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.

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.

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/

Would you like some cheese with that WHINE?

The last few days have been a blur of mind-numbing pain. As usual, AF is reminding me once again that, despite over two decades of monthly agony and the assorted ailments that come with it, I’ve still never gotten pregnant. It’s hard, at this point, to keep hoping this will ever change. And, as a bonus, my migraines kicked into overdrive and yesterday I woke up retching. Sometimes I think there’s no amount of morning sickness that’s ever going to be a problem for me because of the many, many times I’ve been vomiting in the past couple of years with no baby to look forward to as compensation.

So I have to admit that when I recently saw some whiny post on an infertility forum from someone who doesn’t just have one kid but actually has TWO, I just about had it. I realize that my perception is clouded by my own experience, and that there are other parts of my life that I have every reason to be grateful for. I have a loving, supportive husband. I live a comfortable, safe life in a house I love. I want for nothing other than the chance to become a mother, to have a child with the man I love. But yes, I know that even my problems seem trivial compared to others – people who have no home, don’t know how they’ll put food on the table, or in other countries, have to worry that a simple trip to the grocery store could end up in death because of an explosion or gunfire. So, yes – I know that everything in life is about perception, about where you’re at in relation to any given situation or problem.

But I HATE and resent it when people who already have children fail to grasp that they should be grateful – and it makes me beyond irate when they tell primary IFers, especially those who have experience m/c or, worse even, s/b, that secondary IF is either the same OR worse (puhleeze, don’t make me slap you).

I know we shouldn’t be getting into a proverbial p***ing match over who has it worse – where does it end? I wrote about this in another post, I think, because I kind of feel that way sometimes when I read about someone else’s AMH levels being much higher than mine. But none of that is nearly as irritating to me.

It may seem callous, mean-spirited or selfish – but I just don’t understand how someone can even think, for a split second, that there’s not a difference between having at least one child and NOT having even one? How is that the same, at all? How does someone who is struggling with secondary IF not get, for a split second, how horrible it would be if they didn’t even have the one child they already have – the one they can fawn over, cuddle, dress in a cute Halloween outfit and take pictures with while the closest we’re getting is yet another exam that shows an empty womb. Yay for us. 

I’m always incredible grateful when I read a post by a secondary IFer who acknowledges her blessings. I am so grateful to her because she is thankful, she’s aware of how much worse it could be. She understands.

So when I read the post from this woman who was comparing primary infertility to what, in her case is technically tertiary infertility, I really, really just wanted to b****-slap her. Let me tell you something. I would love love LOVE to have three children. I would LOVE to adopt an infant that someone else doesn’t want – if it didn’t come with such a horrendous price tag that it makes IVF look cheap. But at this point? I’d be so grateful if I even got pregnant at all that I’d be crying tears of joy. I have zero indication, so far, that my body is even capable of getting pregnant by any means whatsoever – never mind sustain a full gestation to result in a live birth. So as far as I’m concerned, even though I want three, just ONE, just a single, healthy baby, would be better than winning the lottery to me right now.

Today is the first tiny ray of hope that I won’t be spending the entire weekend wishing I had a way to blow out my own brains – because if you’ve ever had a real migraine (as opposed to people calling a barely noticeable headache a “migraine” – which, fyi, it is NOT), you know that it can get so bad that you literally want to die just to make the pain stop. The last time I had to take a trip to the ER because of them, it was so bad that they administered morphine. TWICE. Yeah, it’s that bad.

The silver lining of having these migraines is that, when they go away, I feel so grateful and happy that I almost have tears in my eyes. And it makes me more positive, it makes me happy – it makes me more productive. So right now, as I’m still laboring in pain and secretly worrying about the amount of medication I’ve taken in the last few days just to be able to get out of bed at all, I’m hoping that I’ll be feeling much better by the end of the weekend at least. It has to…

All of these considerations made me realize that I’m just as bad as the secondary IFers I keep complaining about. Sure, I still find it annoying – but that’s not the point. The point is that they’re coming at it from a different perspective, just like I am. The only thing I can do is to make an earnest effort to change ME, to change my lifestyle, to do the things I need to do to prepare my body for when we can afford to do IVF, finally. Of course I’m scared that it’ll be too late by then, but there’s no point in worrying about this when I can’t do anything about it right now.

I pledge to do better. I pledge to take better care of myself and not to blame my body for not giving me a baby yet. I pledge to treat myself with more love, more compassion, more consideration. And I hope those of you who’ve been feeling as crummy as I have will do the same – because at some point, our time will come.

The Big F

*from Decibel Magazine* This is pretty much EXACTLY how I feel today. Except that I’m pretty sure it’s even less cute on a grown woman.

WARNING: angry shouty (wo)manchild full steam ahead.

Epic FAIL.

Not now? Not yet? NOT EVER??

Not now? Not yet? NOT EVER??

For the last couple of days, I’ve been walking around with a ticker-tape displaying repetitive bursts of the F word. I’ve been so irate and annoyed that it’s a miracle I haven’t ground my teeth to nubs yet.

AF is 3 days late, but of course only to torment me before eventually crash-landing today with a resounding thud to remind that, no – for ME, a delayed period just means that something is wacky this month. Or maybe I inhaled something weird. Or the stars aligned to punish me for some long-forgotten misdeed.

Whatever the reason, I really feel like S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G – because, quite frankly, who needs this hassle? Part of me felt like shouting at my own body and saying, FINE, you don’t want to stay on the clock? Then tell that b**** to pack her bags because, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve put in more than enough time after over 2 decades of MISERY without so much as a blip on the radar that would indicate that it will EVER pay off. 

I’m so angry right now that I want to send nastygrams to all the a$$hats who make “Happy Period” commercials and tell them that they can stuff those products where the sun doesn’t shine. Because, aside from the fact that IVF isn’t covered in the majority of states – last I checked, I also can’t write off all the crap I have to buy so I don’t look like a victim of a slaughterhouse on our tax return as a medical expense. Meanwhile, Viagra is covered – because, OF COURSE, getting a boner is more important that procreation. “Oh, I know, this must be so hard. My wallet’s too small for my fifties AND MY DIAMOND SHOES ARE TOO TIGHT.” (*)

So I will most likely have to spend an inordinate amount of time at home for the next 10 days or so – lest I suddenly turn into an eerie reenactment of The Exorcist when someone annoys me by, oh I don’t know, breathing.

It doesn’t help when the idiocy of others that would annoy me under the best of circumstances now seems even more aggravating. This is especially true of the heathens involved in preparing my coffee – and, somehow, despite remuneration, performing said job in a decidedly sub-par fashion.

Exhibit A: Since my husband works long hours, we usually try to go out for breakfast and/or coffee on the weekend. Yet, apparently, when I ask for a simple thing like a wet latte – you know, what with a latte NOT being a cappuccino, which should render my request unnecessary…and yet I invariably end up with HALF A CUP OF FOAM if I don’t say anything. Sorry, but I’m not interested in paying top dollar for AIR BUBBLES ON MY COFFEE.

Also? When you burn your coffee beans or (re)use substandard coffee and my caffeinated beverage of choice tastes like what I assume it would be like if I decided to lick asphalt instead, I’m going to get a little annoyed. If you then give me attitude, an exagerrated eye roll you don’t feel self-conscious about at all – what with me, the customer, paying your damn wages – or some kind of backtalk, consider yourself lucky that I’m not crazy enough to throw the coffee right at you.

I’m not an unreasonable or rude cafe patron – I’m polite, I’m friendly, I make just enough chit chat to show that you’re not a robot in my eyes – so KINDLY refrain from shouting talking about some stupid football match with a coworker so loudly that I can’t hear myself think, never mind have a conversation with my husband. Otherwise that fork you gave me for my bagel (??!!??) may end up spearing the thick part of your brain, since you obviously use it for insulation rather than to, you know, WORK. And shut the hell up. Because, I’m thinking? When you’re at work, you should display a modicum of professionalism – it’s not my fault that you’re over the hill and working as a barista.

(I’ll make an exception to the poor hapless soul who was forced to contend with a customer who wanted a wet cappuccino “but not latte wet” – which made even me want to spit in his coffee: http://twrage.blogspot.com/2008/03/wet-cappuccino-on-fools-and-possible.html. However: all you little s***s on ihatestarbucks.com – you can get bent, because if no one were willing to fork over the money for the overpriced concoctions you’re sick and tired of making and/or using dishwater, decaf or whatever else to make because you hate your life and yourself so much that spouting off about ruining someone else’s day on your little site makes you feel less impotent, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE A JOB. Get that, dumba$$? So I don’t give a fig if you hate making holiday drinks for months – last I checked, you’re getting paid to do just that, so kindly keep your piehole shut. That’s the only tip I’ve got for you.)

So I’ve come to the conclusion that the best thing for me is to (a) make my own coffee; and (b) ween myself off of it entirely in favor of herbal teas. I’m thinking; something calming/soothing laced with heavy dose of Valerian Root Extract. In the meantime, I’ve managed to find a bag of whole beans that are supposedly both fairtrade AND organic (although judging by the way both the USDA and FDA deal with the general well-being of the population like a theoretic problem in the script for a bad reality tv series, it’s anybody’s guess whether what I bought isn’t just the same crap they cram into the El Cheapo coffee bags).

I’m sure that, at this point, you may be thinking that someone ought to force-feed me a copious amount of prescription drugs to induce a less belligerent state of mind. I would concur – except that I’m trying really hard to take as little medication as humanly possible in my perhaps useless, senseless attempt to reboot my body and make my reproductive parts WORK, DAMMIT, WORK!!!

(Sidebar: As if I wasn’t already so angry that I had a mental image of ripping my own arm out of its socket, cartoon-style, just so that I would have something to use as my Captain Cave(wo)man club – I spent the last half hour continuing the write this post until I tried to save it…and was logged out of the site for some random, inexplicable reason. The same reason that, somehow, the auto-save had not engaged and so I lost about 3 paragraphs worth of postulating on my descent into wildebeest mode.)

I’m so annoyed that, while preparing veggies for the dinner I’m planning to make for my husband tonight, I cut myself with a serrated knife because I was impatient and not paying the kind of attention you should be paying when wielding sharp instruments. Everything is somehow going wrong and everything is irritating me to a degree that I have a hard time putting into words: the dogs barking, the fact that there’s never anything on tv when you really need something to distract you (and, for that matter, the incessant DRONING ON of commercials that seems to underpin the notion that, yes, parenthood is the badge of honor to strive for, the call to action for heroes) the remote control that aggravatingly not just slips out of my hand but then lands in the trash can full of fur from when I trimmed one of my dogs; the fact that I just want to wake up in a different life on days like today.

On the flipside of all this anger and aggression I’m feeling is, of course, a free-fall into grief. Isn’t it pathetic that, at my age, you can still sit there and feel totally sorry for yourself? I don’t even know why I’m expecting anything else at this point. I mean, talk about deluded! My period is a few days late and, apparently, this idiot was deluded enough to think that, somehow, Aphaea herself had flicked my unresponsive body and kicked it into high gear, suddenly – and inexplicably – giving me the gift of fertility.(Cue derisive snorting from the peanut gallery.) I am so incredibly STUPID that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, apparently Homer Simpson is at the helm of my brain because there’s no other way to explain why I keep coming back for more heartache or why, WHY WHY WHY WHY I keep returning to the bottomless pit that results from imagining what our child would look like. The child that I’m more and more convinced will just never be conceived and born. The child that I want but am beginning to wonder if I’m just not meant to have, if I’m so unworthy that not ONE single act of love has resulted in what other people treat like so much garbage.

I’ve been trying so hard not be bitter. I figure that I can’t really complain if nothing is happening since I’m not even undergoing any ARTs etc at the moment – and yet, the resentment I feel when there are so many people I’ve known who have conceived multiple children without so much as having to try for more than a couple of months; or people who got pregnant without trying or even consciously WANTING a child just then…it makes me want to put my fist into a reinforced steel door just so I have something to distract me from all the pain I’m already in.

I HATE, and I mean hate with a vengeance, not just being in this situation in the first place. I hate that I can’t come to terms with it. I hate that I’m angry and bitter, that I’ve never felt more lonely in my entire life and that I’m only one of thousands of women going through the same thing while NO ONE CARES. No one gives a crap about the fact that the majority of people struggling with infertility will have to mortgage themselves up to their eyeballs if they can even come up with the financial resources for a single cycle of IVF. I HATE hate hate running errands and seeing a woman so hefty that the best descriptive term would be the Hindenberg – who is also pregnant. Of course. Because you know, it happens to all these people all over the place – people who somehow DON’T EVEN REALIZE THAT THEY ARE PREGNANT until the baby pops out. Or people who, despite weighing somewhere in the vicinity of 500 lbs and not even able to get a standard seat belt across their bodies, or who poison their bodies with every illegal drug known to mankind, are apparently still more fertile than me.

I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to run away. I want to punch things, throw things, beat something to a pulp. Because on top of all the crap that’s at the heart of today’s diatribe, there are other things I can’t talk/write about that make all these issues even worse, even more painful, even more long-lasting. And all I can think about is how I wish I would just hit my head somewhere and have amnesia. Or a total change of personality where I don’t even want babies at all. So I spend the better part of everything morning and evening trying to remain as even-tempered as possible, trying not to turn into a weepy mess in front of my husband because if I had told him that my period was even a single day late, I know he would’ve gotten his hopes up, would’ve thought, dared to dream, maybe this is it. And then I would’ve just failed him, failed us, again – over and over, every single month for all these years that I have to fight the urge to get a hysterectomy so I can just say F YOU STUPID PIECE OF NON-FUNCTIONAL EQUIPMENT THAT KEEPS PUTTING ME THROUGH THE RINGER EVERY DAMN MONTH WITHOUT GIVING ME ANYTHING IN RETURN AFTER I’VE BEEN POKED AND PRODDED FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. I know I should learn to love my body despite its shortcomings, but today I hate it.

Dark days. Sad days. Pathetic days. I want to tear the screen of my computer and throw it at the tv because they’re all in cahoots in making me miserable. My body feels like it’s going to convulse from the warring emotions; bile rising in my throat, making me feel like I’m going to vomit. But the sad, sad truth is that I know there’s nothing I can do about any of it. I can sit here, typing, big fat tears stinging my eyes until they drop like anchors down my face – and it won’t change a damn thing. So I let it eat me up inside because we have no one to turn to, because no one cares, because we’re alone in this.

No one cares.

So if anybody’s asking – I’ll be moping on the couch, watching Family Guy and eating cookie dough. At least for today.

(*) partial quote from Chandler in Friends.

My Give A Damn’s Busted

grumpy-cat-wallpaper-5

WARNING: ANGRY KITTY.

I’ve been tinkering with the draft of this post for a while. I kept thinking that maybe it would come across as too abrasive – but after getting yet another slap in the face by someone who clearly has NO concept of how their actions affect my already haphazard emotional well-being, I thought – you know what? No more Mrs. Nice Girl. 

I have a bone to pick with someone – actually, several someones.

In the last couple of months, I’ve been trying to read more differently blogs, websites and posts from others to see how they are dealing with IF. Turns out that, for the most part, the answer is a resounding “not so great”. (Shocking, I’m sure.)

However, in doing so I’ve come across some things that are irritating and annoying – enough so, clearly, that I felt the need to draw up a little manifesto about things that make up my biggest peeves in relation to IF. Please note that this is not designed to personally offend anyone, obviously – but if you’re terribly offended because you actually do one or more of these things then, really, you’ve already offended me and I’m thinking? We’re even.

10 THINGS I HATE TO READ ABOUT INFERTILITY

(1) Claiming that you’re struggling with IF because you haven’t gotten pregnant after 3 months of actively trying at the ripe age of 23 – I don’t know how to put this nicely and without throwing a smelly gym shoe at you, but you are not struggling with infertility unless or until you have been actively trying to conceive for ONE YEAR until you’re at least 30. Now quit whining and go back to your coloring book.

(2) People who refer to themselves or others struggling with IF as “infertiles” (using the word “infertile” as a noun). I’m sorry if you feel that you want to accord something you had absolutely no say and/or control over so much heft that you have now decided your entire person is defined by IF. My opinion on this: I DON’T THINK SO. I am struggling with IF and, if we look at IF as a medical condition (hint hint, insurance companies!), I have infertility. It’s not what defines me as a person.

(3) Posting pregnancy questions on an infertility community forum – meaning not the ubiquitous questions about which supplements people recommend etc. to achieve this highly desirable outcome but rather things that involve questions in relation to your current gestation (read: pregnancy – fait accompli). We’re all very happy for you – but we’re also jealous. So can you please stop rubbing salt into open wounds and post your questions in a more appropriate forum – say, a pregnancy or mommy-to-be community? Thanks!

(4) Continuously posting and reposting THE SAME tragic events of your life in every. single. comment. you. make. EVER. Regardless of whether it’s actually relevant. And just in case we haven’t memorized it yet after reading it three hundred times, also including a tag line with all your many, many issues, problems, ailments etc. I’m really sorry for everything that’s ever happened to you – believe me, I’m very sympathetic and empathetic to the pain of others – but after a while, your posts just end up coming across like spam.

(5) Excessive profanity*. Listen, I get it – when I get really, really angry, I swear like a drunken sailor who just lost his entire paycheck in a poker game. But I do so in the privacy of my own home – and the very rare time that I feel something necessitates a profane comment on a website, I at least have the good sense to warn people about what’s coming. When your entire post is so peppered with F-bomb this and the many siblings/cousins of F, I get so distracted from whatever your (possibly valid) point may have been that I’m going to stop reading before I use your favorite word on YOU.

* (The exception would be someone using the word a$$hat because, really? That’s just genius. Thank you Jen Lancaster for introducing me to this gem of an appropriate description!)

(6) Lack of gratitude. I totally get that you want more children, and that an unsuccessful IVF cycle is a huge disappointment – but when you already have one or more children and/or IVF coverage, which enabled you to go through 10 cycles of IVF that most of us who live in one of the 38 states that don’t have IVF coverage (that’s right – read it and weep!) can’t even wrap our minds around because, you know, we’re still saving for our first cycle or trying to dig ourselves out of debt from 1-3 cycles we had to pay for ourselves, I want to send Miss Profanity to your house with a candygram. (And guess what? I’m keeping the candy! That’s right.)

(7) People who go through IVF – or, better yet, don’t even need to – and yet are online making headlines because they’re complaining about how they didn’t get what they “ordered” (twins, girl, boy – apparently having healthy baby isn’t enough for some people). Newsflash: this is real life, not Gattaca. And if you’re going to go around whining like a petulant toddler in the throes of a “terrible twos” tantrum, then maybe you shouldn’t have (a) decided to have a 4th baby, (b) gone through several types of ARTs and then complain, in public, about how annoyed, angry and resentful you are about the fact that you and your wife are pregnant with twins (unreal!). Because not only am I sending Miss Profanity to your house with an extra-large candy-less candygram, but I’m sending her with a social worker who will be more than happy to relocate your unwanted offspring to one of thousands of couples currently jockeying for position on adoption websites. Who, unlike you pathetic excuse for a human being, would be overjoyed to welcome a healthy baby into their lives. So when people complain about something as obtuse as “oh, not the right gender” – I kind of want to slap them. Repeatedly. (Did I say slap? I meant punch.)

(8) The supposed “friends” – or, worse yet, family members – who seem to think your IF is all about them. I’m so, so sorry that my inability to reproduce at whim is inconveniencing YOU – and that, due to your self-absorbed, ego-centric selfishness, you seem to think that while facing an uncertain future that may very well lead to no biological babies at all, we should just continue to smile pleasantly for photo ops, family dinners, baby showers and other social events. The same people who use your faith against you or offer you incessantly vapid platitudes instead of comforting you, who tell you to “just” adopt as if you had a money tree growing in your backyard. The people to whom the nightmare of having to give up on biological children means nothing because it didn’t happen to them, and it doesn’t affect them. There’s a place in hell for people like that – and a place card with your name on it.

(9) People on infertility communities/forums who have once struggled like the rest of us empty-wombed, sad faced, tissue crumpling, inconsolable women – and now think nothing of posting baby pics as their profile pics. Which then *conveniently* come up next to their comments. On infertility issues. From women without babies. Do I really need to spell this out for you? I’m going to assume that whatever brains you may or may not have started out with either died on the operating table and/or were transferred in utero to your baby – because CLEARLY you lack any sense of compassion, empathy or…what’s that word I’m looking for…oh yeah, TACT. It’s kind of like when your best friend is going on a diet and you sit in front of her chomping on a big, gooey brownie. EVIL!

(10) Last but not least – and this isn’t strictly related to IF but one of my biggest peeves in general – people who can’t distinguish fact from opinion and who, just to make their ignorance more verbosely proactive, then proceed to “screaming” at you – through a computer screen – like they’re ready to hang you from the rafters by your toenails. All because (a) they apparently don’t understand that an opinion is just that – not fact – and that, thanks to a little something called the First Amendment, they’re not the only ones entitled to one; (b) they also have apparently never heard the expression “agree to disagree” – and prefer to demonstrate their discontent through the vehicle of hate. To which I say: have at it, dear, but the joke is on you – because your opinion just stopped being of any consequence to me. In this case I’ll refer you to the wise words of one Master Chief John Urgayle (aka Viggo Mortensen): “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.”

(Also – what’s up with people totally oversharing? I mean, there’s TMI, and then there’s OMG I WANT TO GOUGE OUT MY EYES WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU THINK THIS IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE SHARED WITH THE WORLD AT LARGE??? People! Some things? Should be kept private. I’m not even going to tell you what prompted me to say this because, omg, I think I can taste v-o-m-i-t.)

Feel free to disagree with me – I’m cool with that. Nod your head in secret if you don’t want anyone to know that you actually agree with me but just don’t want to come right out and say so. I’m ok with that too. Because – just to throw out yet another well-placed movie reference – frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Honestly? It’s not that my give a damn’s busted, it’s that I’m really, really tired of people not having any common sense, basic civility and compassion, empathy or the ability to even consider what it would be like to walk a mile in these shoes. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit that, despite a lot of ups and downs in my life – of which IF is only the more pervasive and recent – I’ve got it pretty darn good compared to a lot of other people. I know this. So I really try to keep things in perspective. I get annoyed, frustrated, irate – and then I sit down and think to myself, hmmm, could this be fixed with a cup of tea? Or does this require a bubble bath?

Because, let’s face it, if you or a loved one are not dealing with a potentially/actually fatal disease, or living in a town/country where your daily life entails gun shots, cholera and or lack of basic sanitation, running water and electricity, I’m thinking? Nothing is really that tragic. (Please note that this is IN NOW way directed at anyone who has dealt with m/c or s/b.) So I really, REALLY try to keep my own stuff in check – I whine, moan, groan, cry etc…but I still remember that it could be SO MUCH WORSE. I get up every day thinking about how lucky I still am in the grand scheme of things. I have really bad, dark days – I’ve been struggling with depression for two decades – so sometimes finding the silver lining is really hard work. But I do, even if it sometimes takes me a while.

In the meantime, I’m going to stop apologizing for how I feel and who I am – which, ironically, is advice I’m constantly doling out to other IFers. Because, really? It’s about time for me stop worrying about things that don’t matter and do my best to get back to living

And to end this rant on a positive note, let’s hug it out 🙂

A Crack in the Glass

This weekend has been one of reflection for me. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the struggles of other women who, like me, face the uncertainty of what life has in store for them as they muddle their way through, trying desperately to cling to a sense of themselves instead of letting infertility redefine them in a new, hollow sense of “normal”.

I wanted to wallow in self-pity. I wanted to go and buy myself a self-indulgent cinnamon roll (or three), scarf it down while fat tears rolled down my face, burning in my eyes as I pretended, for a second, that processed sugar could melt away my pain. But I didn’t. Not because I suddenly had a great proclivity towards nutritious food (I’m still working on that), but because I thought to myself, this is what I’ve always done, what I’ve BEEN doing: feeding the pain. Stuffing food on top of it until I’ve shoved it so far down that it’s been replaced by guilt or self-loathing – at times, unbelievably, a preferable choice over the constant screaming in my head that reminds me of the very real possibility that I may end up being one of the unfortunate ones, the ones who never make it across the finish line. No baby. Not now, not ever. Too painful to contemplate – especially when I realize that I miss my husband when he’s at work but am secretly glad for the time alone, when I can cry without seeing the pain in his eyes as he sees my misery, unable to do anything to help me. Sometimes I look at my husband and I think, why does he stay? Why does he still want to be here? I’m broken. There’s no 24-hour repair shop, no super glue, for this.

I took a stroll down memory lane as I sat in an arm chair and opened a journal I kept in 2008 – a burst of color, full of vibrant life, appointments and parties, social events, names I don’t even recognize anymore. I sat there and let my eyes rove over the pages, slowly going through the first few months of the year – the year that I know we wanted to get more serious about “trying” but that eventually started a cascade of personal tragedies in our lives. I stopped when I got to April – having wandered past entries for cards sent and received, birthdays celebrated, pictures glued in haphazardly because it didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect. My life was messy, and I loved every minute of it.

I closed the journal and felt like I was in an empty hall, hearing the echoes of my past. The deaths that came, without warning. The people I thought were friends who turned away – too busy with their own lives, it turned out. Or maybe it was because I stopped being who I had once been. Maybe it was because they saw death reflected in my eyes. First, I felt nothing. Then I was hurt, angry, and felt betrayed. Where were the people whose children I’d comforted, whose birthdays I’d celebrated, whose pregnancies I’d cheered for?

Now, looking back, I think it wasn’t anyone’s fault. I couldn’t function, couldn’t cope – too many lossses in such quick succession. I couldn’t talk about it – still can’t – because I thought, who wants to hear about it anyway? Who would understand? Just like a woman who’s had a miscarriage talking to a young girl in college, or a women in her 80s whose friends have all died trying to explain the passing of time to a child. We can’t understand the experiences of others, and empathy – I’ve learned – isn’t something that comes easily to many.

I tried to fake my way through it. I tried to smile, “get back out there”. But I felt nothing. Surrounded by people, I felt as alone as on a deserted island. As someone who’s not religious, I found myself struggling to such an extent that I contemplated, not once, but several times whether I should talk to a minister. I needed…something. I knew, deep down, that God, religion, wasn’t the answer for me – but there was nothing else, either. I had no child to keep me connected to the cycle of life. All I saw, all I see, is death.

I’m supposed to reach out to others. I’m supposed to try to make new friends, to connect with other people. But I don’t know if I still have it in me. I feel like I’ve been trying to climb the same mountain forever, the end nowhere in sight, and every little progress I made the proverbial “one step forward, two steps back”. You’re not supposed to admit defeat. You’re not supposed to ask for help. You’re supposed to smile, take medication if necessary – but, as a woman, you must function at all cost. You must keep smiling, through the tears, through the pain, no matter what. It’s what you’re expected to do. We’re daughters, sisters, wives, friends if we’re lucky – and we’re expected to shoulder the burdens passed onto us as well as our own. Where others feel no empathy, no sympathy, no guilt or remorse, we pick up their lot and carry it too. We question our place in the world, our lives, our relationships – are we good enough? Are we worthy? Maybe if we just try harder. Smile just a little wider.

But after a while, there are signs of strain. I remember reading something about how continued, long-term stress actually frays the muscles of the heart – or something to that effect – and I had a mental image of electrical cables being severed, sparks flying, injuries ensuing. My heart is hurting. It has been hurting for so, so long. I’m not doing enough to heal it because I don’t know how anymore, I don’t know how to make it better. We retreat into ourselves when we hurt, and eventually, it seems, people just forget that it was ever any different. They forget that we were once vibrant, engaging people – interesting, loving, funny. I was funny! I was hilarious! I laughed all the time – unabashedly, unreservedly, without apology. I was open to meeting new people because it was my favorite part of being alive: the promise of new ideas, new friends, new adventures.Now all I see are strangers all around me.

Tonight, I thought I’d have some iced coffee. I had already poured the dry contents into my very favorite glass and was boiling water, which I use a little bit of to dissolve everything first before adding milk. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular as I poured just enough into the glass…and heard a loud, unmistakable crack. I held up the glass, and sure enough, the boiling water had obviously caused it to crack. Now, this isn’t an ordinary glass – it’s a pretty hefty, thick glass, so I was shocked that it had cracked in the first place. But as I turned the glass in my hands and saw the extensive crack – splitting the bottom and running clean upwards diagonally about 2/3 to the top – I had another epiphany. The water was like a metaphor for all the crap that’s been happening in my life – all the drama, the ups and downs – and the closer it got to the boiling point, the more I was getting to my wit’s end. And when I poured the boiling water into the glass, it was like all the things that have happened in the last 5 years came together in a visual display of my broken heart. 

But then I realized something else. This is my favorite glass. Obviously, I’m mad that there’s a huge crack in it now – but as I ran my hands over the crack, over and over again, I marveled at the fact that the glass remained intact. In fact, no liquid spilled out at all.

And I realized that there may be a crack in the glass, but if it’s strong enough to hold together – so am I.

The Ghosts of Yesteryear

This seems to be the year of epiphanies for me – lately they seem to keep tumbling around my head like bales of hay, suddenly so obvious and unavoidable that it begs the question: what took me so long to realize this?

I had a late night. I didn’t sleep well. I stumbled out of bed much later than I’d planned and just about managed not to break any appendages in search of coffee – before which you might as well not even talk to me because I will most likely eat you alive. Once my brain cells appeared alert enough to be entrusted with operating heavy machinery (aka driving), I made a brief dash out into the real world to run some errands. I kept zapping through my playlist because nothing quite seemed to fit right – I wasn’t feeling melancholic (yay!), wasn’t in the mood for country, didn’t “feel” the overwhelming ooomph of techno. I finally stopped on a completely unlikely selection for a bright, sunny Saturday morning: Happy Phantom by Tori Amos. It’s on the only album of hers that I own called Little Earthquakes, which I’ve owned and “abused” since I was a college student and an incurable insomniac in my dorm introduced me to her music. (At least I think it was her – I really can’t remember who it was. Who can remember all the people they met in college dorms? They don’t even have name tags!)

The important thing is that, usually, when I play Tori Amos, it’s a bad sign. It’s my personal soundtrack for break-ups, heartache, disappointments of a magnitude so excessive that their tremors couldn’t be measured on the seismic scale. I’ve had moments where I’ve played the same song probably a dozen times in a row because the semi-melodious and somewhat discordant strings of notes combined with lyrics that are open to interpretation (and beg the question of just how much alcohol and/or narcotics were involved in their creation) have always been perfect for my most morose moods. I don’t like to cry in public or even in front of people I know if I an avoid it and I figure that it’s better than drowning my sorrows in a more destructive way. Sometimes music just helps hone in on the epicenter of the pain, which you can then excavate after lamenting on your misfortune, cursing whoever or whatever it to blame (since, obviously, you’re completely without fault – duh). 

Happy Phantom, though, is a “kicky” little tune – it really seems to skip and hop around so that you can almost imagine someone’s fingers dancing across the keys of the piano…which, as I was listening to it in the car today, coincided with passing a pond, on the outskirts of which a duck or other fowl was surrounded by a whole smattering of tiny, downy little chicks. Awwwww!

They were so incredibly cute that I almost stopped to admire them – but thankfully had the presence of mind to remember that (a) it probably wasn’t the best idea to suddenly brake and swerve to admire this display of the Animal Kingdom version of universal fecundity from which I continue to be excluded; (b) I really didn’t want to give Mama Duck/Goose or whatever feathered friend a heart attack while trying to snap her head around in a 360 degree rotation like the Exorcist, trying to make sure all dozen or so chicks were accounted for before the Crazy Woman careened too close for comfort and turned them all into pate.

And there it was – BAM! Another epiphany. (Sidebar: I finally understand Emeril Lagasse’s need for vocal expressiveness. I bet after the 3rd or 4th time when he thought of some genius way to spice up a boring old baked chicken thigh, he realized that this kind of repetitive epiphany was deserving of a loud exclamation.)

In watching the cute little chicks against the song I was listening to – all too familiar, I’m afraid – I suddenly realized that I felt like a ghost. It was the most curious feeling – not like an out of body experience, of course, but it was like I finally found the right way to express what I’ve been feeling for such a long time. For far too long now, I’ve been feeling like a bystander – in my own life, but also in life in general. I feel like I’m standing still while the world around me moves on – without me. I bemoan the life I once had, the dreams I still refuse to give up on (I’m stubborn that way) but that I sometimes wonder, in the dark when it’s just me and my own thoughts: am I just deluding myself? Am I in denial, refusing to accept the inevitable conclusion that it’s just not going to happen for us – or maybe not meant to? I feel, for lack of a better way to express it, like a ghost of the woman I used to be. I feel invisible – and not the good kind where you can sneak around and pinch people or flick someone who annoyed you. (I may have smirked briefly while contemplating the potential. But I’m thinking? Ghosts probably can’t drink coffee or eat ice cream, and that’s a non-starter for me.)

And then, of course, by the time the sun started to turn orange much later in the day, the Happy Phantom started feeling a little less perky. It may have had something to do with trolling through other blog posts – one of which almost caused an instant heart attack when I read on a fellow DOR blogger’s post that menopause is expected within 2-3 years of a primary ovarian insufficiency diagnosis. I tried very hard not to panic because (a) I don’t actually know if diminished ovarian reserve and primary ovarian insufficiency are the same (although writing it now, they sure sound the same to me – nerts!), (b) there’s really nothing I can do about that RIGHT. NOW. You know, other than freak out and scream WHY THE HELL DID NOBODY TELL ME THAT???

So my choices at the moment are:

1. Freak out, start bawling, contemplate life as a barren woman before I even hit 40 – at which point I’ll have such a huge midlife crisis that it’ll make RuPaul look like a Soccer Mom.

2. Panic and start dialing. Oh, wait. Who do you call? This clearly isn’t a case for Ghostbusters (hah, I just realized I could’ve made a totally pithy connection with the whole Happy Phantom thing – but can’t think, must panic!) and I don’t exactly have an RE on speed dial. Did I already mention that before. WE DON’T HAVE AN RE! I AM FREAKING OUT NOW! THIS IS ME FREAKING OUT!!!

3. Take a deep breath and look for the Valium. Oh wait, that’s right – I’m not actually a pharmacy. Or a doctor with a prescription pad. Double Nerts!

4. Take another deep breath, tell myself that drugs aren’t the answer – alcohol is! (Which should be an indication of the level of desperation I’m experiencing, since my alcohol intake is roughly 1 drink per YEAR. (What? I’m going to waste money on booze when I could buy new shoes? Me thinks not!)

5. Attempt to calm down and not hyperventilate while reminding myself that NEITHER drugs NOR alcohol are the solution to any of life’s problems – especially since neither are going to do anything for those shriveled raisinettes masquerading as my ovaries. (I should come clean here and admit that I have absolutely no clue what my ovaries actually look like.)

6. Start crying because there’s no ice cream.

7. Sober up and think about an action plan.

8. Go back to crying because there’s no ice cream. Or chocolate. Contemplate eating the baking chocolate before remembering that it tastes like coal bricks might. (I have no way of proving this, btw.)

9. Play Tori Amos for the rest of the evening and curl up in a fetal position, trying not to think about the irony of twisting my body into a pretzel in a replication of something that I’m trying to accomplish inside my body, not with it. I’m not installation art – although if it’s going to sell enough tickets to pay for IVF, I might just consider it at this point…

10. Take a breath. Sigh. Cry. Curse. Cry some more. Write about it. Think about it. Cry even more.

And make a damn decision, once and for all.

So we’ve come full circle to playing Tori Amos and hating doctors who fail to fully inform us of all the ramifications of our conditions – and once again establishing that, in MY house, chocolate isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity!

In The Trenches

For the past week, I’ve been fighting a head cold that has been leaving me feeling really awful – depleted of both physical energy and mental acuity. Nothing I tried would make it better: not chicken soup, not orange juice, not Benadryl or the rest of the medicine cabinet. It’s a miracle that any one of my desperate concoctions didn’t kill me – because, honestly, if I’d thought arsenic or rat poison would’ve made me feel better, I probably would’ve tried it.

The upside of feeling really crappy physically is that it took my mind off a lot of the mental anguish for a while – at least to some extent. AF with her perfect timing chimed in to make it all a big mess of aches and pains – a nice preview of old age, if I ever make it that far. And while I’m still trying desperately not to freak out about how my period has suddenly taken a dramatic change since my single Clomid cycle in early summer – going from its usual 7-8 days to 4, which I would normally find a great cause for celebration, were it not that I’m one of those hapless women dealt the dastardly card of DOR (diminished ovarian reserve) – all of these things coinciding together made me feel sick as a dog.

But! Great excuse to lounge on the couch and watch crappy tv – which is really all that Netflix has to offer (I won’t even elaborate on that, since anyone who also has a Netflix subscription will undoubtedly have noticed all the bizarre crap on there that NO ONE in their right mind would give a fig about, never mind want to watch).

Mostly, though, I pretty much just schlepped myself between the couch and the bed, possible moaning like an octogenarian as I shuffled between resting places with a variously stuffed up and dripping nose, my head feeling like an over-sized, overripe watermelon begging to take first prize at a county fair. I slept A LOT. I hurt even more. I wanted chocolate, but there wasn’t any at home – and I was in no condition to leave the house, and DH has been working way too much for me to ask him to make a detour on his way home. He would have, if I had asked him – but, c’mon. I’m not that self-indulgent. I figured if I was THAT desperate, I could always eat the baking chocolate. (FYI: I didn’t. I’ve tried that before – and it basically tastes like what I imagine licking an ashtray would taste like.)

Tonight, I finally got a chance to catch up on some reading – and came across a post on someone else’s blog about friendship. Or, rather, the ending of it.

It’s a pretty raw subject for me. In the past few years, DH and I have lost almost everyone in our lives to either death, estrangement or some version of IF-related “amnesia” – which is what happens when people learn of your predicament and suddenly lose your phone number, address, and/or other identifying characteristics. To say that we’re operating without a support system would be a huge understatement because we basically don’t have one anymore.

In the past few months, as I’ve read more stories from others – I’ve been shocked to see that the amount of people whose experiences mirror ours largely outweigh the stories of people who have warm, caring and supportive friends & family. In most cases, people try to be open about their struggle – and find themselves suddenly bumped off the invite list, excluded from parties or other social events.

Some stories I’ve read have been much, much worse than what we’ve been through. I won’t repeat them here to respect the privacy of others, but let’s just say that there have been times where I’ve cried for someone else that I haven’t even met – and times where reading what someone else had been put through at the hands of a family member made ME want to slap the crap out of the person in question.

But those are the extremes. Far more common, it seems, are the friendships that fray at the edges as the friend struggling with IF continues to do so over an extended period of time. It seems that – as I’ve experienced first-hand with grief – people expect there to be a time-limit on how much they’re expected to give or invest on a particular “problem”. As though your struggle is a sort of community service – and after X amount of hours spent listening and/or discussing the topic, it’s dealt with and moved “off the docket”. NEXT!

Of course it’s not like that for us – for those who continue to struggle through the first, second, third pregnancies of friends, family members, coworkers. Years go by, and we are like waylaid passengers on a platform, watching as the trains pull into the station, people getting on and off, trains pulling away again…but we remain the same, rooted in place, unable to move forward.

I imagine that dealing with infertility is somewhat similar to a street urchin from the days of yore peeking in through the windows of a fancy restaurant or butcher’s shop – tantalized by the smells of rich foods…so close within reach, and yet still denied access to it. I think it’s quite the same for us – surrounded by women who are pregnant, who have babies, multiple children, and it’s all right there in front of us, taunting us, mocking us – from the pages of magazines, tv commercials, the back of a catalog. Everywhere you look, companies are turning to The Mother and Child images to sell us on everything from band-aids to pencils, shoes to breakfast items.

So what do you do, when you struggle with infertility? You keep your chin up, you smile, you trudge on. You’re a warrior! You’re a woman of the 21st century – you’ve got this! You confide in your friends, help them plan their baby showers, ooh and aah over their baby pictures, attend kids birthday parties, sign up dutifully as the doting aunt, godmother, best friend in attendance etc.

But time doesn’t stand still for you – it goes by. Slowly, at first, it seems. I’ve got plenty of time, there’s no rush, you tell yourself. Little by little, your friends start dropping off – they now have new “mommy” friends, and they now go on play dates with their mommy friends and all their kids. They’d invite you, they say, but they don’t want you to feel weird, awkward, left out. You smile, say thank you for considering your feelings. Soon, they stop trying to make excuses – they just stop calling. And you stop calling too – because you know you feel it too: you’ve reached the end of the road. There are no sad good-byes here. There is no acknowledgment of the hurt, the pain, the sorrow of the one left behind without a baby of her own – because how could there be? It would require everyone else to stop thinking about themselves, to interrupt the happiness in their lives to allow the sadness in your life to affect them in any way, shape or form.

This is the part where you find yourself feeling as though you unwittingly contracted a highly contagious disease, or like you just stepped into a dog turd and walked all over someone’s antique Persian rug with it: you’ve become persona non grata.

Not all relationships are like that though. Some people you meet later in life – when they already have children. It wasn’t so weird, you told yourself, because it’s not like you were going to have to worry about which one of you would get pregnant first. But then there’s a surprise or unplanned pregnancy – and you’re devastated. Or one of you moves away, and has an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

Friendships are hard to maintain, under the best of circumstances. When we’re young, we’re thrown together with others all the time – it’s easy to make friends, even if you’re not the most popular, the prettiest, the smartest: there’s still someone out there for you. Whether it’s in school, church, at camp, after-school activities, in college…you’re constantly around tons of people. How could you not make friends? But as we get older, move, get jobs, move again, get married, move yet again etc…you lose contact with people. Sure, some people think they have lots of friends. See how many of those friends they’ll still be in touch with after 6 months if they got rid of their FB and/or Twitter accounts.

The trials of infertility are many – but the first casualty is the belief that your “friendships” will last forever. For a lucky few, they will have friends and family who will be there for them for as long as it takes. They will go to appointments with them, be a shoulder to cry on, hug them when they’re in despair, take them out when they don’t want to face the world.

But for most of us, it becomes like a war that’s fought in the trenches – and you find out who your REAL friends are.

What feels down, must feel up again…eventually

It’s no secret that I’ve been feeling down lately – a lot. After several years that have kicked me down so many times that I honestly contemplated just staying down for the count (because, really, who was I kidding? I was TIRED of life kicking the crap out of me), pulling the covers over my head with a resolute “wake me up when I’m too old to care”, it’s almost surprising to me that I still have AHA! moments that seem to promise an alternative.

This morning has been one such eye-opening cascade of events.

As you may have glimpsed from previous posts, my status of social butterfly is no more – and hasn’t been for quite some time. My wings haven’t been clipped so much as they’ve basically been stomped on, torn out and turned into dust (translation: the social butterfly has become social hermit. The fact that I recently Googled “social hermit” and, when coming across a site called “hermit crab patch” actually thought it may be a cutesy name for an IF community dealing with social isolation should tell you just how far gone I am with this issue.)

Leaving the house – something that should be of no consequence and that I used to give little to no thought – has become a necessity that I dread and basically avoid as much as I can. It’s become an undertaking against which I actually have to steel myself – that’s how much I don’t want to do it. Sad, I know. But, on days where I absolutely can’t avoid doing so – like today – I try to get it over with as quickly as humanly possible to avoid interactions with others, in the desperate attempt to reduce to near impossibility any heart-wrenchingly painful incidents involving pregnant women and/or cute babies. I think I may have developed a full-on phobia.

It doesn’t help that I’ve had a non-stop headache for the last 3 days, haven’t been able to sleep properly, that I’m fairly sure I’m in the iron grip of PMS and that – assuming AF makes her unwelcome visit on schedule – I’ll have my monthly reminder of NOT being pregnant yet again, this time on 9/11. At least it’ll be perfectly appropriate for me to bawl on a national day of mourning.

So I guess it shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock when I had barely driven out of my drive-way and hadn’t even made it out of our subdivision when I felt the familiar tears welling up, pooling in my eyes before cascading in big rivulets down my cheeks. And while it’s still so bright outside that I don’t have to make up an excuse for wearing sunglasses, having to constantly wipe my eyes beneath them is kind of a dead give away that something is amiss.

Because I’m safety conscious and I know that operating heavy machinery requires an “all hands on deck” kind of approach – to which all-out bawling is just a little detrimental – I try not to do that in the car. My usual remedy of choice is to (a) crank up the volume on my stereo, and (b) obviously choose something that is unlikely to trigger some existential crisis or nervous breakdown. Normally, this means something like thumping dance music – or, if I’m feeling cantankerous, maybe Nickelback. If I think there’s a good chance for a quick “turn that frown upside down”, I’ll probably go for something quirky and fun like The Ataris, All-American Rejects etc.

This morning? No dice. My car was practically vibrating with techno music – and I was struggling not to sob. It was ridiculous. What was even worse is that our post office – this morning’s first destination – is really, really close to our house. Like less than 10 minutes driving distance. So I started thinking about how I really didn’t want to show up there with super puffy, red eyes that either begged the question of WHY – or made it even worse if someone didn’t ask and my obviously puffy, cry-baby eyes just looked pathetically into the eyes of my post office worker who wouldn’t know what to say. The result: instant mortification and, I guarantee, more crying. The only thing that was even more horrifying was the thought that said postal officer would offer a kind word and actually ask what was wrong or if I was ok – and that this show of kindness would cause me to spontaneously burst into tears in front of a crowd of strangers in line behind me. For someone who doesn’t like to cry in front of other people, this is just about as bad as it gets.

Thankfully, I somehow managed to get a grip by the time I made it to the office. Better yet, I had such a pleasant, light-hearted interaction with the post office clerk that I completely forgot all about pressing the pause button on my impending sob-fest.

Once again, I learned a valuable lesson. I keep looking for the BIG things in my life – a baby, or a miracle of equal import and significance when I should be paying more attention to the little things happening around me all day, every day. I really need to quit whining and feeling sorry for myself. Maybe then I’ll realize not just how good I have it, but finally be able to start taking the necessary steps to get myself out of this mind fog that’s been keeping me down.

And just then, as if on cue, a song played that hit the nail on the head:

“The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you’ll finally get it right.”

(excerpted from In This Diary by The Ataris)

And you know what? That’s exactly what I’m going to do.