Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Soft, Warm, and Just the Right Amount of Heavy


Soft, warm, and just the right amount of heavy.

That’s how a day-old baby feels. I know, because I changed my mind at the last minute and went to the hospital with J to go see my friends’ baby. I wasn’t going to, and no one expected me to, but on Sunday morning, while J was on the phone with M to tell him he was on his way, he looked over at me and mouthed, “you coming?” I found myself nodding.

Maybe it was because their little boy had been in the NICU for 24 hours, and had only been delivered to their room that morning. He wasn’t in bad shape, but he’d been feverish and jittery at birth, so the doctors put him on an IV and monitors in the NICU and M and T only got to visit him a few times. For me, I think this humanized their experience. It didn’t feel like a fairy tale anymore, it was just life. I was so glad they were finally getting handed their new son. Finally, he was really theirs. I didn’t want to miss that

The visit was wonderful. I felt a little shaky when we got there, and I teared up when I walked in the room and saw M gazing down at his teeny little son, handling him as if he were made of cornflakes and would crumble with the slightest touch. But we got out the camera and started taking pictures, and T started cracking us up telling us with tales of her 15-hour labor, and M told us how his camera’s automatic flash had startled him so badly in the NICU that he’d dropped and broken his camera, and we made fun of him for that, and I ended up struck by how much these were still our best friends, the same people we used to stay up all night with playing cards and drinking beer, laughing our asses off, the same people that have been there through our miscarriages and frustration.

I didn’t dare ask to hold the baby while M was in the room. I just didn’t want to freak him out. He was hilarious—the classic nervous brand-new dad. He kept trying to tuck the baby into his swaddle, and the baby kept getting his arms free, and even after the baby fell asleep M couldn’t sit down, but kept checking every 2 seconds to make sure the kid was still breathing.

But the moment M went outside with J for a smoke (no smoking for J, though—sperm count!), T handed the baby over. So I sat in a rocking chair and held a day-old baby while he slept. And I’m crying now telling you about it, but it wasn’t awful at all or even all that gut-wrenching. It just felt so good. He was soft and warm and smelled like fresh bread. (When M walked back into the room and saw me holding his kid, I just grinned and said, “T says I can keep him. We figure you guys can just make another one, right?” Then I handed him over to J for a little while.)

I wouldn’t suggest that everyone should take the plunge like I did, but I’m really glad I went. J and I were the first people to see the baby, and it was so great to be with our friends at such an amazing moment. Instead of staying home hiding and feeling bitter, I got to laugh with my friends, celebrate their moment, and hold a soft cuddly baby.

I’m still jealous as hell. But I think that when you envy someone, you forget that they’re real people. Seeing the reality rather than the fantasy kind of helped with that. I don’t want their life or their baby (though he’d do in a pinch). What I really want is my own.

So rather than feeling defeated, I feel strangely motivated. Hopefully I can get my water sonogram scheduled this month and can get back into IVF in March. Maybe someday that person in the hospital will be me.

Damn, there I go hoping again.

Friday, January 25, 2008


One of my closest friends just went into labor. And I feel like I’ve been sucker-punched. I’ve known this was coming for 6 months, been thinking about it actively for the past month, been e-mailing her daily for the past week. So why is this such a shock to my system? Why do I feel like I can’t draw a complete breath? Why do I want to just break down and cry in my office—again? (I just closed the door. Very proactive, I am.)

Of course, the WHY is obvious. But it’s still so enfuriating. I’m overjoyed that my friend is having a child. She’s almost 3 years older than me, and she and her husband weren’t sure they would actually have a baby ever. They weren’t willing (and don’t have the means) to do IVF, so if nature didn’t take it’s course, it wasn’t going to happen. And J and I really want them to have one—we want to raise kids with them, not grow gradually apart as childfull and childless couples do.

So this is a joyous occasion, right? A cause for celebration. But, like all the other joys infertility has robbed me of, my infertility has taken my ability to celebrate the happiest moment in my friend’s life. Not fucking fair. Another item on the long long list of things that are just not fucking fair.

Tomorrow morning, my honey J will go up to see them in the hospital and greet their new baby. (He and my friend’s husband are the most BFF guys I’ve ever seen—they call each other every day!) And I’ll probably stay home. Hiding. Pathetic. Empty.

Fuck. I hate this.

LATER (at home):

A friend I e-mailed suggested that I write in my journal about this. I ignored that advice and picked a fight with my husband instead.

Remember that post—all of a week ago—about this great conversation J and I had about how I needed him to share his pain, too, so I wasn’t so alone with all of this? Yeah, right.

As soon as he picked me up to take me home from work, I started venting. Told him how I felt all shaky and upset, and how mad I was that I couldn’t feel happy for my friend. Glad, yes. But not at all happy. I mean, I’m pleased that she’s having a life-changing event tonight. But it’s only causing me pain.

Silence. Not unusual, he never really says much when I tell him about how I’m hurting. So I tell him, “I’m having a hard time because I know guys take this different than girls, but it’s hard for me that you’re not feeling the same things that I’m feeling.”

“Yeah,” he says, “I know.” Then more silence.

I picked at him some more. “And it’s even harder knowing that you really wish I wouldn’t talk about it so much.” Silence again. “And I know you’d really rather I shut up.”

“I don’t wish you’d shut up,” he protested.

“But you’re happier when I’m not talking about it.” He conceded this point.

“It’s really lonely for me,” I said. “I feel like I’m the only one experiencing this.”

He thought about this for a minute. “ I’m not saying it wasn’t kind of a bittersweet moment when M called and told me T was in labor,” he said. “But I guess I’m better at compartmentalizing it so I can be happy about this.”

“I know. I wish I didn’t resent that so much,” I responded softly.

Then he started to talk about other stuff, light stuff, stuff that happened during his day. And I just sat there and cried.

Eventually, he said, “I just don’t know what you want from me.”

“I want you to hurt like I do,” I snapped. “I’ve never felt so lonely.” (Nice wifely sentiment, no?)

At that point, he got kind of pissed. He ranted for a little while about how this sucks for him too. “What is there to say?” he said. “Everything is the same. Every day. We’re coming up on three years of this now. Three years where, aside from my efforts on my career, nothing has happened. We can’t make plans. We can’t do anything.”

“We’ve been on three ‘this is our last vacation’ vacations,” I added softly.

“But it’s the same every day. I have nothing new to say. So why should I keep talking about it.”

I guess this was a good conversation. I guess I feel a little better now that I egged him on into bitching a little bit about our infertility. But I think it’s clear that he’s never going to voluntarily talk to me about his feelings. When I get desperate, I’m going to have to pick a fight and drag it out of him.

Maybe if he doesn’t talk about it he doesn’t feel it. Maybe he only gets upset when I make him tell me he’s upset. I don’t know. But I don’t feel much less lonely.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

That Rat-Bastard Hope

I’ve been pondering why, when I know I’m depressed and overwhelmed, I do nothing to care of myself. A few weeks ago, I realized I was in serious trouble. Real despair. The kind that can cripple you, destroy your job, ruin friendships and marriages. With this realization came a determination to do something about it. I re-read Alice Domar’s book on fighting depression during infertility. I made a list of things to do: self-pampering, a pottery class, yoga, relaxation tapes, support group. I even found a therapist that conducts mind/body group sessions designed to teach women like me to cope with infertility.

Then I did nothing about it. Why? It’s that goddamned rat-bastard Hope. He’s just chillin’ out there on the horizon, just out of reach, making faces at me, egging me on, daring me to deny his existence.

Hope. Not a terribly helpful concept. After a couple of years of this hell, Hope can’t keep depression and anxiety at bay. Hope isn’t comforting when you’re getting bad news from the doc, or when you’re spotting and you just know it’s not “implantation bleeding” (how many times have I been fooled by that one?), or when you’re filling out the paperwork for a home equity loan to finance your baby-making ventures. Hope can’t do your job for you, pay your mortgage, maintain your friendships, or salvage your marriage.

But that asshole Hope has been plenty good at keeping me from taking care of myself. As soon as I consider putting a lot of time, effort, energy, and money into some self-help, I think to myself, “well, why don’t I just wait a couple more months and see? Why not just try one more cycle, then I’ll get help if that doesn’t work.”

Infertility is a unique ailment. Unlike someone diagnosed with a life-altering disease, in any given month I might be rescued from this hell. With just two magical words from the doctor, I might be transported into another world, transformed into a different person, with new opportunities and chances, with a real opportunity to hope.

So why get therapy? Why join a support group? Why start a journal? All that effort could just be wasted. Month after month, I think, “maybe next month will be different.” Maybe next month Hope will get a little closer. Maybe next month, I’ll grab him by the throat and never let go.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

“Your infertility must come from your father’s side of the family.”

Subtitle: Why I Don’t Talk to My Mother About Infertility

My mom’s last visit was about a year and a half ago. Her history of manic depression, paranoia, and narcissism are rants reserved for another day. Suffice it to say I had not told her about the miscarriage I had a few months earlier. She knew only that I had been TTC for well over a year.

Mom usually spends the bulk of a visit with my sister, F, because that’s where her one and only grandchild is located. She already had been at my sister’s house for almost a week. My husband J and I were going to F’s house for dinner, then taking Mom home with us for a couple of days before her flight home.

As soon as we walked through the door, J headed into the kitchen to keep F company while she cooked. I settled down on the couch to catch up with Mom. With no preamble, she immediately started in on her story. That week, while F was at work, Mom had been working on her next book (she writes upublishable novels in her spare time––mostly with a “cosmic” theme invoking new age concepts like numerology, crystals, self-hypnosis, spirit guides, and the like) on F’s computer.

At some point, while trying to save her work, she accidentally opened something F had been writing. “It just popped open,” she told me, “and there it was, on the screen.”

Turns out that what had “accidentally” “popped open” on the computer was my sister’s private journal. F’s writings about her own miscarriage, which had happened only three weeks before mine. Unlike mine, F’s was a public affair—she had been four months pregnant at the time. The journal described F’s innermost anguish, her private torment, her darkest secrets.

Of course, it never occurred to Mom, once this was open on the screen before her, to immediately close the fucking document and pretend she never saw it. So there I was, stuck on the couch next to a woman I’ve spent years trying to erect reasonable shields against, and she’s telling me about this hideous invasion of my sister’s privacy. My sister, who has just lost a child she spent two years trying to conceive. My sister, who has seen my through my darkest times, the only member of my family I have ever been able to count on. My sister, who I would do anything to protect.

Mom was still talking, unaware of my shock and disbelief, “…and that’s how I learned about your miscarriage,” she said. By then, my heart was pounding and my ears were roaring and I must have been white as a ghost. She patted my thigh, “Oh, honey, you must have been devastated.”

“Um … yeah. But it wasn’t as bad as what F went through. And I didn’t want to dwell on it so I didn’t tell anyone…. But I’m glad you know,” I lied lamely.

But apparently, this conversation wasn’t about F’s heartache or my loss. Nor was it about mine. It was about the things F had written about Mom. Apparently, it said some pretty ugly things (as does this blog). And Mom had decided that somehow she was the injured party. (Mom clearly had read this diary repeatedly.)

I escaped as soon as I could. F asked me what was wrong, and I had to make up some lame excuse about not feeling well. How could I tell my sister what Mom had done? I could only imagine how violated I would feel if it was me. Hell, I did feel violated—my miscarriage was my secret, my personal tragedy, and my right to tell or not to tell had been ripped from me.

Somehow I got through dinner. Afterward I pulled J aside and told him. “That bitch,” was all he could say. And then we were in the car, with Mom, taking her home for a weekend with us.

On the way home, she was talking, in very sweet and understanding terms, about my miscarriage. I really couldn’t figure out how to shut down the conversation once it started, so I told her that yes, we were planning on seeing a doctor soon about our apparent infertility.

Then this comment came out:

“It must come from your father’s side of the family.”

You heard right. She went on, “both you and your sister have had so much trouble getting pregnant. It must come from your father.”

Apparently my stunned silence was interpreted as a signal to expand on this theory:

Exhibit A: she herself had gotten pregnant three times (four, if you count the abortion at 18 years old, but she didn’t mention that one).

Exhibit B: my father had not had more children after he left Mom and remarried.

Exhibit C: my father’s sister had “only” had two children.

There was a lot of other badness that weekend––Mom telling me F was a horrible person for the things she had written, me telling Mom that she should never tell my sister what had happened, me having to explain to Mom that it was wrong of her to read my sister’s journal––but it was the conversation in the car that sticks with me the most.

Mom sees a woman’s value in terms of her fertility. Thinking back, she always has bragged about it. I can’t count the number of times she’s mentioned that she got pregnant the first time she had sex. I had thought this was a cautionary tale, but now I don’t think so. I can remember the pity with which she described a neighbor who had been TTC for six years. But it was a smug sort of pity. I can remember her telling me when I had bad cramps that it was “a sign of fertility.” (HA! What a load of shit! I think it was a sign of my reproductive problems.)

The bottom line is, my mother is so hung up the inherent value of fertility that she has officially disowned the part of me that is missing this “gene”. She has passed the blame on to my dad (who, although I have almost no contact with, did at least donate the sanity genes). Never mind that her reasoning makes no sense, that she had her children in her 20’s, that she was with a man with a strong sperm count, that my aunt may very well have decided not to have more than two kids, even that infertility isn’t even that much a hereditary trait.

Never mind all that. What matters is that my mom sees infertility as a black mark, an inherent personality defect, something that reduces my value as a person. She also sees it as another way in which she’s better than I am.

I agree with J: That bitch.

Epilogue: I told Mom I wasn't going to tell F, and she shouldn't either. She stayed quiet for maybe a day or two, then wrote F an 11-page single-spaced letter attacking, accusing, berating. F told me she only read the whole thing for some sign of an apology, which wasn't there. F and I now have a new pact: no secrets. No matter what Mom does or says to split us apart, no secrets. We are a united front.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

But What is HE Feeling?

Started writing this as a response to a comment, then realized it was getting long—so I’m making it a new post.

In response to my rant about my MIL (below), Trish said:

"People just don't get it. They really, really don't get it. I think the worst of it for me is that my HUSBAND is the same way to an extent. He doesn't understand why I cry when my period comes. Or feel fear now that I’m pregnant. What's happened in the past is the past so why let it affect my future."

Here’s my response:

I had a heart-to-heart with my husband on this very same issue a couple of days ago. At some point, when I was all weepy and he was being sweet and comforting, I asked him, "so how are YOU doing?"

He said, "Don't worry about me. Just worry about yourself."

I mulled this over for a few days, then realized why it bothered me so much. The truth is, I WANT to worry about him. I NEED to worry about him. All I do is wait, day after day, for someone to worry about and take care of. In the meantime, because he doesn’t want to trouble me, my husband and partner––the only other member of my tiny little family––is denying me the ability to worry about and take care of him.

So I told this to J the other night. And I explained that I have never been more isolated than I am when I’m dealing with or thinking about infertility. Worrying about myself is isolating, and frankly, it's getting boring and frustrating. The most healing events in this entire nightmare have been the few times--and I can think of only two right now--when J needed something from ME. Even something as simple as telling me, "what I really need is for my mother and aunt to stop talking about our future child for the rest of the holiday weekend." Or a year ago, when our due date for our first pregnancy came up the same weekend that his twin brother visited with his 6-month-old baby, hearing J tell me “I didn’t expect it to be this hard.” Just knowing that we’re in this together—that it’s not just happening to me while life goes on as usual for him, made me feel so much better.

I also told him that he was dreaming if he didn’t think infertility was affecting our marriage. Not that it’s threatened, but it’s … I believe I used the word “droopy.” And it’s pretty much ruined our sex life.

When I really pressed, I finally got him to admit to a feeling. He said he was “just tired” of the whole thing. Progress! Trying not to be patronizing, I explained to him that this “tired” sensation is depression. And that I’m feeling it too. And that it’s normal. And that we’re in this together.

Not exactly the kind of heart-to-heart you have with a girlfriend, but it felt good nonetheless.

UPDATE: Since our conversation, I've not succeeding in getting any more information out of J regarding how he's feeling. So while that was a nice moment, I don't think it's going to get him to open up to me anymore. Who knows? Maybe he's not feeling anything. (Except tired of being stone-cold sober--clean living SUCKS.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Infertility-Fatigue Syndrome

So I was talking to my mom-in-law this weekend, and she asked me whether my husband had “recovered.”

“He’s fine. Recovered from what?” I said, half-knowing the answer.

“You know, he was so down at Christmas…,” she said.

“Well yeah,” I said, “Christmas is really hard on both of us.”

There was a pause. “Why?” she asked.

“Do you really need to ask?” I said, somewhat caustically.

“Oh … that.” Then we proceeded into a discussion about IVF and when we’re starting up again (I always lie by a few months, to give me some breathing room).

Am I just too damn sensitive? Because this moment has really stuck with me for the last two days. Seriously? She has to ask WHY we’re not chipper and cheery? At CHRISTMAS? Our second Christmas since our first child should have been born? (Due date for pregnancy no. 1: Dec. 23, 2006.) Never mind that we had to do the holidays with nothing to drink, nothing to smoke—a constant reminder that things are not okay.

You know how we Americans suffer from disaster-fatigue? Code-orange fatigue? Scandal-fatigue? Turns out friends and family can suffer from infertility-fatigue. After a year or so, they just get tired of hearing about it. They want to move on. I don’t even blame them that much—I’m tired of it too.

My mom-in-law apparently thinks that infertility is a problem that is in remission when you’re not trying, something that flares up occasionally, something that you suffer when you’re in a treatment cycle, or when you’ve just suffered a miscarriage, or when you’re going ten rounds with the goddamned HMOs. What she doesn’t understand is that half of the pain is the lost time—the every-childless-day-that-goes-by pain. What hurts isn’t the IVF, or the money we’ve lost, or the surgery (okay, that hurt). But what really hurts is NOT HAVING A CHILD. Day after day. Year after year. Christmas after Christmas.

A final note on this rant. It’s also possible that my mom-in-law understands my depression, but couldn’t see why my husband might also be depressed. I find this upsetting. It’s easy to forget that our men in this long wait with us. And they hurt too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Everyone is Pregnant

EVERYONE is pregnant! How is this possible? You’d think the universe would just run out of new babies, or of people to give them to, but the babies just keep on coming.

One of my two closest friends at work is pregnant, and she’s been really great about it. She and my other BFF at work held off telling me until a few months had passed since my last m/c, for which I thanked them profusely, and since then she really hasn’t talked about it much in front of me. Not that you can ignore it—I mean she’s a size 2, so the 4-month bump is pretty noticeable. But even when we do talk about it, we talk about how she’s feeling, not about the baby inside. I find I’m okay hearing about how strange and awkward pregnancy is. After all, I’m not terribly eager to experience it myself, and if there was another way (within reason, of course) to obtain a bio-child, I’d be all over that.

But yesterday I ended up with three women, my favorite girls, in my office eating lunch. And somehow conversation switched to paint colors for the new house one of them just bought, and that led to a conversation about the color my preggers friend is painting her nursery. Crap. There we were, discussing “plans”. Baby plans. And it went on from there. An entire lunch hour talking about nursery design, car seats, cribs, baby clothes, and then, of course, naturally, the inevitable—baby names.

At first this wasn’t so awful, but by the time we got to baby names, I was ready to check out. Because it’s not like I’m new to the conversation. And it’s not like I’ve never been there. I’ve been there. I’ve made lists, I’ve looked up names at the US Census website to look at baby names. I’ve stood outside our guest room, imagining the changes we would make in the upcoming months to get ready for the baby. But that was TWO YEARS ago. And here I am, watching my friends­­––who weren’t even thinking about babies when I started trying––with toddlers that are walking and talking.

To be fair, you only make those plans once. After the first m/c, you learn your lesson and hold off any true hope until you’re much further along (further than I’ve ever gotten, at least, I’ve never even heard a heartbeat). But that first pregnancy is a killer, because you don’t really know how easily life can just snatch you off that roller coaster you’ve gotten on.

After lunch, my preggers friend stuck around, and we had a heart-to-heart about it. She apologized, said she hadn’t figured out how to change the subject herself, and we devised a plan for if this happened again. If we’re talking babies, and I change the subject, she’ll immediately follow my lead. Again, thanks to Alice Domar (I seriously recommend her book), I have learned that you have to tell your friends what you need from them.

So immediately after lunch I go downstairs to go to the courthouse to look at records, and I bump into another friend, who’s out on boy-maternity leave to care for his 6-month-old daughter, who is cuddled against his front in a baby backpack, fast asleep. Already feeling burned, I have to make nice with him, all the while I can’t take my eyes of his baby’s translucent blue eyelids and soft, soft eyelashes.

Seriously, what happened to me? Did I turn into a baby magnet or something? Am I forever doomed to attract pregnant people and beautiful babies to me like moths to a flame? (Note my two metaphors in a row—very fancy writing!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

My Most Traumatic Moment (so far)

Alice Domar (author of Conquering Infertility) suggests writing for 20 minutes on the most traumatic moment in the infertility saga. So here goes:

Every time I think about this, my mind skips right to the end, so that’s where I’ll start. It’s 5:00 a.m. in a shabby corner of the Washington Adventist Emergency Room, curtains pulled halfway around my “room,” where I’m sitting on a gurney I’ve been on since 11:00 the night before. Two nurses come in, one starts to put in a second IV. I ask her why she needs another one, and she tells me they need a second IV for the operating room. That’s how I learned that my pregnancy—my third pregnancy, quite possibly my last pregnancy—was over. Ectopic. A pregnancy that was startling in the first place, considering our sperm quality that cycle, that was high-risk because of my growing fibroid, that represented our last hope before I resorted to either major surgery or adoption. There were all kinds of fertility issues that should have stopped this pregnancy, but it ended because our perfect embryo decided to implants in a fallopian tube. What are the fucking odds?

I freaked. My shock at this news was surprising. Six hours earlier I had called my husband, working in New York that week, and told him that I was having steady and severe pain on one side, that I was about to call my doctor, and that I was sure she would send me to the emergency room for a possible ectopic pregnancy. When I arrived at the ER, I told them I thought it was an ectopic pregnancy. When I was with the radiologist—who was pissy with me because she had to be woken up in the middle of the night for the call—I deliberately did not ask her what she saw, because I didn’t think she was nice and I wanted someone else to tell me about the bad news.

But when those nurses said “surgery,” and I realized what that must mean, tears spurted out of my eyes so fast and hard, my heart pounded, and my whole body started shaking. “Didn’t the doctor tell you?” the nurse asked, immediately concerned. “No one’s told me anything,” I managed to choke out. Minutes later, the doctor was back in, confirming what I had known all along. Yes, the pregnancy was ectopic. No, there was nothing that could be done. I would be in surgery before my husband even made it home on the overnight train from New York.

The nurse trying to put in the IV, who looked about 18, was making a mess of it. She missed the vein twice, then started pushing fluid in. A huge welt rose up under the skin, and I hollered, just to get her to stop. It hurt like hell, but I didn’t really care. I just kept crying. She asked if the pain was that bad, but I was beyond answering. The older nurse had to explain to her that it was the “emotional pain” I was dealing with. The young nurse, incredibly sweet, tried to comfort me. “I’ve had three tubal pregnancies,” she told me, “the surgery doesn’t even leave a scar—it’s nothing.” I didn’t bother explaining—how can someone who can get pregnant simply by having sex have any idea what I was going through? How could anyone who’s never faced infertility know what’s like to see another pregnancy circling the drain?

It’s those last 20 minutes in the ER that I remember the most. I’m haunted by it. Learning that my pregnancy was over, sobbing uncontrollably while they checked with the surgeon to see if it was early enough in my pregnancy to end it with a shot instead of surgery, calling J on the train somewhere in Delaware and telling him it was over, that I’d be home before he even hit DC, rolling onto one side so the nurses could give me the intramuscular shots that would dissolve the embryo, getting dressed and walking out into the misty dark, driving home in those zero hours when no one is out yet, ready to just get home and take my percocet, because now I could take whatever I wanted to kill the pain, my baby was doomed anyway, even if it didn’t know it yet….

Damn it. I’ve tried so hard not to think about that little cluster of tissue as a baby. It isn’t, you know. I don’t believe for a moment that it can know what’s going on before it at least develops a brain. But I felt so sorry for it anyway, that poor little cluster of cells that had tried so valiantly to grow into a baby. It wasn’t defective. It was growing, just like it was supposed to. It just wandered into the wrong place. So I had to kill it. I don’t even know how long it took to die. I imagine it was pretty quick—within a day or two the pain in my side was gone, which meant most of the tissue swelling my tube had dissolved. I’ve had miscarriages before, but this was different.

Infertility is very isolating, even when you’re happily married to a great guy who’s really there for you. Miscarriage, especially early miscarriage, is even more so. So I’ve felt alone a lot the last two years. But that night I really was alone. Alone, scared, helpless in the face of fate.

So there you have it, Ms. Domar. Twenty minutes on my most traumatic night. And yes, it made me realize some things I hadn’t thought of. Maybe this will help. Maybe I can stop being haunted by it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year's Meltdown

Had a meltdown yesterday. Couldn’t stop crying. Happy New Year!

It all started when J and I got home from visiting our friends, M and T, who live about an hour away, for our traditional New Years’ celebrations. This year, though, things are different, because T’s about 8 months pregnant. And I’m actually happy about that. We’ve been wanting these two—who are older than us—to have a kid for a long time, and we’re so glad they threw aside their reservations (primarily financial) to go for it. We had a really nice evening, though it would have been nicer with some alcohol, as all but one of us is going the clean-and-sober route. (I’m mostly doing it to be in solidarity with J, but it also seems smart given that I had surgery only a month ago and will be doing more IVF in a couple months.)

But for some reason, I can’t get off of my rant about J’s mom, and how much I hate the way she does Christmas (it’s become so loaded down with presents it’s exhausting, and embarrassing, and against everything I believe in, and I HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT—but that’s a rant for another day). I was bitching all of New Years Eve about it, then bitching in the car on the way home, then, when we got home, I managed to turn it into something HE was doing wrong (twisting the blame is one of my most prized lawyer skills) by not backing me up in my determination to change things next year.

Fortunately, backing down is another skill of mine. Finally, I sighed and said, “I don’t know why I’m so fixated on your mom and Christmas—it’s a full year away.” He responded calmly (calm is his forte), “You’re frustrated because nothing in our lives has changed in the last 10 years.”

I sat there for a minute, sort of stunned. Then, in a me-typical manner, I started to cry. Didn’t stop for an hour or so. The thing is, he’s right. It’s the SAMENESS of everything that is killing me. Everyone else’s life is changing, moving on. My sister’s child is FIVE, for god’s sake, reading and joking and heading off to kindergarten this year; two of my closest friends are almost done with the pregnancy, which in itself seems like a pretty crappy ordeal; and I can’t even get off the starting block. And everything we think about doing is on hold. No reason to reorganize the house—that will have to happen anyway after I get pregnant. No need to worry about a new hobby, or cultivating new friendships, or making some goddamn changes to the way we do Christmas. It’ll all change anyway, so why bother? It’s like three years ago we put our lives on temporary hold, like hitting the pause button on the Tivo when you get up to pee, assuming it would all resume soon. Only it didn’t, and we’re sitting on the couch staring at the same damn still image, waiting to start the show again. In the meantime, everyone I know has finished that episode and moved on to the next show, and the one after that.

I don’t even want to experience pregnancy anymore. I used to look forward to it, although I’ve always had concerns about how my body would handle it. I thought about my body changing, about hearing a heartbeat, about feeling it kick, about people treating me differently, yes, even about the stupid baby shower. Now I just want to skip all that crap. My body has already been invaded, poked, prodded, and now cut open and reassembled. If I could just have a baby without involving my body at all…if I could just have my body back to myself. Maybe then I’d feel alive again, sexy again. But I have to go through pregnancy, and then a c-section, in order to get the baby, and I’m still at least one IVF cycle—and possible a more cycles and a second mortgage away—from even getting there in the first place. And then there’s the miscarriage that might happen. I just don’t know how much more of this I can take.

Can’t deny it. I’m horribly depressed. The kind of depressed where you can’t see a future, where you don’t enjoy anything you used to, where you would gladly turn to drinking and drugs—but even that relief is denied me because the vessel must remain pristine. I got through my surgery, I’m recovering well, J’s doing all he can to improve his sperm motility, and I’ve been pregnant three times. Odds are very good that we will soon have a pregnancy that actually sticks. So why don’t I feel better? Why can’t I picture this working? Why don’t I believe I’ll ever have a child?