Monthly Archives: January 2009

Thanks for the commentary…

I want to tell you how grateful I am for all of the kind comments that have been made lately. They mean more to me than I can really express.

For me, probably the most difficult part of this infertility journey is the isolation. So few people in my real life know about our fertility problems (and I wish some of them DIDN’T know—I’m looking at you mother-in-law!) and it seems to take up such a large part of my emotional energy that I end up feeling a tremendous disconnect between my internal and external lives. People ask how I am or what’s new, and all I can think about is the very thing that I don’t want to tell them.

This is in large part why I started blogging. I wanted—needed—to be able to be “real” somewhere in my life. Over the last few months I realized I would have fake blog posts bouncing around my head, and I would often find myself thinking, “If I had a blog, I would write about this.” I also saw the connections made between bloggers and the support that they were able to offer each other and I really wanted that.

So, thank you. Every comment helps me to feel a little less alone.

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fantasy and reality

I have this kind of default way of thinking about my life that I’ve been trying to resist for a while now.  I seem to always be living in the next step, living in the fantasy of the next day.  So much more of my energy seems to go to tomorrow, or next week, or when X happens, and so much less of it seems to go to today, right now, this moment, my life as it is.

Often, the thing that I see as missing in my life will take on some kind of magical quality.  Kate Harding calls this the Fantasy of Being Thin, but it can be the fantasy of getting married, being rich, having a baby, or just about anything that takes on this quality of “my life will be perfect if only X.”  I remember as far back as middle school, thinking about a classmate of mine, “What does she have to be unhappy about?  She’s got a BOYFRIEND.”  After all, that was all MY life was missing, wasn’t it?  If I had a BOYFRIEND then I would never be unhappy again.  All of my other problems would just fade away.  (Though looking back, of course, this over-focus on a boyfriend was a convenient and safe way to avoid facing some of the real dysfunction and pain in my life at home.)

A while back I started realizing how much I wasn’t living, how much my life was on hold.  I was just waiting for the magical baby to arrive (shortly preceded, of course, by the magical pregnancy).  I think since I got married, all of my energy has been so focused on “when I get pregnant” or “when I have a baby.”  (This, too, has been to avoid facing some pain and dysfunction, but that’s a story for another day.)  Since being married, my professional life hasn’t exactly gone as I would like it to and I haven’t put nearly as much effort or energy into friendships as I used to.  I’ve been lonely, bored, and disconnected.  All of this was ok, though, because pregnancy and baby were right around the corner, I just had to hang in there a little longer.  So I didn’t really put much energy into my life, I just kind of numbed out and hung all my hopes on the magical baby.

I have been learning, slowly but surely, two steps forward, 1.5 steps back, to live my life as it is, not as my fantasies would have it.  This can be hard, as the here and now is often so painful.  Recently I read this piece in Exhale magazine, and it really spoke to me.  The author says:

“No babies are going to solve my problems, or return to me what I feel I am ‘owed.'”

Real life doesn’t start when I get a boyfriend, or get married, or get pregnant, or have a baby.  Though it may be full of pain and dysfunction, real life is right now.

Add this to the list of stupid things people say…

The scene:  office baby-shower for co-worker in the last weeks of her oops! pregnancy.  People generally standing around and admiring the cute decorations.  Enter stupid co-workers 1 and 2—both middle aged grandmothers who regularly take it upon themselves to arrange your life.

Stupid co-worker1:  Hey, Quiet, when do we get to give you a baby shower?

Me: (mentally fumbling, wanting to stab her in the eye, but answering politely)  You’ll probably be waiting a while for that.

Stupid co-worker1:  (with great disappointment in her voice, as if I am committing the greatest social transgression ever)  Oh, Quiet Dreams!

(some time elapses)

Stupid co-worker2:  Hey, Quiet, when are you gonna have a baby?

Stupid co-worker1:  She said it’s gonna be a while.

Stupid co-worker2:  Oh, Quiet Dreams!

(After staying an appropriate amount of time, Quiet Dreams exits the festivities to go cry in her car.)

workin’ for a livin’

So I think that I have one of the worst jobs possible for someone dealing with infertility. I work in a home-visiting program for prenatal and postpartum women and their children. “Women,” I guess, can be used loosely, as most of my clients are teenagers. (I’ve had moms as young as 12 years old. Yeah.)

So our programs goals are support and education. We focus on strengthening parenting skills and hope to prevent future problems. We focus a lot on birth control, because, these girls are some of the most prolific that you will find. With many, many of our clients, it often takes not one but two, count them, TWO oops! pregnancies™ to figure out that they need to use birth control. Yeah.

When I got this job, I thought it would be great for me to learn so much about pregnancy and babies (and I have learned a lot about both) because, hey, we were going to start “trying” soon. And then I realized I hated this job (for many reasons, not the least of which is that I’m overqualified—I have a master’s and even my supervisor doesn’t), but I didn’t really need to quit, because I would be pregnant soon, and that would be a natural way out of the job. Ha, ha, ha.

So I’ve been in this job about two years and three months, and have wanted to quit for, oh, about two years. I actually got to the point last May where I was GOING TO QUIT FOR REAL…and then Mr. X decided he didn’t want to renew his contract with his job and so we would only be in this city for another year anyway, and was it really worth it to find another job, change insurance, and then just have to leave in a few months?  (Mr. X’s job pays a LOT more than mine and is much more specialized, so it basically determines where we live.)  Notably, it was also this career decision of Mr. X’s that led to our deciding to put the IVF process on indefinite hold until we get settled somewhere else.)

So I didn’t quit. And so I go to work every day and talk about pregnancy and babies, and visit incredibly young mothers who often never even had a real chance in life, and see babies and children that I just hope will have better lives than their mothers.

Maybe I’ve hardened, but the funny thing is that these pregnancies and babies don’t bother me nearly as much as pregnancies and babies in my “real” life. This really struck home for me a few months ago when my co-worker ended up with an oops! pregnancy™. I realized then that it was much easier for me to go visit some pregnant sixteen year old in the projects than to have to listen to my co-worker debate the benefits of girl babies vs. boy babies in the office. Or talk about how she was disappointed (DISAPPOINTED!!!!) when the ultrasound showed that she would be having a girl. Yeah.

I guess I am able to separate more from my clients (though they do get to me on a number of levels), which is a good and important skill to have in social work. I definitely see myself and my life reflected more in my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances than I do in my clients and it definitely gives me that punched in the gut feeling more when I see one of them pregnant than one of my clients. I do wonder what the unconscious stress this job is adding, though. I often think it would be so nice to get a break and not have to see pictures of pregnant women, or talk about pregnancy and babies so fucking much.

The good news is that (hopefully) I can quit (for real) in about six months. The bad news is that I still have to deal with what must be one of the world’s most fertile group of acquaintances out in real life, and I don’t think I can quit them.

Would I choose this?

Some time ago I was telling a friend of mine about my sister’s pregnancy.  (She had the baby from this pregnancy a few weeks ago.)  So anyways, this friend, P, had dealt with infertility, she and her husband ran out of money, and then her marriage ended, so she definitely understood some of the complicated feelings one can have about hearing pregnancy announcements.

So I was telling P about my frustration with my sister.  Of course, I was frustrated that my sister can apparently get pregnant whenever she wants.  Of course, I was frustrated that she’s my younger sister and already  had two children, while I was getting left farther and farther behind.  What I was frustrated about in this instance, however, was the fact that my sister, whom I love, just didn’t seem to have a clue that things could possibly go any other way for her.  What happened is that she told everyone apparently as soon as she confirmed her pregnancy.  EVERYONE.  Everyone includes her two-year old.  Sis was one month pregnant and told her two year old that she was going to be a big sister in eight months. (!!!!!!!!!!) No thought to “what if I miscarry?” at all.  No “what will I tell my two year old if I miscarry?”  I was upset about this situation on a lot of levels, but most of all, I was just so pissed that she had the luxury to be so naive.

I remember saying to my friend, P, that my sister just lives in a different world than I do, a world where bad things just don’t happen in the world of procreation.  P said to me, “I really wish I still lived in that world.”

At the time I was taken aback.  My first reaction was “I don’t EVER want to go back to that world.”   I don’t ever want to take this stuff for granted.  I don’t ever want to be unfeeling to others’ fertility struggles.  As much as stuff sucked at that time, part of me wasn’t so quick to relinquish the struggle.  Part of me saw value in the struggle.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and now I’m not so sure.  Lately, it just seems like being in this holding pattern for so long, going so many months without an inkling of a plan, this endless waiting with no concrete plan for when we might start actively start “trying” again…it’s just beating me down.  I feel so beat down.

And it’s all so nebulous.  I feel a little out of place in the IF blogosphere because we’re not doing anything, we’re just waiting for some things to change, and then we’ll see.  There’s not even a definite plan, because we don’t know where we’ll live or what our financial situation will be like.  My day-to-day stresses aren’t really about IF.  IF is just the looming cloud that’s hanging over everything.  And beating me down.

So I don’t know now, what I would do, which world I would choose.  At one time I thought I was becoming a better me, a better potential mom by dealing with this, by struggling through this.  Now I’m not so sure.

Not that I have a choice in the matter anyway.

Back here again.

So here we are again. Things had gotten better for a while, but it seems it doesn’t take much to get us back in that down spiral.

I haven’t posted for a few days, but I’ve thought and thought and thought about it. I even started a couple of different posts.

Mr. X was gone for a few days, and while he was gone I was so lonely. I thought I would be reveling in the alone time, but all I could think about was how empty my life is. That when my husband goes away for a few days, I am totally alone, except for the people I talk to at work. And I don’t really have the what?—energy? desire?—to make any efforts with people anyway.

So he came back and now we seem totally out of sync with each other. The bad thing is…now when we fight, it brings me right back to where we were last fall when things were really bad, when I was pretty sure that we weren’t going to make it. And generally, we can get back to a good space, but right now I am so low I don’t even know what to do. I know it’s not all about my marriage, but it does seem like when stuff with Mr. X is bad, it makes everything else seem that much worse.

And when everything seems so bad, all I can think about is what a failure I am. Marriage falling apart, no baby, career I am pissing away, no local friends. Why is it that when I start feeling bad, my knee-jerk reaction is to dump on myself? Why, when I need so much kindness, do I want nothing more than to berate myself?

When does this start getting better?

Can I have a do-over?

Today is my thirty-second birthday.  I am another year older, and am exceedingly aware of what feels like a lost year in the procreation department.

Last year I remember getting off the phone with my oldest friend and crying.  Along with birthday well-wishes she told me that she was pregnant with her second child.  That was one of the first times I remember being really sad after learning of someone else’s pregnancy.  And it made me feel like shit.

This year, that kind of disappointment feels like old hat.

Last year we learned the extent of our fertility challenges (so far, anyway).  We started the process for IVF (pre-testing only) and then put the process on hold.  I decided I hated my job enough to quit (because obviously a pregnancy was not right around the corner-which had been my reason for not quitting sooner) and then decided to stay since it turns out we will only live here a few more months.

Last year my marriage almost imploded…and then started to heal.

Last year I started facing my compulsive eating head on, and stopped ignoring it through the endless diet merry-go-round.  Last year I started the big task of getting serious about learning self-love.  Last year I cried a lot.  Last year I gained a lot of weight and started learning how to love my body unconditionally.

Last year I did not get pregnant, not even close.

I can’t seem to get past that last sentence.  That is the thing that’s holding me back, the weight around my ankle keeping me from running.  My whole life had been moving on a trajectory towards pregnancy and children, until it wasn’t, and I was left not really knowing where to go or what to do or even who I was.

I’m not sure what I want to get out of this year.  The first thing I thought was “survive.”  There are a lot of changes coming.  New jobs (hopefully) for Mr. X and for me in a new city.  Selling our house (I’m thinking positively here).  Maybe starting fertility treatments.  Maybe not.  There are so many unknowns-but aren’t there always?  I’m just in a unique position of being aware of the unknowns right now.  The future is always unknown, even when it is so carefully planned out (as I had it a couple of years ago).

So here’s hoping that the blog post I write on my thirty-third birthday will have a cheerier tone.  Here’s to diving into the unknown and surviving.  Here’s to celebrating birthdays and celebrating life.

I really don’t want to re-live the last year, anyway.