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.

Running With Stabby Nachos

Sometimes, there are moments in this stupid IF journey that feel like someone kicked me in the face without so much as a “Hello, I’m going to rearrange your visage for free!” My heart skips a beat, the familiar constriction in my throat is a foreboding of impending tears. But I’m trying to turn a corner on a lifetime of guilt and self-loathing, of feeling like everything under the sun is somehow my fault – no matter who or what may be the real root of it.

So when I checked my email and received a reply that wasn’t meant for me because, you know, some people still haven’t figured out how NOT to reply to the entire list that the original email was addressed to – I was confronted with the following:

“I didn’t know babies snored.”

A perfectly innocuous sentence, one would think – right? Nothing to get upset about, make a fuss about, certainly not worthy of a meltdown. But for a split second I kind of wanted to put my fist through the computer screen. WHAT. THE.  !!@#(*@##$^&#%#%$. !!!! (Look at me getting creative and trying hard not to swear. Yay me! Of course, what I really need at times like these is my very own Russel Dunbar – someone who can tell others that they “kinda are” total a$$faces. OOPS.)

For anyone who’s what we in the “industry” – bwahahahaha – like to call an IF veteran*, my reaction is probably not at all surprising. If you’ve been TTC for 2 months you’ll probably fail to grasp why I didn’t just think, awwwww, how cute – snoring baby! Must tweet! Oh, no – not cute or sweet to me. And not because, obviously, I would SO think it was cute if this was MY baby snoring. I can imagine myself perched over a crib, or gazing down at a little drooling mini-ME slobbering and snoring like my grandfather after a copious meal – and yes, if I were in that situation, with MY baby in my arms, I would absolutely think it was cute. I’d probably chuckle. I’d marvel at how otherwise irritating or annoying things are so much less so when done by babies. I’d sigh contentedly because, finally, I’d know the bliss of motherhood.

Instead, I was sitting there all by myself – and the only snoring I was hearing was from one of my dogs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of cute in a way because she has the weirdest way of sleeping sometimes – but those 5 words made me feel like someone had spat in my face. After chewing tobacco. Yeah, think about that for a minute.

For a split second, I was so irate that I wanted to fire back a reply to the person – someone who knows me, knows my situation, and therefore should OBVIOUSLY have realized that this was not information that would be happily received by me, especially in relation to the baby of someone I’m not on speaking terms with. I wanted to email back and say, could you PLEASE stop using modern technology if you haven’t grasped the basic concepts thereof and are apparently unaware that you’re launching emotional grenades my way? Or should I just block you? Because, you know – this stuff is NOT good for my waistline.

But of course I knew that I was overreacting. I knew that it wasn’t intentional. The person in question doesn’t even get how absolutely horrific the mere possibility of a life without biological offspring would be – having not been confronted with this issue personally – and therefore also has absolutely no idea that the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant sentence, picture or event can cause an emotional earthquake.

So I thought – hah, I’m just going to write my annoyance away somewhere else. Because, lately, I’m finally starting to realize more and more that all the things I’ve carried around with me for years – it’s not always about me. Sometimes, it’s not my fault – it’s not me. It’s someone else who’s being an idiot, who’s being inconsiderate, who doesn’t have the wherewithal or brain power to think beyond the tip of their nose because it doesn’t affect them personally. My husband has been trying to tell me this for years – bless his heart, he’s always been my biggest champion and has been working overtime for a decade to repair the damage done by people who shall remain nameless. So, rather than lash out, stomp my feet or shove a big cupcake in my mouth (although, the truth here is that I don’t have a cupcake and I’m to lazy to make one from scratch. Ahem.), I thought to myself: yep, that’s just typical of someone who doesn’t THINK. BEFORE. THEY. ACT. And If I’m going to feel that way about someone else, maybe I should apply the same standards to myself.

At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the headline of this blog post. Honestly? Nothing at all. You see, when I sat down to write, I was feeling really annoyed and irritated – and for some reason, the expression “running with scissors” came into my mind. But I was already starting to turn the corner and kind of laughing about how something as silly as a snoring baby had almost derailed my self-composure (yet another lovely side effect of long-term IF – the gift that keeps on crapping on your doorstep)…and somehow thought about the hilarious story that floated around years ago and had been forwarded to me by a friend. It was a parody about the “feud” between then BFFs Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton, which referenced Stavros Niarchos III, heir of a Greek shipping magnate, incorrectly as “Stabby Nachos”:

http://gofugyourself.com/the-simple-fug4-10-2006

I still remember being in tears from laughing so hard the first time I read this (snorting and guffawing may have been involved) – a perfect (albeit fictitious) soliloquy of vapid reality tv “stars”. I will admit that, even though I think Paris Hilton is just awful, I kind of thought The Simple Life was a little bit hilarious – although very obviously staged – and Nicole Richie may have been the only “celebrity” I didn’t hate for being pregnant. Because, you know, it was either motherhood or death by anorexia. Plus? How cute was her daughter Harlow? And I will say that I just ADORE her fashion style since she became a mom.

ANYWAY. 

My point is that writing is cathartic and sometimes finding the right way to put your feelings into words – even if it’s in a diary that only you read – can act like a pressure valve. Plus, laughter really is the best medicine – you know, so long as the source isn’t excessive schadenfreude.

And you know what? I feel better already. 🙂

================================================================

(*NB: I’m not sure I “technically” qualify as a “veteran” since I haven’t yet gone through a litany of ARTs. But since I have been on the TTC rollercoaster for what seems like FOREVER and am starting to feel as old as dust, I’m going to consider that my honorary badge. Sad, but true. )

Absence

So…It’s been two weeks. And before you sit there with bated breath, wondering if this is a happy or not so happy news post – it’s neither. At least not for me personally. I’m not pregnant, I still have never been – so I guess the silver lining is that I’ve also not had a miscarriage. At least not so far.

But that’s sort of what caused my absence: miscarriage. Not mine, obviously – but that of someone I don’t even really know. A woman I’m “friends” with on an infertility site – and I use the word loosely because I don’t want to overstate the relationship since, again, I obviously don’t really know her – had recently finally gotten a well-deserved BFP (for you newbies that means Big Fat Positive, aka PREGNANT. Yeah, I know – the lingo is overwhelming at first – but trust me when I tell you that you’ll be throwing it around like a well-roped lasso before your next-door neighbor can say “Yeehaw!”).

Of course I was kind of jealous. OF COURSE! I mean, we still haven’t made any real progress in finding a new RE – partly because we have other issues that we’re trying to deal with – so OF COURSE I’m frustrated, annoyed, anxious…wondering if DOR as already turned into POF and I’m just not aware of it, asking for a punch in the face the next time someone does lab work and I’ll be begging someone for a Costco size vat of Valium to bring me down from the meltdown that would ensue.

But I digress.

The truth is that while I’m not really a “community” type of person as such – and yes, I know, it’s not a pc thing to say but I’m just more comfortable one on one than I am with a ton of people – this has become very different in the face of infertilty. I think it’s because, when you get to my age, my situation, when you’ve been through what I’ve been through, you sit there feeling just slightly desperate. Pathetic, even. You want to slink away, your proverbial tail tucked between your legs because you feel like less of a (wo)man. You want to scream, cry, punch someone, punch the wall, race down the highway just because, you know what, if the universe isn’t going to give you a baby, then why should you care about anything else in the world?

It has been hard for me not to scream at people who procreate like bunnies and then do ridiculously stupid things like, oh, I don’t know – teeter totter around in mile-high heels because, oh that’s not stupid at all; or strap themselves into the maternity version of Spanx so that they can constrictor-boa the crap out their unborn child in the name of whatever ill-conceived notion of “fashion” they have (and I won’t even say anything about priorities because, hey, someone who’s concerned about looking fat because they’re pregnant is clearly a grade A moron). Or people who exclaim that pregnancy is sooooo boring (so please stop showing me pregnant teenagers on tv – because, really? I don’t need to convulse with projectile vomit). Or that their baby number ten thousand isn’t the right gender (no problemo – fork it on over!). I’ll spare you the apoplectic maelstrom of profanity that this creates in my head. Let’s just say that if and when I have a child – or, miracle of miracles, more than one healthy baby – I’ll be converting to a new religion: eternal gratitude. Shiny happy people indeed.

Anyway. The exception to my poorly veiled disdain – bordering on hate at times – for people who have ZERO concept for how blessed they are by never having to experience the raw, excruciating pain of primary IF sometimes falls away in the most unexpected ways – and this was the case when R. got pregnant. Even though we’ve never met, I was incredibly happy for her – I wanted to give her a hug and say, YOU DID IT! She deserved a slice of cake, her feet put up on cushy pillows while we – including the rest of her IF sisters – took in a chick flick marathon during which she smiled calmly and refused a glass of wine for the first time. (Yes, I have an active imagination – and yes, in another life I probably would’ve been a screenwriter for chick flicks. But that’s neither here nor there.)

I periodically checked in, not wanting to be to pushy because – again, we’re not friends in real life and I thought, maybe it’s a little lame to be living vicariously this way. But it was kind of like a beacon of hope for me. You see – R. and I are pretty much in the same boat. We’re more or less the same age, have the same problems with infertility. So her success? It made me think that I, too, had a chance to be successful. It made me feel less frustrated with our current situation because I thought, ok – it can still happen for me. It happened for R.! THERE IS HOPE! And let me tell you something: for a woman dealing with primary infertility in her mid to late 30s, hope is like Pringles – once you get a taste of it, you can’t get enough. (I was going to say it’s like crack but – well, I don’t know anything about drugs and it seems somewhat inappropriate to reference crack in the presence of baby dreams. Ahem.)

So when I saw her post that the second ultrasound had been silent – no heartbeat – I felt my own heart almost stop. I choked up as I read her post. I tried not to cry. I was angry. I was FURIOUS. As I read, I felt my heart breaking for her – through the words, it was as though she was telling me what had happened to my face…and somehow, I almost felt like it was me, like I was the one. I know. I know it sounds stupid, crazy – maybe even selfish or self-absorbed. I wouldn’t blame you at all for shaking your head or thinking I’m an idiot for feeling this way. But I was absolutely devastated for R. – not just because of what she was going to lose, what she was going to have to go through (which is absolutely unimaginable to me) – but also because it was like, in that moment, the tiny little flicker of hope was extinguished. The success story that I was pinning my own hopes on…gone.

And then, of course, I felt like a horrible person. I was angry at myself because I thought, why am I making this about myself? I wrote her a heartfelt message, telling her how sorry I was – and my words felt so hollow. Not because I didn’t mean them, which I did of course. They felt hollow because I thought – it doesn’t mean anything; it doesn’t help. It doesn’t change the situation. It doesn’t make her wake up the next day with this nightmare behind her any sooner; or, better yet, having woken up and this actually having been just a nightmare – her being able to shake it off with a shudder and think, thank God it was just a dream. It made me realize that, as much as I’ve always relied on words to express myself – and I do, believe me – there are times when no words can be enough.

After that, I just felt so empty and deflated. I was sad, tired – I’ve been having a hard time sleeping for a month or so anyway, and nothing seems to be getting me back to a normal pattern. I tried reading. I tried getting some fresh air. I tried re-organizing things. I did 4 loads of laundry one day. I spent two days virtually attached to the couch, watching tv. Constantly having this dull ache in my heart and a tug of war in my head: the paralyzing fear of never having been pregnant and what my already-low AMH from a year ago might mean for me pitted against the guilt I felt for taking someone else’s tragedy so personally.

Eventually, these past few days, I’ve been feeling a little better. I thought about how I’ve spent so much of my life feeling bad about myself. Always questioning how other people perceived me thanks to certain somebodies I won’t mention; never feeling good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. And in dealing with infertility, it seems like just another way that life is telling me that I’m a failure. But I thought to myself: I’m an adult. It’s MY job to rephrase the crap in my head. Who gives a fig about what someone else said? What someone else thinks? I’m not a bad person. I’m considerate. I go out of my way to try to be nice to others, to be empathetic, kind and polite. I’m not perfect, I’m HUMAN. At what point did I accept that external values should define me?

So you know what – here’s the truth. I HATE that I have to deal with infertility. It feels like it’s just another way that I suck at life. But I also know that there are tons of women who deal with this – women who are young and healthy, women who are in worse shape than I am, women who are single, divorced etc. In the grand scheme of things, I have to believe that I’m going to get through this and that infertility is not meant to define me. I’m not going to be one of those people who call themselves an “infertile” – to me that doesn’t even make sense. It’s something I struggle with, not something that’s part of my character!

Anyways. That’s it for today’s offering. I know it’s not especially original or poetic – but it’s from the heart. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t.

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.