Once upon a time I was an all natural girl, raised on wild strawberries and fresh eggs from our very own hens.
My parents, hippies that they were, moved to New Hampshire in the 70’s with the idea of an all-natural life living off the land. My mother cultivated an extensive vegetable garden which she froze and pickled to last though the long New Hampshire winter; other foods were purchased in bulk from an organic co-op with the neighbors. She baked her own bread (still the best bread in the world), made her own yogurt and sewed adorable cotton dresses and nightgowns for my sister and me: no clothing with mysterious fire-retardant chemicals for us. My father, a talented carpenter, used his skills to renovate our 2oo year old colonial home, the magic of his wood-shop delivering us doll houses and easels and all kinds of surprises at Christmas.
It was an idyllic childhood, so although I hated the organic peanut butter (the kind with the oil on top) and refuse to eat goat cheese to this day (believe me, if you ever met a goat and then tried the cheese- you’d agree the cheese tastes just like those stinky creatures), I grew up thinking that all natural was a pretty good way to go.
Of course there were the BCP years (birth control pill years) because the “all natural” method wasn’t something I was willing to risk back then. But I rarely even took aspirin for a headache. And as for fertility drugs or IVF, All Natural Jess would turn up her nose and say, “That’s fine for some people, but I would never take fertility drugs to have a baby. I would never do IVF.”
Yes, looking back at smug little miss All Natural Jess, I’m almost glad she got this education. She had NO idea.
She was just like one of those well-meaning friends who say, “You just have to relax and it will happen,” or those fertility quacks and books that promise: “Get pregnant NATURALLY, without resorting to invasive surgeries or drugs.” As if relaxing or eating the right diet will give Mr. T his missing tubing to connect his sperm to my egg.
So All Natural Jess became IVF Jess. As IVF Jess, my cycles are no longer linked to the waxing and waning of the moon, but instead to the waxing and waning of IVF protocols: a mix of birth control pills, hormones to stimulate more follicles, hormones to stimulate the lining of my uterus, and progesterone to fool my body into a false cycle to mimic pregnancy among others.
It wasn’t an easy transition to become IVF Jess: all this really freaked me out at first. It was enough to make all natural girl wonder: “Why should I even bother eating organic eggs if my own eggs aren’t going to be organic?”
But now that I’ve been through fresh and frozen IVF cycles, I’m not afraid of the drugs or the procedures. It doesn’t make me any less special than miss All Natural Jess. If I ever get my “test tube baby” I wouldn’t trade that baby for any other “all natural” baby in the world.
In fact, I’m proud to be IVF Jess. I’m stronger, more determined and will make a better mother than All Natural Jess would have been. IVF has tested my resolve, my patience, my fortitude. It’s given me even more reasons to love and admire my husband, seeing the pain in his eyes when he gives me those injections, so afraid of hurting me but knowing that we do this because of a love for a child we don’t yet know but hope to hold one day.
If nothing else, IVF has reminded me to never judge others’ choices. And that aspirin really is worth taking for a headache. As for organic eggs: I’m thinking they may not be all that they are cracked up to be.