Whining


I have been doing some hardcore psychotherapy.  I started in, oh, a few months ago.  My therapist is digging into some of my deepest hurt and fear from abusive childhood stuff and it’s been good for me but hard.  Without going into too much boring detail, the method has to do with identifying different “parts” of me that sometimes show up during different situations.  It’s not like real-live disassociative disorder (i.e. Sybil) but just the mild version that all of us have.  For example, if you were called into your boss’ office and fired and then marched to your desk and then shortly thereafter walked out the door with The Box that says “Yes, I’ve just been canned,” you might do it in a state of numbness, a state of iron self-control that surprises you; but then at some point later you’d probably shift into crying, throwing things, or whatever your flavor of coping might be.  My therapist would say that a “manager part” of you handled the mechanics of getting out the door, remembering to get all your stuff out of your desk including the air-conditioning cardigan sweater that you leave in the closet, and then that manager part would recede once you were in a safe place and your other feelings could come out.

This has been incredibly helpful for me and I’m now looking at the “part” of me that overeats.  Motherhood and overeating seem to go together, can I get an amen?  Because motherhood is stress, and it’s a new stress.  I’m approaching my motherhood stress in a special way, and by “special” I mean “uniquely effed up.”  Because of my vow never to complain about motherhood, I’m eating all the complaints and I want to stop.

Complaints happen.  Motherhood is hard.  If you hate me for having a child and complaining, then click away, Dixieland.

For me the stressed-out feeling comes because it never ends.  “It” being the “on-duty” feeling.  As I’m sitting here on the couch now, typing, and D. is playing right next to me, and we’re gated into the living room, it doesn’t seem so bad.  And “bad,” it isn’t.  But it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  That’s for sure.

I’ve been thinking about jobs I have had in the past.  I do very well with brainy, individual projects that I can work on and complete on my own schedule.  I do well with deadlines, because even then I can still be in control.  For example: if you require me to be at work from 10 to 6, during which time you hope I can get as much done editing on a 10,000 page manuscript as possible, and you begin thrusting pages at me the minute my ass hits the chair, I’ll do okay.  But if you say to me that you need 5000 pages edited as soon as possible, I’ll probably get more pages done that way, in the same amount of time.

I’ve done a few jobs where the pace was up to someone else.  I worked in retail at exactly one job for exactly two weeks before I was fired.  I worked at UPS loading boxes, and that was pretty freaking stressful.  The boxes just kept coming.  Although, I will say, that the shift did end and the boxes dried up.  And, packing boxes that are almost all uniformly square is a lot different than trying to be a perfect mother, giver of affection, consistent disciplinarian, preparer of nutritious meals, innovator, and cheerful reader of the same book a million times – that ain’t no square box.

Another facet of my mothering aptitude is repetitive tasks.  I suck at them.  If, on a temp job, I had to do a huge and messy xeroxing job, I would generally mess it up, because it was so boring I could not stay focused on the job.  Sigh.  All of this rumination about my various jobs makes me feel that I am selfish and spoiled.

It is what it is.  The important thing is that whatever my objection to spending 13 straight sole caregiver hours with my son, they are surmountable.  But the part of me that eats thinks I can’t handle it, so that part takes over and suggests that cookies will help.

And, here’s the bitch of it: they do.  Unless it’s cookies #6 and 7, which is way too many cookies even for me, they DO help.  They feel wonderful.  They make me feel like a kid in a good way.  My mouth (amazingly) forgets the soft bloom of sweet that fills my body even if it’s only been a few hours, and so it is wonderful all over again.   Obviously cookies only help for a minute, but the part of me that eats is convinced that one minute is all the comfort we can hope for.

So I need to admit that I feel trapped.  When it’s time to pick my indescribably loved and wonderful child up from daycare, I feel selfish and frustrated.  I feel afraid that I somehow won’t “handle” the next six hours even though I do handle it, every day.  Instead of just jumping in, having fun, and staying in the moment with this somewhat angelic little boy, I sometimes count up the hours in my head until bedtime, and they feel heavy on my spirit.  Sometimes I try to “get things done” while taking care of my child, and he ends up throwing things at me to get my attention.  I end up appalled and angry that he is such a little savage when he really just wants his mama to look at him and snuggle him for a minute.  Sometimes I eat cookies or candy that I don’t really want, and sometimes I watch TV and garbage on the computer, because I feel cheated or stolen from, and I eat to “get something back.”

Nice, huh?

Another weakness of mine comes into play, and that is the persistent idea that “getting things done” is more important than raising my child.  That two loads of done laundry and two batches of chicken chili has more value for the family than a day of laughing with my child.  We all will say oh, no, that can’t be true!  It’s the most important job in the world blah blah blah.  I agree with that, but if so, why do daycare workers get paid so little?  Why are teachers paid so little?  Are we so blind that we can only see the value in some tangible thing like a vacuumed rug, even though that rug will have to be vacuumed again, and our child will never be this exact age again?   I think we all want it to be the most important job in the world but we don’t know how to see it that way.  I sure don’t, nor do I know how to do it that way.

The crowning irony is that when I feel resentful and afraid of the demands of motherhood, there is a part of me that tries to protect me from those feelings by eating.  I am mothering myself in that way.  Badly.

A thousand of you can write and tell me your own version of this, and I’ll still feel like I’m not redeemable, selfish, spoiled.  That I forgot so quickly that not having a child hurts so much more.   So I just have to do the work of letting the ugly out and somehow finding a way to own it and maybe I can move past it.  Which for me means not medicating it with food.

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Most of the time gratitude is my companion and sometimes it is my gentle reminder.  When being a mother is hard, I think of how hard it was not being a mother.  The hardest part, well, who knows what was the hardest part?  But it was often hard not knowing if I would ever get there.

I have a friend who used to say, when we were both single, that she wished she could just get a postcard saying “He’s not coming.”  So she could adjust her life accordingly and stop wondering when she would meet The Guy She Was Going to Marry.

Infertility felt like that.  The waiting would have been easier had I known it was just the waiting, as opposed to the first years of It’s Never Going to Happen.  Obviously It did happen, twice; I am married and a mother.

I have walled myself in with gratitude, which I have always thought was a healthy thing to do, maybe a form of emotional hygiene or good discipline or something.  I want to complain? Can’t go there.  I have to remember to be grateful.  I want to be sad and fearful that I won’t be able to have another?  I can’t go there either.  I have one, after all, and many do not.   Just not being able to “go there” can be helpful sometimes.  Today it is biting me in the ass.

I’m on a trip that I stupidly thought would be fun, accompanying my husband to his college reunion.  His friends are lovely.  The town where his college is, his hometown, is grim, to me; but I’ve been here many times.  I was stupid to think this would be fun because my husband is busy and I have care of our toddler a lot.  I also didn’t anticipate that our son would be less of a good traveler this trip than others.  So after a day of him screaming and refusing to nap, then screaming and refusing to go to bed, he’s up screaming at 4:45.

When I am this tired and frustrated, I have so much rage in me that it’s scary.  Sometimes a child grows and suddenly can put his own coat on, or say “all done” or walk across the parking lot and the change is wonderful.  But when he suddenly can’t go to sleep like he usually does, I am driven crazy.  We’re going in the wrong direction.   I am so close to the boiling point right now.  The bargains I have made – that I would be as good a wife as I could, and cheerfully make this reunion possible for my husband, that I will understand that he needs 9-11 hours of sleep a night even if I never get that… that I will stay calm and loving to my child no matter what … seem ridiculous and unfair.

But gratitude says I can never complain about having a child, because when I was infertile it was unbearable, and, I thought, selfish.  Yeah, sweetie, you’re tired. You never have any time to yourself. How’d you like to have, oh, your whole life to yourself, with no kids at all, ever?  And that’s all valid, and hopefully it has kept me from complaining, and being the gasoline poured into somebody’s gaping wound.

But oh fuck, I am so frustrated and tired.  Having to keep him quiet is just the last straw.  Suddenly gratitude is just a bitch snarling at me to keep it buttoned up and that’s not helping.

It gets better.  I spent yesterday afternoon with cousins and family members.  When I was almost asleep last night my husband started talking about how Z’s husband just knew it was going to be a girl and I realized that Z is pregnant and I hadn’t been told.  This is no big deal; my husband rarely knows anything that I don’t know, so it doesn’t occur to him to tell me.  And Z was probably keeping things discreet since X was there, and X has recently lost a baby.  And my husband’s mother is a deaf as a post.  So communication is not exactly happening.

But oh, that was a blast from the past.  Even though finding out someone was pregnant used to hurt like crazy, finding out when someone was pregnant after everybody else knew was worse.  For me, this is because not being able to get pregnant felt like I didn’t belong.  And not being able to manufacture even fake joy when someone else was pregnant made it clear that I didn’t belong.  And not being told at all, whether on purpose or by accident, really shoves me outside the circle and nails the door shut.  Whether any of it is true or not, that is how it feels.

I hate that.  I am perfectly happy for my relative.  She wants kids, she is pregnant, that is all good.  My “secondary infertility” is well underway, of course.  I want another baby and when someone else is having a baby, particularly a second baby, I feel the pang.  But it’s not, nor should it be, a big feeling.  We have just started working on #2, and while “working on” a baby is obviously a big long project for us when it isn’t for lots of people, and I have gotten used to what our “working on” looks like.  There are advantages to our kind of work.  “oooohooooo…. this woman’s work…”

But then the pretzel kicks in, and it’s painful.  The pretzel is all the ways I have decided I must and must not feel, by virtue of being ever grateful, and not being annoying like other fertile people were when I had no kids and no hope.  These are the rules of the pretzel.

1) never complain about how hard it is, because someone (in my head) will say, rightly, “well you wanted kids, nobody told you it was going to be easy” or “why’d you go to so much trouble to get them if you can’t cut it?”  Never complain because those who have no kids and want them will hate you for it.

2) never complain about how hard it is, because someone in my head will say “well what do you expect?  you’re 47 and you’ll be ___ when you get pregnant and you’ll be ___ when the baby is born and you’ll be ___ when the baby is ___ and by the way your husband is so old he’ll probably die at the worst possible time leaving you to do it ALLLLL ALLOOOOONE………..”  I don’t know who this bitch in my head is, but she hates me.  Actually, I do know who she is, and couldn’t you just cry?  She is me.

3) and that means why should I want a second?  I clearly can’t handle even one.

4) never complain about wanting a second because I should be glad I have one, and many can’t even try for another.

The pretzel, obviously, denies logic.  Which is it?  Am I scared to have another, or am I sad that I can’t?  How can I be scared of something I may never get?  how can I be sad about the lack of something I am scared of?  Obviously the answer is “yes.”

Yes to everything.  Yes I’m scared, yes I want, yes I don’t have, yes she does.  Yes I’m better off, yes I’m worse off.  Yes I feel it all, the ugly all of it, and Ican’t pretzel myself. I’m a big lump of dough going in every direction. Yes.

Today my estrogen level was 20.  This means my ovaries are shut down and not doing anything.  My last estrogen level from the Bad Clinic?  636. Supposedly.  Hm.  My lining, described by nurse at the Bad Clinic as “you couldn’t hope for a better lining” was a barely adequate 7.  (millimeters?  I guess)

The good news is we can probably get my levels up to where they need to be and my cycle won’t be canceled.  We are maybe “stuck” here in Chicago a few extra days which would be fun.  We’re staying with friends who have plenty of room, so it’s not about a huge hotel bill.

Today’s trip was pretty good.  My coordinator had me pick up some Estrace tablets, which go not in the mouth but in the hoo-hoo.  That was a schlep to a Walgreen’s, a half hour wait before they figured out they didn’t have it, the promise that another Walgreen’s had it ready for me, arriving at that Walgreen’s and finding that they did not have it ready; no, they did not start filling it until I walked in the door.  Walgreen’s has been sucking lately and I’m getting ready to switch my considerable pharmaceutical business elsewhere.

My coordinator wanted me to start the estrace immediately, so I pulled over on Skokie Boulevard and shoved that sucker where the sun don’t shine.

But how much could that TN clinic screw up, anyway?  Turns out, a lot.  I’m still waiting to hear from Blue Cross, who has been trying to get them on the phone for almost a week.  And my coordinator told me that they never did send any results on the same day, and they actually did not send my saline ultrasound results at all.  Ever.

In all this, my coordinator handed me the forbidden apple by saying  “Are you sure you only want to transfer one?”

Ohhh I am so tempted.  My cycling life has now become complicated.  I probably have no clinic to do local monitoring.  If we move the embryos to TN, I still have no clinic to do my FET for me.  There is a nice local clinic but not in my BC PPO.  If we transfer two, there is a better chance we’ll end up with a pregnancy and hopefully an end to all this hassle-iciousness.  If we transfer one, there is less chance we’ll end up with a pregnancy and not a lot of good options to cycle again.  If we transfer one, there is smaller chance that we’ll end up with a pregnancy but no fear of twins.  If we transfer two, there is some chance of twins.  If I become pregnant with twins there is more chance of a complicated pregnancy, and that sometimes means losing one or both.  Or serious damage and risk to me.  And that’s all before we even have two babies to care for.

I’m sliding into the rosy fantasyland of how “fun” twins are… how cute… how ? plentiful, my cup runneth over, abundant after so much waiting and desert and all that.

This is bad, people.  We cannot have twins.  We cannot handle twins.   My husband is gone 3 days a week.  I was completely sick with one baby for nine months.  I don’t want to be in the NICU, not for one day.  I don’t want to have two 4 pound babies.  I want one 7 pounder.  I need to be strong and transfer one embryo.  One.

Yesterday we started our trip from TN to Chicago.  The purpose is to do IVF#7 and see friends and family.  We had to fly Southwest which meant a three hour drive to the airport.   We got to the counter and were told, and not very nicely, that we had to have proof of age or buy a ticket for Daniel.  Proof of age?  Like a driver’s license?  This is an ironclad rule for Southwest when they are usually so reasonable.  Had to call my pediatrician’s office and have them fax something to prove his age.

Had a not terrible but hot and exhausting flight followed by a hot and exhausting trek to the rental car complete with figuring out how to put the car seat in.  Car seat?  Oh yes.  We checked car seat, pack&play, and big suitcases.  All the luggage arrived so I can’t complain about that.

This followed by long, hot, slow drive from airport to Rockford, where we will visit family.  Traffic is incredible.  No question why we left.

All yesterday and today my coordinator was trying to find a clinic where I could get one lousy ultrasound and one blood draw to re-check my estradiol since the Bad Clinic, y’know.  Turns out no clinic out of about 10 within 30 miles will do it.  I decided to go to my own clinic’s west branch, which would be a schlep and a half.

I just found out they are – wait for it – closed on Thursdays.

So I have to drive to my regular Chicago clinic to get one more check.  76 miles one way.  Mostly because that ASRM-accredited clinic back in TN either doesn’t know, or did not care enough to read an ultrasound and communicate professionally with my clinic.  I’d be in a better mood about it except yesterday was a long day of travel, about 6 hours in the car total.  And Monday we drove home from an earlier trip, 9 hours, with a stomach bug, misery, exhaustion, and pulling over to barf.

Here’s where i usually put the “but I’m so lucky to have embryos, husband, insurance, blah blah blah.”  And I am.  But this still sucks.

I waited sixteen days to see the doc.  We had a lovely talk about my problems.  He wasn’t the warm-and-fuzziest but who cares.  He explained the drugs to me

hahahahaha who knows how those things work?  selective uptake blah blah dopamine norephrinone, or is it Nora Ephronone?  Makes you feel like you’re in “When Harry Met Sally?” I’ll have what she’s having.

yeah anyway

We decided on a drug that I’ve never heard of but is apparently the cool younger brother of some other meds that we all know and love.  I drove directly to the pharmacy hoping to pick it up and start ASAP but I have to take it in the morning lest it give me too much energy for sleep.  Energy.  I think I remember what energy feels like.  I went and picked Daniel up from the go-to friend who was kind enough to watch him and went back to the drugstore to pick it up only to find out they have to order the drug and it will come in sometime after 9 am.   Um, thanks for the extra trip people, could you not tell me that upfront?

I’m up at 5:30 with the baby… no I’m actually up at 3:30 with the cat who is meowing loudly.  This is actually a good thing since that is her “I am having diarrhea all over the house” meow and now I know to watch where I step, and find the carpet cleaner.  Ha ha, that’s a joke.  I always know where the carpet cleaner is.   The baby wakes at 5:30 just because.

I wait and wait until after 9.  I feel almost bright and shiny, as if this is the first day of the rest of my life, only to find that the pharmacy can’t get it from their warehouse – not today and maybe not? ever.  But “we’ll call you when it comes in.”  Um, right.  I’m going to sit around for a few weeks waiting for your call before starting my antidepressant?  Are they kidding?  So I tell myself  it’s just Walgreen’s that sucks this much, but no.  My doctor has apparently prescribed something so fabulous that nobody has it.

The irony is that I have samples of this longed-for drug that I now sort of hate.  In my purse.  Three weeks’ worth.  But they are the next level, not the first week low dose I am supposed to start with.  This drug comes in irritating irregular dosage amounts like 172 and 348 and nobody carries the 172.  Or is it 178.   And I can’t just split the pills in half because the delivery of the medicine is crucial and the pill has to break down over time.  Unlike me; I am breaking down all at once.  And there is no fucking around with this medication or I could have a seizure.

Delightful.

I called the psychiatrist’s office and asked his assistant where I am supposed to get this stuff.  She is supposed to call me back and I have no doubt that the pharmacy that has it is on the far side of the moon.  But that’s okay.

Waiting.

Bad timing.  After a huge weekend filled with family love, celebration, and good food, I'm alone with my almost 2-month old baby for the next three days.  And after being with us since our baby was six days old, my mother has gone home.

Now I understand the end-of-the-rope feeling that new moms get and it's only less than one day out of my three.  I am alone for three days because my husband flies back to Chicago for work from Tuesday morning through Thursday night.  I hoped to line up a friend or two to stay with me for my husband's last commutes of the year but they fell through.

Before I get rolling with the self pity I have to acknowledge the women who don't have a husband or a mother's help, ever.  The women who have more than one kid.  The women who have a kid who isn't as easy as ours.

Nevertheless… this is hard.  I am feeling like a dope because on occasion I have bitched at my husband for "only" taking the baby for "a few hours" here and there through the day, and for part of the night.  I'm an idiot!  That was lovely.  This is unrelenting.  Just being able to hand him off to somebody else – I'll really appreciate that the next time I get the chance.

I'm typing this, by the way, because my baby is not exactly sleeping but not exactly screaming and I can be not-holding him for a few minutes.  There is holding him and there is not-holding him; there is no more me.

This sounds whiny but it actually may be my survival strategy.  If I just forget about cleaning the mess, doing the taxes going to the gym reading the book or doing anything that is… well, anything… then I'm fine.  I just have to sync up with the baby; eat when he eats (this is tricky) sleep when he sleeps and be in-between when he is. 

It's hard.  It's boring, frankly.  He is cute and I adore him but I can't gaze at him 20 hours a day.  I watch a lot of DVDs and that helps me not resent the hours he might want to spend not exactly sleeping, or the way he sleeps soundly in my arms and pops awake the minute we get near his crib.  Thank God for the endless supply of "CSI" available instantly through Netflix.  I must find other online TV, any ideas?

I'm trying not to panic.  He's not screamy – at the moment – and when he is it's actually easier when there is no one around.  Part of what's awful about a crying baby is the looks I imagine I am getting from other people or who he might be keeping awake.  If it's just me, well, whatever.  But it's unrelenting, isn't it?  I used to not get the new moms who said they couldn't shower or read a newspaper.  Now I get it.  I used to think, just go to the gym, how hard can it be? They have daycare, right? 

But oh, the strapping him into the car seat and the hoping he doesn't cry or getting the timing right between feedings or trying not to be so exhausted that I'm a menace behind a wheel just getting to the gym.  Never mind having the energy to actually exercise once I get there.  Not to mention entrusting him to the strangers in the daycare center.  I may just allow myself to sit in the hot tub or get a massage there, hopefully after at least a token amount of physical activity.  Which I need because eating healthily at this point is the extra mile I cannot go; thank God I stocked up on healthy frozen meals because five minutes in the microwave is all i've got to spend on dinner.  And of course my sugar cravings have never been more intense.

Sigh.  Baby's crying.  Thanks for letting me whine.

I post about strategies for my upcoming cycle at Trusera.

{edited}

I deleted the rest of this post.  I was repeating some mean things said in an email to me and venting about them.  I guess I don't feel as venty anymore (I might be feeling grande, instead, and must get to the gym hA HAh ha). 

The friend who emailed me the comments is an old friend who I have not seen or spoken to for years.  I know very little about what her life is like any more.  While my friend's comments hurt, she just happened to use infertility as a topic when she could have used any other thing. Since this particular exchange is about the first time we have talked since our bitter breakup many years ago, it seems petty to post something that is actually much more complicated than it looks.  I'm not sure it really does me any good to post in that "oh no she ditn't" and "what I should have said" vein… that's just me… even if this old friend will never read it.  So uh, never mind.

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