I was at a college graduation party for Rebeka, one of the first IVF babies I ever helped create. Her parents and grandparents beamed with pride, bragging about Rebeka’s achievements and plans while passing the hot wings and beers. I shared in this proud moment, feeling as if I bore some responsibility, since were it not for IVF, the party itself would never have happened.
Among the guests was a family friend, Conrad, who talked about the old neighborhood. He grew up in Kew Gardens and I was from Queens Village and Floral Park. Conrad asked me if I remembered playing handball and what would happen when the ball hit a crack on the floor and took an awkward bounce away from its original path, preventing a player from returning the ball cleanly. “It was called a Hindu and you got to do the point over.” Yes, I remembered “Hindus” and “do overs” and thought to myself that it would be an ingenious concept if we could extend the “do over” beyond the game to life in general.
Who hasn’t come across some crack in their path that causes an unexpected detour? My patients grow up expecting that they, like everyone else, can create their own family when they reach a stage in their lives, perhaps married and financially and emotionally secure. When a woman does not get pregnant as expected, it’s as if she hits that crack in her path — just like the handball — and her life gets thrown off track. If only she could get that “do over” and set her life back on its rightful path.
Perhaps we need to consider the “do over” rule. IVF is a great way to give a couple a second chance to replay their errant family building when a “crack” in their fertility prevents successful procreation.
Fortunately, Rebeka’s parents got a “do over” and now, 22 years later, are celebrating their baby’s college graduation.
Life can throw a lot of cracks in our path that will detour us along our way. We should help each other by offering “do overs” whenever we have the opportunity.