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.

The Box of Denial

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

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

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

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

Ridiculous, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Gremlin. Ugh. Still working on that…)

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

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

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

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

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

The Comeback Kid

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

You’d be mistaken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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.

A Car is NOT a Baby

Is it me or has everyone jumped on the bandwagon and is using babies, kids and mommies as their running theme to push advertise new products? Evidently, no one needs a new deodorant more than a heavily pregnant woman inexplicably sporting high heels (something that I still think defies logic) or a new checking account. I had no idea that pregnancy makes you especially stinky or that some women experience cravings not for food but for a new financial institution – I guess you learn something new every day! And if those seemingly benign ads haven’t already made your stomach turn, then there’s always the ones with the soft, sweet music playing to black and white vignettes of mommy and baby – or some version thereof. Johnson & Johnson, of course, reign supreme in the ram-a-pitchfork-through-my-achy-breaky-heart niche.

It seems that we, of the infertility world, are not the only ones obsessed with babies.

Did I say obsessed? I mean, interested in. Yeah. That’s what I meant. Enthusiastic! About! BABIES!!

(I’m trying not to grit my teeth right now).

So it’s not bad enough that you can’t go to the grocery store without an onslaught of celebrity and pseudo-celebrity “baby bump watch” gossip rag covers assaulting your senses – no, instead, now your damn tv is also in on it! And it’s not just the obvious tv ads – it’s also the sudden infusion of All Things Pregnancy in what seems like EVERY. DAMN. SHOW. ON. EARTH. Because apparently it makes perfect sense to develop a plot line where life is created by combining the genetic material of a werewolf and a vampire (The Vampire Diairies/The Originals). Or derailing a plot line by giving some teeny boppers who haven’t even made it to college yet the enormous responsibility of parenthood, then killing the “dad” which causes the “mom” to have a miscarriage (Revenge). And even when you reach into the past to watch something on DVD, you run into the forgotten episodes involving Andrea Zuckerman of the original Beverly Hills 90120 exclaiming that pregnancy is not at all blissful because morning sickness sucks. Which, in my humble opinion, is why you should wait to have babies until you’re no longer such a baby yourself – but that’s besides the point.

And even though I know all of this stuff is not real life but fiction in so far as none of the aforementioned are “reality tv” (which is also anything but real but falls into a different category of “fiction”), I found myself getting annoyed, for a split second and thinking – wth, I can’t have a baby and they’re trying to sell me on the Immaculate Conception involving something that’s supposed to be DEAD? SERIOUSLY?? Or the fact that, apparently, after losing your bf/baby daddy AND your baby, you still manage to get a flawless blowout and strut around in your best designer duds spouting venom on command. The only thing that I’ve realized from all this is (a) some fiction is BAD fiction; (b) some people really don’t deserve to have babies. Even if they’re fictitious.

But let’s get back to my original point about commercials that variously make me bawl or want to reach through the tv screen like a Poltergeist/Freddie Krueger and strangle whoever is constantly assaulting my raw, wounded heart by reminding me NON-STOP of how, apparently, everyone in the world – including the fictional and, oh yeah, technically dead – can make a baby and I can’t.

My favorite one – and I mean this with a heavy sense of sarcasm – has to be the most recent commercial by insurance company Nationwide. It starts out with a larger-than-life baby sitting in a driveway, being hosed down by a guy…I’ll let you check this out for yourself in case you haven’t seen it already:

Admittedly, if I hadn’t been so taken in my this GINORMOUS (and, fyi, super cute) baby filling my entire screen, I might have clued into the fact that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t about an actual baby at all. But all I could see was the baby – I felt like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Something inside of me cried because I just wanted to take it and hold it (you know, after I dried it off and flicked the guy with the water hose back to whatever rock he crawled out from under). The physical enormity of the baby suddenly represented, in the most painful way, years of hoping – and feeling my dreams crushed as I lost a little more of my soul with each passing year. The proportion of the baby vs the guy is how I feel about motherhood and infertility at this point – and how something that should’ve been a normal development in our lives, our marriage, has become the biggest “bundle”. Not of joy, but of pain.

Needless to mention, it’s a metaphor: it’s about how this guy’s car is HIS baby – and how Nationwide is going to give him the best deal/protection/peace of mind in case of the inevitable snafu. But I was – I was totally blind-sighted. I actually thought, ok this is about how a baby is a huge responsibility, how it’s part of every living breathing moment of your life, and how you’re going to want the best of everything to protect your little bundle of joy. At the end of the commercial, I was torn between rolling my eyes and wanting to send Russel Dunbar to whoever came up with this to tell them “Someone thinks you’re an a$$face – and ya kinda are.”

Sorry, Nationwide – a car is NOT a baby.

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 🙂

Fostering an Idea: The Sign

Anyone who was a teenager in the 90s will be very familiar with this song – and it’s the first thing that popped into my head after what just happened.

But let me back-track for a moment so you can understand – once I get to the point (eventually) – why this moved me to write a second blog post today.

It may surprise you to learn that my husband and I were not the kind of people who talked about babies before we got married. Or as newlyweds even. I mention this only in passing because I recently read a story somewhere about someone who basically started her TTC journey either on her honeymoon or as soon as they got back – and I honestly couldn’t have imagined doing that, even in hindsight. In my family, we don’t marry early, and we don’t procreate early – everything is done in stages, none of which is even contemplated before you graduate from college. Alternative choices are not an option – and, quite frankly, it would never have occurred to me to choose a different path.

Of course I had no idea that, apparently, somewhere along the lines my connect-the-dots was missing some very crucial ink blots…

Ahem.

When people ask me how long we’ve been trying, I find myself laughing mirthlessly (confession: it’s out of a combination of panic and embarrassment because I don’t have a good answer) since I can’t really pinpoint when we really started – and we haven’t done so consistently. The reasons are many – peppered with family strife, death, moves, etc – so that if our “attempts to conceive” were mapped on a graph, they’d probably look a lot like someone who’s having some minor heart problems. Erratic may be a slight understatement.

But here’s what I can tell you: I’ve been ready to become a mother for almost 8 years now. I always assumed – stupidly, naively – that like for everyone else around me, things would just sort of “happen”. I mean, we did everything “right” – neither one of us is a raging alcoholic, we don’t smoke, gamble or use intravenous drugs; we’re upstanding, tax-paying people with a nice house. In other words? We’re parents without babies. SIGH.

If I had a dime for the many, many times that I’ve drive down a road and caught myself listening to music, thinking – what would it be like to have children in the backseat? Would they sing along? Would be laugh, would they fight like siblings do, would my heart swell each time I caught a glimpse in the rear view mirror? I’d be halfway to paying for a cycle of IVF.

I try to quell those thoughts because, well. You know – it’s painful. It feels like you keep picking at a scab, not letting it heal. And while we’ve still not made any progress with really making a decision in regards to IVF – partly because finding a new RE will involve going out of town, and the logistics of coordinating that are daunting to say the least – I’ve also told my husband that I wanted to make time to sit down and talk about alternative family building options. (Of course, finding the time to actually sit down and have an in-depth conversation with him is kind of hard when he works all the time – and I how can I give him a hard time about it when the truth is that I love him for being a diligent, hard-working man that I adore and respect?)

When I was younger, I always thought I’d want to adopt. Now, I feel bruised and battered – partly because, as someone dealing with DOR and facing the very real possibility that biological children may not even be an option for us (and I can’t even put into words the raw pain that this is causing me on a daily basis), it suddenly feels like it’s not a choice, not an option – but something you’re forced to consider because you may not be able to have a child any other way. Unsurprisingly, I have a hard time coming to terms with my conflicting emotions on this subject.

Worse, though, is I know now that adoption isn’t as straight-forward as I’d believed in the past. If, as I’d naively assumed long before we got to this point, it was just a matter of saying “yes, please!” and being open to adoption – I’d have no problems with it. As long as I can have a healthy baby, I could cope with one that’s not biologically ours – regardless of gender or race. But I was in for a rude awakening. Adoption can be far more expensive than IVF – which, in itself, boggles the mind – and seems poised as a sort of popularity contest of sorts, almost like a cattle auction. The other day I was reading a brief paragraph about how domestic infant adoptions usually run between $20-40K (yes, thousand – as in, five figures) – but can be even more expensive. I’ve seen numbers quoted that were closer to $50,000 – which is more than both of our cars, brand new fridge, washer & dryer etc. cost when we bought them. It’s years worth of mortgage payments – money that is then no longer available for college tuition or other more immediate family concerns.

(Did I mention that this is for domestic adoption? As in, right here in the good old US of A? We’re not even talking about international adoptions, at which point you obviously have to factor in travel and accommodation – so that, at least, I understand why the bottom line would be augmented by things that aren’t strictly related to the adoption itself.)

At the risk of putting my foot in it, I think that’s preposterous. I don’t agree with it, and I think there’s absolutely no justification for it whatsoever when you’re dealing with domestic adoptions. I know some people are willing to do whatever it takes to get a baby, any baby, by any means necessary – but for me, that’s just not something I don’t think I’m even willing to consider, especially in this day and age when you see adoption agencies vying for prospective birth mothers by promising them free iPads and/or iPhones (unreal!) – unsurprising, really, when you think about how much money they (the agencies) are making off of the whole transaction.

But I don’t want to get into that too much because I’m so angry that, in dealing with IF, you’re constantly penalized for a medical condition (that isn’t even recognized as such – which is why only 12 out of the 50 states even have IVF coverage, and most insurance companies also don’t cover ARTs) for which you are not responsible. Suffice it to say that, unless we magically find someone who wants to give us their baby, this avenue is closed to us – because we definitely will NOT be going through an agency and mortgaging ourselves up to our eyeballs for this.

The alternative, then, is to adopt from foster care. Which, if you’ve ever watched anything on tv at all or read anything online, you’ll probably know two things (a) there are far too many kids in foster care, which is nothing short of tragic; (b) adopting from foster care can be extremely difficult and traumatic for both the child and the adoptive parents. Again, I don’t really want to get into details here – mostly because I’m not an expert and I don’t know much of anything about it – but it’s something that’s been on my mind lately. I thought about whether I could see myself adopting a child that wasn’t a baby, perhaps not even a toddler. Could I see myself “mothering” an 8 year-old? What about a 10-year old? Because the reality is, of course, that everyone who is forced to consider adoption wants a baby – so the sad reality is that the children who remain in foster care the longest are always the ones who are already older. It’s heartbreaking – but I struggle between what I think about the situation and asking myself what I can realistically take on. And, of course, what my husband is willing and able to deal with.

So two nights ago, I started doing a little bit of reading online – wondering whether maybe we should at least talk to someone about the whole process so we can find out exactly what’s involved and so on. I figured that since the likelihood of getting a match even by being amendable to adopt through foster care within less than a year (and most probably 2 years or more) is slim to none, we might as well “hedge our bets” even before we start IVF.

What prompted this whole blog post is a pamphlet that came in the mail yesterday – not 24 hours after all these issues weighed heavily on my mind. We’re not even supposed to get it – it’s a residual from the previous owners of our house from a local hospital that I assume they were patients at. Normally I just put it in the recycling bin because there’s nothing relevant for us – but I decided to flip through it…and on the second page, there was a story about foster care in relation, specifically, to teenagers. If I were religious, I might ascribe this to a whack on the head from a higher power – but even without ascribing to such a philosophy, I still thought…coincidence? Or a sign? Not a sign that I should open my home to a teenager – which I honestly don’t think either one of us would be prepared to do as first-time “parents” – but I thought, what a coincidence that this showed up in mailbox the very day after I was just looking into this subject.

I’d be lying if I said that this was something I can just gloss over and say – sure, no problem. I’ll do it! I know that part of the reason I’m reading up on these things is because, deep down, I’m steeling myself against the fact that I don’t actually know what’s going on with my body – and that, a year after my last AMH test, I’m not even sure if I’m still dealing with DOR or if it’s already much worse…I shudder to think of all the people who completely fail to grasp how the mere thought of not being able to have biological children is absolutely devastating; and how, consequently, the reality would – and is – so horrific that just contemplating it makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.

Sometimes I tell myself – this isn’t the end of our story. We’re not meant to be childless. We’re such loving people, we’re caring, we’re funny, we’re empathetic and compassionate. We have so much to offer. Sometimes I imagine having a conversation with someone who is giving up her child for adoption. I imagine what I would say to her – but part of me always wonders how difficult it would be to “sell” yourself while trying to remain calm and not freak out at the possibility that this person who has what you want most in life can just change her mind at a whim. But when I can disregard the scary bits, I imagine what I would say about us – to a birth mother or to a child we’d consider adopting. I would talk about our travels, our love of music, our pets and our belief in bringing out the best in each other. Would it be enough?

Sometimes I think I could – I want to – give a child what I’m good at. I’m the person who blends into other families as the aunt – the one who helps with homework, chimes in (when appropriate and obviously never overstepping the parents’ authority/boundaries), helps you navigate through the minefield of tween and teen conversations around emotionally charged but important issues. So I think to myself, if we can provide a safe, loving home for a child that hasn’t had one – a child who deserves to be loved, cherished, helped to grow into whoever they’re meant to become…how can I not consider that?

But of course I know that I’m idealizing the situation. Even with as little as I know, I’m aware of how much emotional baggage children in foster care come with. As time goes by and I ask more questions, I find out things that make an already daunting prospect even scarier – conditions like RAD (reactive attachment disorder). I wonder if I can deal with trying my hardest to love a child…and accepting that, sometimes, no amount of effort and love is going to turn the tide. I think my biggest fear would be dealing with a “psychotic” child – and by that I mean seriously deranged to the point of being homicidal etc. – or a child that lies, steals or has serious aggression problems. Because dealing with a child that really, genuinely WANTS to be loved – a child that wants to have a home, a family, wants to learn, wants to have a good life? THAT is something I can give – even if I know, of course, that it would be a journey filled with many, many lessons and a need to learn how to deal with things I’ve never had to deal with before. But I know it’s just not that easy.

I’m still scared – of all of it. Mostly, I’m scared of the mere thought of being – or, rather, remaining – childless. I admire people who choose to be childless because I think it’s so much better to make that choice than to have children if you don’t really, really want them. But that’s just not for us – at least not at this point. I can’t imagine a life without children. So I have to continue to believe that somewhere, at some point, our child will find us – whether through assisted reproduction or adoption. All I can say is that, whenever he or she comes into our lives, our arms will be wide open…

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. 🙂

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(*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.