An urban legend in the flesh
A woman at work, very senior in the company and in her mid-fifties, stopped by my desk the other night to ask how I was feeling, and why I was there so late when I should be home, propping up my swollen feet. Well, you see, I am a little bit afraid of going home and staying home and having nothing else to concentrate on...I mean, I don't want to think too much about it...not that I don't want to think about it, I can't think about anything else...and I don't mean I think I'll jinx it, or something...not superstitious...I'm just...nervous, I guess. Blather blather, ramble ramble.
She looked at me rather keenly and started in on the story of her first daughter, now nineteen, and how she had stayed at work right up till the day her daughter was born, then brought her right back to the office a few days later so she could finish up a deal. But, she said, my first daughter was adopted, so it's not like I had just given birth.
I smiled a little, quietly assuming the infertility link, and asked whether it had been hard to make her bosses understand that adopting a child was just as much work, and just as worthy of a maternity leave. She said it was hard to make them grasp the point, but, being a partner in the law firm, it was more her own career drive that kept her at the office so long.
Plus, she said, I didn't know I was also pregnant at the time. I might have taken it easier if I'd known.
Her second daughter is now eighteen. She went on to tell me that she had been doing infertility treatments--at that point in the mid-1980s, just Clomid IUIs--for five years straight without success. And then she adopted and immediately got pregnant.
And the month she did get pregnant? No Clomid, no IUI--just sex. Just like normal people. Sex, of all things.
Now thirty-six and with two infant daughters, she assumed her reproductive life was at an end and didn't think about it again for a few years. Nearing forty, though, and beginning to read about the improving success rates of IVF, she thought she might give it one more try. So, for two months, she and her husband timed intercourse while she got herself set up with a new RE. On the third month, she went in for a wanding and was told on CD 12 that she had no eggs maturing that cycle. That, in fact, she was probably heading rapidly into menopause.
Four weeks later, with her period understandably late after the anovulatory cycle, she felt a little "funny" and decided to test, just on a whim. Daughter #3, now fourteen, was born nine months later.
I couldn't quite believe that I had this woman right in front of me--this walking, talking urban legend, purveyor of unwanted hope and that tiny, tinny voice in the ear that says, Maybe it could happen to you someday, too.