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.

Craving Contentedness

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

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

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

Yep, all glamour and glory for me! 

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

Ahem.

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

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

Sigh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

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

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

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

 

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

Hope S(t)inks

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

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

Sometimes, hope really stinks.

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

I’m drowning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

 

*

*

* 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.

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.

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.