The Road Not Taken


Today afforded me a surreal and unexpected appreciation and altogether different interpretation of one of my favorite poems, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be
one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it
bent in the undergrowth;

Here I am thinking back a decade after our first move
away from “natural” baby-making into the realm of infertility

Over time and with a series of progressively more aggressive and hopeful infertility intervention: HSG; Laparoscopy; boxers vs. briefs; Clomid; a full scale ban on anything resembling a hot tub, caffeine, or alcohol (all good steps for the least complicated of the infertile crowd). We then stepped up to fertility yoga, IUIs, Eastern herbs…

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
worn them really about the same,   

When those interventions didn’t work we dug deep into our bank account since the grand-daddy of all infertility treatments, IVF (and related pharmaceuticals), were not covered by our otherwise comprehensive healthcare insurance.  In June 2002 we set off on our last best hope at achieving pregnancy: IVF combined with ICSI and acupuncture…

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And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I
kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted
if I should ever come back.

A failure resulted from the first round, though at 39 years of age, the first three embryos were declared by the embryologist as like those belonging to a woman in her late 20s. An FET (frozen embryo transfer) later with two more well-regarded embryos led to yet another negative. Six months later, yet another ICSI IVF cycle failed again…
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence

Today, I watched as my husband effortlessly lifted up the giggling and delighted four-year-old figure of a girl belonging to someone else — my SIL’s sister. As my husband reached up to secure the little one firmly on his shoulders, I could not tell who was more content, the four-year-old with her beautiful mop of long hair or my husband.  Then the two moved ahead together through the crowds gathered for a local festival. The little one called out to my brother, “Uncle T,” who laughed approvingly. My SIL, Aunt C, followed my lead and pulled out her digital camera snapping away to record the lovely moment while my older niece and nephew walked beside us.

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It wasn’t until later in the evening, back in the quiet of my home with a glass of wine in hand that the reality of the scene took hold.  Thinking back with fondness on the sunny afternoon, I realized that my own child, she (or he)
would have been four years old by now had any of the first embryos taken
hold. Rather than my SIL’s sister’s child, my own would have been seated on high while this little one clamored for her turn…

Two roads
diverged in a wood,
and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made
all the difference.

A difference, to be sure, that I’m still working hard to understand …


17 Responses

  1. Bea

    May 29, 2007 2:10 pm

    Yes. For some reason our English teachers always tried to make out the other path was good. Perhaps one day you’ll look back and agree, at which point call me and tell me how you got your head around that one.


  2. JJ

    May 29, 2007 3:01 pm

    Whew, let me wipe away the tears so I can type–SO moving….I love that poem-it has aided me in many hard things in my life. I am sorry that your “difference” is still lingering and is hard to understand…I so admire your strength!

  3. sharah

    May 30, 2007 3:16 pm

    That is so beautiful. You captured exactly how I feel when I see Manly playing with our friends’ children. He would be such a wonderful father, and I feel like I’m failing him with every cycle.

  4. Aunt Sassy

    May 30, 2007 6:07 pm

    This was a thoughtful and beautifully written post. I can only hope and pray that someday, somehow, you understand (or at least find peace with) the difference.

  5. Jen

    May 30, 2007 7:02 pm

    I think this post, of all the posts and blogs I’ve read on all different topics hits home the most, You express yourself so poignantly it hurts, it’s not my post and this isn’t my blog but you wrote from my heart.

    to steal from your last post, I wish you the most stunningly beautiful mosaic.

  6. Mel

    May 30, 2007 7:28 pm

    This post sent chills down my arms. The words just ached and ached. And the comparison to the poem was beautiful.

  7. foreverhopeful

    May 30, 2007 10:34 pm

    I agree with everyone here.. this was a beautiful post. You definitely have a gift with your words and expressing how hard IF really is. Big hugs to you.

  8. Lara

    May 31, 2007 6:28 am

    Hi there! I just love the way you write! You somehow manage to put into words exACTly what I try to say, or how I feel and you do it with what appears to be ease! OH and before I forget, thank you THANK YOU for the lovely card, bookmark and extremely super good smelling sachet!!! It smells so good I could practically eat it!!!
    hugs xo

  9. Carlynn

    May 31, 2007 3:52 pm

    This post was so sad, if it had been a movie I would have been crying. I so wish it could have been different for you. Thank you for your comment. I also wish it wasn’t so hard for everyone involved, I wish we weren’t all going through this.

  10. karenO

    June 24, 2007 3:29 pm

    I can’t believe I missed this post! Thanks for making me look differently at this beautiful poem. “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Yes, I’m so different from what I dreamed I would be, and therein lies the challenge: living the life I didn’t ever think I’d have to live.

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