I have had the strangest week. Ever since the inauguration last week I’ve been a mess, swinging wildly from anger to frustration to paranoia. As often happens when depression rears its ugly head, I also feel socially insecure. This doesn’t mean that I become shy or anything (perish the thought!). What happens is almost worse—I find myself constantly replaying conversations with friends and colleagues, wincing at my words, my tone, wondering whether I was being fun and witty or awkward and perhaps rude. This leaves me feeling constantly unsettled, paranoid even.
Let’s add to this that I’ve totally blown ICLW week (which is kind of like “ATM machine” or “PIN number,” both pet peeves of mine). When I signed up I thought I’d be cycling again, ready to write and read and give support. Instead I just bitterly wait. I can almost feel my eggs aging as I sit here.
I hate being moody. My husband is the proverbial rock; his moods consist of teasing (good mood) or quiet (which could mean stressed, frustrated, sad, tired, or just mellow). But I spend a lot of my time fighting my Inner Crazy. I also have to remain ever-vigilant against my Inner Truly Crazy, the surface of which I have grazed only a couple of times, but which I know lurks in my genetic makeup. (I used to worry I was going to end up crazy like my mom. I can remember having conversations with J about this early in our relationship, wondering if he really wanted a long-term commitment with someone who had that possible future. But if there’s one thing the past few years have taught me, it’s that I’m a lot stronger that my mom—and both of her parents. I’m grounded enough to handle a lot more than she can, and I now know I’m not going to end up like her. Thanks, IF, for teaching me how much I can take.)
I had an odd conversation about my IF treatment plans last week. My chiropractor, Dr. K, and I have become pretty chummy during the past two months. He’s only a year older than me, and he’s a nice guy who has really gone out of his way to help me. Last week, he mentioned that he thought my chiropractic treatment would help me get pregnant.
“It would help more if our problems weren’t primarily male-factor,” I said.
Dr. K started telling me about a doctor he knows in New York who’s had luck improving sperm count with some new treatment. I cut him off. “We’re mostly done with all that,” I told him. “If J’s hormone treatment doesn’t work, we’re going to go with donor sperm, and if that doesn’t work in a couple of cycles we’re going to stop.”
“It sounds like you’ve already given up,” he said, sounding upset.
I should have been mad. Instead I just felt tired. “It’s been three and a half years,” was all I said. “At some point we just have to stop.”
The strangest thing about this conversation was its stark contrast to ones I’ve had with my friends and my sister, several of whom were pushing for me to give up and start the adoption process more than a year ago (solicited advice). I couldn’t stop wondering why Dr. K was in such a different place than my friends. Then I realized that it was just about being there. Dr. K has only known me for a couple of months, months that I haven’t been cycling. The years I’ve suffered with IF are just an abstraction to him—the time isn’t real. For him, it’s measured in terms of his life, time which raced by while his kids grow older, learn to read, to ride a bike. Time that flew past while he built his practice. Time in which he lived his life.
For me, time has stopped. I don’t see time in seasons and years anymore. Instead I see it as daily frustration, constant anger, a persistent underlying dread and fear, empty weekends with nothing to do in my cold, quiet house. I see my life through the hours spent watching TV and movies, reading books, not quite finding the escape I’m seeking. I see my life through the four vacations I’ve taken, each one thought to be the “last chance” at a break before we had to give our time to a pregnancy and a new baby. I see it through the meaningless holidays, the baby showers I’ve skipped. I see my life through the growth of my nephew.
My close friends have been with me, day by day. They’ve seen the hope for each new cycle, for each new type of treatment. They’ve read my one-word, end-of-cycle e-mails: “negative,” or “miscarriage.” One of my best friends told me that she has had to harden her heart (just like I try to) every time I go into a new cycle, just so she won’t get so upset when it doesn’t work out. Unlike Dr. K, my friends understand that what I’m doing is insane—beating my head against the wall again and again, refusing to stop because there’s always a new treatment, a new approach. Anyone who’s been with me for the past three years would never suggest: (a) that I’ve given up, or (b) that it would be a bad thing if I did.
And that’s why I couldn’t be mad at Dr. K. He just didn’t get it. He doesn’t know.