Tuesday, March 02, 2010

FSH: When numbers don't matter.

Scanning the latest email newsletter from the American Fertility Association, I came across this article. In it, the author discovers--through an answering machine message left by her doctor--that at 35, she has an FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) level of 14.5. For those of you not up on your hormones, this is high. And the author is devastated.

I was right there with her, but for a different reason. Back in the day, during my infertility "journey," I got similar calls from my doctor. But in my case, the news was "good": my FSH, at 41, hovered around 5. It still took us 11 cycles of IUIs to conceive our son. A few years later, trying to conceive #2, the news was similar: Again, my FSH was around 5-6, sometimes as low as 4. The IVF doctor shook his head. "You have the biological makeup of a 35-year-old." He had never seen anything like it. And yet, it didn't make a difference. Nine IUI cycles, 3 rounds of IVF and 2 more IUI cycles (one resulting in a miscarriage) later, I still hadn't conceived. It didn't matter what my numbers were. There was to be no sibling for my son.

So what's the point? The point is that we really have no control over whether we're able to conceive or not. It's a total crap shoot. People we consider to be unfit parents pump out babies, while the dearest, most caring people we know can't conceive their own biological children. It's not fair. There's no explaining it.

Last week during my small group bible study, we were talking about the movie "V for Vendetta" and spiritual crucibles, about radical turning points that changed the course of our lives. I don't have a "road to Damascus" moment, but infertility was my crucible, and the realization that there are many, many things over which I have no control--a lesson I forget over and over again--was a turning point for me.

I live in an area where people believe without a shadow of a doubt that they can succeed if they're smart enough and they work hard enough. It's a lie. You can have "everything" going for you, including a low FSH and "beautiful" ovaries (see an earlier blog post). And you can still "fail," if the rubric is the number of children to whom you can give birth. So the only way to keep your sanity is to let go. Most of the time, I can.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Thank you for responding to my post and for sharing your FSH story. Fertility is such a tricky thing. I thought that I knew my body, but in the end I had no idea what was going on on the inside. Your advice about letting go is so important. It really applies to every area of life. Some days are easier than others...It is a delicate balance and one that I am constantly working on.