Recovering


I have landed in physical therapy many times, from various injuries.   Most have been textbook type of things that anybody would guess an overweight woman might suffer, like back injuries, or knee issues or whatever.  But I have had a few that were odd.  Once I pulled my quadratus muscle, which is an obscure rib-bone-connected-to-the-hip-bone kind of thing (sorry if I’m getting too technical here).  The physical therapist didn’t figure out  that’s what it was until he employed the usual PT detective work which is <poke> “does that hurt? <poke> how about that?” until I scream.  Come to think of it, the dentist does that too with the cold-air thing, trying to find the tooth that makes me cry every time I eat ice cream (and do I stop? nooooo)

Lately I have been poking myself.  Trying to see what condition my condition is in.  People pregnant here and there, and all that.  Even though I’m probably expected to slide back into the emotional inflammation so typical after an infertility loss – the punch in the gut when I hear so-and-so is pregnant – I haven’t.

Really.

I certainly don’t begrudge anyone that particular thing.  It’s just part of the deal, worse for some than others.  Some women puke when they’re pregnant; some get cankles.  What are you gonna do.  Some of us felt worthless and picked on by God, some of us had evil fertile cousins, some of us had wonderful attitudes all the way through.

I have written before about how some of my crappiest life experiences have woven themselves into the fabric of who I am.  I am not a person to whom this or that heartbreak happened; I am a person, and that heartbreak is a part of me, just like some other undeserved gift also is a part of me.  Obviously having a child, and the child that we got, really turns down the volume on the heartbreaks that came before.

And I am thankful/sorry/grateful/sad that even as I have the occasional friend pregnancy to remind me of what we lost, I also have baby loss, and miscarriage, among my friends and relations.  To remind me of what we have.

So I’ve been poking, at my heart.   Friends having babies.  The Time article on only children, which has been suggested and recommended to me more than once.  <does that hurt?>  The bags of baby stuff, and the hesitant way my husband and I try to discuss a future that may or may not have another baby in it.   That was a baby we used to feel sure of, and now we don’t.  <poke>

I seem to be fine.  Still recovering from losing the embryos; still peeling back the layers of anger and numbness and sadness and fear.  But I’m pretty sure that the jealous, bitter, cheated part of me dissolved somewhere along the way.  I continue to believe that letting that little tumor be what it is, until its work is done, is a healthy thing for me.  Trying to pretty up infertility and not feel the blackest parts usually just made it even worse, so I was messy and jealous and … you know.  Let’s just say I rode all the rides.

I wish I could show my face (in the way that I never wanted to before) when good news strikes, and let the friends who get it know: it doesn’t hurt anymore.   Really.  Poke away.

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I have been corresponding with a friend who is just wading into the terrible icky painfulness of beginning to contemplate real infertility.  Not “oh yay, we’re going to the fertility doc who will fix everything” nor “we’ll we’re trying, and I guess maybe we’ll do IVF if it Doesn’t Happen (but we’re still pretty sure it Will Happen).”  All that is just preamble.  No, I’m talking the ugly, horrible, “my husband wants this, but I want that, and it’s all second best, and we don’t have enough money for any of it” ugly.  And I’m acutely aware of how I must come across to her, me on the farther shore with my cute baby, seeming like it was nothing.  Does she cry when she sees cute pictures of him?  I did, when I was her.

I am also contemplating some over-40 pregnancies, the kind that used to drive me crazy.  The kind that I was sure God “owed” me, and yet seemed to give to “everyone else.”  A few friends have “checked in” to see if there is pain and gnashing of teeth over this and I’ve said that there isn’t.  All that is over, I say, and today I sat down and thought hard about it.

Is it?  Am I truly not bothered?  Have I forgiven God for not giving me what I thought He should have?  Is this the end of me feeling ripped off and cheated?  The answer is a resounding yes.  If the answer were no I guess I would still write about it.  I can’t fathom feeling ripped off when I look at our baby, or when I think of the trouble free pregnancy (not discomfort free, just mostly free of scariness) compared to all the little and big things than can go wrong.

But it’s not all pretty and frosted over and forgotten.  How I feel about the infertility and where I ended up is: very lucky and blessed.  I also feel sort of, almost glad for the infertility part.  No, not glad exactly; just accepting.  It’s part of our story now just like all kinds of twists and turns brought us to our husbands, our jobs, our homes, whatever.  It’s not all neat and pretty, like “well if we hadn’t had the miscarriage on THAT exact day we wouldn’t have met X or thought Y or done Z…”  It’s not like that.  The miscarriage and the ectopic sucked, the negatives sucked.  The debt is still here.  The little lives in the petri dish are still lost.  The fallopian tube is still gone.  I still don’t know why God caused / allowed some of the things He did.

The test for me, to see if I really and truly feel accepting and okay about it, was going to be other women’s pregnancies and I am happy to see that I am only happy for them.  I said I was happy for them, and I did not lie.  I think a little lie in those instances is okay – if I have the strength to smile now, and cry later, I guess that’s a considerate thing to do.  But I am only smiling.  And when I say it’s not all frosted over, I mean I still think of how I didn’t get that particular thing, but it’s an objective thought now.  As in, “oh, that’s the path they are traveling.  Mine was different.”  And then… and you can scoff if you want… then I feel a little bloom of warmth for our path.  Our shitty, painful, expensive, time-draining path with the six IVFs and the ectopic and everything.  It just is really, really mine, and since I like the ending of the story, I guess I like the whole story too.

When you have a child, and you all will – must – should – end up with one, if you don’t have any yet – the child teaches you about uniqueness.  Before my child, uniqueness was just a nice thing that everybody has.  Yeah, yeah, we’re all different.  But my child, and yours – they are so amazingly one-of-a-kind.  When you are so in love that you cherish every fart and blemish and stray hair – it has helped me love the rest of my life and my story, too, just the way they are.  It has taught me to respect the other uniquenesses.  Myself, my body, my life – they’re not just good, bad, ugly, pretty, fair, unfair.  They are so interesting and important because there is nothing like them.  My story isn’t someone else’s and someone else’s story is not better.

I don’t want to be one of those annoying, chirpy people who say that having a child fixes / heals everything.  It doesn’t, and a poor little baby should not have to bear the responsibility for healing mommy and daddy.  Shudder.  I actually think the long time it took us, which was five years of hoping / “trying” and three of actual IVFs  – was part of the gift.  Time is what it took and time is what we needed to be broken, and then put back together again.  Stronger in the broken places.  At least… some of them.

Logo_trusera_beta  Some friends at Trusera were asking me how to support infertile friends, so I posted about that over there today.  Let me know if I left anything out.

Trusera is growing and I recommend it.  It’s a little bit cozier than the wide-open blogworld, and it facilitates conversation back and forth.  It also gives participants a place to write stories in addition to blog posts, which I like.  Stories are a nice way to step outside the narrative, or to not apologize when one has no narrative.   As I often do. 

Not much going on, otherwise.  My transfer will probably be late May, possibly right over the Memorial Day weekend.  I hope to drag one of my doctors into the hospital on every major holiday before I’m done. I did not have the usual Lupron delay before getting to cycle day 1, so that’s just one less thing I get to complain about today.  I’ve experienced a few pregnancy announcements in the last few days, some from deserving infertiles and some from regular folk.  Who of course are no less deserving.  Just… different.  Anyway, I’m shaking ’em off pretty well, at the moment.  So and so is pregnant.  People do that.  Life goes on.

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Somebodys_mom_promo_still_just_rela My friend Sarah sent over this picture from the video she’s working on for the IIFF which is of course the International Infertility Film Festival.  End of the month, I think?  Anyway, it’s a music video… can you guess what the song is about?

In other news, many rays of sunshine are breaking through this week.  First of all the bloggy love coming my way both on- and offline has been very healing and is much appreciated.  Mel over at Stirrup Queens and her Clickers have a way of sending the love right when you need it. 

Secondly, I have lost 6 pounds.   This is dramatic, huge, and never happens.  I may start another blog if this keeps up because I may have found The Thing That Really Works (For Me).  When I hit the 10-lb. mark… must be sure this really keeps up.

Finally, I am really, really, really reaping the benefits of this cycling break.  I just didn’t want to do it for so long and just kept thinking the next cycle would be "the one" and then I’d feel better and all this long nightmare would be over.  Underneath all that was my fear that if I stopped cycling, the pain of not having children and time rushing by would drown me.  Who would I be, even for a few months, if I were not on my way to having a child?   I have said that being overweight wouldn’t bother me if I were pregnant, that my age wouldn’t bother me if I were, if all this emotional and physical wear were actually getting me closer to having our family, then it wouldn’t bother me. 

But that’s not true, for me.  It does bother me and I’m scared.  I can’t go back to being 250 lbs. like I was.  I can’t let the hormonal lows get any deeper than they did. I don’t want to get diabetes, gestational or otherwise, and in the madness of back-to-back cycling I was starting to think that anything was worth it if we ended up with our babies.  Not everyone has a choice about stuff like diabetes, and I may not either, but I can work on my weight and hope for the best. 

So I’m taking a break and it turns out the pain didn’t drown me.  The anger is a big presence, but I am learning more about how to live with it, let it out, even direct it in positive directions.  The pain that did come turned out to be a giant neon arrow saying "hurt here, work HERE. Heal. Here."  And, with the help of God and trained professionals, I am. 

I am also getting back a piece of myself.  No, I’m not ready to assume the identity of a childless person.  I try it on, every now and then, like my next smallest pair of jeans; and like the jeans, the childless thing hurts a lot and squeezes me into an alien shape.  The jeans, I will get into.  The other, I don’t think so.  But for some reason, the identity of someone who is childless for now is bearable. 

Part of that may be the utility of being childless.  I couldn’t see it before but I am appreciating it now.  My husband and I are enjoying a very nurturing time for each other and our marriage.  I’ve got so much free time, me time, we time that any mother should hate me. 

It’s also nice to remember that I chose it.  I didn’t choose to be infertile, I didn’t choose the timing of my marriage to coincide with turning 40 and all that.  But I did choose IVFs, drugs, doctors, betas and all that, and while I didn’t have a lot of other options, I still made the choice.  Now, when this break ends, I will re-choose All That again, and I understand that better now.

So, thank you.  Thank you Stirrup Queens, thank you nice commenters, thank you pain and insight (one seems to invite the other).  Thanks for healing, both of the heart and the ankle ligaments.  Thanks to God and mental health professionals. 

This time of year, and during tough emotional times I often feel like the spider, the eentsy-weentsy one; this week I’m happily climbing towards the sky again.

Lion22 I have not been posting much.  Two reasons, I think.  One is I am working through some strong emotional storms.  This has gone well, which is one way of saying it really sucked until I learned some stuff.  New situations can touch old wounds; cornered, I feel really bad until I am forced to re-examine the old wound and then (sometimes) get help to heal it. This happened for me last week.  The stress of having two sprained ankles in the family, fighting my weight gain and finding it a very uphill battle, a difficult winter when I am sick of this climate, on top of the "everyday" stuff like failed cycles and all the rest.  I now feel a lot like a deep thorn was pulled out of my paw.  What a relief.  In a strange way the stress was a gift because it forced me forward.  You know, one of those gifts that suck.

Speaking of paws, the second reason is that I stumbled into some internet hate, also last week; you could say I put my head in the lion’s mouth.  It didn’t happen here.  You’re glad you missed it.  It was a complicated situation where I said something that wasn’t welcome, and I didn’t say it very well, and that was my mistake.  The unsettling part is how quickly disagreement can escalate when there are none of the normal "rules"; we are free to vent, and rage, and, well, hate, beyond what we could get away with in person.  Particularly in commenting, which is where this event took place, there is a herd effect that can happen.  Every person who comments feels the need to find a new way to challenge, disagree with, insult, and, well, hate that minority commenter who said the unpopular thing.   A remark or event doesn’t get said and resolved in real time; it goes on and on.

Some bloggers welcome debate or disagreement.  Some do not.  Some know that their receptiveness changes with the post and the day, and many of the more experienced bloggers I have read are adept at letting us know ahead of time what sort of challenge is or is not welcome. No approach is right or wrong.  I used to laugh when I would see this kind of conflict on other blogs, one lone commenter flattened under dozens of vituperative responses, but from under that pile it’s not as funny.  I’m having my own personal Rodney King moment.  Can’t we all just get along?  Can we disagree with more respect and less escalation and hate?

The answer may be no.  A lot of us are here to vent and rage and experience unconditional support.  If there are things we can’t say or do in "real life," then this may be place to say and do those things.  That can get dicey, since we want to vent and rage but we also crave community.  It’s hard to have community in the same space as unfettered venting without some casualties.  The casualties don’t matter much.  They’re just names, often not even real ones, on a screen.  Until they are you. 

I’m less a fan of venting than I used to be – my experience is that the rage and hate generally splash back onto me and I don’t always feel better when it’s done.   That’s just me.  Everyone is different.

Nevertheless, some of us are looking for input beyond unconditional support; some are not.  I pity the fool who gets it wrong.  I was that fool.  I’m taking a break from that particular blog for a while, and probably staying away from my own blog on some days too.  Still processing.

Today is “Leap Day,” a date that only happens every four years.  In this spirit of ephemera many bloggers are posting about loss; pregnancy loss particularly, but the losses pile up for us and it’s not for me to discern among them.

For me that is five IVFs, 16 embryos lost in various ways, one chemical pregnancy and one ectopic pregnancy.  It hurts too much to think of the babies that were, or might have been.  It also hurts to think of the “why?”  So many questions we can’t get answered, but still must face.

I’m swept away by Kate’s post.  Go and read it if you can.

I began trying to conceive with confident, church-sanctioned faith in God and the Bible.  Completely untested faith.  My circumstances and experiences have left me with something wholly different.  It is still faith, but it is full of giant, gaping holes.  Mystery.  Confusion.  The elements that I learned as solid, proven, and logical are none of those. 

What I have now is a pile of feelings: anger at God, fear of Him.  Disappointment.  Betrayal.  Love that I feel both for and from Him in moments when I don’t expect it.  In the pile there is also a stubborn healing, a shoot of grass poking through concrete reminding me that beauty and grief and joy are so mixed up sometimes that I can only surrender to them all.  (“Can surrender” not necessarily the same as “will” or “do” surrender – I am no better at that than anybody else). It is harder to love and trust a pile, a jumble of conflicting experiences and thoughts, than it was to live under the whole cloth where I started my faith.

But this faith is the one that Kate describes; it’s a faith of choice.  I don’t have good reasons to believe.  I just believe because I want to, I need to.  I choose to believe.  I choose to be the fool who might be wrong, because I’d rather be that fool than the hard-hearted person I used to be, who didn’t believe in God or miracles or angels even though secretly I wished to.

As I lay on the ice last Wednesday I realized that my ankle maybe wasn’t broken and I felt foolish.  But I was oh, so glad to be wrong; to be the foolish girl who called an ambulance that I probably didn’t need was better than to be the girl who was going to be wearing a cast until spring.

Similarly, I am glad to be this fool of faith because of the ephemera, the whisper of hope and unconditional love that I feel for and actually find some days, like a fresh breeze on a still day.  Great lives have hung on much less, I am happy to hang my small life on it, and so I do.

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