Monday, January 23, 2006

The Last Unicorn

Does anyone else remember the movie The Last Unicorn? It was out around '84 or so... and when I was a child I loved it. At least, I think that's the name of it. It was an animated movie sort of anime-esque about the last unicorn on earth. Of course, I don't remember more than mere fragments of the movie - a scary sequence with a lot of fire with the Red Bull charging - some bizarre music - the unicorn being captured and held at a carnival - and a Harpy attacking someone.

I think it was loosely based on a novel, but I haven't seen it in probably 20 years, so it's no surprise that while I was trying to explain it to Michael, that he gave me the same blank stare as when I tried to explain The Peanut Butter Solution, the Secret of Nimh and Labryinth to him. I guess thanks to our age difference he got to miss out on the substantial portion of 1980s children's movies. I forget sometimes that we don't have the same frames of reference.

I called the doctor's office today and they said that I could cycle again this month if I wanted to while waiting for the IVF. I scheduled an appointment for a baseline scan tomorrow, but to be honest, I'm not sure if I'm going to go through with it. I've been blogging now about our infertility since July 2004. We have never really used any form of contraception since we first starting sleeping together. Oh sure, there was the oh "pull and pray" for the first year we were married, and then there was the two months of birth control pills, and the one single occurrence that we tried a diaphragm. When Michael and I eloped, everyone assumed it was because I was "in the family way" and bets were placed on when we'd finally announce we were expecting. That was years ago, and there still have been no announcements forthcoming.

A lot of you who are fairly new to blogging may not remember the discussion a year or so ago that went through infertility bloglandia about hitting your "wall" when it comes to infertility. In essence the discussion focused on when you would decide that "enough was enough" and throw in the towel and try to cope with the fact that medical science may just not be able to bring all of us the "golden ticket"- or there may come a point where we choose, for a variety of reasons, not to rely any more on medicine and miracles. There are a few posts from that time that I still think about often, about what it will be for me, when I hit my wall. Will one IVF attempt be it? Two? Five? At what point do diminishing marginal returns set in? At what point is enough simply enough for your personal situation? At what point do the emotional costs outweigh the financial?

If I don't go through with another IUI or two while we wait, on one hand I feel like we are wasting time, wasting chances. Akin to Poe, the incessant sound of time ticking away keeps me up at night. I feel like I would always wonder if perhaps I didn't give it my all. And to be honest, as much as I admire those of you who have braved IVF, I am ashamed to say that I never thought it would come to that for us. I was young, his sperm morphology was phenomenal, we weren't going to need that kind of help.

How arrogant of me. How ignorant.

On the other hand, I know that the chances of us conceiving without IVF are very slim. Closer perhaps to the devil requesting to borrow my long johns. I think about these few months in front of us and am debating as to whether I want to spend them running back and forth to follicle scans and blood draws, or if I want to spend that time settling into our new house, and honestly - just getting to spend time alone with Michael without the pressure of prescribed sex, without injection bruises, without someone I'm not intimate with jamming a foreign object in me every other day.

Last night as we were laying in bed, he wrapped his arms around me and the tears finally flowed. He kissed my forehead and said he was sorry that I was putting myself through so much. The swelling, the bruising, the overstimulation, the indignity of having your bits on display to everyone and anyone.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Not for this cycle. Or any more in between now and May. I haven't reached my wall, but I think it's time that I start thinking about what it's going to be. I never thought I would get close enough to truly see it... it was an abstract, something that would never come to fruition. The hazy outline of it is now visible over the horizon and I have to figure out how much longer it's going to take to get there.

Over the time that I've been blogging I've seen most of the women I know move on. They've gotten pregnant, they've adopted, they've decided to focus on themselves and their partners. They've struggled, but they've moved on.

I think that's the most frustrating thing for me. I'm not moving on. I am stagnant. I am treading water but I'm not getting anywhere.

I have to say though, that all of you certainly make this rough time inbetween more bearable. It really, really helps.

So I feel ashamed to confess that sometimes I worry that I will be the infertile equivalent of The Last Unicorn. The last one left.

33 Comments:

At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

I own The Secret of Nimh and love The Last Unicorn, particularly the "magician" who wasn't so good at magic, Schmendrick.

As for the last unicorn, remember: at the end, all the other unicorns who had been driven into the ocean were set free and came galloping onto the shore, knocking the evil wizard's castle into the sea. And the last unicorn wasn't the only unicorn anymore.

I am hesitant to offer advice or commiseration, because I am on "the other side" of the struggle and feel like a big jagoff doing so, but I do know how you feel, and remember how hard it was to find the inspiration or the motivation to go on cycle after cycle. But I will tell you something that someone told me, and I do hope it helps: somewhere out there is your baby. You just don't know where it's coming from yet. But there are so many ways to become parents that one day, you will.

It's going to be ok in the end. And if it's not ok, then it's not the end.

 
At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Manuela said...

I, too, am feeling a certain lethargy of spirit these days. And that 'last one standing' thing is very much on my mind... as well as assessing where that wall might lie.

Ok... I know this is really not very helpful information... other than the fact that you're not alone in this, I suppose...

Sigh... seems like a pathetic offering, but it's really all I have right now...

 
At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Jenn said...

The Last Unicorn and The Secret of Nimh were two of my favorite movies. I've written and spent a lot of time thinking about how I'd know when I hit my wall. I think there were a lot of times when I was close. But in the end I knew I wasn't ready to stop and found it in me somehow to do another cycle. I can't tell you what's best for you. But we'll be here to support whatever that is.

 
At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Mary Scarlet said...

April, I'm so sorry to catch up on your news of the other day. My dr. set up our wall for us, and while it was harsh, it did help to have some definition, a visible, if awful, finish line. Despite that, the thoughts creep in that maybe maybe in 4 years medical science will have leapt forward and everything will be different again. The uncertainty is bad, contemplating an end is even worse. I am thinking of you, and so sorry.

 
At 3:37 PM, Blogger DD said...

Quite frankly, I feel the same way about where we are. Selfishly we thought having one entitled us the easy way to two and I just assumed my blog would be just a few bits of computer memory by now as I was sure I wouldn't have invested even a fraction of the emotional hell into it that I have. I don't know where our wall is either, but I'm afraid at this point, it's probably closer than it is further...and that scares the hell out of me.

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger Donna said...

April, I'm sorry. I think we've all had these same thoughts. All I have to offer is this: if we put all the women together in a room who thought they were the last women left standing in the line to Babyville, there would be one hell of a lot of women there. Lame analogy, sorry, but I think you get my point.

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger Summer said...

April, it doesn't sound like you're running into a wall, just looking for a rest area. You know, the kind you come to driving long trips. And not the yucky creepy kind, but the kind where you get out, stretch your legs and before you stands some grand vista you never would have normally driven to, to see.

So, stretch your legs a bit, breathe and then decide if your ready to get back in your car, go a different route or stay a bit longer to take the scene in.

 
At 5:17 PM, Blogger Pamplemousse said...

You will definitely not be the last one. Sometimes a break for a breather is just what the doc ordered. You will know within yourself, sweetie.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger Ms. Pants said...

Ahhhh, I should have guessed that Sarah Bock would know what happened at the end of TLU and be the first one to point it out.

xox

 
At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

Yes, Ms. Beer, it's true. I am a big enough dork to know the ending to TLU.

Funny meeting you here!

 
At 6:25 PM, Blogger Liz said...

I know how you feel. It is such an emotionally draining process.

 
At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Lori said...

I have a vague memory of seeing The Last Unicorn at the movie theater.

As for the wall - I find myself thinking about that a lot these days. Oddly enough, just as we're embarking on ART. I hope you never see the wall and achieve success before you hit it. If you choose to "just say no" to IUI before IVF, I hope you are able to find a way to feel a bit rejuvinated.

In the meantime - we are all here and you will definitely not be the last one.

 
At 8:47 PM, Anonymous moo said...

April, I an totally relate. I feel like I am the last unicorn amongst my real-life friends, my IF friends past and present, and everyone else. The wall is looming for me. But I am still having a hard time dealing with it.

moo, the last horse.

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger deanna said...

It was a strange sensation for me to see the number of long-time IF bloggers dwindle, as the vast majority seemed to become parents. It's hard not to feel excluded from something and wonder why you weren't picked for the kickball team, you know? But, the thing is, with so many of them having waged such long IF wars, I bet most of them imagined they would be the Last Unicorn. I guess life is just wickedly strange that way and before you know it, the whole world has changed just when you thought it never would.

All the same, you're right, that holding on to that kind of hope can bring such pain. My survival tactic has become a weird sort of denial. I catch myself pushing all of my hopes onto other writers and try to pretend I'm a bystander to all these stories, with no story of my own. Not that it's all that effective of a strategy.....

Blabbering aside.....Thinking of you.......

 
At 12:40 AM, Blogger Rebecca said...

I'm sorry you're feeling this way.

I think taking a few months off before going into the IVF cycle can be a healthy thing. Sometimes your body and your heart needs the break to help gear up for the next cycle.

I don't think it necessarily means The Wall is looming. And I hope you have success long before you reach The Wall.

 
At 3:18 AM, Blogger ankaisa said...

You never know where the wall is before you hit it. Surely nobody thinks in the beginning that they are going to need IVF. But most will cross the bridge when they get there. Some don't and find their wall. But you do not know for sure before you get there.

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Just another Jenny said...

I haven't seen the movie but I get your point. We are starting our first IVF cycle and I want to know - when do we stop, when do we give up? I would like to think it is when we have a baby but I am just not that positive these days.

 
At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Jen said...

I'm sorry this has been such a long, terrible struggle for you. I too thought that IVF was something that we'd never have to do--even right up until we did it.

We did take a couple of months off from treatment before doing IVF, and for me, that was essential. IVF is a big burden on your body, and it was nice to be in relatively good shape going into it. That, of course, was just my experience, and you've got to figure out what will work out best for you and your husband. Best of luck, sweetie.

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Erin said...

I don't know what to say, because anything would be trivial at this point.

It isn't hard to remember being at the point you are now at. I guess the only thing I can offer is: Things WILL get better, no matter what you decide.

 
At 12:40 PM, Anonymous T said...

I didn't think we'd do ivf either. I couldn't see longterm though - I was 36 and thought I had at least a little more time. I didn't have my own wall - the wall came crashing down in front of me, I just barely escaped it. I don't like the wall - it's very scary.

That said - it does sound like a little break is in order. If you're not nearing an age cutoff or fsh cutoff I'm sure a break could be a beautiful thing!

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger twirl said...

I remember being scared of The Last Unicorn, but I don't remember why.

We're not doing anything right now (except for having unprotectected sex. *snort*) and I still feel the wall.

Anyway, you're not alone...

 
At 1:58 PM, Anonymous mm said...

You know, I don't think anyone thinks that they'll ever have to do IVF. But you just do what you can handle until you can't anymore. That's when you hit the wall, I think. When even the possibility of another treatment working isn't enough to try it. I'm so sorry you're hurting and confused... This stuff is so hard.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Helen said...

Oh sweets, I don't think anyone moves on. I think we all just get to different spaces, but no one moves on. And the IF? It haunts. In a big way.

And The Last Unicorn? I was such a loser I memorzied the song that dorky anime boy sang to willowy anime unicorn/woman chick. I have seen all those children's movies and loved them. So I am with you on the 80's, and one thing to note from that movie as well? The last unicorn wasn't the only unicorn anymore, but she was different-she had regret.

We all do.

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger MC said...

I often feel left behind. I also feel that I'm going around in circles. Sometimes a break from treatment can be a good thing.

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Larisa said...

I do remember that movie - not well. I remember some of the others a little better.

I wasn't around for the "wall" discussion, but I've thought about it often. J and I haven't discussed it really, because I don't know where the wall is for me yet.

I truly hope you don't meet your wall.

The stagnant feeling is terrible - but I absolutely understand not wanting to cycle - my thoughts for myself - why get my hopes up unecessarily?

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger Sandy said...

It does indeed suck to still be blogging about what I had hoped would be a short journey. I know that, for me, I haven't had a sign as concrete as hitting a wall. I kind of wished I would to be honest, but I guess there's merit in going through the acceptance process. God, I wish you didn't have to go through this ... I wish none of us had to go through it.

 
At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Leggy said...

I hear you, on both the wall and the treading water. I've said this a million times but if someone told me in 1997 that I'd still be dealing IF (at least its secondary now, but still), I think I'd have jumped off a bridge.

I vote for taking a break. If you really doubt the success of an IUI cycle, then I think you'd serve your body and your mind better to be as well-rested and relaxed as you can be. I am taking a few months off before the FET for that very reason.

 
At 12:54 AM, Blogger Kim said...

I set a limit for us before we even started, but every now and again I catch myself trying to move it back as it gets closer and closer. There seems to be an obscene amount of pregnant infertiles at the moment and while I'm so so happy for them it does sting to see the list on not pregnant infetiles shorten. I really hope you can see you're not really alone. Hang in there.

 
At 7:56 AM, Anonymous thalia said...

It all depends on how you define those you are standing with. I've been updating my blogroll, and moving the preggos to another list. But at the same time there are a bunch of new bloggers, or those whom I've just discovered, who are joining us in the struggle. So compared to 2004 you are standing in a smaller (but not tiny) group, and I do have an inkling of how sucky that is. But you are not, and will never, sadly, be standing alone.

Re the wall, I don't think you've reached it yet, but I honestly don't see the point of you doing another IUI. Give your body a break, and have a couple of months off. The IUI success rate isn't high enough to put yourself through that again. I think.

 
At 10:02 AM, Anonymous Alexa said...

I actually *own* The Last Unicorn on VHS. And one Sunday, when it seemed like suddenly everyone I followed on Bloglines was pregnant, I actually told the Nearly that I was worried that I would be like The Last Unicorn--and I haven't even started treatment yet. Kind of creepy that both of our minds fix on 80s children's movies for analogies...
Anyway, I agree that a break could be a good, a restful thing. I am so sorry you are going through all this.

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

i own The Last Unicorn on DVD, one of my favs. I made my poor husband suffer through it. ditto for The Secret of Nimh (although as a scientist I guess it is hypocritical for me to like a movie against using animals in research....)

anyway I am new to bloglandia, but have been on the path to our first for 18 months. only recently have i given any though to my wall.

it sounds like your body and mind might need a break before IVF. some assvice from a newbie!

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger K said...

I'm in the exact same boat. I can't move forward and more and more of the people I've bonded with are moving on.

I wish I had something more profound to say. I just wanted you to know that you aren't the only one.

 
At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just as an FYI, The Last Unicorn movie was more than loosely based off a book.

The original author of the book, is Peter S. Beagle. He also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Just wanted to point that out, as well as let everyone know he is currently not receiving due compensation for the movie.
You can find more info here:
www.conlanpress.com/youcanhelp

 

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