Chapter 8: Confessions and Lamentations

I had just settled into a new house when I met her. I felt more settled by then. Not so emotionally upset any longer. Trying to focus on the future.

She was my age. Very pretty. Local. Two kids. At first I was a bit cautious considering her age and my desire to have my own children. It didn’t take long until I asked her about it. Turns out she didn’t understand what I was asking her the first time around, but a month or so later she confirmed her intentions; she was open to have more children. Because of me. She asked me what I would do if she said no. I replied I couldn’t be with her if that was the case. She cried for a wee bit and said she would go through this once again (pregnancy) for me. I couldn’t believe how someone was so caring and warm as to do that for someone else. I was the happiest I could ever be. Why wouldn’t I be? Everything seemed to fall into place – and quickly.

And so, I got involved. I spent time with her son at 17 and even more time with her wonderful 10 year old daughter. We had Sunday breakfasts together. This is what having a family felt like then. It was great.

However, I often had periods of depression. Often every other day. The IVF had not yet left my thoughts, and I struggled with it. However I was cautious letting her in on everything. She was very open about her problems towards me. From what she told me, I understood she had been mentally abused by two very unstable assholes. For the most part we spoke about her challenges with work, education, money and past experiences with men. I tried my absolute best to find solutions to her problems. I turned my mind inside out trying to find ways she could move forward. From her job especially. In the end, she told me she never asked for my help in the first place…

By February she had some form of mental breakdown. I adviced her to get a sick leave from work and try to gather her thoughts. Looking back (even though I asked her a few times if this was the case, or if I was the problem) she had most likely changed her mind about children. A bit before this went down, there was a few days where we thought she was pregnant. She got her period at the last possible moment. I was actually happy if she was pregnant even though it was way too early. You can plan and arrange an family all you want, sometimes it just doesn’t work. So, to hell with that. To hell with planning. I didn’t care if it was too early (which it was) or whatever. She was scared as hell, and during one conversation one night – she gave hints that she would have an abortion if she was pregnant. It broke me down completely. I imagined this being my only chance at fatherhood, and she wouldn’t go through with it (and from her point of view, I can fully understand). So, during one chat late at night using Snapchat, she gave another hint she had changed her mind. She didn’t want any more children anyway.

It put me in horrible situation. I had gotten attached to her and her little family. Something I really tried to avoid by asking her up front. It didn’t look like she actually understood the pressure she put me under. Considering she was so honest with me about her problems, I had also been gradually more honest with her about mine, and openly spoke about the IVF and the fear and sadness of not having a family. While I understood her, she didn’t understand me – and it felt like she was actually using it against me. Her depression and issues was acceptable, mine was not.

One of the last time I talked to her, she sent me nasty Snapchat messages saying I was mentally unstable and finishing a sentance with; “….and all the sick things you do”. That was it for me. Not acceptable. I sometimes wonder what these sick things were. I once drew a person in Snapchat with ponytails. Another one was a joke where I compared three kids to three beers (sometimes the third beer is the best). Best I can think of really.

In the end, if this is what she got from me, I started to really wonder how crazy these ex-boyfriends really were if she thought I was like them. But then again, she once told me she sometimes simply said “things” she couldn’t “control”.

So I decided to break it off. I had to. She had changed her mind about the foundation of our relationship. Afterwards I felt like I had been in some kind of fight. I felt physically beaten up. I was the lowest point I had ever felt. I sat in my chair at home and held up my arms like someone about to be beaten up would do. Begging for mercy.

There’s a few things you have to be rock solid on in a relationship. Children is one. It’s simply not a subject you can change your mind on. I was standing firm. It’s a dealbreaker. I want my own children, and I will break up with anyone who says they don’t want children or a family. Simple as that.

I didn’t deserve this one. Not any of it. It hurt me greatly. Not just that she changed her mine about the most important subject a couple can discuss, but how she used my most personal confessions and feelings against me – accusing me of being mentally unstable.

A request was taken for weakness. So I let it bleed and set it right.

Chapter 7: And All My Dreams Torn Asunder

The chance was 1/3 from each try. We had three tries. I threw a dice three times to see if I got the right number. I got it on my third try. I figured it would go down that route. How we would be succesfull at last. It couldn’t possibly not work. Things like this simply didn’t happen the wrong way. At one point or another she would be pregnant. In all fairness to the Universe, we would be great parents. It clearly had to see this.

She actually got pregnant while she was “reseting” her body in February 2015. Not from IVF either. It came as a surprise. If she had not been so “aware” of everything, I doubt she would have noticed anyway. She was just a couple of days late. It meant she had to abort her medicine and start all over. It was a chemical pregnancy.  After a couple of more days, everything went back to normal. It cost us another six months. She came to me with her stick that said “pregnant” and her voice was shaking of joy and surprise. I will never forget it.

We went in to Oslo for our fourth attempt in the fall of 2015. Maybe it was our fifth, I can’t remember. I was looking for signs by then. A caravan down the street had the name of what we had planned to name our child if she was a girl. Adria. I took it as a sign. A positive one. The sky that morning before we left for our last attempt was crispy clear, and an a Airbus A340 from SAS streaked across the sky coming in to land at Oslo Airport from New York. I took that as a sign too. I still couldn’t really believe that all of this could be for nothing, so I expected the last attempt to work. But it didn’t. It simply didn’t.

Adria

If it was a girl, we would call her Adria. From Stargate SG-1. We figured a girl might look like her.

We decided to not give up, and went to a private clinc quickly. We bought an IVF package worth 60 000 NOK (excluding medication). The total sum would be about 100 000 NOK. Her mom paid half, I paid half. We tried once. The eggs were developing, but not good enough. They inserted the one which looked semi-promising. It didn’t work. It was perhaps the worst disappointment of them all. She also had a terrible physical reaction to it. The private clinic did things differently, different medication. She got sick. Very sick. We barely managed to get home. At one point I had to take taxis around Oslo to find a specific drug as many of the pharmacies were sold out. I went out of my way. At least I thought so. She was upset because I didn’t tell her “it would be alright”. How could I? It felt like lying. To her, I wasn’t doing my part. I wasn’t saying the right things, and I wasn’t suffering. She was. She was suffering. All I had to to was deliver a cup. Mentally I dealt just as much as her. She just didn’t see it.

My MasterCard bill was growing rapidly, but we still had another two tries left. That was the package deal. If it worked on the first try, we would still have to pay for three. We had gone for three. The clinic was very serious about their work. We liked them more than the state run hospital. They had a different approach to things.

Our next attempt would be in February 2016. I had a trip to England coming up, so she went to the clinic by herself for the usual talks before the attempt started – what kind of dose of medication would work, when she would start and so on. By then we didn’t really work as a couple any longer. The IVF process was consuming us. We talked of little else than IVF and our dogs. It was all eyes on it. All our energy. I read articles online saying it was normal. I took care of the house for the most part. Inside and out. I was doing everything I could.

When I got back from England I found her at home in tears. She had aborted the IVF treatment. For good. She had had some kind of breakdown at the clinic and had decided to not do it anymore. From being “all in” a month ago to completely abort it was a shock to me. It dawned on me she had ideas and issues/problems/thoughts she had not shared with me. About us. She wanted to address our issues. I understood, but replied I always thought it was natural considering how hard the IVF was to deal with. I guess she disagreed. So, that evening – after just being back from England an hour beforehand, everything was off. IVF, children, relationship, marriage. It was all off. From what I could gather she had pushed her body through these tries without actually “being there” any longer. She just went along with it even thought she didn’t want to any longer. How many guys can say they had to deal with a broken up marriage and aborted IVF on the same day?

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I didn’t know what to think. A weight lifted off my shoulders the same night, but I didn’t know what to make of everything. I had been worrying about her for years. That weight disappeared. I didn’t have to worry that much now, she had pushed me away. What now?

It took another six months until I moved out. Simply because we had to untangle our lives and make the best choices. She had to be able to finance the house on her own and I had to get my own place. It was a mess. I bought a car in May with automatic gear change. Not because I wanted one, but because she couldn’t drive a stick, and because my father helped finding the car. He didn’t know anything. No one knew anything, and I had a horrible time telling my parents. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, but it wasn’t up to me. I was simply put in a situation where I had to make some choices. I distansed myself from her quickly. I was angry, upset. But one thing kept me going; she couldn’t have kids. This put me in a situation where still might be able to – if I met someone else. That first night after I came back from England I suddenly remembered something she told me once before the third try at the hospital; “if this doesn’t work you can make someone else pregnant if you’d like.” I thought she was joking around. She had actually been trying to tell me something.

I can never name my child Adria. If I am lucky enough to find someone and have a child that is. The name Adria is a symbol to all those six tries which did not go the right way. They were just five or six cells, but in my mind I can picture what the child would have looked like. And that is Adria. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s like missing someone you’ve never met. I can imagine her in my head. She actually feels real, although disappearing more and more now that I have some distance. I’ve met people who simply do not understand the despair and grief of something like that can give you (it’s another story). It is very real. Just by writing this I can feel my face tightening up. Having children is a unfair game. It is simply unfair. Nothing to do with education, being smart or anything. It’s just about luck.

It’s at these moments I am usually putting on Butch Walker’s melancholic album “Afraid of Ghosts” and I think I will now. I could have written this more personal or with more feelings, but I simply can’t. It is simply too hard.

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Chapter 6: A Race Through Dark Places

07.12.2016 

“Can you tell me why you are here?”
I thought about it for a bit before I replied.
“I need to do my job properly.”

Such was my introduction to my problem to her. It was the short version. It was more than that, but I had to start somewhere. I had been advised by a good friend of mine to talk to someone about my challenges. I had been there before. With my now ex-wife. A place where people goes when they want to divorce in this country.  For free. Sometimes Norway can show itself from its absolute best side. Free professional assistance and guidance. A place where you can pour your heart out and no one can judge you for it. It was the kind of help Americans pay hundreds of dollars for.

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I didn’t really know they accepted individuals (thought it was just couples), but they did. She was a pshychologist, and about my age. She simply said her name was Mari. She was an attractive woman with a wonderful, welcoming smile. Her dialect suggested she came from Oslo. I wondered if it was work or romance who brought her up to these parts of the country. I bet it was the latter.

And so I told her my problem. I told her I’d been in meetings with young mothers or mothers-to-be at work where I simply did not function properly. How personal feelings got in the way of doing things right or simply paying attention. I assured her no one in any meetings noticed anything as I kept my cool – but after the meetings I was a mess. I was overflowing with jealousy, bitterness, and anger. Some of these babies were born when I should have become a father myself, but didn’t. I saw my own children in these babies (even though no one had ever existed). Poorly prepared fathers and mothers. Parents-to-be that were not prepared for what was to come. Inside I was the same as when I was a teenager and heard of friends going to England to see football. I was fuming on the inside then too; they didn’t know SHIT about England! They never studied maps of English cities! They didn’t know squat about English history! They didn’t even know which team played in which English league division! They didn’t DESERVE to be in England! I did! Not them!

I had to admit one thing. I was depressed, and I had not been depressed before. Not like this. Co-workers noticed a change in behaviour in me. I had a blank look in my eyes. I had to leave lunch when children came up as a subject. I was in tears every other day (at one point I kept count). I had never felt so alone ever before. I felt like a failure. I talked myself down. Everything I had buildt up the past 10 or so years came crashing down.

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All in all, it felt like a house of cards. I was just about to put that final card on top and declare victory when everything fell apart. My confidence, my life, my future, my hobbies. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and I couldn’t think of one step I had put wrong.

When I had finished that first conversation with her, I walked somberly back to my car and drove home. When I came back home it was all quiet. Not a soul in the big house. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I had a good job, a great, big house and all this care and love to give and there wasn’t a soul around I could give it to. I sat down for a moment and thought; “what the hell happened?”

The next day was my birthday. I would turn 36. I curled up under a blanket with my entire body and stayed there for half an hour. Fetal position.

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But anyway, I’m jumping ahead of myself. I need to backtrack a year or so. Perhaps this blog was just a way of avoiding to write about what happened between this and those first IVF visits.

Chapter 5: No Surrender, No Retreat

I can only speak for myself, but I was always of the impression that pregnancies could happen at any time – anywhere as long as your penis circulated a vagina area. Fine, I exaggerate a tad, but it was to prove a point. Babies happened. It was all over the TV. Soaps showing unexpected pregnancies in all ages, and shows on MTV about teen pregnancies. A friend of mine got pregnant when she was 16. To me, this should have been one of the easier tasks in life. What would come later would be hard part – the upbringing. I expected babies to happen as soon as we went for it.

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Most people have one or two things they struggle with. Physically or mentally. Perhaps you were raped as a teenager. Maybe your mother was an alcoholic, or you lost your significant other in a car crash. Maybe your father died when you were young and always longed for a father figure. Maybe you have no self confidence, maybe you are under-performing in life and know it. Humans always seem to have one or two “soft” spots. I often wondered what mine was – now that I had broken free from a shaky start of adult life to excel in what I was doing, I almost expected something to pop up.

Turns out it was lack of pregnancies. She simply did not become pregnant. We tried for a couple of years, nothing happened. Perhaps it something physically wrong. Maybe it was her mental state of stress. She was always stressed out. Perhaps it was hormonal. More than likely a mix of all. We just didn’t know. All we knew was that it wasn’t me that had a problem.

We were referred to IVF treatment. First three times are free in this country. I didn’t know much about it, but figured this would be a safe bet. Considering it was a 30% chance on each try, the math was good. A 90% chance. In theory it would work. We talked about children names and prepared like any other couple. First try didn’t work out, and I started to calculate the chances in different ways.  By each step in the process, 50% of the eggs would disappear. The Norwegian approach is also to be very conservative and not insert many eggs – compared to Israel where it was more of a “go flat out” approach with many eggs and considerable amount of twins being born. I read articles online saying it was mentally demanding. Physically as well – for the female.

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First try was a failure even before got to the insemination part. She made a mistake with her drug injections prior to the date we had at the hospital. It didn’t cost us a try.

Second one went alright. Six eggs was taken out. Three  didn’t evolve. Three was alright, but two of them did not develop properly. We had one left, which was inserted. The nurse talked about “the golden egg” which I found odd. Why bet on a “golden egg” when chances would increase if you bet on several of them at one try? Their response was that they didn’t know her body well enough to know how things would go. They were simply being cautious, but in my world that cost us two tries before they found the right dosage of drugs and what not. It was like putting your hand out in a dark closet and hoping to find that shirt you want to wear on that particular day. Among so many others. The more I calculated based on how they were doing things, the less positive I got. And it took months and months between each try. It was all a process. And a painful one at that.
Second try was aborted while we were halfway to the hospital by train. It was a two hour ride. None of the eggs had developed. We jumped off the train and went back home with our hopes shattered for a second time. I realized at some point that this may as well not work. I could end up not being able to form a family at all.

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I thought it to be very ironic. Of everyone I knew when I was growing up, I always considered myself as very capable with children. I adored children. My confidence in fatherhood had not even gone down when my self-confidence was low and I was insecure. If it was one thing I was good at, it was professional and personal care for others.

And in the midst of this painfully slow and tough process, we were growing apart from each other.  Or maybe she had already disappeared from me, she just couldn’t find a way out.