LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — On the weeks I don’t know what to write my column about, I tend to look back on what I’ve written at the same time in previous years, hoping those past stories will prompt an idea for the present. It’s both a painful and pleasurable thing to do, resulting in me smiling at the memories and wincing at how many ways the writing could have been improved.
This morning, at a loss for a topic, I looked back on last November, and found a column I’d written about our decision to pursue in vitro fertilization, the final step in our efforts to have a baby. At the time — and for the year before it — I was struggling with intense anger concerning our failure to conceive. Part of it was the hormones I was taking, part of it was the extreme desperation I felt: time was getting away and all that was happening was I was getting older by the minute.
Last January, we were weeks away from attempting IVF for the first time. The drugs had been ordered, I’d gone to the training session on how to administer them to myself, and I was somewhat at peace with the fact that this is what we had to resort to to get our baby.
Ten days before I had to prick myself with the first hormone shot, William was admitted into the ICU and diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy, which had put him into heart failure.
In an instant, our plans changed. Life changed. And what had seemed like such a big deal and what had angered and tormented me for years became very, very small. I was sitting in his hospital room, thinking about how I had to call the IVF doctor and cancel our plans, when I realized we had conceived after all. It’s strange to say it, but in my head I considered William’s recovery a pregnancy. Or, at least, I considered it a countdown similar to a pregnancy. In 10 months, I decided, we would have to be in a different place. Things would have to be better. We wouldn’t have a baby, but if I just waited patiently enough and we were careful enough and I fed him right and he took his medicine every day, my husband would be healthy again and wasn’t that just as, if not even more, important?