the bone tumors and I can’t run anymore. I mean, I can’t run yet. Because there may be some things that this disease will keep me from doing. But it’s not going to keep me from everything.