In many ways, this blog has been a lie – I’ve been living through two huge era-defining events over the past three years, and neither of them have made it to the pages you read here. One is career stuff, the vaguely juicy gossip about the LA world, mixed with the pieces of awesome (and occasionally infuriating) news about our shows that I keep quiet out of a respect to the process.
With blessing and permission from Tessa, I can finally state the other: we’ve been caught in the choppy, non-navigable waters of fertility en route to having our second child. I will not skip to the end of the story because in many ways, the conclusion isn’t yet final, but if you don’t mind, I need to write this all down because if I don’t, I’m in danger of exploding.
You remember 2007, right? Nice enough year, Lucy was two, and we had just begun to wrap our heads around having another kid. Actually, it was a screening of “Children of Men” that really did it – something about that world bereft of kids awoke the desire in earnest. We had unprotected sex for the first time since Lulubeans came around, and within weeks… we were pregnant.
in Columbia County, May 2007
I always thought I’d have a bunch of kids, even if I had no idea how or even why. It seemed like a happy default setting, something that twas ever thus and t’would ever be. I came from many, and assumed I would leave the world many, and besides, I always wanted a house where someone was awake. When Lucy surprised us in 2004, even after we were using Tessa’s math-challenged “rhythm method”, it seemed obvious and natural.
At week 7, when we went to the OB-GYN to see if we had a heartbeat, she immediately shook her head at the ultrasound. The cells had stopped, no growth, the levels were all negative. On a gorgeously sunny Labor Day 2007, I drove Tessa to the hospital and we had a D & C done as an outpatient procedure.
Still, it seemed fine. I’d just turned 40 and she was just 38. We got pregnant the first time while trying not to, and we got pregnant the second time in one cycle. After letting ourselves recover for a few lunar revolutions, we tried again several times, and on Father’s Day 2008, Tessa leaned over in bed and said “I have a present for you.”
She was pregnant again, and this time she knew it was fine. She had pretty bad morning sickness, sensitive chest, all the usual trappings from 2004. On a week 6 ultrasound, our doctor saw the little fluttering heartbeat, and we felt good enough to tell our extended family the news. I remember how excited my dad was on the phone.
We took a short trip to Napa, and came back for another ultrasound in week 8 just to check in. The doctor found the little dark spot on the screen and said, “Oh. I don’t think this is going to happen.” No more heartbeat, nothing. A few hours later, I drove Tessa to the hospital yet again, and as they put my brave, wonderful wife under anesthesia one more time, I realized this was different. When we drove home, the sunlight was blinding. I remember thinking, “I can’t do any more abortions on these cruel sunny days.”
I wasn’t prepared for how hard the 2nd miscarriage hit me; I don’t think either of us were. We had a lot of confidence, inner instinct, an ineffable understanding that it was going to work, and we now knew that to be a load of crap. They tested the “fetal material” recovered from the operation, and it came back as “female normal chromosomes”. It’s a notoriously unreliable test that often mixes the mother’s DNA with the fetus, but you know… I have a girl, and all I could see was another little girl, somehow not allowed to make it.
I sank into a deep melancholy, tried to write obliquely about it on the blog, but the lack of real-life community was beginning to drag me under. Tessa’s milk had already come in, despite the miscarriage, leaving her suffering from mastitis as well as recovering from surgery. At that point, Tessa was starting to talk about adoption, but I was still headstrong in my belief: there was no reason why this wasn’t working.
Only 20 months before, a GP had told Tessa she “had the eggs of a 21-year-old”. She had an FSH test that showed her to be nicely in the realm of fertile. We had a hysterosalpingram that was normal, I checked out as normal and “nicely motile” (thank you very much) and we exhausted every other test in the playbook. We did an IUI as a lark, but like most larks, failed to produce larklings.
And then a chance conversation with another mom brought us to the Promised Land: the very best fertility center in the world, right here in America, with a brand new procedure that was revolutionizing successful birth…
COMING UP: To Conceive Where Tessa Was Conceived… The Centennial State!