Chrysalis

“I don’t want to do this” she repeats to me; “I don’t want to do this.”

We’re about to take a left off the main road. Minutes from being home. Home. What a concept. I live either here nor there. My things are in my house, my heart in another. Not complaining though. Housing issues is the last thing on my mind.

I decide to go again. Use all my arguments. Common sense. Feelings. Social and political. Religion even. Funny how the atheist (me) is more pro-life than the proclaimed Christian (her) is. But yet I can slightly understand the fear in her. Her fear is without doubt real. Her face is often in deep thought.

I rattle through some arguments based on our common economy and the state of the world. I speak with my brain. Then I switch to speaking with my heart.

“I’ve been through too much already. I can’t go another round. Seven years of heartbreak – I can’t do it again. If you do this you will have my support and love. If you don’t do it, I can’t promise you anything. I might need your help.”

She doesn’t really answer, although she says she understand. Seconds later, we’re home. Before we exit the car, I give up and say;”

“Fine, whatever. Do it. Just do it. I will pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together once more. Turmoil is nothing new to me when it comes to this.”

She doesn’t really say anything.

“I’m not going with you if you will do it, I can’t. I can’t see my only chance  of fatherhood end like this”.

“I know,” she replies.

I walk around the house like a zombie. I sit down. I get up. I sing a few Aerosmith songs in my head and laugh when I for some reason do the live version of Mama Kin off this live album from 1998. I am slightly scared I am going nuts. This is all too surreal. Just surreal. Being at that private clinic together with her. The doctor greeting us. How those pictures just popped up on the big screen. Two arms, two legs. Heartbeat. So easy. So accidental almost. So easy. So this is all it took? Surreal! No one can make a movie about this. It’s not realistic!

How many times did I sit beside my ex wife almost like this? Too many. I’ve seen too many ultrasounds. Too many times a doctor studying a big fucking needle before she inserts it into my ex wives vagina and suck out eggs like a machine. Two eggs, three eggs, four eggs. She’s screaming out in pain and agony. Then she is ushered out again in a wheelchair, and we head back home. Come back in a few days to insert one or two of them (if lucky), alright? The nurses always talking about “the golden egg”. I still get pissed when I think of those cliches. It’s just more pain. More ultrasound images of needles and small embryos on a screen. Even a print-out of it. A souvenir. And then we head back home with our heads full of stars and hope. And so we wait for a few days or so, and then comes the never ending disappointment. Nothing. Just nothing.

We did this for so long. So much disappointment. It was all there was. Disappointment.

And now this.

“It looks like a normal pregnancy” concludes the doctor. He refers us to Oslo for another check. She’s after all not 25 any more. Norway takes care of its pregnant citizens. And now I have to go to Oslo again. Not with eggs in a machine and a tiny hope in my heart but with a real chance. The tables have completely turned, and I have a serious issue actually trying to hold on to all the twists and turns I’m being served. It’s like I’m in this reality show where someone is just twisting nobs and pressing buttons to see how yet another curveball will be handled by yours truly.

A day later she calms down a bit. Tells her father about it. Her mother too. They do not react with shock or disappointment. Just hopes. Hopes of her doing the right thing. We all agree. The shock was too much for her to handle. I understand. There’s still time to do the right thing, and if she doesn’t decide – time will decide for her. There’s comfort in that.

It’s surreal. On Facebook I read about a friend facing an ultrasound a few years ago. They were told there was no heartbeat. And I just gaze at a screen and the doctor says “look, that’s the heartbeat”. So easy, but yet so fucking difficoult. I know how it can be. I’ve seen how hard it is. Seven years of it.

I go again.

For the last time I go again.

It will be alright this time. I can’t imagine anything else.

 

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Shadow Dancing

I’m about to go down that certain road again, and to no choice of my own.

Just like last time I was clear, confident and made sure I got the right answer. The “yes” answer. The “yes I would like a family and I would like children” answer.

This time around I was even more on edge than before. I desperately wanted to do it right. If there was a certain insecurity about the issue I would pick it up like a boat searching for the coastal lighthouse.

And I did. I stored every hint and talk about it in my mind. There was no insecurities. And months later, I came out and asked. I told her the whole story (although we had touched upon it) and I asked her. “Children is important to me”.

Just like last time, the relief I felt when I asked and got the right reply was heartfelt and sincere. I had done it right, I had played my cards right. My gut feeling had been right.

“Yes I would like to” was the answer, with a follow up “what if it won’t work?”

I replied that it didn’t matter, because I had taken my decision. I only wanted to be in control of my own destiny. If it didn’t work out, by biological reasons, that was fine. It was thing and I would deal with it accordingly.

I was happy. Truly happy. I got involved with her daughter. Her family too. Never before have I felt such happiness and confidence in my own ability to make the right decisions. Never before have I been so sure I had done the right decisions in the past. I did everything by the book, and was proud of it. And here she was, a girl I could trust. A girl that wouldn’t let me down. A girl that I asked one of the most important questions you can ask, and she agreed to it.

A few months later and she became pregnant. I knew it before she even knew it herself. My understanding of human biology is perhaps further advanced that most people bother to think about. My happiness reached a whole new level. My love for her daughter grew day by day. I felt like a father. I felt like I had a family. And my struggles would now be crowned by the ultimate victory and joy. Pregnancy. I was to become a father.

Things started to unravel quickly after the two lines on the stick appeared. She backtracked. Unsure. Scared. Confused. She’s suddenly telling me she wakes up every morning in panic. She feels like she doesn’t want a child after all. Too much worries. Too much struggle. Too much of everything.

And this is where I am today. Stuck in a state of confusion. A limbo state where I do not know if I should laugh out of happiness or cry out of desperation and despair. A state where the unthinkable is being discussed; abortion. I am not against abortions. I believe in a womans right to choose, but not like this. Not like this.

Because I asked. I asked.

 

I pull out all the arguments I can possibly do. I act all professional, trying to speak sense into her. But nothing works. I go to the verge of threatening her. I am in tears every time I think about it. I try everything that I can to explain. This is the most important and biggest thing a human being can experience, but I am not even allowed to be happy. I can’t be happy. I can’t tell anyone. I can’ tell my mother.

I asked. I can’t believe you are doing this to me. Because I asked you. I asked you, and you said yes.  I did everything right. I do not deserve this. I did not deserve it last year, and I do not deserve it now. What wrong have I done? And now I’m involved. Strong feelings for both of you. I love you both dearly, and now you are doing this to me. I can’t believe you are hurting me like this. Not you of all people. Not you. Please no, not you.

A Voice in the Wilderness

Dear Adria

You never existed. Well, that’s not true either. You existed as a zygote, splitting into four, five or six parts. And then you were no more. This happened about five or six times. Only in my mind you were more than this.

I often found myself picturing what you would look like, what we would be doing together when you were growing up, how happy my mom would be when I told her about you, and what you would be doing with your life. I imagined our relationship. Me as a father and you as my daughter.

In the end it turned out that you would be just one of the endless mix of cells that never ended up as anything more in this world. Life is a lottery, and you lost. Most do. Most of us will never be born at all. I could say you are just another star in the endless , vast universe that we will never discover as a human race, but I feel even that is a poor comparison to the chances of you being born and being a person. Such are the odds you had against you, and I will be stuck here trying to come to terms with how truly precious life is, even if that’s a cliché thing to say. Because it is. But it doesn’t make it less true. Life is a mystery to me. The odds so low I don’t think most people ever realize.

You know what’s also funny? For each time I went through this – I imagined you a bit different than the last failed attempt. But you were always a girl. It’s like I have imagined six slightly different versions of you. Hows that for parallell dimensions uh. Like I could take a sneak peak into the millions and millions of different ways my life would turn out – and how your life would turn out if you ended up being so lucky.

I used to miss you a lot. I used to imagine you being there with me. At times it was so real I could almost feel you brushing my shoulder. I once sat down watching TV when the sensation of you standing beside me was so real it was one of the heaviest and most heartfelt things I’ve ever experienced. I cried that time. Because I missed you. But I know I imagined it. It wasn’t real. I was in a depression.

I’m out of the depression, but I sometimes get the same sensation. However, it is never as strong. If I feel lonely in a crowd of parents and their children, I can still imagine you standing beside me. I can simply start to miss you or the feel of you, and you show up. You and me together. Like the characters of my books, it’s all a figment of my imagination. I know it’s not real, but you are much more real than my characters ever was even if I know them better than you.

I guess I have come to understand and respect why some can go mentally insane and start visualizing invisible children, animals or even dead parents. When I grew up, a man was walking around the area with a long leash with an invisible cow at the end of it. It was real to him. The desire and wish for it to be real is so strong that it actually becomes real in ones mind.

And that is you, and this is me. I am alive. You never were. You never got the chance. And you will never again get the chance, not with this specific mix of cells between two people that used to love each other. That doesn’t mean you don’t mean anything to me, because you do. You were the closest I came to be a father, and even if I do become one at some point, I will still miss you.

You.

Someone that never was, and never will be.

It doesn’t make it less real.

Not to me.

Merry Christmas.

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.

teen-pregnancy

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.

woman-injecting-ivf

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.

nochild

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.