How to RSVP when you are going through IVF

drawing of lots of colored lenvelopes


By Amy Klein

“Sorry, can’t make it to the sorority reunion. My thermometer says I’m ovulating! You know what that means—pretending our timed sex isn’t just for the purpose of baby-making. ‘Oh, we can if you want to, honey,’ while I furtively check my cervical mucus in the bathroom, 20 minutes of foreplay, all the while wondering if his little swimmers will finally make it to my fallopian tubes. Or uterus. Or wherever it is they have to go. Anyway, love to the girls, and have a drink for me—I may not be able to have one for nine months!”

“I do wish I could come to the presentation on Friday. You know how hard I’ve worked to bring in the big fish, to get the PowerPoint done, and of course to have the perfect gluten/dairy/soy free caterer. But we just got an appointment with this fertility clinic that has like a six-month waiting list and the doctor can only see us from 9-10am, although I’m told one has to wait for hours so I probably won’t even be able to make the tail end of the meeting. Everything will go great without me, I promise!”

“Sad to report I can’t do the morning run with you anymore. My IVF clinic is only open from 7-8:30am for monitoring (that’s when they suck your blood and you spread your legs and they check how many eggs you might have this month). You wouldn’t believe it but the line starts around the corner at 6amThese are some High-Powered Women with Places To Go and People To See. Hillary ain’t got nothing on these pantsuits. I tried the other day to go after our run, at 8:25am, but I smelled like sweat during the exam and they yelled at me for being late. That’s the kind of treatment we’re paying the big bucks for.”

“Darling, I’m so devastated I’m going to miss your out-of-town wedding on The Big Island. I know we’ve been besties forever, and your wedding is very dear to me and even though I don’t usually like shelling out $10,000 to travel for a wedding, I would have come to yours. Except, except… I am scheduled to have an IVF transfer that day—or around that day, or that week or that cycle—if everything goes well: if my embryos defrost, if my uterine lining is thick enough, if I get over this flu, if the roads are clear, if my check clears—hopefully I will be on bedrest that week incubating my future child….”

Wish we could chip in for Bob in accounting’s going-away present but we’ve just remortgaged the house and maxed out our credit cards to pay for our baby-to-be—but we’d love to sign the card!”

“It looks like we won’t be able to make cousin Lila’s bat mitzvah. Unfortunately, I just had a miscarriage. I know you guys didn’t know I was pregnant and we were hoping to actually announce it at your event (if that wouldn’t be stealing your family’s thunder!!), but we didn’t make it past the first trimester. As your daughter is being called to the Torah, I will be sitting here in a hot bath drinking wine, hopefully causing the fetus to expel naturally. Mazel Tov and love to all….”

“I can’t attend your baby shower. As you may know we’ve been going through fertility treatments for the last few years and though I don’t have any specific procedures scheduled that day—actually we are on a break right now trying to figure out what’s wrong with me—I just won’t be able to attend your onesie party. I won’t be able to pretend to be happy for you as you decorate those tiny T-shirts with cute sayings like ‘Party in My Room at Midnight!’ I won’t be able to watch you unwrap itty bitty socks and hangers, and actually, I am very, very afraid I will take those hangers and come at you and your protruding belly. I will love your gorgeous girl once she arrives, but my sadness at my own childlessness has overtaken every selfless, sappy and sane instinct I once had.”

“I can’t make plans this weekend. We’re testing our embryos that we’ve spent the last year making and I just have to lay low in case things go wrong. I have a stack of movies and a freezer full of Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core. My phone will be shut off and so will my Facebook, so don’t try to contact me. And if we do happen to speak don’t ask me how I am or what’s going on because if there’s something going on I will let you know…eventually. I really value our friendship! But the best thing for me right now is to just give me some space.”

“I wish I could be there for the anniversary party but I’m actually due that day. I know, Dad, you didn’t know I was pregnant, but we were going to wait till our third trimester to announce it—this has been a very anxious pregnancy, and we were never sure it was going to work. It’s true, we haven’t been in such close touch lately, but I hope you will be able to attend the baby-naming as soon as your grandchild is born.”

Amy Klein is the author of The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind  (Penguin/Random House, April 2020). You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

This essay is part of a Motherwell original series on Motherhood and Waiting. 

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