I saw a great movie last night.  It’s called "The Heart of the Game," just came out on DVD recently.  It’s a documentary about a high school girls’ basketball coach in Seattle.  It’s so great to see girls who are athletes and a coach who teaches them to let the animal out and really play hard.  It’s also great to see how this coach also puts coaching and teaching first, and winning second. What struck me in this movie is the central character, a young basketball phenom named Darnielle, who gets pregnant at the end of her junior year.  She doesn’t know it for a couple of months and plays through a playoff series, complaining her stomach is a little off and her back hurts and still scoring more than 20 points a game.  She goes on to have her baby and then some other things happen and I loved the movie.

I bet Darnielle and a lot of other people have this idea of babies and pregnancies as this unstoppable thing, a thing to be avoided, like that "hole in the sidewalk" poem where you walk down the street and fall in the hole, every time, until you learn to walk down a different street.  I am not going to rant about how unfair it is that people who don’t necessarily want babies get pregnant with them, by the way.  I’m just struck by the persistence of babies.  They come when they’re going to come, and you can play all the basketball games you want and they’re still coming.  It has to be like that or there would be no more us.

It’s so different for me and others like me.  I never tried for a baby until it was a really long shot.  I have this idea of babies, or at least pregnancies, as fragile things.  When you walk out of the hospital after your embryo transfer – and I hope you never, ever have to; but some of us do – you have a full sheet of instructions.  Don’t exercise.  No intercourse.  No alcohol, no caffeine.  Bed rest is recommended for the day and some people swear by 3-5 days of bed rest after a transfer.  It’s all very seventeenth century.  But all we know is embryos that don’t implant, and pregnancies that don’t last.  I watched Darnielle play basketball like a superstar knowing that she was probably pregnant and it was so alien to my life to date.  She was 18 and all the hoping in the world wasn’t going to save her from becoming a mother, even as large amounts of money and effort and several tries are probably needed for me to become one. It is what it is.

I could feel jealous but I guess I’m not.  I tried not to go insane during my last cycle and it helped me to think "if the baby wants to live, it will live."  This isn’t exactly the proper thing to say: if God wants the baby to live, it will.  (I KNOW.  Just hear me out.) I like thinking of it as the baby’s choice, or the baby’s sheer will to live.  It’s too hard to clutch that sheet of instructions and worry about unpasteurized cheese and caffeine and paint fumes when we all know that babies live when they want to, and when they don’t – they don’t.  For whatever reason. 

I feel a lot less confident of life in general as a result.  Maybe this happens anyway as we age and the losses mount.  I just don’t feel I can count on much, even the things I desperately need like for my husband and my family members to hang around for a few more decades (at least.)  I don’t feel very confident of littler things either, like friendships and community.  Everything changes.  Some of this is gloom, some of it is realism, and some of it … I just don’t know.  I hope that having little ones in the house (someday, please God) will give me an idea of how resilient they are, and how fiercely they will cling to life, and maybe I’ll feel I can breathe again.

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3 Responses to “The Heart of the Game”

  1. Merideth Says:

    I really dislike that feeling when I walk out of the clinic after an ET. I feel so fragile and like whatever I do makes it harder for the embies to implant. I know that is irrational and I agree, if the embryo (baby) is going to live, it is going to live whether I climb a flight of stairs or not. But, oh how hard it is to keep that in my mind.

    On another point, I’m like you, I waited until the odds were against me getting pregnant to even try to get pregnant. I didn’t do it because I wanted to, I did it because I thought it was the responsible adult thing to do. Oy, I just wish I’d let myself get knocked up at 21. Not really — I wouldn’t have been a good or able mother at that time. Motherhood would have been a difficult period of struggle instead of what I hope every day I will end up — joyous, loving times with a baby that I can financially and emotionally support.
    What a conundrum!

    BTW, congrats on finishing the thesis.

  2. Not on Fire Says:

    I have to object to this. I don’t think that the babies die because they did not want to live. Everything seeks to live by instinct or choice. I cannot accept that they wanted to die. It implies a level of control that just does not exist. No one controls these things. It is not the babies fault or your fault. It just happens.

  3. Joy Says:

    I agree with you. It’s not “wanting” on a conscious level, and I don’t think they “wanted” to die. But I have a hard time thinking that it just happens. It doesn’t make sense, I know, and I don’t do a good job of even thinking out loud about it because I don’t really get it.

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I saw a great movie last night.  It’s called "The Heart of the Game," just came out on DVD recently.  It’s a documentary about a high school girls’ basketball coach in Seattle.  It’s so great to see girls who are athletes and a coach who teaches them to let the animal out and really play hard.  It’s also great to see how this coach also puts coaching and teaching first, and winning second. What struck me in this movie is the central character, a young basketball phenom named Darnielle, who gets pregnant at the end of her junior year.  She doesn’t know it for a couple of months and plays through a playoff series, complaining her stomach is a little off and her back hurts and still scoring more than 20 points a game.  She goes on to have her baby and then some other things happen and I loved the movie.

I bet Darnielle and a lot of other people have this idea of babies and pregnancies as this unstoppable thing, a thing to be avoided, like that "hole in the sidewalk" poem where you walk down the street and fall in the hole, every time, until you learn to walk down a different street.  I am not going to rant about how unfair it is that people who don’t necessarily want babies get pregnant with them, by the way.  I’m just struck by the persistence of babies.  They come when they’re going to come, and you can play all the basketball games you want and they’re still coming.  It has to be like that or there would be no more us.

It’s so different for me and others like me.  I never tried for a baby until it was a really long shot.  I have this idea of babies, or at least pregnancies, as fragile things.  When you walk out of the hospital after your embryo transfer – and I hope you never, ever have to; but some of us do – you have a full sheet of instructions.  Don’t exercise.  No intercourse.  No alcohol, no caffeine.  Bed rest is recommended for the day and some people swear by 3-5 days of bed rest after a transfer.  It’s all very seventeenth century.  But all we know is embryos that don’t implant, and pregnancies that don’t last.  I watched Darnielle play basketball like a superstar knowing that she was probably pregnant and it was so alien to my life to date.  She was 18 and all the hoping in the world wasn’t going to save her from becoming a mother, even as large amounts of money and effort and several tries are probably needed for me to become one. It is what it is.

I could feel jealous but I guess I’m not.  I tried not to go insane during my last cycle and it helped me to think "if the baby wants to live, it will live."  This isn’t exactly the proper thing to say: if God wants the baby to live, it will.  (I KNOW.  Just hear me out.) I like thinking of it as the baby’s choice, or the baby’s sheer will to live.  It’s too hard to clutch that sheet of instructions and worry about unpasteurized cheese and caffeine and paint fumes when we all know that babies live when they want to, and when they don’t – they don’t.  For whatever reason. 

I feel a lot less confident of life in general as a result.  Maybe this happens anyway as we age and the losses mount.  I just don’t feel I can count on much, even the things I desperately need like for my husband and my family members to hang around for a few more decades (at least.)  I don’t feel very confident of littler things either, like friendships and community.  Everything changes.  Some of this is gloom, some of it is realism, and some of it … I just don’t know.  I hope that having little ones in the house (someday, please God) will give me an idea of how resilient they are, and how fiercely they will cling to life, and maybe I’ll feel I can breathe again.

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