“If you want, I can give you Valium. It helps me relax when the ride gets bumpy.” “No thanks,” I said to the middle-aged soccer mom drug-pusher who sensed my fear when our Captain announced “sorry for the delay folks, we are taking on more fuel to add weight to the aircraft because we have rough skies ahead.” Rough skies, you can say that again…
Let me back up: I have two great fears in life: (1) Air travel and (2) Sharks. The only thing worse than feeling turbulence in the sky is the terrifying experience of having to partake in the sandy summer ritual of swimming alongside blood-thirsty man-eating monsters while pre-teens play paddle ball without a care in the world. But back to the story…
How did I find myself sitting in an airplane on a runway in Orlando next to a drug-dealing housewife? Twenty-six hours earlier, I landed in Orlando for the purpose of attending a work conference, and 15 hours after landing, I learned that my father required emergency quadruple bypass open heart surgery. After acting like a deer-in -headlights for a few brief moments, I got to work securing a flight back to New York and checking out of my hotel. While standing on the sidewalk outside the hotel lobby, I ordered an Uber, and as fate would have it, Carlos, a man with a scorpion tattooed on his neck, and a jet-black old-school Florida Marlins hat (flat brim, huge teal Marlin) who graduated from the Dale Earnhardt, Sr. school of driving picked me up for my eventful ride of cutting people off and flipping people off until we reached our destination: the Southwest terminal. Eventually my flight did get off the ground, and while it was rough, I resisted the urge to pop pills. After arriving back at the Albany airport, I picked up my car and headed out to Bridgeport Hospital to be with my family.
My father’s surgery took place roughly 5 hours after I arrived at the hospital and it lasted for 6 1/2 hours. I personally, and my family in general, deal with stress through humor. But for some reason we couldn’t find much humor in the situation and spent much of the surgery stress eating and staring at our smart phones. Thankfully the surgery was a success, and after 5 days in the ICU my father was moved to a general recovery room, and shortly thereafter, back home. This was my cue to head back to New York, so that I could get ready for my week and return to my life/wife & dog/job/normalcy….until Monday morning when my boss quit.
Now, I had recently (about 5 weeks earlier) been “promoted” at work. Which is actually less of a promotion and more given a job that I had the skills to do, but no one else wanted to do it. My boss was supposed to be “teaching me the ropes” so that I could become familiar with my new role, but the “best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”
In sum, in a short 2 week span, I traveled to Orlando for a grand total of twenty-six hours, spent 5 days in and out of the ICU after my father’s emergency open heart surgery, and then returned to work to find out that my boss had quit and I was now responsible for much more work than I originally expected.
Talk about burying the lead here, but everything described above has happened during the last two weeks when my wife and I started the “stimming” process for IVF. The experience of infertility has brought us many downs and very few ups over the past three plus years. There are few constants in this process other than the negative pregnancy tests. The medical situation is fluid, our expectations are constantly shifting, and our hopes, determination, and tolerance have grown thinner throughout these years. However, the one somewhat funny constant that we have experienced in this whole process is people telling us to “relax.” Now I know I’m getting old when I say this, but if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “look you and your wife will get pregnant, you are just overthinking it, just relax and you’ll be fine” then I’d be a millionaire, or at least suspected to be a male-stripper on the side.
People telling us to relax is something that is said with good faith, and I don’t begrudge anyone who says it. But life is just too complicated to be relaxed. Things happen you don’t expect. The best plans sometimes don’t work out. Shit happens. My wife and I actually tried to plan our IVF cycle around when we would be most relaxed. This month is typically a slow time for both of us at work, and the weather is usually miserably cold so being able to get to the doctor’s office every other day is not an issue that conflicts with any nighttime or weekend plans. But alas, the time that we decided to have IVF has been arguably the most stressful period of any time of my life (and I think this certainly rubs off on my wife unfortunately).
Next week we are going to be having our egg retrieval process and hopefully, if all goes well, our embryo transfer. At this point, I hope that relaxation is not a prerequisite for success next week, and that the rough skies that we’ve navigated will prepare us for what lies ahead.