The War on Negativity

I’ve decided to issue a moratorium on bitterness, resentment and fear.

I know I’m far from alone in having been subjected to these terrorizing emotions for so long, it seems they’ve taken over every waking second of our lives. I know we’ve been struggling, grappling, trying to make sense of it all and desperate to regain some sense of our former, happier, selves. Like a wounded animal, we retreat to solitary confinement as it feels like our hearts become blacker and shrink with every month, every year, that goes by without our most fervent dream becoming reality: motherhood.

I feel like I keep slipping and sliding around in the muck that my emotional, mental and physical “well-being” has become – a misnomer, at this point, because I obviously DON’T feel well. I haven’t felt well in a really long time. I don’t sleep well, I don’t eat well, I’m angry all the time. I’m jealous, bitter, resentful, sad, scared – all the time. I don’t do anything I used to enjoy doing. I don’t go anywhere. I avoid people. I avoid leaving the confines of my little cocoon of self-imposed isolation because it’s too scary “out there”. I feel trapped in a prison of my own making.

And I’m so sick and tired of feeling this way.

It’s easy for me to blame it on my circumstances, on infertility, on my ensuing isolation, on the words and actions (or lack thereof) of others. I’ve been stewing in a sense of failure, of self-loathing, for so long that I apparently stopped fighting back. At some point, it felt like everything got to be too much; my world caved in and I got buried under all the rubble. I lost my sense of self, I lost the belief that I have skills, talents, and that I’m a good person. I let the actions and words of others define who I was, who I became, because I felt like I was fighting a war on so many fronts that I just got too damn tired to swim against the stream. We have no support, no one to turn to – so I convinced myself that it was all our fault: our fault that we couldn’t get pregnant; our fault that people we put our trust in deceived us; our fault that we’re hurting, angry, sad and alone.

The truth is that I’m at a crossroads, and I have a choice to make. I can keep feeling like crap, I can keep beating myself up, I can let my inner critic convince me that it’s my fault we don’t have any children yet, it’s my fault that we might not be able to, it’s my fault this, that and the other. I can get angry at the world, angry at everyone else’s fecundity, IVF coverage, supportive relationships. I can throw in the towel and just exist in a vacuum of misery that will become a never-ending pity party. I can wait for my marriage to disintegrate because I can’t snap out of it, I can drag my husband down with me as every ounce of love is drained from my heart because everything is dark, angry and bitter – and watch him blame himself for not being able to help me, to make me feel better. I can keep beating myself up about my shortcomings and comparing myself to others with the end result that I feel bad. I can let things I have no control over make me feel like I’m weak. I can despair to the point where I stop getting out of bed altogether.

OR…

I can stop fighting with myself. I can stop pretending. I can stop lying to myself. I can stop comparing myself to others, berating myself for the choices I’ve made. I can stop thinking, and feeling, like not being perfect or not having the same way of doing something as someone else makes me worthless. I can stop hating myself for the fact that my life isn’t exactly the way I thought it would turn out. I can stop judging others just because they’re not having to walk a mile or three million in my shoes, because they haven’t had the same experiences, because they don’t care, because they don’t get it, because they’re doing/saying things that hurt me.  I can stop blaming myself for the things others say and do because, really, it’s not my fault and it’s not something I can change. At the end of the day:

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.”

Some days, I feel like I’m dying – both emotionally and physically. I feel raw, I feel beaten down to the point that I don’t even want to try to get up anymore. I just want to tap out. I know those feelings won’t just go away. I know I’m not suddenly going to wake up tomorrow, a reformed pessimist suddenly chipper like I’ve had a lobotomy or a Walt Disney makeover. But I realized, with strange clarity, that I’ve been playing the victim – instead of actually remembering that I’m not weak; I’m not pathetic; I’m not hopeless, hapless, stupid, or a failure.

I’m human.

A few days ago, I got really worked up about a site that I felt had a bunch of posts by women who’ve clearly never had their reproductive abilities called into question. I was so angry at what I felt was a set of completely insensitive, selfish posts that showed absolutely ZERO consideration for women who struggle to conceive. But then I thought – hold on a minute. Why am I getting so angry? This site is clearly run by women who don’t have these problems. Why should they think about infertility when it obviously hasn’t touched their lives? I mean, you don’t see me writing posts about Asperger’s, to throw out some random medical condition. It’s my choice whether or not I read these types of things – so getting angry about something that, technically, I’m not the target audience for is just plain ridiculous. It’s also pointless, because the end result is inevitably detrimental to ME.

I feel like having a family should be considered an inalienable, constitutional right – and that, consequently, all 50 states should be required to carry mandatory IVF insurance. However, the fact that this isn’t actually the case and that the current state of affairs makes me angry does absolutely nothing to change MY situation. I don’t live in a state that has IVF insurance, nor is IVF covered by our medical insurance – not even a portion of it, no cap, nada. But this doesn’t make my situation unique at all – I know there are many others who are in exactly the same boat. It also doesn’t mean that I should get angry at other IFers who do have IVF coverage – it’s not their fault that, apparently, our society considers it more important for a guy to be able to have a boner than for a woman to be able to get pregnant. 

I realized, these past couple of days, that I am so incredibly lucky to have had some wonderful experiences in my life, to have choices and freedoms, to have a roof over my head. I have a husband who loves me to the end of the earth. My life is far from perfect, and I myself am definitely a work in progress. But I know I’m not alone – even if it feels like it. I know that there’s hope, somewhere, out there, for all of us. We can’t know which bend in the road will lead to the next chapter in our lives, but I’m tired of feeling consumed with negativity. I’m tired of getting worked up, seething silently and letting all this crap fester as it chips away at my very soul.

So I’m just going to keep working on ME and try to change my perception of the world around me. I’m going to try to remind myself that I have a choice of how I’m going to receive information and how I’m going to deal with it. Instead of focusing on all the things that make me unhappy, I’m going to focus on the things that make me happy – and work on finding more positive ways to deal with the things I struggle with. Because, at the end of the day, I don’t want to end up being a mother who can’t find the good in small things, the sunshine in spite of the rain, the proverbial silver lining.

Carpe Diem, my friends!!

PS: It goes without saying that reserve the right to occasionally think that someone is a total a$$hat and deserves to be poked in the eye with a really hot french fry rolled in ghost peppers. I’m not bucking for sainthood.

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Craving Contentedness

I’ve had one of those days that doesn’t exactly leave me brimming with happiness, but I feel content as I sit down to write this post. 

Nothing special happened today – in fact, I actually spent most of the morning with a headache that required self-medication (which I hate, of course). But I did quite a few typically housewifey things:

  • left the house early to get groceries (and tried not to bawl when I passed the three million assorted schools and the ubiquitous yellow school buses on the way there)
  • had some really yummy coffee at home, which was great because I saved both the gas and surcharge that a coffee house concoction would’ve required (and tried not to worry too much about whether or not this indulgence keeps me from getting pregnant – I’m pretty sure it’s not but the guilt is still there); 
  • did several loads of laundry (and tried to ignore that there’s still no maternity or baby clothes in the hamper)
  • made the usual meals throughout the day (and tried not to think about what I might be doing if we had kids – such as PBJs with the crust cut off, or a fresh smoothie because soda is just a no-no in our house)
  • took out the trash (and tried not to notice that there are no broken-down diaper boxes in our recycling)

Yep, all glamour and glory for me! 

Still…I tried not to let myself get too sad and upset today. The old adage that idle hands are the devil’s workshop seems very apropos to me lately, as staying busy obviously gives me something to think about that’s not the constant whine of WHERE THE HELL ARE MY BABIES? 

Ahem.

At different points throughout the day, I thought about how incredibly lucky I am. I have so much to be thankful and grateful for. I have freedom. 

Of course even staying busy can’t quite keep those thoughts completely silent. When I made myself a sandwich at lunch, my hands moved as if guided by automation as my thoughts traveled to the inevitable. What would I be doing, right this minute, if we had children? In my mind, I heard a little voice calling “mooooooom!” – and I flinched a little, because it’s just in my head. I imagined a child that came into the kitchen, hugging me, maybe looking for something or hungry. Of course – I’m a mom-in-waiting. I’m a SAHM* – I’m just missing “my” kids. Are the back-ordered? Out of stock? I don’t know, no one is telling me anything. I know I ordered them; I even checked with my husband. He’s just as mystified as I am. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a complaints department; no 1-800 number we can call to check on the status of our missing children. We’re supposed to keep throwing money at the problem, but no one can tell us if and when our missing children will come home. 

Sigh.

Still, today has been a pretty decent day. I decided that I’m going to make truffles next week to give to my Valentine (let’s face it, he deserves some laborious chocolates that were lovingly prepared by his wife in an attempt not to think about babies every second of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year). I’ve never made any before – they always seemed like such a messy hassle and, how can I say this? I’m not that good at following directions. <chuckles> 

We never go out on Valentine’s Day. I know my husband would if I really wanted to. He’d put on a suit and take me out to a fancy restaurant – well, if there were any around here (which there aren’t – not unless you reaaaaaally stretch you’re definition of “fine dining”, and even then the closest “real” restaurant is at least an hour away). We’ve actually never gone out on Valentine’s Day. It’s not that we have some kind of objection to it – we write each other cards, there’s usually a box of decent chocolates (no Walmart cheapos for me, thank you very much!) and flowers. Unless it happens to be on a weekend, he has to work that day anyway – so we just cuddle up after dinner and I force him to watch a cheezy chick flick with me (totally evil, I know). 

This year, however, I’ve decided that I want to do something special for him. He’s been such a rock for me – these past few years especially – and I think he really deserves a special effort. Even if it means that I might be smeared in chocolate, cocoa, dusted with confectioner’s sugar and wearing coconut flakes in my hair.

I flipped through the different culinary tomes in our house to find a recipe and make a list of things I need to get. One of my absolute favorite books is one called Crave – literally all about chocolate. I’ve only made one dessert from it so far because it’s a pretty big, heavy hardcover book, which makes it a little cumbersome to use. Last year, my husband actually made me a birthday cake from one of my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (I’m sure I don’t even need to mention how totally jealous I am of her life in the Hamptons – all that amazing, fresh, local organic produce…and the cheeses! Oh, for the love of God!) – and let’s just say that I was not only impressed but I haven’t forgotten that he made such a loving effort for me.

So I figured, who doesn’t love truffles? I think that I’ll probably keep it simple and not too decadent for my first foray into the art of making chocolates – though it’s something that I could probably learn to enjoy. Incidentally, that’s one many, many, many of the reasons I kind of wish we lived in or near a big city (that and having a choice of REs. Yeah, that would really help right about now) – that way I could just take a bunch of classes and become a culinary genius, pottery expert, cheese connaisseur etc. You know: if I’m going to throw money at a problem, why not for something that’ll endure no matter where this winding road takes us?

(Sidebar: I also like watching the Pioneer Woman sometimes – but omg, I really just could NOT live in the middle of nowhere like that, I’d go bat$hit crazy. And while I’m on the subject of PW, what’s with the driving to a different building to cook? Also, how much, exactly, is “a good amount”? Mmmmm? Because I don’t have any measuring cups or spoons that measure in good or bad amounts. But aside from that, I think she should have another show for child-rearing advice – her kids seem really well-behaved and well-rounded. Of course that might have something to do that they’re probably too doggone tired at the end of the day to cause much of a fuss.)

Anyway.

Of course this is yet another occasion where I lament my fossilized social life. I mean, how totally fun would it be to get a bunch of girls together around my big farm table, with lots of laughs, and make an assortment of truffles for our hubbies together? It’s times like these that I miss having girlfriends the most – well, you know, aside from those times when I have a meltdown because my babies are still MIA. (I know, I know – stating the obvious again.) But the truth is that, more than just craving the sort of basic contentedness I miss so much in my somewhat self-imposed isolation, what I want most is to be around other women who struggle with primary infertility. I want to be able to dole out support and encouragement, get advice – and, most importantly perhaps, feel understood. Where is THAT reality tv show??

Sometimes I read about these women who met as teens or in college – and decades later, they’re not only still friends, but the actually make the time and effort to get together regularly even if they all live in different states. I totally envy that – but the truth that’s never discussed in those articles is what kind of resources that takes. I mean, you need to have some disposable income to begin with – and enough to pay for things like airfare, hotel etc. You know, unless you want to cram half a dozen people into a single room and pretend it’s a sleepover LOL Somehow, I just don’t think sleepovers are quite as exciting in your 30s and beyond as they were when you were a tween/teen.

Well, either way, I’m calling today a winner: I didn’t feel like screaming at anyone; I didn’t bawl; I didn’t feel like putting a fist through the tv (which, btw, would be completely out of character for me – I don’t believe in or condone violence – even against inanimate objects that totally have it coming); I didn’t hyperventilate or have a panic attack. I wish I had more days like today, so here’s hoping that tomorrow will be at least this good. 🙂

 

* SAHM = stay at home mom. Can’t remember where I read that – must’ve been in another lifetime. It all seems so unreal to me these days…

Hope S(t)inks

I’m going through a bit of a rough patch. Ok, that’s kind of an understatement. I can’t even find the words anymore. I lie awake at night, half-heartedly composing blog posts that never make it because I don’t even crack open my computer, never mind type, edit, and then send my blatherings out into the Great Unknown…shivering, wondering, wavering. Does anyone care? Does it matter to anyone what I think, what I feel? Why would it matter to strangers who don’t know me when it doesn’t even matter to my own family.

Yesterday, the bitch landed on CD40 with a resounding thud – five days late which, even though I knew there was absolutely zero chance of it being anything but an untimely delay to once again screw with my brain, I dared to hope. HAH! Me? What a joke. I’ve never even gotten pregnant. At times I think I’d rather deal with anything that gives me any hope whatsoever that my body is even capable of conception at all – because, at present, I have zero indication that this is even in the realm of possibilities for me, ever.

Sometimes, hope really stinks.

Sometimes, instead of lifting me up, it just makes me feel like I’m sinking…because when hope isn’t realized by the goal you set your sights on, it just falls flat and leaves you feeling sad, tired, and broken.

I’m drowning.

My cycles have been pretty eratic, ranging from 28 to 40 days. I can’t help but feel completely freaked out – partly because I think, how on earth could I even hope to time anything au naturel when my periods are so damn unpredictable; partly because I keep wondering if I’m teetering on the edge of being perimenopausal (perish the thought!!). I know it’s stupid, ridiculous even, to worry about any of that since, according to Dr. McGreedy, there’s pretty much no chance in hell that I could ever get pregnant on my own. But until we’re in better hands – how can I not try, right? I can’t just throw my hands up in the air and say, oh forget about all that, let’s just wait and see what happens if/when we find a new RE! And with my husband’s crazy work schedule, I’m starting to think I’d be better off just asking him to make a “donation” and hand me a turkey baster (please accept my profuse apologies for this crass mental image – I blame it on the hormones that are apparently only good for giving me monthly cramps and assorted indignities).

So if you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted (I know – so presumptuous of me) – it’s not because I’m gone or because I’m bored with blogging, busy with fun things, etc. It’s because I sound like a broken record. Woe is me. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m lonely. I feel despair and despondency. What else is new? At this point, I feel like anyone reading my blog must be rolling their eyes thinking, “Seriously? This again??”.

Please forgive me. I feel like I’m lost at sea without a compass. I’m drowning.

The news here is…oh wait, there is no news. Unless, of course, you count being a pathetic 30-something year old believing in miracles and fairy tale endings news. Didn’t think so.

I want to be part of a community, part of life, part of something – but I feel like I’m frozen in place. I don’t even know how to have a conversation anymore. I even dread turning on the tv because everything, and I mean everything, is just reminding me about how I’ve never gotten pregnant in my entire life – and how, around me, everyone else is moving on. All these commercials that are all about baby this, mommy that, super hero daddy. I’m so sick and tired of it. I feel like screaming – and, honestly, if it wasn’t for my husband, I probably would’ve thrown the remote at the tv and felt a wave of relief right about the same time as a satisfying crunch indicated the death of that dreaded monster and harbinger of Fertile Myrtle Daily.

So I watched documentaries on Netflix. I watched Amelie, which is one of my favorite feel-good movies – not only because I kind of love Audrey Tautou but because I have a bit of a weakness for French cinema. I mean, the French have a knack for drama and what I would consider “real people” story telling that, in my unvarnished opinion, is simply unparalleled. My only irritation came from not being able to disable the entirely distracting subtitles, though I was glad that, at least, it hadn’t been dubbed (perish the thought!). There are so many aspects of this movie that I love and relate to; it makes me want to jump on a plane and spend a few months in France…mmmm, le fromage! I watched cooking shows that made me struggle with envy: the fresh, healthy produce I can’t hope to find in this place (because, really? Zesting a citrus fruit is all fine and well when it comes from an organic farm stand, freshly picked just days before you use it. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that none of us dealing with IF want to put any additional pesticides in our bodies if we can help it.); the boon of laughing children, family and friends. I finally got around to tackling my “mending” basket – fixed a hat and three cardigans that all had undone seams or holes…from about a year ago. Anything to keep my mind off THE ISSUE. You know, the hollow emptiness I feel pretty much every waking second of my life.

Meanwhile, I’ve set up a “battle station” on my nightstand with about a dozen IF books and a notebook. I’m working on finding my way through the maze, trying to formulate a plan. I keep struggling, I keep fighting the tears (and losing the battle), I keep getting angry and running scared. But I know I can’t keep hiding. I can’t keep worrying about whether or not my story is original, relevant, interesting. I can’t keep judging myself and finding myself falling short of self-imposed standards of perfection. I’ve been doing that my whole life, and clearly it’s not really working for me.

Anyway. I’m still here. Still hurting, still trying to find my way…Not giving up yet.

Where did IT go?

When one of our nephews was very little, he had this really funny, super cute way of saying “where did it go?” whenever you played ball with him. Because he was so little and couldn’t enunciate very well yet, it sounded more like “wheredeego?”. He’d look at you with his big eyes and actually shrug, his arms at an angle and his hands in the air. It’s was so funny and so adorable that, well over a decade later, I still remember it. I also remember that it was the first time I felt that pang in my heart, the thought of having children with my husband.

What made me think about this today is the fact that I feel like I’ve lost my zest of life. I feel gray and drab pretty much most of the time. I try hard to lift my spirits and count my blessings, to move forward in a more positive way – but, honestly, I kind of feel like I’m down for the count. I keep dusting myself off and getting back up, but rather than standing tall, I feel like I’m crouched like an old, arthritic woman. I can’t remember the last time I actually wore lipstick, heels, jewelry or anything else I used to revel in doing. My skin and my hair look lackluster to me, and so on top of all the other mental crap, it’s like another nail in the coffin: I feel like a loser.

Today, I’m trying to get back to my motivational journal. I started it about 6 years ago – and even the way I wrote it in it back then conveys so much more energy and “attitude” than I can bring to the table these days. I sat at our dining room table after breakfast and thought, ok – I need these visual cues. I need to remind myself of who I am, deep down – and make myself a “scrapbook” of sorts to get me back on track. But I’m flailing.The motivational cues and sayings are falling flat before my eyes because I just don’t believe any of it, right now. I can feel it because I’m not enjoying the process like I used to. I feel like I’m faking it. I don’t know where IT went: my life force, for lack of a better term. I’m not really a weak person, generally speaking; but in the past year or so, I often feel like the fight is just drained out of me and I’m too tired to keep trying to make my life into something I can love, again – even if it’s not the life I thought I’d be leading at this point.

I keep thinking about a quote by Margaret Thatcher that I read somewhere a long time ago:

“Watch your thoughts for they become words.
Watch your words for they become actions.
Watch your actions for they become habits.
Watch your habits for they become your character.
And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become.”

It gives me pause because I feel like none of my good habits have survived the onslaught of IF, the family strife and the grief following the death of several of them. I feel like I’ve become more closed-minded, resentful and judgmental – none of those things are what I want to be, obviously. Sometimes I don’t even realize how much of myself I’ve lost until I see it reflected in the eyes of someone else – through their words, their perception, of how I come across to others. At times, I want to cry and say, THIS ISN’T ME! I’m not really like this!! I used to be funny – so funny, in fact, that when I was in college people kept telling me I should be on Friends. I made people laugh – and that, in turn, made me happy. I enjoyed being around others, talking about anything and everything, learning about their experiences without judgment.

This, in turn, brings me to the other issue that I know is playing a big role in my state of mind right now is how isolated I’ve allowed myself to become because of IF. I’m so terrified, at this point, of having to field questions about our childless state that I haven’t tried to make new friends or socialize in a long, long time – longer, in fact, than I can believe or admit. And this is a vicious circle: the more time I spend alone with all those thoughts and anxieties, the more I turn into a nervous wreck – to the point where, as horrible as it is to fess up about something I’m incredibly embarrassed about, I honestly don’t know how to connect with others anymore.

It used to be so easy for me. I was always really outgoing, vivacious – one of those people who loved “getting out there”, mingle, meeting new people, having fun. Shy, me? Not on your life! Social situations never really worried or scared me. But now, as both of us are heading down-hill towards 40 at what feels like an alarming speed (propelled, I’m certain, by the time pressures of our combined IF issues), I just don’t know how to act anymore. I feel like admitting to wanting children with a response of “not YET” to inevitable questions about whether we have children will invite derisive snorts. I’m also uncomfortable with people who ask a lot of personal questions – especially when you’ve just met them – and don’t really know how to deal with that without coming across as…mmm, a battleaxe, shall we say? (picture me cringing at this point, btw).

So what I do is avoid those situations altogether, because I know that, at the moment, my knee-jerk reaction would be to go on the defensive – either by pretending I’m “sort of vaguely” considering motherhood “at some point in the as yet to be determined future” (in other words, a complete lie); or by snarling. Yep, that’s right, snarling. Because I feel like I have to justify myself and our childless state – completely ridiculous, of course – to what I assume would be smugness of women my age with a gaggle of kids. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail:

Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts – your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them. “Hello, it’s Mr Nasty.” I’m sure you have no idea what I’m talking about.

I can’t allow myself to believe that this is what I’ve become without thinking that there’s still hope for me, that there’s reason to carry the torch for who I really am beneath the rubble of what used to be my life.

Which is why I really wanted to take a moment to thank my fellow bloggers and IFers – your encouragement and comments are more valuable to me than you know. Even if you (politely but firmly) disagree with me on some issues or my approach to certain topics – I appreciate the time you take to read my posts, to comment, and to share you own thoughts and experiences with me. Sometimes I let fear cloud my judgment; I let the dark clouds of self-doubt and anxiety take over my heart and soul. But I’m a fighter, and in the words of a woman far more eloquent and insightful than myself:

I AM NOT AFRAID OF STORMS FOR I AM LEARNING TO SAIL MY SHIP. (Louisa May Alcott)

Reconnecting with your Hubby

I was actually working on a totally different blog post earlier today, but then I got sucked into the vortex that is my WP Reader, leading me down the rabbit hole from one blog to another until I came upon some type of “blog post gone viral” etc – I’ll spare you the boring details (which you may have stumbled upon yourself already anyway).

But I felt compelled to re-post a list on a blog that, really, was a response to the viral post and that I found kind of cute – as well as a great reminder for all of us struggling with IF to “stop and smell the roses” (obviously some will be less appropriate for those of us trying to scrape together every last cent we can get our hands on to afford ARTs – my own comments are in italics):

23 Things You Can Do With Your Husband Regardless of Age

1. Have safe sex, however often you want. It’s a wonderful concept. I know, I know – if you’ve been TTC for any amount of time with no BFP, this becomes a chore. You stop feeling sexy. You stop thinking of sex as fun because now it’s work. But there’s something to be said for going back to basics, reconnecting on a more spiritual level and (trying) to bring some romance back to the bedroom 🙂

2. Get a passport and travel- a honeymoon, or even just a vacation. In this case, due to inevitable budgetary constraints, I like the idea of just making time for a date – the kind where you dress nicely, go out to a restaurant, maybe see a movie. Or just walk, hand in hand, in a park, on a beach, get a coffee – just pause and make time for just “you and me”.

3. Run around the house naked. It’s more fun than sitting in a boring window. Hehehe, ahem – I don’t think I need to elaborate on that. Except that instead of just running around, you could play tag. No laser guns required. 😉 

4. Get a tattoo that has meaning for both of youNot for me, personally – but that makes a lot of sense, I imagine, especially for people with angel babies (hope I’m using the correct term here).

5. Explore somewhere new with your best friend, instead of alone. Assuming you’re not both working yourself to a nub to make enough money for IVF. This one is on my to-do list before DH and I become literally home-bound by our “need” to economize. Who says exploring needs to be expensive? Just check out a new part of town etc. 

6. Pick up a new hobby together. Mmm, that’s a toughie. Maybe a “healthy” hobby – like cooking, hiking, biking, swimming? Preferably a FREE one.

7. Start a family if you want. If you don’t, then wait. Yeah…ok, I guess I could’ve just deleted this one because I was sorely tempted to say “uhm…instead of waiting, have your ovarian reserve checked and a basic SA done. Stat. Forewarned is forearmed. And you know what, while you’re still blissfully unaware – why not have some eggs and sperm frozen. You know, just in case.”

8. Make out. At least you know where his mouth has been. LOL I kind of love her approach on this one – it was in response to the original blogger suggesting you should make out with a stranger. But then, when you’re in your early 20s and aren’t attached to anyone – don’t most dates or boyfriends start out as strangers, technically? Either way I agree with her, making out with my hubby is the least “chore-like” part of struggling with IF. 

9. Decorate your house/apartment with Pinterest projects you did together. I have a better idea: make projects from Pinterest, then sell them at an IF or adoption fundraiser. Because, really? You need the money.

10. Get a couples massage. Things are more fun with your best friend. Or, get acupuncture together. Although a massage sounds pretty darn good right about now – all that stress and constant worrying, panicking etc is really turning my neck muscles into a stale pretzel.

11. Sign up for CrossFit together. Or just workout together period. Once upon a time, the words “workout” made you smirk because you weren’t thinking about a gym, you were thinking about getting horizontal with Mr. Perfect (your hubs). But I’m definitely in favor of physical activity in tandem – which, btw, is rumored to multiply the health benefits. Too bad you can’t actually afford a gym membership anymore because, oh yeah, you’re still saving for IVF. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep the lights on before it’s all said and done.

12. Share an entire pint of your favorite Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. Or not. You’re struggling to conceive – no fellow IFer will judge you for eating an entire pint of ice cream by yourself. Even if you upended a jar of Nutella over it. But I’m really trying to replace my desire and knee-jerk reaction of reaching for junk food when I’m depressed with the healthier alternative of fruit. Mmmm, fruit. Or make your own healthy frozen yogurt!

13. Build a future. Yeah…that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we thought we were doing. Apparently it’s been backordered – I’m expecting an email any day now telling me that my bio baby is back in stock.

14. Disappoint your husband. Trust me, you won’t have to try, it’ll just happen. And then have make-up sex. Yeah, I think we’ve got that covered – in spades. Not just our husbands, but ourselves, our families etc. But mostly it feels like we continue to disappoint our husbands – who, thankfully, love us just as much as before. 

15. Bake/cook for each other. Things taste way better when they’re made for someone with love. This is very true. My husband isn’t exactly a chef (neither am I, come to think of it – ooops!), but he doesn’t mind helping. And it’s definitely a lot nicer to cook together – a great way to turn a frown (can’t afford to eat out anymore) upside down (look what we made together! team work RAWKS!).

16. Start traditions together. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one wants to think of visits to the RE as a “tradition”. Let’s make our tradition something more fun – like watching a funny movie after an unpleasant appointment; taking the dog(s) for a walk after a sob fest; or just hugging each other tightly when it feels like all hope is lost. 

17. Travel within the United States. And when you get lost, make an adventure out of it, knowing you’re safe with your best friend. Make that “travel across the US to several different REs or clinics until you find one that suits your specific needs, budgetary considerations and feels “right” for you.” No need to worry about getting lost – you already feel that way without a baby in your arms. In the meantime, though, I have to agree: there’s almost nothing I can’t endure so long as my husband is there to wrap his strong arms around me and let me wail and sob until I’m all out of tears.

18. Have a sleepover with him every night. If either of you can actually sleep without sleep aids at this point.

19. Go out together, have fun, come home together, and have more fun. Let’s make that “go out together when you don’t have an appointment”. Remember to laugh and smile at the little things – because that’s all you can afford between the chump change and lint left in your wallet.

20. Adopt a pet. When you’re both ready. It’s easier when two people are caring for it. Check. Instead of adopting more pets, don’t feel weird about talking to your pets and treating them like surrogate babies – you know, within reason. Please don’t get a stroller for your wiener dog or an entire closet full of outfits – otherwise I might have to slap you.

21. Start a small business now that you have a confidant, companion, and faithful business partner. You’ve already got at least one Ebay and Etsy store between the two of you and have been putting things on consignment all over town because you’re busy selling off all or most of your worldly possessions for extra income so you can afford IVF. Make your own business cards or flyers from cardboard or paper that comes into your house without additional cost – bonus: original, unique way to “advertise” your fund-raising endeavors. 

22. Start a blog. Together or separately. See? You can do it when you’re married too! Crazy, I know. Or, rather, start a crowd-funding site. The time for being shy, sheepish or embarrassed has come – and passed. Time to take action. 

23. Befriend other happily married couples. Because the ones you used to be friends with all had babies and then (a) started avoiding you when you told them you’re suffering from bubonic plague SARS mad cow disease infertility; (b) gave you inane advice until you couldn’t stand it anymore and stopped calling; (c) you couldn’t stand being around them anymore because of the very obvious, non-pregnant “elephant” in the room. Instead, consider joining an IF and/or adoption support group in your local area to connect with other couples struggling with infertility. Assuming you don’t live in podunk where those things are, apparently, not-a-happening. 

Reposted from:

http://kbeauregard.com/2013/12/31/my-first-blog-the-result-of-a-close-minded-23-year-old/

The Box of Denial

On Sunday, I finally did something I kept meaning to do but couldn’t bring myself to: I unearthed The Box. The pretty patterned one I’ve been hiding for an inordinate amount of time given our predicament; the one I’d started filling with my “battle gear” several years ago. Filled with shiny covers and brimming with the promise of delivering the ultimate goal: a healthy, sustained pregnancy. When I first started buying some of these books, about 5 years ago, I told myself that it was just “in case” – I didn’t really need them because I wasn’t really that serious about getting pregnant just then (newsflash: that’s totally not true – I was just kidding myself. Flat-out D-E-N-I-A-L. Unsurprisingly enough, I’m sure.).

I was embarrassed to admit that I wanted to have a baby – or just how badly – and that the “magic” wasn’t happening. It would’ve been easy to glow with happiness if I’d gotten pregnant – then, only then, was it “safe” to admit how much I’d wanted it. But no such happy event for us. While everyone, it seemed, around us was getting pregnant again and again, I pretended that it wasn’t even on my radar – filled with the growing pain that only receded when it was punctuated by even greater heartache as people around me started dying (five in the space of two years, in case you’re wondering).

As time went on and all the other crap in my life came to a head, the unspoken issues that continued to keep us in our childless state became buried for a while – and so did the box of books. Periodically, I stealthily added another title – maybe something I picked up at a discount store or a used book store. Always when I was alone. Why? Because the books – just as the deceptively beautiful box they’ve been housed in – were something that needed to be hidden. Almost as if, just by being out in the open, it was a jinx – or inviting the prying eyes of others who wouldn’t possible understand in the boon of their own fecundity.

The truth, I finally realized this weekend – in one of those panicky-painful moments that make you get so choked up that even tears freeze before they can fall, so despairing and raw is the emotion – is that I was ashamed and in denial. I kept thinking that if I ignored the box and all the problems inside it, then like the mental trick for putting something out of your mind, it would just disappear.

Ridiculous, right?

But then, if like me, you’ve never been pregnant and are in the Mojave Desert of fertility (the cringe-worthy age bracket of 35-44), it’s hard not to panic. And I mean full-on, ripping-out-your-hair-biting-your-fingernails-to-the-quick-screaming-crying-sleep-depriving PANIC.

On Sunday, right before I went in search of the Box of Denial, I had a no kidding panic attack. I started sweating, my heart was pounding like a jackhammer, and I felt like I was either going to throw up or faint. I wrote in my journal. I tried to watch a bit of tv to distract myself. I tried to talk myself off the ledge. For what seemed like an eternity, I felt like I was going to let out a guttural, animal-like scream just to relieve the tension that made me feel like I was having a heart attack.

I’ve read – or half-read – a couple of infertility books in the last couple of years. One of them was so dysjuncted that I found myself having a hard time following the chronology of events. Another one – that I’m still trying to work my way through – keeps making me feel like gasping in exasperation and rolling my eyes.

The one that I’m actually responding to, though, is a book called Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility; co-authored by Sami S. David and Jill Blakeway. To say that it makes me want to pick up the phone, book two respective appointments and get on the next flight to NYC would be an understatement. I started reading this book Sunday evening – and it’s definitely been eye-opening. It made me feel so, so incredibly vindicated about not sticking with Dr. Greedy McMoneybags (the RE we didn’t like but that, in the last couple of months, I was almost tempted to make a new appointment with – how’s that for despair??). As I continue reading, I feel both reassured AND freaked out: we waited too long; we don’t have convenient, easy, or even reliable access to the type of medical care (both Western and Eastern) of the kind that the authors favor: medical detective work.

I know from a lot of blogs and/or IF community forums that many women are frustrated by doctors who are proceeding too slowly for their liking – and if such delays are caused by greed (hey, let’s run a few thousand dollars worth of unnecessary tests, k?) or trying to disguise what is really actually a lack of knowledge, then I agree. However, so far I have found that the approach these two authors believe in is so much more in keeping with what I need and want (but am, honestly, petrified to consider because of my “advanced” age and previous DOR diagnosis): investigating the root of the problem(s) and looking for the least invasive way to fix them.

I found myself thinking back to the RE who never even suggested an IUI (even though I’d never taken Clomid in my life or had a previous IUI) and wanted to go in, guns blazing, telling me the only way we’d conceive was with IVF + ICSI (most expensive treatment outside of external issues such as egg donor or surrogacy – quel surprise!) and that he was planning to use the most aggressive protocol. Meanwhile, my anxious questions about side effects were met with something between a disinterested shrug and dismissive snort – answered as “just some minor bloating”. (Yeah, I didn’t really buy that, either.)

So now I’m in a bit of a weird, uncomfortable situation: on the one hand, I’m enjoying this book – as much as you can while feeling a metaphorical gun being held to your head – and learning about things I, quite frankly, didn’t have the faintest clue about; on the other hand, there’s that nagging voice inside my head saying you don’t have time to mess around anymore; should’ve thought about that years ago. I’m trying to calm myself down and think that investing in their suggestions may take time, but without doing so, I may not only be subjecting myself to repeated treatments in the future that may or may not succeed (to say nothing of the financial, physical and emotional trauma that IVF really represents) but also setting myself up for a lower chance of success than if I actually make the commitment I was starting to make at the end of 2012 before another part of my personal life went to hell in a hand basket last year.

Is it crazy to press the pause button at this point in my life? Is it insane to think, let’s take 3 months to really focus on our health, to consider Eastern medicine (acupuncture, Chinese herbs etc)? Do I want to do this for the right reasons or because I’m scared: scared of the uncertainty, scared of not knowing where to turn at this point, scared of the whole impact of IVF?

The two warring halves of my brain keep being locked in what feels like a deadly tug-o-war: between the “do it, DO IT NOW!” panic side and the peacenik that wants to try and approach this with a modicum of conservatism, meaning in this case to not overlook less invasive treatment options. Did I mention, previously, that no one has actually bothered – at all – to explain any of my labs to me, except to inform me that as a DOR “candidate” for IVF, I’d probably need donor eggs in the foreseeable future? That no one asked me about my cycles, about whether I’ve ever done a BBT chart (I haven’t), that no one bothered to actually do more than 1 set of labs to see if the values were consistently the same; that no one actually checked whether my pituitary gland was/is functioning properly at all, whether my progesterone levels are “normal” in the different phases of my cycle? Initially, I was told I didn’t actually ovulate, ever, at all – based on a single, solitary blood test. So is it really surprising that what I want, what I’m looking for, is an RE who’s going to put all the cards on the table – not just the ones with the highest dollar amount?

And…with that I also realize that I’m driving myself crazy. Last week was a bit of a haze – I was under the weather, feeling emotional even though I’m not yet anywhere close to my next period (which I no longer dread so much as I resent and pretty much hate it). Wrapped up in sweaters and blankets, feverish, I threw myself a pity party by watching Sex and the City. I cried when Charlotte had a miscarriage; I cried when she tried to put on a brave face at Miranda’s son’s first birthday party…until she came face to face with the silver Tiffany’s rattle her first husband had bought before she found out about her fertility issues. Got angry at the scene where this one woman swears by an acupuncturist and highly recommends him in between saying something about how all the IUIs and IVFs had driven her crazy – which made me think: really, how nice it must be to (a) not have to worry about the money part of ARTs (which, let’s face it, is a HUGE consideration) and/or (b) living in a big city where you’re not only spoiled for choice, whatever the type of medicine, but also nowadays in the case of New York City in particular, actually have IVF coverage if I’m not mistaken.

(Gremlin. Ugh. Still working on that…)

Needless to mention, I’m trying to stave off another pity party to coincide with the PMS that, I believe, has RSVPd for sometime next week. I’ve been feeling cranky all day, but I know that’s due to the mute terror I feel without knowing, really, how to find the kind of doctor (and I’d settle for a general one to start out with) who can actually be bothered to look at the person, not the dollar signs. Old-fashioned, you say? I know time is of the essence – believe me, I never thought I’d be one of those “biological clock” women, but there’s nothing like someone putting a question mark on your ability to have biological children that’ll not just make that clock tick but turn it into a dinner gong. Yet, personally, I’d rather have someone who isn’t all about turning you into a pin-pricked receptacle for toxic medications that may or may not turn you into Godzilla, Attila the Hun, Jack(ie) the Ripper etc. from the ensuing renegade hormone spin cycle.

Translation: I don’t want someone to waste my time but also not recommend a course of action before or without investigating other less invasive/costly options. I’m not saying that there’s a chance in hell we could conceive without the previous RE’s “recommendation” for IVF with ICSI (and I use that term lightly, since he might as well have been holding a gun for the amount of choice his “recommendation” left room for). But that book made me so glad, despite our continued struggle, that I didn’t agree to put my life, my body, my health, into the hands of someone who probably wouldn’t have had time to fit me into his busy schedule if I’d thought I was having symptoms of OHSS or some other serious side effect with the treatment.

So here’s my question: how far are YOU willing to go to have a baby?

Is it just about experiencing pregnancy for you? How important is the biological connection to your child(ren) to you/your spouse? And how far would you travel, how much would you be willing to spend, how many different doctors, supplements, medications, procedures would you be willing to endure to get to the sought-after goal?

I’m not being facetious – I really want to know. Because I’m thinking, is it really any crazier to travel out of state – or, even, the country – in the quest of motherhood than it is to contemplate being held ransom to the tune of $25-50K if you have to contemplate domestic infant adoption?

The Comeback Kid

After my last tirade diatribe blog post, I was so infuriated that I couldn’t think straight. I felt so churlish, and I hated both the issues that had prompted the post in the first place – and that I’d lost my temper that much. You’d think that, on the downslope to 40, I’d have harnessed my feelings into a calm and composed demeanor by now.

You’d be mistaken.

Then again, I could argue that the last few years haven’t exactly been a stroll in the park – and that, as an adult, I really don’t have any inclination to pretend that I have sunshine coming out of my you-know-what* all day. I’ve lost the majority of my family to death or estrangement, so that IF is just one more thing on my “let’s see how she responds to adverse conditions”  life stress test. And then, a few months ago, not one but two people I thought I was close to and could count on basically did such unforgivably horrible, evil, conniving, mean and backstabbing things that I had to end those relationships too.

So if I appear caustic at times, let’s just say that I’ve been making A LOT of mouth-puckering lemonade lately.

For the last couple of months, I kept thinking about whether I should just tuck my proverbial tail between my legs and slink back to virtual obscurity after deleting my blog. At times, as I lay awake in bed and listened to three parties snoring in concert (one human, two canine), I composed my comeback post. But somehow I just couldn’t seem to snap out of it – and as the holidays drew closer I realized that I was not only no closer to motherhood, I was now a year older than when we first went to see the RE we both hated. Or, in the most disparaging terms, a year closer to my body completely closing up shop in terms of any viability for reproduction (impaired as it has been).

Most of December was a bit of a mind fog. I tried hard not to think about the people who are no longer in our lives. I tried even harder to ignore comments from people about how they hadn’t expected or planned their very evident pregnancy (and tried, even harder, to resist the temptation to say how glad I’d be to take their unplanned/unexpected miracle home with me). I tried to muster every ounce of happiness I could feel for others as their lives lit up like our Christmas tree: new home in time for the baby; new addition to the family; travels across the country for a family Christmas. All things we would not have, yet again. 

And then more bad news came in. Home repairs came a callin’ – and of course not the kind that could easily be fixed with a DIY job. Strangers came into our home, traipsing through our bedroom with street shoes as I tried to bite my lip hard enough not to have a total hissy fit that would’ve made Teresa Giudice blanch. Our tv kept having problems; and then our internet seemed to be having a premature midlife crisis. More people came to the house. Equipment was repaired, swapped out, repaired again. I stopped counting the amount of “service people” that had dragged an entire quarry worth of invisible ick through my house. (Sidebar: as of this moment, I’ve decided that if someone comes to my house and doesn’t take off their shoes or put on those blue hospital footies, I will buy a guillotine. Or, failing that, a cattle prod. Because if I have to deal with one more person stepping all over my crisp white bath rugs – the same ones I stand on with bare feet – I. am. going. to. lose. it.)

As if that’s not bad enough, DH’s company is downsizing and he has no idea whether or not he’s going to make the cut. He might be ok. He might be ok for a little while. He might have to find a new job. Oh, and our insurance is going up! Peaches and cream, aren’t we just so lucky???

The cherry on top? I spent the entire week of Christmas sick as a dog.

It’s amazing how resilient you become through struggling with IF, though. You learn how to roll with the punches because you’ve already figured out that life isn’t fair. Good things don’t always happen to good people. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. You almost manage not to throw up or dissolve into a puddle of tears after the gazillionth person tells you about their “happy news” (and remind yourself that an ingrate who can’t understand how grateful she should be for her blessing isn’t worth committing a felony – even if you feel like throttling her). You try not to think about how they can marvel at the life that is growing inside them even though they only just learned of it a minute ago and are still holding the plastic test stick. You almost convince yourself that you have so much to be happy for that you have no right to be so upset that something isn’t going your way. You almost forget that you weren’t always this angry, resentful, bitter, desperate, sad, lonely, pathetic shadow of a person.

Almost. 

Until, one day, you think about the day you hope and pray for with every fiber of your being – the day that you hope will happen sooner rather than later. And you realize that, unlike your fertile counterparts who can think of a million and one ways to tell their husbands the happy news, your “happy news” will be a qualified revelation. It will involve days and weeks of tension. It will be preceded by hours of jumping out of your skin every time the phone rings, every time your stomach growls, every time you feel anything at all.

In that moment, you realize that you will never have the quiet happiness; the elation that “normal” women feel. You will never be able to just be excited about getting pregnant – because, for you, it will have involved countless tests, a battery of invasive exams and medical procedures. While other women can think about how they’re going to outfit their baby’s nursery, you’ll be wondering what more you can sell of your personal possessions to buy the necessities for the baby you’ve dreamed of for so long – because all the resources and assets you had have long since disappeared in the ether.

I don’t dream about the day that I will find out I’m pregnant (and I’m still, infuriatingly still, trying desperately to replace “if” with “when” – yet another sign of all the things you do, irrationally, for fear of jinxing yourself). I don’t dream of being pregnant. Because I know all that stuff will be painful, scary and expensive. I know that, from the moment I get pregnant, I’ll be terrified of doing something wrong to jeopardize the pregnancy. I’ll be anxious to fight my increasing anxiety; worried that the wrong move, the wrong drink or food, the wrong activity (or even thought) will make my baby leave me.

So what I’m dreaming of isn’t the process of getting there; it’s putting all that behind me – not of conceiving but of having a baby. Because if I’ve learned anything from my fellow sisters-in-arms, it’s that the coveted BFP is only the first of many hurdles for us IFers. So you won’t see or hear me screaming from the roof tops when it happens; but you might see an agnostic clamor to any semblance of spirituality in a desperate attempt to barter for something, anything, to allow her to carry her baby to term.

And while, given our predicament, the only thing I truly care about is having a healthy child with all limbs and organs intact and fully functional, there’s a part deep inside me that continues to dream of having a girl. Ever since DH and I got married, I always pictured a little girl with his eyes and hair. I don’t know why I didn’t picture a mini-me – maybe because, somehow, I wanted so badly to create another life with my husband that was almost like a gift, a homage, to the man I love. Silly me.

What I dream of isn’t the moment I find out I’m pregnant; or the moment where enough time has passed to believe that the pregnancy is viable enough to consider sharing the news with what little is left of our families. What I dream of is the moment that a nurse places our baby in my arms; the moment I’ll dissolve into tears of happiness instead of sadness and frustration; the moment I’ll feel whole again.

I hope that this day will come for me. And even though I want three children, I’ll be the happiest woman alive even if this blessed event graces our lives only once. Just once – that’s all I ask if it’s meant to be that way. Because without even that one time, I don’t know what I’m doing on this earth…

 

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* My New Year’s Resolutions may or may not have included swearing less. However, it’s early days yet – and the bottom line is that if you’re acting like an a$$hat, I’m probably going to tell you that ya kinda are in my best David Spade/Russel Dunbar impression. Just calling a spade a spade.