Saturday, December 25, 2010
I'm going to go take the dog out, and I'm going to take a couple of pills and go to sleep for a very long time.
Thank you, all, my friends, for helping to make this all a little more bearable.
To paraphrase what my sister said on FB tonight, whether it's with Christmas cookies or fortune cookies, may you be happy.
(You may want to just skip this one if your tolerance is low, or if you're in a really good mood.)
Here's a link I used as the instrument of torture. NOTE: it's not for the squeamish
According to this text book, cranial sutures overlap around 96 hours after fet@l death, or 4 to 5 days, it says.
Collapse of the skull happens around 1 week after.
It gets worse, but I'll spare you.
So, it's no wonder my cervix was twitchy. I had a dead baby inside me for at least 4 or 5 days when my water broke.
The ultrasound reports from the university hospital used terms like "collapsed cranial sutures" and "overlapping cranial sutures." And there was no fluid around him to speak of.
I almost asked my stupid ob for an ultrasound when I had my regular appointment. When my dad was visiting. Both because I felt, oh, like I was a different shape than I had been, and wouldn't it be awesome for him to see his grandsons? He got to hear the heartbeats. That would be good, I thought.
Stupid OB brought a tape measure with him (as I was about 18w 3d at that appointment, with twins), but he didn't use it. The first heartbeat was easy to find. The second took a couple of tries. There was a 10 beats per minute difference in the heart rate that day.
Similar to the day my water broke. I started to breathe a sigh of relief, but then, Dr. Coldfish shook his head, No, that's an echo of the first one...
Denial Denial Denial...
The night before my dad came to visit (the day before my appointment), I was up til almost 3 grading. And then I couldn't sleep. And then the nausea (which had been fading) seemed to come back, especially on my way to go pick him up at the airport. I made myself puke a little, but it didn't help. Nothing seemed to help. I tried to nap when we got home -- we were all tired -- but I couldn't. I dozed for maybe half an hour after getting almost no sleep the night before.
I took some tyle.nol pm or bened.ryl to help me sleep. It did, but a little bit.
Only a couple days later did I realize I had probably had a panic attack. I had had a few before.
There's nothing really to say.
I need to let it go. I need to remind myself I did the best I could, even if that wasn't very good at all. I need to remember that I didn't get very good care, and was not up to advocating for it, apparently.
I need to forgive myself and let go.
In many ways I have. I usually do.
I guess I still have a little ways to go. It's anniversaries that make it hard.
Still seems so much like a dream.
And I guess I was right. One of those terrible days, sitting in my hospital gown. Well, I that's it. There goes our one chance.
At least it feels like it today.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I went out to get coffee this morning, the first time I've left the house before, well, noon at least, all week.
I went out to get coffee this morning, in the raw cold, the sky a whitish gray, grayish white.
And when I got back in my car, I looked at the clock; at the same moment, bells chimed: 10:00 am.
Two days will make it three years.
Each anniversary is different. Each year has been different. It's kind of like BC/AD. The grief integrates, changes, morphs, fills cracks, breaks through in different ways. My understanding of what happened changes. My hopes for the coming year change, grow, shift. I find the hope that I had lost before getting pregnant -- really pregnant -- that lostness seems to be drifting in and out. Hope for parenthood gets more and more hazy. Or maybe it's my vision. Clouded.
But it still stings. All of it. Everywhere.
Just as I feared, I am not the same. I don't know that I want the old me back. Maybe I just want three years back. Or maybe just those 20w 5d. When I wasn't consumed with nausea or worry, I was filled with joy. Hope. Hope for wishes come true.
I don't wish anymore. Not really. Oh, yes, I wish for a snow day, or a winning lottery ticket, but nothing important.
The old me is gone. The new me? Well, she's stronger. Strong enough, anyway, I guess. Though, awfully tired. Some days, she's normal, like anyone else, moving through errands and grading papers and trying to do whatever else needs to get done to m. Like anyone else. Except not really.
It's invisible to most people, I think. Though I sometimes wonder what people think when they look at me, listen to me kvell over my darling baby nieces. (She loves kids, talks about if/when, but she's gotta be 40. What's going on there? Why doesn't she have any?)
Two days begins the 10-day journey. From where to where? Young to old? Hope to resignation, maybe. Filled up to emptied out.
Hope and joy. Peace. It's what the season is about, isn't it?
Where do you find it?
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Depending on the event, I can often remember the date and the day it happened. We landed in this town on Tuesday, Aug 14, 2003. First coffee date with C was Monday, Dec 7. I also remember when I got braces, when I left for college. The date of my father-in-law's birthday.
My pregnancy was full of dates that were etched in my mind. Are etched? First hpt. Beta. Ultrasounds. Hospitalizations. Milestones. Three years out, of most dates I'm less sure. December sticks though.
I'm almost done with school for the semester. Just 19 papers to grade. Within the week I will be on vacation. My sister has suggested C and me taking one or two overnighters out of town. Maybe someplace that will take the dog. Or giving. My therapist suggested baking goodies for folks who do good. The volunteers at the animal shelter or vet. The admin and student workers who keep the department running. Our sweet neighbor with whom we chat while the dogs sniff or yap.
Virtually everyone I know will be out of town for a good chunk of the break. This is the first year that I have not had a particular distraction. The first anniversary. The second. The laparoscopy. C out of town for the holidays. Cycling. That project that took two months to get through.
This year, I was hoping to enjoy some quiet. Get the house cleaned up (oh, the laundry...) and have some fun or enjoyable outings. I'm feeling a bit haunted though.
My therapist keeps coming back to school -- seems to think I'm not really into getting the degree and it's affecting everything else. Could it possibly be another anniversary? Feeling my place in the world shifting as I seem to become the aunt (perhaps later the mother).
My brother* finally got a bunch of pictures of him and his wife and the baby up on one of those pic websites. I found it drawing me closer to him, to them. The love is building, which I knew it would. But somehow it hurts more. I am the aunt, kvelling. But I am always the bridesmaid, or so it seems. The more I talk about my wonderful family, the more I feel it.
Yesterday, I was chatting with a colleague, showed him a picture of my father with my sister's daughter, grinning from ear to ear. He is struggling with my brother, still. They are trying to figure out this next part of life. My sister told me that my father's girlfriend's grandchildren (you got that?) call him Grandpa.
And I think it's wonderful. He loves it. He loves all of them.
And he loves me. And C. And still aches for us. But I am not part of that.
And not part of the fertile world. I found out on FB that an old friend of my brother's is a new uncle. The birth? 8 and a half months after the wedding. I don't know how long they were trying. I don't know anything. And it's none of my business. It has nothing to do with me.
When I bring up being infertile, sometimes my therapist tries to remind me that I'm going to keep coming across this, that the world is fertile, and I've got to get used to the idea.
Usually I do. I mean, usually I'm okay. Just like it's a pain in the ass to find a left-handed desk or left-handed scissors, I've gotten used to the fact that I am not part of the privileged fertile population. Apparently, though, I don't have the right to lament it, either. I'm not saying that I sit around moaning. Just that, well, when I come across a reminder (especially from a stranger or distant acquaintance), there's an "oh, yeah. of course. of *course*. And that's it, mostly. But somehow, it seems, I'm supposed to be happy that I can be an aunt, a very important role.
It IS very important, but it is not the same.
I honestly wonder if I just have to figure out how to deal with all this on my own. Maybe I'm done with therapy for a little while. I don't know specifically what I need help with. Or maybe I need it more.
*My sister came across a posting (it popped up on her email provider) on one of those on-line question and answer sites. She is sure it was my brother asking how to deal with my SILs possible PPD and possessiveness over the baby (at 2.5 weeks old). How he felt so blessed to have this child, wanted to share her with family, but didn't know how to deal with SIL. If only he could have said something to us. "Just give us a little space. SIL is having trouble adjusting, both hormonally and emotionally." He doesn't know my sister saw this. I wonder how things might be different for all of us.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
They just keep falling.
I'm supposed to be writing about Foucault in relation to the impact of loss on women in academia. Discourse analysis is not happening. I was going to write something about a plan for a project, using Foucault's ideas, but that's not happening either.
The loss is not just about my babies dying. It's a lot of it. some writers have talked about the conflict women in academia face when they consider starting a family during their doctoral process or their search for/beginning tenure-track jobs. There's a mind-body conflict: the biological clock versus the tenure clock.
In a project I did last February, I talked about the possibility exploring the potential change in world view for women like me, in academia and with late pregnancy loss. Several women I've talked to have expressed differing ways of integrating their losses into their lives and careers.
I wonder if it's more about determining how much of one's (my) identity is tied in with motherhood/potential motherhood/loss and what changes (or doesn't) over time. How I once saw myself as a mother -- in the future or in the past versus how I see myself as an academic, a professional.
Who am I?
How do I understand who I am now?
Foucault talks about normal versus abnormal; the power of authorities over the mind and/or the body. How do I understand who I am now?
He talks about how societies, authorities, doctors determine what is right, what is normal. Doctors are one of the ultimate holders of medical knowledge: we are taught that by looking at you by a variety of means, casting their "gaze" upon the patient, they can determine what is wrong with you. And what needs to be done to fix you. Your own contributions as a patient are less important.
During my pregnancy, it was determined I was high risk. Advanced maternal age. Clotting disorder. My OB had to work with other doctors. He didn't like it. He was passive in treating me. If I wanted care for a problem, I had to ask for it. Beg for it. Demand it. Despite need, some doctors thought I was merely being emotional. Despite need, my insurance carrier denied coverage that would enhance my well-being. I sucked it up.
When my water broke, the nurse at the hospital made me wait to see a doctor ("She thinks her water broke.") for at least 15 minutes. The radiologist was unavailable. I would have to settle for second best, an educated guess from the doctor on call (annoyed his holiday was interrupted) until the next morning.
Days of strangers examining me in the most personal way. (I think I lost count at nine.) Asking the same questions. All except the neo-natologist resident, who showed up (looking exhausted -- it's been a bad few days, she said) after two days of requests to talk with her about the possibilities. My family and I asked questions, and she did answer them, gravely. New words, new conditions to be explained.
After a week, when we determined that all hope was lost and that I would deliver my twins at the local hospital, we geared ourselves up and went. My OB had said he would set everything up. Already in my hospital gown, IV in my arm, and Ativan in my veins, the nurse came with apologies. The lawmakers determined that the hospital couldn't help me that day. The next hospital I went to needed me to sign a form that said I had considered my options for at least 24 hours.
The room I was put in was small. Not enough room for my husband and family and doctor. All around me heartbeat monitors echoed with the healthy rhythm of other people's babies. Normal pregnant women about to give birth to normal healthy babies. All around me. The nurse kindly turned down volumes after I asked.
The pharmacy delayed getting my labor-inducing drugs for 6 hours because they doubted the doctor's orders. The epidural was in after the fourth try. But it didn't wholly take. Instead, they gave me drugs that would distract me. That would mostly knock me out.
I started the day with one doctor, ended it with another to whom I don't recall being introduced.
I have little memory of the delivery: it's like a very bad dream, complete with a spotlight piercing darkness. Horrid images. Lots of blood. Strangers invading my body. More, and more deeply.
A transfusion, said the doctor. You'll need two units of blood.
I called the OB with a fever one week after delivery. The fever went away with a Tylenol, but left an infection that required surgery.
Six weeks or so post-partum, I received he pathology report for the placentas of my dead babies. I had had an appointment with my OB, but forgot to bring the report. I told him that I read through it, and thought I understood some of it, but obviously, I wanted to discuss it with him, hear his thoughts.
He said, "Well, yes, of course...lots of big words in that. And I did go to medical school..."
Two and a half years later I have not gone back to him.
Almost three years past these events, and I think I begin to understand the experience in a different way.
We tried for two years to have a child. We almost did. It was what I wanted more than almost anything. But what about my studies, my potential career? How do I think of the world, of my identity as a person, as a woman without this? Or, as a woman who basically failed at having a living baby. Could I succeed at it eventually? Could I succeed at anything?
A year and a half of sadness, guilt, no answers. Still, there are virtually no answers.
And being treated like...well, a body. To be dealt with. To be fixed. Some folks were kind. It seems though, when I tried to get answers, for the most part, it took pushing. Or it took physical and visual examination of my body. And responses like, "if only we had a crystal ball."
The doctors who were supposed to be helping me to finally have my twins could barely help me in losing them. Could barely help me in trying to understand.
This is something which makes no sense. That is what the grief counselor said. What many folks have said, trying to help.
It just pisses me off. I want answers. Even though I know that knowledge doesn't exist.
What about the way that I was treated? I had to push and push to get test results. To get them explained to me. To get someone to commit to some answers. Risks.
I only found out after the fact that one of my doctors considered me to be at "dramatically high risk" for pre-term labor, as noted on one of my appointment reports.
For most of the ten days between my water breaking and the delivery of my dead or dying sons, I learned more about the practice of medicine than I ever wanted to learn.
Despite their high status (as Foucault describes them in The Birth of the Clinic), medical doctors apparently seem to have very little definite knowledge. Everything "depends." In my five years of trying to have a child, only one of the many doctors I met with admitted that medicine is as much or more art than science. There are few definite answers. Medicine, it seems, is postmodern.
Doctors are human. They have egos and insecurities. They seem to assume patients would not understand, or would not be interested in knowing, the details. Why did I have to push so hard to get information that I had a right to know, that may have affected my choices.
I was medicated out of my own ability to advocate for myself. I was acted upon. After the delivery, a nurse gave me a sponge bath before taking me back to my room. She changed the linens, rolling me this way and that. I vaguely remember it. Mostly I remember being without will. I let her do what she needed to do.
I gave in. My body was no longer my own.
In addition to the loss of my sons, I lost my faith in any so-called authority. When my mother became ill six years earlier, I learned the importance of advocating for yourself and getting information as possible. It wasn't easy.
Being a grown woman, with a variety of life experiences -- achievements and losses -- I had already learned that there are few things one can depend upon. Somehow, I still believed in medicine.
I still go to doctors, though I try to see them for what they are: human beings with fallibility and not nearly as much knowledge as our society would like to believe.
In developing my comps exam responses, I found confirmation in the literature that there was an enormous surge in the importance of pregnancy and motherhood in the media: TV shows, news shows, movies, commercials. They all implied to one degree or another that a woman was not complete without a child.
In the academy, commitment to one's work may be questioned if there is suggestion that motherhood may interfere somewhat with one's pursuit of degree or tenure.
The literature suggested that there was an implicit (and sometimes explicit) demand that a woman choose between family and academic career. Certainly in considering that only 27% of full, tenured professors in four-year colleges are women (with children or not), professional gender equity is still not present. What does it mean to be committed to one's career? To be committed to one's family?
The myth of the superwoman who can do it all seems to live on. And at the same time, there is strife between those who choose to stay home and those who choose to work. Or who need to do one or the other. To be a woman and/or a mother and/or a professional seems to be a lose/lose/lose situation.
You can't please all of the people all of the time, but, apparently according to the culture, you should try.
I tried to perform a discourse analysis on several posts another blog, but don't feel confident in the practice.
My situation, my loss, is abnormal. Only about 1% of pregnancies end without a live birth. And yet, my story, the interaction with my doctor(s), my worries about my own responsibility in the loss, my interaction with the doctor about my body (not my self), seem if not universal, then common. At least where I live. The information shared with me, about my body -- or need to ask for it, seemed to separate the two (body and self). The social workers and counselors were kind, generally. The doctors were generally kind, but somewhat withholding of information. They were in charge, sort of. The kindness rather seemed like an afterthought. Discomfort with the situation made them quiet.
I'm still learning the central concepts Foucault put forward, but I am sensing it all over my own story. And, to some extent, it changes the way I talk and think about it.
Power. Knowledge. Power-Knowledge relationships. Power over the mind. Power over the body. Discourses of the body, of what it can and can't do. Discourses. Authority. Normal/Abnormal.
I'm still working it out.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Anyway, all the agonizing and self-flagellation was apparently in vain because the preparation I did to defend what I said in (and clarify and expand on) my papers were satisfactory. I was so nervous, but once we got started it was almost fun. Only got through three of the five responses, and the deliberation was all of two minutes. My adviser was grinning ear to ear. He said it was one of the best defenses he's attended in several years.
There was a glitch, though, in that I was supposed to have the defense on Monday, but it turned out that for a variety of reasons, only half my committee would be able to be there -- so it was CANCELED. Well, postponed. Four hours before the appointed time.
I had a visceral reaction, like ptsd or something. It felt kind of like it did the first day I was supposed to deliver the boys and they sent me home even though I was already in the gown with the IV in my arm. What? But I'm ready. I've gone through the agony of deciding to do this and preparing to do it and What?? I have to put it off?
It wouldn't have been so bad, but then I went shopping instead and got overloaded with Christmas at the mall. That combined with the glitch... Oh, and the $165 speeding ticket I got on my way to said mall. 63 in a 45.
I'm exhausted and am taking my adviser's advice by taking it easy this weekend. I'm anticipating ordering in Chinese food for dinner and napping and sleeping a lot. I still have some stuff to do to finish an incomplete so my comps can be official, but it shouldn't be too bad. Stella slept on me for 2 hours last night after we got home from celebratory drinks. We are all feeling a bit relieved, I think.
But I did it.
Monday, November 22, 2010
I honestly don't know what else I would do. I don't even know what I *would* do with this.
Also, I've been feeling a lot of pregnancy/loss sadness. Maybe it's more pregnancy. just sort of sitting around and realizing I'm feeling something familiar. Yet painful.
Maybe I'm just anticipating.
I don't even know what I was going to write. I expected that there was going to be major crying this weekend. Instead, I woke up to a migraine yesterday. I have PMS, too.
Most of the people who took comps with me have (of course) successfully defended. I don't go for another week. Right after the holiday.
I have a lump in my throat.
Maybe I'm just overwhelmed with everything.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I hope you know that I'm here, too. Ready to listen if you need to bitch. And really, it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one just trying to endure all this. Seven weeks til the holiday season is over.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Sorry it's been a while. I got through writing comps, crying as I handed them in. I was overtired and convinced they were horrendous. I was up and down the next few days. After I shared my concern, my adviser read through them and agreed it wasn't my best work, but they were "conceptually strong," if a little thin. I needed to fill out my ideas, support my work, bring my scholarly voice to the table.
But I do understand, now, the huge milestone I've just gotten half way through. I was sort of panicked, not sleeping or eating well in the weeks before.
And, of course, the arrival of my newest niece. I crashed for a day and a half, and woke up ready (more or less) to focus on work the next day. I have moments, hours, where I feel connected and love for her, I want to buy her soft, cute things. But there is difficulty between my brother, his wife and my family. She seems to be entirely resistant to sharing this child with us. My father lives maybe 10 miles from my brother and SIL, offered to help, to bring food. Never got to hold her until she was 10 days old. Only after my sister and I gave my brother a hard time.
They took the baby to southern CA for four days for SIL's cousin's wedding when the baby was two and a half weeks old. They got approval from 2 pediatricians. My sister reached out to them. Volunteered to drive the hour so they could spend a little time together, so she could meet the baby. No dice. In the past, SIL has resisted my brother going anywhere without her. I assume there was no way she'd let him go with the baby for an hour. And she seems to hate my sister, based on previous experience. Despite attempts to bury the hatchet six months ago, it's still rough. My sister was pretty hurt, too.
Of course, the fact that my brother and SIL are fighting indicates that at the very least, he is attempting to stand up for himself. In the first week, he had to compete with SIL's family just to get to hold his own child.
All this makes it hard to be joyful. And it's not about deserving, or ease of reproduction or anything like that.
My sister sent pics of her daughter as a little black and red ladybug. The sweetest little ladybug you have ever seen in your life. My reaction, reflex was that ache in the belly, the love for the sweetness. I even got a twinge of that for my brother's baby girl. It's there -- I know it is.
But all this makes me feel resentful. Sad for my father. My sister echoed my fears that we are going to drift apart as a family. It sucks to validated that way.
So my dad is going to LA to be with my sister and her family for Thanksgiving. We planned to stay here for the holiday, what with the new baby and our over-protectiveness of the pup. And I still feel like I'm recovering from writing comps. Like everything I pushed aside to prepare for/freak out about comps has come rushing back.
It turns out to be a good thing that we are not traveling for the holiday, as I will be defending on the Monday after. I have a ton to do to prepare for that. A ton to prepare.
C is in the midst of the job hunt, so we don't know where we'll be next year. This forces us to put aside plans for family building, as we don't know what resources we will or won't have.
I'm having trouble getting back to work to complete my comps defense, and the other stuff. My therapist keeps observing my apparent ambivalence about completing my program, getting the degree. It's so tied up in pregnancy and grief, I really can't tease apart what issues are professional and what issues personal. It's too entwined. Hope, work, success, failure, pain, grief... and then trying to initiate a project based around constructs of womanhood, motherhood, personal and professional goals, and (potentially) loss.
I'm wondering, again, if this whole experience hasn't been contaminated by trying to have a child, by the loss and grief. If that pull for a child hasn't ruined my professional focus, acuity. Today, in therapy, I admitted that that pull comes first. I would put everything aside for a year or two to build our family, and then go back to my (professional) work. Child. Then work.
Also, I had a particularly difficult class on Friday, which makes me feel even less effective as an educator, an academic. And I have to be there, I have to teach 3 times a week. And I wonder how much I really want to deal with this for the rest of my career. What is it that I even want to teach? I know what I want to explore, but how can I translate that to tenure?
I know what I enjoy doing, and what crap I hate doing, just from having a variety of jobs before I found this path.
C has said that he just wants me to be happy. To find work that satisfies and pays a salary of some sort.
I think I have a story to write. Others' stories, too, perhaps. Not sure what it is, yet. But what can I do for a *living*? Work that leaves me satisfied, at least some of the time.
And what about parenting?
One of my dear friends came back into town to defend her dissertation on Friday. It was so very good to see her. I'm so proud of her, and all she's accomplished. All the work and stress. And she's so good, as a mama, as a professional, as a friend. But, there's something else...also, I don't know. There's that wish for accomplishment, I guess. Maybe some envy. Work. Family. I know it doesn't come without hard work.
Maybe it's just recognizing, again, what I want.
I've been resistant to writing all this here, because it's not directly related. Though, I guess, this is life after. Writing makes me feel better, so I guess I'll come and spew occasionally.
I've been thinking about you all, as we enter this season of loss. Isn't that something? For most people it's the happy, stressful holiday season. But this is the time of so many of our losses. I'm glad to say we are not traveling at all this season. We will need the money for (hopefully) C's job talk travels, but neither one of us is feeling the joy of the season. Not even enough to fake it. I wonder how long it will take to have that carefree, celebratory mood. Maybe not carefree (I keep typing careful), but to really enjoy it.
So, we will have a quiet few weeks together. I am considering trying to find something to be grateful for each day for the next few months (at least), lest I get too morose. Today, it was a warm, safe space to come in from the wind and rain. I guess that fits in more than one way.
Thanks for stopping by.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My brother, of course, handled the announcement as clumsily as possible, send my father a text message to the waiting room. Thankfully I had already planned out how I wanted to hear the news, from my sister.
I haven't the faintest glimmer of joy for them . Not yet, anyway. Still hoping for that.
Now, I have to go finish writing my comps.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Joshua Spencer, Jacob Rhys, Callum, Caleb, Maddy, Serenity, Noah Doodle, Talia Doodle, Jessica, Peyton, Jacob, Liam, William, Henry, Charlotte, Paige, Hannah, Gabriel, Silas, William Henry, Natan, Thomas, A, Finn, Devin, Angel Boy, Ames, and so many more whom I have gotten to know through their wonderful, loving parents.
May their light go on...
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Just another birth announcement in the department. Didn't even know they were expecting.
The second "new daddy" in the department in a month. C's former adviser is pregnant with #2. I know of at least one more imminent birth, assuming all has gone well with the pg thus far.
I'll be using the side entrance for a while. No need to further torture myself with pictures of storks and beaming parents. Let the skulking begin.
What happened to all that progress?
But I'm still struggling. Trying to be social. Everything still feels like an effort. My SIL is about 5 weeks away from having a child. I am dreading it. Isn't that terrible?
I'm trying to be positive. Hoping it doesn't happen until after comps, though, just in case. Next appointment with the pharma isn't for another 10 days or so. I was thinking I would just try to keep things the same, but I'm so emotional. And my body reacted to the 2ww like I was pg. *That* was fun. Which way do I face in the shower? Which shirt do I wear?
Picking fights and feeling angry, too.
And feeling really sad. It just sort of washes over me.
Here and there.
Tired, though. Of all of this.
Aren't you glad you stopped by?
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from one of my students saying that she was going to miss class because her sister had to deliver her baby two months prematurely. I checked in with her the following week, and her sister was doing okay, but they didn't think the baby was going to make it, as she was having trouble breathing.
Surely, I thought to myself, at 32 weeks, this baby would make it. Not much to worry about, I thought. (For us, 32 weeks would have the dream gestation.)
I checked in with her again, today. The baby passed away last week.
I sent her links to GITW and the Stirrup-Queens blogroll. Told her that I had been through something similar and would be here if she ever wants to talk.
And now I'll let it go. I don't want to become some creepy stalker/teacher. Don't want her to feel any pressure.
It's all so... I don't know. Life goes on. And so does loss. My student, at what, maybe 20 years old, has lost the innocence of the idea that, at some point, you can count on getting a baby at the end of a pregnancy.
Or maybe I'm projecting. Still. She is certainly affected. Her whole family is.
And I'm so sorry for that.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
In case you couldn't tell, it's been a rough week.
I tried, again, to read some of Alexa's (from Flotsam) book, and it's just all too familiar. I just realized my body went into similar, familiar...places.
There's a spot in my chest that just...aches. Like it's been...pierced, or stabbed, by something small but sharp. Just a few inches deep. I feel it when I breathe.
Her description of her reaction, of her experience with the doctors when things start to go really wrong, just getting through bedrest...
My entire body is clenched. It's all so familiar. I'm up to chapter 7 or 17 or something, but I don't think I can go on. Not for now, anyway.
Have I mentioned how similar our experiences were? our reactions, feelings -- even the same jokes. Our anatomy scan was scheduled for the same day, too, I think.
It's great writing, but I think I need to be done for a while.
Things here have been relatively good. I'm functioning, mostly. I'm teaching a nice group of kids. I'm planning to take comps at the end of October -- nothing like waiting til the last minute, huh? At any rate, decent functioning. Laughter.
Some things bother me. I get up and I'm fine and then something whacks me in the face. I deal, it's okay. But, damn, it's tiring.
So, yeah, some things are difficult. Just being social, worrying about stuff. Getting work done...yeah, well, not doing great. I'm missing my two dear friends who moved out of town. But I'm taking Stella to the dog park. I'm doing laundry. Teaching. Even some mentoring or just helping out with a few of the new instructors for my course. It feels good.
I have a colleague who is also IF, and we talk about it -- quite a bit actually. Sometimes I just want to talk about something else. Which is weird for me.
I've been thinking about being pregnant again. Not that I expect it to happen, with or without help, but what it might be like. I've looked at some old emails from that time, lo these many years ago.
It seems to me that there needs to be *some* denial that something could go wrong. Vigilance, but hope? Alexa mentions this in her book, about how the lows were SO low, but the highs were just SO high. Those moments she describes are like moments I had, too. Not many, but enough. And so good.
But I don't know that I could do it again now. C has begun the process of applying for a tenure-track job, and there are several opportunities that could land us in a state where insurance covers all of IVF costs. There is no telling, of course, but given the opportunity to try again, given stability on all fronts, is sooo attractive.
But how do you do it? Many of my friends in this terrible club, including my own sister, have gone on to have a living child (or two). I have followed the accounts of panic and denial and the whole "mind-fucked"-ness of it all. How do you bear it?
I may post a couple of emails I sent from that time. Just to share some of that time. I don't even know why it seems like I should, why I want to. I don't know.
I hope some of you are still around. I have been quiet and a terrible commenter. I am not even keeping up with friends who do not live in the computer. I think about you folks a lot. Hope you are well.
I'm going to try to write more. I need to for school, and it just feels good to post, even when it's like this. The stabby pain has retreated some.
What are you up to these days?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
It had been two weeks since the IUI. I didn't even use the P-word, even though the pee-sticks couldn't get any darker. I still have one in my nightstand drawer. Everything else from that period is in C's office or at the community thrift store.
Oh, and all the emails from that period of time, conveniently labeled/foldered for easy access. The joy -- tentative, as the pee-sticks grew darker, as the betas came in and doubled beautifully, the potential ultrasound...two sacs, two heartbeats...
So much to look forward to. I want that again.
I'm trying. Trying to look forward. Working on it.
Monday, August 23, 2010
...although I'm probably being way over-sensitive. My brother did warn me an invite was coming. He gets points for that. Ultrasound pic on the invite? I could have used some warning for that, too. He knew I wasn't planning to go. I wouldn't have looked at all. (By the end of the last 10 days, ultrasounds came to represent the most difficult decisions we had to make. Though I don't know if he knew that.)
But, really? Is this what baby shower invitations look like now? I guess it's been a while since I've seen one.
I'm all over the place these days. Thanks for abiding the silence.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
Yeah, I know.
I"m in a place I never thought I'd be. But one I always feared I'd be.
Well, let me be clear. There was a long time I thought I'd be alone forever. That I would, literally, die alone.
Then, it seemed, there was hope for more, and even more...
As an infertile, I looked around, and *forgive me,* I thought to myself, please don't let that be me. Never getting pregnant. Or, then, pregnant and losing it. Late. And then never getting pregnant again.
Well, guess what.
I know, it's not generous. I know. I'm a bitch, and let me tell you, I often feel like I'm being punished for it.
I started reading Alexa over at Flotsam, the book she wrote. She's the one who had the IF, lost one of her twins and got a living, healthy child out of it. And she wrote a book. Good, so far, too. But it rips me apart, too. My doppleganger* got the baby I didn't.
I'm great at feeling sorry for myself. Lord knows. Everyone knows.
I'm trying though. I really am.
But I keep getting flooded with other stuff. Like panic. Like overwhelming sadness. Grief. Guilt. Hopelessness.
Which of course frustrates the shit out of everyone I know.
I keep trying and i keep getting knocked down.
Yeah, I know, courage (or something like it) is getting up again.
It's really hard. Really, really hard. And I keep getting blindsided.
And I want to feel normal and healthy and hopeful. Because when I am, well, look out.
Be it chemical or physical or emotional, it's feeling kind of out of control lately.
and last night I came to the overwhelming realization that I am letting it win.
And I hate that. I don't want that.
And I am so gripped by the sadness and the grief and the guilt, and now the shame of letting all of this take over my life. I have become one of those people I feared I would. One of those people I looked at and said, wow. Hope that's not me.
I've never felt a depth and such overwhelming...feeling as I have when I was pregnant (joy, anticipation, connection), when we lost them, everything associated with all of this. Grief, sadness, anger, isolation, alienation, envy.
Maybe it is that I don't want to let go of them altogether. Maybe it's all I have.
Maybe I don't want to let go of the dream I had for myself. That I finally let myself have when we finally got pregnant.
I have and am pushing away everyone. I am asking for failure. I am asking for punishment and isolation.
I'm so tired of all this.
*We got pregnant with twins the same week. Due the same day. Lost one twin, but she wound up delivering the remaining, living one, at almost 26 weeks. I had been following her blog from before we got pregnant.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
And a uterine infection.
And a touch of ptsd.
Dr. Shrink reduced the new med and I'm feeling all kinds of things. All kinds of things that suck.
Wishing we had waited. Tried to wait to deliver. Wondering what life would be like now.
Wishing I had at least gotten to hold him.
I know, I likely spared him painful procedures.
I know, I could have held him after he was gone. Cold.
I couldn't. Not cold.
I know that others have held their child as he or she passed away.
I am envious.
The other day I was at school for a meeting with my adviser and, on my way into the bathroom, almost ran smack into a gorgeous pregnant woman. She was pulling the door open as I was pushing it open. The wife of a colleague. She is about 39 weeks.
They had a loss at 13 or 14 weeks. He says she is still anxious about losing this baby, despite the fact that things are going smoothly. I told him it's not unreasonable. He said there are members of her family who had stillbirth(s).
He couldn't wait to get away from me. When I left, I was ripped apart.
Trying to get used to the idea of adoption. Elizabeth Sw1re Fa1ker has a book about it, I think. It was too perky for me. Yet, anyway.
Really feeling the end of this. No chance of pregnancy. Never being that woman.
Never holding my baby. Never holding a baby I'd carried.
There is a package, a cartridge of the remnants of the fo11istim we used when I got pg with the boys. And from our last attempt. There are unopened packages of syringes. A bag from cvs with 1oven0x in it. The brave11e donated by a friend, just in case we decided on another cycle. I don't know when it expires, but kind of soon, I think.
I should donate the donation, but I can't seem to go back to my RE's office. I know too much about him via FB, among other things. But I know how grateful I was to get donated drugs. It's not his patient's fault the RE seems to be having a mid-life crisis. If it's not expired yet. Like me.
(Or is that ungenerous of me?)
A good friend, S, is in transition. She and her family are moving across the country. Her husband and kids are on their way, she will follow in a week or two. She misses them. A hole in her chest, she said on FB. Her dog is being clingy. Dogs, I told her yesterday, are good at filling holes. She knew what I meant.
Stella climbed on my lap today, when I got home from errands. My 30-pound lap dog. It was good. But still.
I fell apart in the car today, on the way home from errands. 1ngrid michae1son singing "Fools Rush In." I started thinking of my niece, but all I could see was me holding a baby. My baby. A baby that would be mine.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Watching one of those ER reality shows (instead of sleeping) and they show this woman with stage IV colon cancer. End stage.
And she's pretty philosophical about it. And religious.
My friend B says, "it can always get worse.". She's had a hell of a few years. Or five.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
When she had her loss, my sister's initial reaction, when I tried to be comforting, was to deny. She said all the things you never want to hear when you are grieving, but about her own situation. (I think I wrote about it but I'm not going to go dig out the post.) Later on, she indirectly acknowledged that she had been in that place, right after her loss. That the kinds of things she said, "I'm just going to go out and have fun and be happy!!" at that point were defenses against the outrageous pain. She could acknowledge that.
In a recent phone call, I asked her about being on the other side. Of infertility. Of loss. She referred to it as always being there, like in a rearview mirror, getting smaller and farther away. I mentioned the article on one of those magazines, and they talked about how IF seems to be one of those causes that people don't advocate for once they've reached the other side. My sister told me that for Res0lve, IF is a temporary state, eventually you either have a child or you don't and you go childless/free.
Then she talked about my dad, who has volunteered with the local hospice (almost) since my mother died. She said, it seems like he's not letting go. I responded that it's important work, even if it's not fun, and he gets something out of it. She said something about how it's so painful, so sad, why spend your time focused on that?
She talked about how she has a daughter now, and a life that needs living, and doesn't want to be stuck in the pain of her past. Or something. My words, not hers. That was the essence of it, I think.
So how do you balance it? Does it just fade? A past life? Life does go on, and, honestly, I don't spend a lot of time these days thinking directly about the boys, or what we went through in that horrible 10 days. But I feel it, I think. The IF. The loss. The secondary (?) IF. Next steps. New steps. But it all builds up to where we are, doesn't it?
She doesn't suggest pretending it never happened, but not getting stuck in it, not focusing on advocating for those still in it -- instead, moving forward into today.
I don't know.
I know this question has been asked, and answered, by many, but I'm asking it again. How much do you hold onto? If you could erase that whole period of time -- (IF,) pregnancy, and loss -- would you?
Just now, I said to C, I kind of wish I could just blank on the last 3 years. Or even the last five, as we approach 5 years of trying to have a living child (or working toward it). I don't know if I even meant it. I'm so tired of feeling sad and resentful and hopeful and tired. Tired of working to be hopeful and happy and productive in my work. Working to try to have a child. Depending on others, paying others to build our family. Especially when it seems other people's fertility is in my face -- and will be in my face for the rest of my life.
Sometimes I'm tempted to just chuck it all.
We were at the dog park with Stella today, talking with some of the local dog owner's group (who organized funding and creation of the park) and gushing about her. Stella. Our dog.
It felt a little ridiculous. We are so eager to talk about our sweet pup. We love her so much. She is the lucky recipient, I guess, of the love of frustrated, childless people.
Lately, there has been a very, very small voice inside that says, Wouldn't it be nice to just go on with the rest of your life without trying so hard, working so hard for this?
But I can't imagine it. I would have to run away to the other side of the world. Never see my (aggravating) sibs, never see my nieces/nephews (I assume there are more coming). Never see dear friends and family. I couldn't do that. As it is, I miss them all too much. Even when we live in the same town.
There is no eternal sunshine.
And even though I usually answer those questions with, I would rather have the pain because I get to remember the love and, especially, the joy.
I don't know anymore.
Maybe that's what's making all of this so difficult.
*The Queen of the Nile. Queen of Denial.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
What book/s or website/s about adoption would you recommend? Which do you think is the best? Why?
As you can probably tell, I'm feeling better about broadening our family-building options. We are also sort of considering embryo donation, but more towards adoption or foster-adopt.
I think this new rx combo may be helping in that I can tell a difference in the way I'm thinking, but I am still dragging a lot, lots of anxiety (especially around going to bed for the night and getting into the shower. Maybe it's leftover trauma? We'll see.) Still not getting much work done. It's only been 10 or 11 days, and half that at the full dose. We shall see.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I look forward to your suggestions!
Sunday, July 25, 2010
How can it possibly be the 25th already? Three weeks left of summer break, and I haven't gotten nearly enough done.
It's been a rough few weeks. Losses. Frustration.
Blah blah blah. I already have one crappy post in my drafts folder.
Anxiety. Guilt. Frustration. Loneliness.
This is going to be a long spewing post, I think. Disorganized. I have so much going on in my head, if I don't get some of it out, well...I need to get some of it out.
Saw the Dr. Shrink on Monday. He changed my rx again. Here's hoping this works. I am beginning to fear that this is my life. Depressed.
(The last couple of weeks were pretty bad. Lots of sitting on the couch because doing something, *anything,* seemed too much like work. Eating, for example. Getting tons of anxiety about school. And so, not doing much. And so, anxiety. Paralysis. Depression.
A year ago, I was recovering from the TAC surgery. Recovering from my visit to see my newborn niece.
I was beginning to really hope. Really want it. I mean, well, duh. I had the TAC surgery before I got pregnant -- how's that for not hedging your bets?
After taking the first or second dose of the new rx, it occurred to me to try on the idea that we have decided for sure on adoption. For a week. To see how it would feel to be settled in with a choice already.
It hasn't been that bad.
I went back to some of the links I'd bookmarked, and bookmarked a few more. Read through homestudy info. Got kinda anxious.
But it was okay.
Kind of a relief, actually, to not be sweating over treatments. Trying to plan for consults and appointments. Wondering how I would do with pg or pg loss again. Dr. Shrink is very much against me cycling again. I don't know that he's wrong.
I am neither here nor there.
I had another session with my regular shrink and she had read that McCracken book. Some of the things that really struck her, or made her say, "I never thought of it like that!" were some pretty basic grief/dbm stuff. Though, it did give me the opportunity to talk about some stuff from the book, and to go back over some of the things that she had said that bothered me. She clarified. Not necessarily to my liking, but at least it's out there.
Dr. Shrink is encouraging me to work with reg Shrink some more, to share my concerns with her. And, honestly, I kind of feel like leaving now would be yet another loss. I need to have difficult conversations, anyway. And if it doesn't work out, then I'll know I did what I could. (Why does that sound familiar?)
Canceled my apt with the fertility shrink and said I would get back to her to reschedule, but I haven't. Haven't even listened to the message she left me more than a week ago.
Had a gm.ail chat with my brother, initially thanking him for his birthday wishes (yes, it was the 15th), and basically making peace. Also spent some time talking about how we can talk about his wife's pregnancy and baby (He said that, for fear of saying something dumb, he hasn't been saying anything to me). Explaining why I was kind of f'd up when we were in NY for the funeral -- wanting to be with my niece, yet wanting to run far away. Yes, I had to explain how and why that split me in two. He did say, though, that they have held back from talking about the pg on FB, specifically in consideration of me. He was very insistent that I should reach out to SIL to let her know I'm thinking about them and the baby. And that I'm looking forward to meeting my new niece or nephew.
This bothered me. Maybe it was just that it was the day after my birthday, but I felt like, WTF? I'm the one with the dead babies, and I have to make THEM feel better? SIL generally feels like we all don't like her (why? that whole conversion I-don't-want-anything-Jewish-in-my-home thing? Hm. Maybe). She has shown considerable growth since then, but still. Really? It's up to me to reassure her?
Well, okay. I reached out. I wished her happy anniversary on Tuesday. I sent her a note saying that I"m thinking about her/them. She responded.
I texted my sister after my convo with my brother to vent my indignation, but her phone was off (you'd think that in the neighborhood where they live, they'd get better cel reception). She called me back in the 5 minutes that she had while she was getting the baby ready for the three of them to go out to dinner. "See, this would be a great thing to talk to an IF shrink about, to try to figure out how to deal with all these things. Okay, gotta go. Talk to you later!"
Yeah. Just like she did after my mom's illness and death, she is putting the pain of IF and baby loss behind her. Like it was an ugly detour in an otherwise perfectly nice walk.
I asked her about Thanksgiving. (SIL is about 25 weeks, due the first week of Nov.) She is likely not going to NY for it, both because BIL will probably want the holiday at the house, but also because she is still pissed at my brother because he didn't show enough excitement about her daughter's arrival. Or something. How about being a grown up and not sinking to that level? I ask. Yeah, well, we'll see. So much for burying the hatchet, huh?
These two will never get along, they will never forgive each other. And guess who is stuck in the middle?
Oh, it just makes me want to scream.
I feel different. Maybe it's the drugs working already, but, I feel like I'm moving in a different direction. Or, similar direction, but a different route?
I don't know. If we are going to adopt, I would like to get started on that. But we will be leaving this town, likely this state, in a year or so. In the meantime, we can find workshops, read books, I guess.
I don't know where I'm going with my work. I think that's part of the anxiety. I need to know why I'm doing something, where it's going, so I can apply myself appropriately.
I also feel less sharp. Like I've lost some of the spark, the intellectual sharpness that may have been there (or that I imagine was there).
Maybe I'll write a book. Maybe I'll present my narrative at a conference. Maybe I"ll do work for an IF or DB org. Advocate for them with Congress. Get more research, more resources. Or try to.
One of those magazines had an article talking about the silence around IF and followed the plight of a couple spending $20K on their last ditch effort to get pregnant by going to that famous clinic in NY. It ended with her pregnant with twins of course. But there were some good points about getting the word out. Making ourselves heard. Last year, when I still had hope of a pregnancy, I talked a lot about being infertile. About losing my pregnancy. It made me feel powerful. But I wonder if that's not because I felt like.... Hm. Like I was almost done being IF. Like I could reclaim life after IF, after DB, by being positive. And all that would result in getting pg. Magical thinking anyone?
I don't know where I'm going. Or where I should be. I'm neither here, nor there.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
It's 90-something degrees, blue skies with puffy white clouds. I'm out on a field trip by myself to try to do some work, or at least some writing, and to treat myself to something, be it a pedicure or something purchased with a gift card from my dad from March.
There were a couple of good clips about aging/turning 40 that I wanted to post, but our internet is out. Again. Maybe later.
So, yeah. Getting fb love. C is being very sweet. Feeling philosophical for now.
Thanks for being here, folks. You are a great gift to me.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I know some other clinics (c0rnell, NYU, CC.RM and some in LA) will see women my age as a regular part of their practice, and told her so. But know I know where she's coming from. Which may or may not be helpful.
I feel like if I had enough of the right support, I could get through IVF, but am already doubting the is the right support and am dreading the search for it.
I'll write about my appt w my reg shrink later. Def need diff kind of shrink, maybe grief counselor instead of IF? I'm so tired of all this.
Monday, July 12, 2010
How do you forgive your body, yourself?
Is it time and distance? Carrying or caring for your own (adoptive) child? Does that help you to block out all the IF and loss pain and grief?
Somewhere (forgive me, I forget) someone wrote about always carrying this, the IF, the grief.
Emotionally, I am all over the placen every single day. All. Over. The. Place.
I'm so tired of being sad. And hopeful. And frustrated. And guilty. And forgiving. And optimistic. And angry. And envious. And sad. And tired.
There is no one in my place. I know some have weathered this and come out on the other side, in various ways.
I don't know how to do this.
And I'm so tired..
Sunday, July 11, 2010
If you had the chance, what would you want you shrink/doctor/friend to know about what infertility after loss is like. Even if you've finally gotten pg? What was pregnancy like for you? What was/is it like between the time you decided you were ready to try and the arrival of the bfp? The baby? What was it like to go through treatments and/or other losses?
What if you decided to stop IF treatments and pursue adoption? Or to choose to remain without living children?
How did any/all of this feel? What emotions were dominant? What emotional or intellectual processes did you need to go through to get to where you are today? Even if you are not quite there yet?
I'm sorry. This is all so personal and huge. I think I need to feel validated in some way, or have some sense knocked into my angry, self-pitying head before and as I begin this conversation. If you have anything to share, I hope you will. Feel free to stay anonymous or email me directly.
I got a call back from the IF shrink I emailed, so I will be in touch with her soon, too, probably.
Thanks, folks, for anything you can share, and, of course thanks for being there.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Crying is good. Eating, sometimes.
Tired. Resisting focus.
My advisor/mentor is helping me, and very patiently. I seem to be failing him, too.
Couples therapist says that in pursuing a phd, I need to need it. To know I won't be complete without finishing it, contributing in some way.
My regular therapist seems to imply that I am far too focused on the pregnancy part, what about motherhood? I am coming to understand that there seems to be part of me that wants a do-over. To do it right. As if that will somehow undo all that has happened.
I failed at the most important thing I could ever try to do. Even if it's not true, it feels true.
Am I punishing myself, still? Is that why I can't let go? Why I don't push school as much? It feels so good, when I get into my work. When I am caught up in a thoughtful conversation about ideas I care about, with people whom I respect. When I can get the ideas down. Help a student learn something.
The only other time I felt as connected and hopeful was when I was pregnant. Yes, puking and miserable a lot. But good, too. Is it punishment or fear?
Jesus christ, how many times have I typed this? It's ridiculous. Christ.
The couples counselor says I'm experiencing complicated grief. If I want to change shrinks, I need to find someone who specializes in this. In addition to infertility/loss/adoption issues.
I asked my shrink last week if she had been to Reso1ve.org, thinking perhaps she might do a little research about a condition her client has been dealing with for 5 years.
I also had to explain the diff between IUI and IVF, and she used the dreaded "implant" instead of "transfer" in part of our discussion. I corrected her. She didn't like that.
My sister suggested at least the shrink at the big local clinic to at least begin my search. Couples therapist suggests really discussing this with current shrink before making any moves. I know she's right, but I'm apprehensive about confrontation. Not a great sign.
I gave my shrink my copy of the McCracken book. She thanked me and tossed it in her bag. Still, even with the beautiful, eloquence of the book, her experience subsequently was so different from mine.
Yesterday was my niece's first birthday. I put together a slideshow of my pics, some from A's oldest friend, some from A. I told her I was working on something and asked for specific kinds of recent pics, some of which were done by a professional. I made the soundtrack S.arah McLa.chlan's "0rdinary Mirac1es." Turned out to be a good choice.
God, I cried so much putting it together. Pics of the baby from birth to as recent as last week, with her mom and dad, my dad, Grandma, me, my brother and his wife, A and friend... The pictures were of varying quality, but the prof ones especially with A and BIL interacting w the baby were just beautiful.
A looks so beautiful, especially when she's with the baby. And SO much like my mother. Especially with the baby.
I texted with A after she got it (BIL was on the phone). She liked it. Loved it. "Ugly crying," she said. I taked to her yesterday and told her I didn't know what I could get for her birthday that would be special. "This is priceless," she said.
It makes me glad to know. I have such complicated feelings. With her, with her and the baby...where do my eyes go when I watch? What is it that makes me cry?
If I ever get steady internet again (posting via Bb), I might post it. (Anonymity and all,) but, if you get a chance, listen to the song, and you'll probably get what I mean about some of this.
Two of my dear friends have left our small college town for good. Trying to re-orient.
In a week, I turn 40. Not *quite* the dead end mentioned in WHMS), but it feels very, very significant, ad my body does seem to be changing against my will. (This is fodder for another post.*)
Things with my brother are non-existent. Total radio silence.
About 6 weeks til school starts again for the semester.
Life goes on, I guess.
(*Sorry this post was sooo looong. Thanks for reading.)
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
You don’t understand, so let me explain.
We thought we’d be able to have children and then we couldn’t.
It wasn’t a choice to enter into treatments/adoption/donor gametes; it wasn’t an option.
Having a child may feel like a choice to you, but it isn’t to us.
You and I will need to disagree on that, because you’ll never change our feelings about having a family be a need over a want.
When we’re cycling–whether we’re trying naturally, doing minimally invasive treatments, or doing invasive procedures–I am riding on a roller coaster of emotions.
I am angry. I cry a lot. I am frustrated. I am told one thing and another happens. No one can give me straight answers. No one can make real promises. We pay A LOT of money for the chance to have a child. This money does not guarantee that we will have a child at the end of the day.
We get pregnant and we are elated. And then we lose the pregnancy.
Or we get news that the pregnancy isn’t taking and we never get a chance to feel that elation–we only get the depression on the other end.
Even though I’m a pro-Choice feminist, I also love my children when they’re only embryos.
And that is a difficult thing to wrap your mind around.
You think that you know what we’re going through based on the small amount of information you know.
You think you know how I feel or how I’m reacting based on what I present to you.
You never see the full picture, but you make a lot of assumptions.
You are impatient that we plan our lives like this.
You think you need to make parenthood seem less enticing–this doesn’t make me feel better. This just makes me feel like you are belittling the thing I am putting myself through hell to obtain.
You say that you feel like you can’t support us. And you can’t. Not really. Or not in the way that you want to offer support.
Infertility isn’t linear. It’s a wavy line and you can’t know if you’re entering on a crest or a dip. I don’t expect you to get it right.
I don’t expect you to run in like a cheerleader and accompany me to appointments or help me raise money for treatments/adoption.
What I want from you is actually quite simple.
Ask me how I am and want to hear the answer.
Ask me about treatments and where I am in the process.
Ask me to explain to you more of what I’m going through.
Let me vent.
Don’t try to change my mind or see the world from your eyes.
I used to have your eyes too before this happened. And I know you mean well, but even if you say that you went through infertility or loss yourself, my own experience is unique.
I try very hard to be proactive. I do this not only by seeking treatment, but gravitating towards other infertile men or women or other people using assisted conception/adoption.
We are a supportive community.
They take care of my emotions–I rarely have to explain myself to them. They understand with few words. I enjoy being with them because it’s easy.
I also enjoy being with you. Sometimes I like being with you because I don’t have to speak about infertility at all. Other times, I like being with you because I can talk it out and explain and hear my own words and make sense of this myself.
Infertility is so different for every generation. When our mothers and fathers were experiencing infertility, they had few choices. They had fewer answers.
Now, we have many choices–maybe too many choices. It makes it difficult to step away.
I believe that I probably won’t understand much of what my children are going through if they experience infertility. I’ll try to be there for them and I’ll do my best. But I also know that they will have opportunities or choices to make that I never had. And it will affect them in a way that I will never understand because I didn’t go through it myself.
And that will make me sad because I really want to be there for them. That’s the closest I can come sometimes to understanding how you feel when you are dealing with me. So, I’m sorry. I know it really sucks to watch me be sad and feel like there’s a wall between us.
Infertility makes some women want to sweep it under the rug. It has made me want to be an activist–not only for infertility, but for all the taboo topics still out there. I talk about infertility a lot–not because I’m obsessed with the topic, but because it has shaped who I am and it is a large part of my life. It has to be–so much of infertility is a day-to-day monitoring that it becomes impossible to set it aside fully.
It makes me want to reach out to other people–and that is something I am extremely proud of that I do. I think I used to lead a life that was very focused on self and I think I lead a life that is now focused on others–the children I have, the children I want, the people I reach out to comfort or help. You may think I focus too much on self because you may not understand the intricacies of what I do. What I put myself through because I have a burning need to parent. You may think the choices I make are selfish. Or self-indulgent. You may think that I like being sad or that I should just move on. You may think that I’m making unhealthy choices. I can’t really do anything to change the way you think and frankly, I don’t have the emotional reserves to focus on you.
We can’t take you to the edge where we stand–we can only tell you about it. And hearing it is nothing like living it.
But if you want to stand over here and watch me at the edge, you may find that everything you are scared that I am or becoming isn’t true at all. And if you opened your eyes, you would see that I’m not at the edge to jump, but I’m at the edge because I trust myself and my choices so completely and I know this is where I need to be if I want to fly.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
When we first met with our RE, he and C bonded over the science. They were able to talk as two professionals, discussing research in scholarly terms.
During the cycle in which I became pregnant with the boys, I made a joke about a certain family with eight children, and he (my RE) was visibly angry at the irresponsible behavior of the woman's doctor. It takes careful monitoring, understanding of the reproductive system and of the woman's own chemistry, he said.
On my RE's website, from the very beginning, he has included the line, "A child is a gift from god." We didn't talk about god. We didn't discuss the quote, nor its implications. It didn't seem to have much impact on our treatment.
When I came back, finally, and began treatments, my RE had clearly gone through life-changing things. A divorce. An illness. He became certified in medical acupuncture. In the middle of restarting our professional relationship with him, my RE got remarried. To a woman who runs the shop where he does the acupuncture. To a woman who calls herself a psychic.
It was during our second cycle after we came back that we had a conversation where I told him that C was atheist, and I was agnostic, though leaning towards atheism. It was the idea that everything we had been through, everything my family and friends and loved ones had been through, was for a reason. I told him about the faculty member who told me "Everything happens for a reason." He, my RE, winced and said that's horrible. I told him that I was trying to understand the universe not just as chaos, but not with a plan from some god on high.
I think it was last January that I saw posted in the lobby a photocopy of some inspirational thing, entitled "why did god give me infertility?" The gist of it was that it was a way to give a woman (and her partner, I assume) a special relationship with the child she would eventually mother.
"Sounds like everything has a reason" to me.
Somehow, I ended up on his email newsletter mailing list and in part of his most recent featured article, was this:
It's not anything magic that we do in the laboratory. The real magic lies in children who are so wanted and desired by loving parents who pray over days/weeks/months/years. Through such careful attention and caring, the world now has the opportunity to share in the many blessings these mini-miracles are bringing forth.
Huh? Is it that I'm not praying? "Mini-miracles"? Blessings? Do I not desire it enough? Or in the right way? Is that why I lost my boys? Is that why I can't get pg again?
Do I not get these?
It sounds to me like this doctor believes there is a plan. That there is is some greater force deciding who gets to be pregnant, who gets to be a parent and who doesn't.
Maybe he thinks he is just the instrument of god's will?
Aside from all this crap is the question of interests, as in "of course he is going to recommend acupuncture because it is in his (and his wife's) financial interest." Or, "of course he is going to say that I don't really need IVF because he can get me pregnant because if I go to IVF, he loses a patient and the revenue. And yes, he did get kinda twitchy when I brought up the possibility of IVF. It was only in recent months, as I approach 40 that he seemed okay with it.
Oh and on his fb page, which, btw is open to all, he is a fan of "O.B.A.M.A -- One Big Ass Mistake, America." I don't care what your political beliefs are, if you are a professional (i.e. doctor/lawyer) or a smart businessperson, you don't put partisan stuff out there for everyone to see.
I feel like I've wasted 5 years. I feel like I've given tons of money to a man whose politics makes me ill.
Did I feel respected and cared for at the time? Yes.
But hindsight sucks.
Friday, June 25, 2010
An hour or so after my second K today I decided it was time for bed and took 2/3 of an ambien. That was about 45 mins ago. So, I'm a little bit high.
in my FB status today, I answered their question: What's on your mind? with Everything. You name it. It's there, making me anxious, sad, hopeless, worried, longing.
I got my records from my (old) RE in preparation for what might be the beginning of consulting with a new RE. The anticipation of beginning this again makes my chest clench. I have this ridiculous fantasy about doing just one last cycle with my old RE, since i have a bout a half a cycle of meds, and this last cycle would land around my 40th birthday in a couple of weeks or so. And of course, I would be perfect about taking my pills and shots and not overly stressing or anything because i would be working on other things like finishing my projects from this spring/summer (oh, which all have to do with loss and infertility and change of worldview and women in academia) so I can be ready for my comps in October. No. Sweat. And it would work perfectly.
In the world I live in, the sky is a lovely lilac/blue with twinkling stars.
there are terrible neighbors down the street who have (I think) two dogs, one of which lives in a cxrate in the garage and even though it gets food and water, I am tormented with sad dog visions and me sneaking over there in the middle of the night to take it out of the terrible, lonely situation it's in. They also have a chocolate lab I've seen them walk on one of those prong collars occasionally. Also, he's got a huge ford pick up truck with the ford emblem emblazoned with the confederate crossed swords. this nice jewish girl from ny is a little bit afraid of him. Oh, and they are also keeping ducks in a rabbit hatch in the garage, the same one with the dog. ??? I know. They are in the process of moving out and I am praying that there is a big pond and yard for the pup (a year old basset hound to romp in). I am becoming my mother. Except for that whole reproducing thing.
Father's day sucked. C is really feeling things and I have no way to comfort him except to be sweet and leave him be. And I feel terrible. Responsible. Which he would dismiss, but, you know, still.
I am getting nothing done. And part of me wonders if this is just frustration and trying to get over the hump from bio/pregnancy to adoption or if I'm really just this fucked up. I had an appt with my pharma shrink and he (along with every other professional and probably every other perosn I know (except my sister) is probably thinking "Ok, Sue, enough denial. Get your shit together before it's too late and you've acummulated 4 dogs and 6 cats and you're featured as some neuor-psycho on discov.ery heal.th. But not for "I didn't kno.w I was pregnant." Hah.
I want to get moving on things, but there is little ot get moving on because we don't know where we are going to be in a year or so.
My project at school, it appears, will be about all of these things, loss and infertility and the process of becoming a woman in academia and how it affects world views and I think, how can I write about this in the midst of this? And, id this what I want to establish my professional career with? and how can I deal with all this while I'm supposed to be writing scholarly work on it?
And two of the most important people in my life in this very small town in the last few years, wonderful people who have been supporting and understanding with all my craziness day to day and month to month (and yes, year to year) and all my grief are leaving town in the next few weeks. And they are moving on to wonderful, wonderful opportunities, and I am really so very excited for them, I really am, but I'm so very sad for me, too. I have not appreciated them nearly enough, have not been the kind of friend to them that I would have liked to be. And the last thing I want is for them to pat my hand and say of course you have, because it doesn't feel true, and the last thing I want is for them to feel guilty or manipulated or anything by this because they sometimes read here. Maybe I will write something else that is less weepy and more...something.
I need to get through my work. I am feeling like I am losing my standing and need to get through this. But my throat and my chest clenches and I just want to cry.
I'm sorry. I was hoping for numb. Not bawling mess.
There's always next time.
Talk to me -- what's going on in you worlds?
Monday, June 21, 2010
He's titled his post "How is today different from all other days?" which reminds me of the recitation of the four questions (asked by the youngest at the table) in the Passover seder. The wonderful thing (I think) about Judaism is that we all attribute varied meanings to holidays and rituals, and many of those meanings are accepted (you've heard about 2 Jews, 3 sides of a story?). Anyway, in my hippie Jewish school in the 1970s, Passover, or Pesach, celebrated survival: making it through the desert, making it through another winter. As a people; as people.
We have survived another year. Another winter. Another father's day. Two and a half years now. In some ways, I've gotten used to this load I carry. In other ways, it seems to change from day to day.
What makes today different from all other days? After all, it is simply another day we have survived -- survived when we did not know if we would.
And what the future holds? We simply put one foot after another, hoping/not hoping the load we bear gets lighter this year.
To all fathers with empty arms, you are in my thoughts.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
I sent her links to GITW and Stirrup Queens. Also the links from Julia and Chris's posts.
What else can I do? Something that helped me was messages from LFCA, but I don't think she's got a blog. Suggestions?
How about here? Feel free to leave her messages here. I'll pass them (or the link) to her through JK.
Times like these remind me how lucky I am to have you all. I know I've been whiny and a bad bloggy friend lately, but I really couldn't have made it this far without you.
Monday, June 14, 2010
A few weeks ago, I went to this life coaching group session and I actually said the words out loud: I can't have babies. Not without heroic effort. And enormous risk.
Every once in a while, I say out loud to myself. Perhaps I'm trying to get used to the idea.
We are likely done trying. I don't know what comes next.
I don't remember if I posted about this, but a few weeks ago I asked my brother if he was reading the blog. I had asked him to stop last year. I noticed hits from his workplace and hometown around the time he told me SIL was pg. He said, No, he wasn't reading. I asked him why the hits from work? He said he didn't know. Those hits miraculously stopped around the time I confronted him. Liar.
I sent him a bitchy email judging him for taking a "babymoon" to Mexico when he was bitching about being broke. I told him I resented his complaining about losing vaca time to support me and them using another week for this babymoon when he could be using it to be home when his newborn comes.
He's back from his babymoon and sending me resentful email at 1:20 am. I didn't read it, but apologized for the bitchiness. I told him I'd stay out of his business but he'd better appreciate what he's got.
I scanned the email. Can't believe I was even arguing with him. No sense.
And my sister recently recounted a tale of woe surrounding some dinner party and catering hassle she had to deal with.
Sorry, folks. I just helped my oldest friend bury her mother and I have just come to the realization that I will probably never conceive or even carry any children we might be lucky enough to raise.
I am in the process of giving up on my body for reproduction. I turn 40 in a month. In the family self-pity Olympics? I fucking win.
I have therapy tomorrow for the first time in a few weeks. I'm sure she's going to tell me I'd better get my shit together (school work, relationships) before I lose all of it, and end up with nothing but a mountain of debt.
Or maybe that's the couple's counselor. 'Cause, you know, panic makes me so productive. Time to kick some therapist butt.
2:43 am. Time for some ambien, I guess. At least.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
I was glad that I could just be there to be moral support. Lots of familiar faces. Some very difficult moments. I hope I could give her a little of what she needed in those times. It was hard for me, too. But I know there is nothing like losing your mom. It brought it back, a lot of it. But somehow the 9 years distance has helped some. All I could do was be there. (And bring challah and rugelach and black and white cookies from our favorite local bakery.)
She is an amazing woman, B. Strong. She does the right thing because it's the right thing. She took care of her mother in life and death. And though it's cliche to say so, I think B's mom would have been pleased with the way B honored her. B has an older sister, who is basically absent and selfish. Their mother died on Tuesday; B's sister, who lived 3 hour away, "couldn't" make it until Sunday morning. something about work. B did everything. Without bitching, without announcing. Just because it needed to be done. To take care of her mother. To honor her.
I consider myself so lucky to call her my friend.
My visit with my dad was good, too. I felt like I was a grown up. We had grown-up interactions without the complications of family dynamics and drama. My dad was happy to share his knowledge of trusts and estates to help B. It was what he focused on in his 30 year career. "She's family," he said. Indeed.
I think my father feels bad that he didn't give me my mother's engagement ring. However, he said he found his mother's engagement ring and wanted to give it to me. It was just beautiful. I don't know the lingo, but a simple gold band with small diamonds along the top. I was touched. Speechless that he would share this with me. Dad holds on to things, precious things like these. It means a lot. I don't think I communicated that to him. I hope I can. He spoke with his sister, my Tia, to make sure that she was comfortable with this, and she said she was pleased (or something) that I would have it.
Coming back was hard. In NY, I was just Sue. Grown up. Doing things that needed to be done to support friends, family. Not thinking about school or infertility or dead babies. Except, of course, traveling and seeing so many beautiful babies. Those pangs I couldn't even name until I felt them a bunch of times. That wanting to just... just wanting all those babies around me, the impulse, the empty arms... I don't know.
Now I have work to do. School to get through when all I can think about is life and death and family and reproduction. C and I have had some very difficult conversations. Productive, probably, but incredibly difficult. Starting to understand what lies ahead and what came before. And the impact of it.
I haven't been able to move, to do *anything* the last day or so. Maybe it's just catastrophic thinking about how to get through, to produce my dissertation, immerse myself in all that thought, theory, life, change. Delving deep into...everything.