Snow Day Ponderings

I swore I was never going to become one of those “everything happens for a reason” people. I want to protest and maybe as long as I don’t say the words, I can maintain that promise to myself.

But I am starting to appreciate the ways that my failure to conceive a child has actually blessed me.

I was so ready my last IVF cycle. I was so sure. I was “healed”. It was time. I had been through enough. It was my turn! But I was also “she who is never not broken” and I began to accept that I would never feel whole again. That my new normal was this somewhat tenuous “okay”. Or I thought that I would seal the cracks by being a mom and that this child would seal me. I’m so glad I didn’t become a mom then. What kind of mother would I have been if I placed the entirety of my self worth in a child? That’s a heavy burden to place on such tiny shoulders. I’m glad I cancelled the next cycle the day I was supposed to start it. I regret wasting the medications, seeing as some people never become parents due to their inability to afford them. I paid a very small percentage and they all expired in our fridge. For that I am sorry.

As a result of cancelling the cycle, I changed my life forever. A month later, I had a consultation for weight loss surgery and now, around the time of what would be Blastkap2’s first birthday, March 22, because you never forget that stuff, I’ve lost 103 lbs and gained a wholeness I didn’t know was possible. It’s kind of superficial to say that I didn’t heal until I lost weight, but that’s also not the whole truth. There’s this cliche that weight loss is less about what you’re eating and more about what’s eating you and there’s clearly some truth to it. I would put the level of misery of the weeks (and months) after my surgery pretty close to the profound sadness of our infertility losses. It makes sense though. I couldn’t eat (or drink) away my problems anymore. I was left with no choice but to confront my bullshit. Every day I’m still left no choice but to confront my bullshit and either push through it or find a different route around it. Not every day is a push through it day. Some days are pity party days and I escape to reality TV. Some days I lean on those close to me and they remind me that I’m a brave warrior princess and/or they remind me that I don’t have to be one all the time.  A lot of days I just have to kiss it up to God and just say “Help me help my stupid self”. But some days, slowly but surely, I fake it until I make it and I’m doing ok.

I have found a level of confidence I didn’t know I had. I’ve started to advocate for my own needs, knowing that I’m worth it and scary as it seems, knowing that I can walk away from situations and relationships that aren’t in my best interest.

I started a small business which was a huge leap of faith and continues to be a huge leap as I try to grow it, but it is also my “baby” of sorts and it makes me so much the “me” I want to be. Plus it’s 99% social media, which anyone I’ve ever done training for knows is my favorite way to pass time. I maintain that should I ever be on a unit for people with dementia and I’m agitated, the staff should hand me a phone and tell me to scroll Facebook and I will calm down.

I’m not saying I’m not still kind of a hot mess and my kids are going to have to accept and forgive that but I can say I’m truly glad I have had a little more time to become a little less broken…and I still have seven more months to become my best me before it’s even a bridge we need to cross again.

What the actual?

So I had a plastic rod put in my arm today to prevent me from getting pregnant for the next year. So there’s that.

I’m trying hard not to get lost in my own head and focused too much on what I don’t have and can’t do anything about until I throw myself into a downspiral and wind up paralyzed in a puddle of my own tears on my couch.

Life in most other aspects is going really well. I feel incredible. My weight loss journey is going well. The weirdest thing seems to be happening where I feel like I’m coming into my own…finally. It’s probably a confidence thing that I hid inside of a 300 lb shell and dared not make noise for fear of being noticed. I’m working on taking compliments and not taking any shit.

Today, the day of my wonderful arm rod, the busiest OB/GYN practice in Boston was, surprise, running late. As usual, ultrasounds and baby bumps galore. 45 minutes of silent eye rolls and Cyber Monday browsing later, it was my turn. After all was said and done, the NP apologized for the wait and the people-pleaser in me was about to say “It’s okay” but instead I said that the long waits can be challenging for me with my longstanding infertility because of the number of overexcited people in the waiting room. I’m a work in progress because it was laced with “it’s not that big of a deal” and “…and I know that really can’t be helped”. But at least I spoke up at all. The NP was actually pretty receptive though and asked for my input on how it could be better.

Hubby and I have a practice that medical procedures mean you get to pick lunch. I probably could have indulged more than a kale salad (though it’s one of my favorites!) and a skinny latte so I decided to binge on Netflix instead. Gilmore Girls!

*GILMORE GIRLS SPOILER ALERT*

That’s when I feel like they betrayed me. Paris runs a fertility and surrogacy clinic and Luke and Lorelei are there halfway through the first episode. Come on. What the fuck? This was supposed to be my nostalgic distraction from this adult crap. Gilmore Girls was a simpler time. I could stay up all night. Vodka didn’t give me hangovers. I could achieve anything. Fuck.

I think this is going to be a long year.

 

Ten Fifteen

So here we are again on October 15. Things are definitely a lot more settled around here, especially compared to last year and definitely compared to two years ago. Our infertility is no closer to resolution but my heart hasn’t added any additional scars. We’re just kind of on cruise control.

I’m in the midst of making some decisions and steps that could change life for us a little. I’m putting together an application for possibly a second masters to advance my career and/or looking into starting a side business as a break from my primary occupation. Both have developed super recently and at the moment I’m just not positive what the best course is. What is a huge change for me is that the possibility of being pregnant has hardly crossed my mind for consideration. Maybe it’s just acquired wisdom from experience that not being able to try for a year doesn’t mean it can or will happen exactly a year from now. In the past I would have been paralyzed by the “what if I’m pregnant” which has held me back from so much of the last 6 years. I’m kind of like “we’ll figure it out when there’s something to figure out” which I really have to admit is a big change for me.

That’s why it’s kind of weird that this year I felt compelled to do something meaningful to commemorate October 15. I had it planned for months: I was getting a tattoo today. I started researching designs, some more obvious than others. I settled on an overall concept that had to do with never forgetting and included three hearts that represented the Baby Rafkaps we never met. Hubby will certainly experience some guilt for this story, but this is his journey too and he is entitled to having his concerns heard. Anyway. He suggested I leave room…just in case out of superstition. I held back tears. It was like the bottom fell out of my stomach. I have only ever thought of the losses as something behind me. Something I’ve found the strength to get through but always remember. I stopped thinking that it could happen again. I think part of me knew that if we got pregnant that I would certainly have fear, but that it wouldn’t happen again. I’m actually a little surprised at my own optimism. Needless to say, I need to regroup a little and rethink because if I experience another loss, the last thing I want to do is run through my checklist like “MD to see WTF, Blood tests to 0, add heart to tattoo”. Yeah. No thanks.

I reconnected on Facebook with a relative that for my own reasons I hadn’t spoken to in a number of years. As is usually the case in these situations, the questions came “How are you? Any kids yet?” I responded about my surgery and how I’m feeling pretty good overall and I completely ignored the second question. I’ve generally been pretty outspoken about my journey and never have shied away from that question. This time, it was like I couldn’t be bothered to even respond that God hadn’t given them yet.

I really don’t know why. Not that I’m complaining.

 

Passing Time

Holy shit. I’m blogging. Didn’t know when it would happen again. I figured it would be a momentous occasion or reaction to something either dramatically positive or negative. Nope. Just a really chill realization of the matter-of-fact way we’re finding peace with the journey.

Sometimes it’s frustrating that people around me are moving on in their family building and I feel a little left behind with my mandatory contraception until October 2017 (not that I’m counting down or anything). I find it helpful to focus on the awesomeness that is right now. I’m focusing on how different the world feels without an extra 70+ lbs. How concert seats are more comfortable. How I’m less afraid to trust chairs, roller coaster safety supports, hammocks. Of course, being out of exclusively plus size clothing doesn’t hurt either.

I’m kicking around a sort of Day Zero/bucket list for this time. Not that I don’t think I’ll be able to do these things once the baby making window reopens (I of all people know that nothing is guaranteed) but it’ll give me so much cool stuff to focus on right now. It’s nothing crazy, just small fitness things like trying Soulcycle or things I never thought were possible like running the Falmouth Road Race (still not 100% it is possible but I’ve got 51 weeks or so).

Overall I really do feel more settled than ever. It helps that I have three wonderful godchildren whose cuddles fill the void like no other. My goddaughter (AKA my little BFF and my mini me) is super smart and absorbs everything, even if she doesn’t let me in on it right away. She has given me a glimpse into just how much my infertility had consumed my conversations with people because lately, she has had a lot of questions and statements about me and babies. Not too long ago my mom and I were talking about my goal weight and BFF asks “is that the day they give you a baby?” I couldn’t help but laugh. Over the last few weeks she has had a lot of questions about when/why/how I will have a baby. I had to choose how to handle it. I didn’t want to lie to her or tell her she wouldn’t understand because she shows time and again that she understands so much on her own time. So I chose to be honest with her in the gentlest terms possible about anything and everything she asked.

Today she absolutely floored me with her recall and processing. We were talking about some hypothetical future. She turned to me and said “You can come visit with the baby you had or adopted”. So plain and just accepted as fact in her mind. I think it surprised me not only because this three year old has these concepts kicking around in her head but because her attitude seems to mirror mine without me realizing it. Well, we /do/ call her my mini me.

I swore I’d never be an “everything happens for a reason” kind of person, and I’m still not, because there really is no explanation for some of the devestatingly unfair shit that has happened to people, but I will concede that there have certainly been a few silver linings (not even including the insane summer of concerts we’ve had).

 

The Blues 

I think I have my first glimpse of what postpartum depression will look like if this all works someday. It’s not pretty.

I had my surgery April 25. They took a pregnancy test that morning and I literally laughed at them like “Good luck with that”. I took a serious nap, so serious that I have no recollection of 7ish hours. “What time is it?” I asked. “6:30 pm” my hero with dilaudid answered. “Holy shit” Yes. I’m so classy. I had been held over in the PACU due to room availability and lousy oxygen saturation. 

The pain was excruciating and the nausea was worse. The first two days of this new way of life were the worst I had ever experienced. Each day gets a little better, or at least that’s my text reply. I’m off the pain pills. Everything is great. Right? I’m smiling, see?!?!? 

I’m full of shit. After the pain went away, I was left with a funk. A crying everyday, lonely but yet don’t feel like talking to anyone funk. Partially this stems from sheer exhaustion at the least effort. Showers are so taxing that I wrap up in towels and lie down for a few minutes so I can get the energy to get dressed. I needed a nap after going to whole foods with Hubby for soup (where I cried because it smelled like food that I couldn’t eat.) The weather didn’t help as my big exciting walk to the mailbox and dog potty breaks were mostly done in pouring rain. 

There was sun today and as soon as I spotted it, my diva dog and I were out on the deck. I’m going to have Hubby home all weekend. I finally drove my car today. I won $100 on a scratch ticket. Today could not have had more ingredients for a good day and yet, Hubby left for the overnight and I cried for a half hour. 

“Uh oh” I thought to myself “Am I relapsing in my depression?” Clearly the best option was to google. As it turns out, there is a legitimate thing called “Post-op depression” that is caused by your brain’s adjusting to anesthesia, weaning off narcotics, and not being able to do what you used to. The good news is it usually improves on its own. I’ll probably have to keep an eye on it and know to call my psychologist. 

The good news is, Mother’s Day feels the easiest it has since we decided to try for children. I don’t know if it’s because so much of me is consumed with recovery, or if I’m moving forward and my spirit finds that suitable. All I really care about is not having to sit and watch people eat, so I think Mom’s getting a private visit. 

Spring Cleaning

I’m 9 days from surgery and I have been recently obsessed with making my house spotless. Mostly because I am blessed to be well loved and know that people will come to visit at a time when cleaning will be difficult. 

Hubby worked in the ER and I decided to let him sleep in while I cleaned the office. I keep saying I’m going to make it into a yoga and meditation room. I conceded to “exercise” room but right now it’s an office that we set aside as a nursery when we bought the house. Being an extra and somewhat empty space, I’ve subconsciously filled it with everything I didn’t have a place for…including a fridge full of IVF drugs I’ll never be able to use before they expire. 

As I’m cleaning, I’m picking up packages of needles, gauze, alcohol, progesterone, estrogen. 4 cycles completed and 1 cancelled has left me with a large amount of stuff I can’t use. And I’m finding myself getting very angry. Irrationally angry. 

I feel a sense of guilt that somewhere someone can’t afford meds and I have a full cycle waiting to expire. I feel a sense of loss that it’s all still siting here waiting for me and I just can’t do it. I feel grief that this room is still a cluttered fucking office and not a nursery. 

I’m kind of a hoarder. I hate letting go of things that seem useful. Clothes that will never fit again, stuffed animals, birthday cards, all stashed somewhere I never see them but to move them. It would do me so much good to take a trash bag and throw everything away and put the fridge out of sight in the basement but I just can’t do it. It’s like $8,000 worth of stuff that someone might need before 2018 and I’m tossing it because I don’t like looking at it? That’s so wasteful. 

I’m kind of feeling that this room isn’t the only thing in need of some spring cleaning. So I’m sitting, paralyzed, in the middle of this room and am just at a loss for how to attack. 

It has been a weird week. I found out that a fellow infertile myrtle is finally pregnant. My joy for her was coupled with a sad realization that there’s a good chance my whole support group will have children before I’m even able to try again. Later that day, I saw a Facebook announcement of a wonderful couple in my life and I was happy for her but the cosmic injustice was felt strongly. I came home and received a baby shower invite in the mail. I texted Hubby “this day is out to get me”. 

It should have motivated me. I should have been like “This is why I’m doing this ridiculous thing” but instead I was immobile on the couch all night. 

I think I read somewhere that problems come equally from what you’re eating and what’s eating you. 

Yep. Definitely thought this was going better before. 

Anywhere But Here

This has been kicking around in my brain for days, though it was a planted months ago, and really it has been my whole life. Even now I’m not fully certain it will come out right. I thought about calling a friend, the priest, my psychologist, and then like the proverbial lightbulb, I remembered I have a blog.

So here goes, last spring, I’m spending a lot of time with my boss. Which is actually a positive because I love my boss. She’s kind of a mentor turned life coach who would cover my ass in a heartbeat and then tell me privately how badly I screwed up. I start pretty much every work day with the goal to not piss off my boss. Anyhow, she and I were discussing IVF and in her matter-of-fact way she said “I think you need to learn to bloom where you’re planted” and goes on to clarify her theory that people make themselves miserable because the life they want keeps them from the life they are supposed to have. Oh the secret eye roll I gave her. “She’s just lucky enough to never have to understand” I told my Mind-Body group. “We have allies and she just isn’t one of them”. 

Nearly a year later, I’ve realized just how right she was. 

I don’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t always waiting for something more but probably the teenage years started with the big dreams. “If I only had a boy who liked me, I’d be happy” Only I had my first “date” with my first “boyfriend” and wanted no part of it. A week later, I was over it and pining for the next, always assuming the next had the promise of happiness. I was head over heels for Hubby from the day we met  but I couldn’t appreciate that. It was all about when we would get engaged, plan our wedding, and when things get complicated, I consider walking away. 

Work is no different. When the aforementioned best boss ever sends me a litany of nasty-grams, I start thinking about quitting. Not that I have any reason to honestly think anything would be different, just the fact that the answer to job satisfaction is leaving my situation. Sometimes it’s just walking away from management, the thing I did 18 months ago, but usually it’s quitting my job and becoming a yoga teacher (who can’t do downward facing dog). 

Sometimes it’s geographic relative homesickness. When I was in college and later lived in Brooklyn, all my misery was that I was too far from my family and every time I went home to visit, I never wanted to go back. Now every visit to NY, I want to move back. I miss my NSLP too much. NYC is “so cool” and “open late” and “Hubby should have more time with his family”. Sometimes it’s somewhere new entirely. The week after my Dad died, I was in negotiations with a recruiter to take a 13 week contract in LA. 

My fertility journey has been no different.   I’ve put it on a pedestal as the thing that would make life immeasurably more satisfying. I just haven’t had the chance to prove myself wrong. I’m having gastric bypass surgery in a little over 3 weeks and as much as I really am doing it for me (and I’m of course assuming that I’ll be healthy and happy and productive when I’m thin) it’s just another hurdle to clear in the race toward motherhood. 

I don’t know why what I am, what I have, where I am is never good enough. A glance at my Pinterest will tell you all you need to know. I have plans to run, cook, be organized, read and crochet…all of which I’m not particularly good at. I lied. I suck at all of those. I don’t know why it’s not good enough to walk, reheat (when Hubby cooks better than anyone else I know),  and cognitive download via trash television. 

I feel compelled to fill up my schedule despite the fact that the more I do, the more worn out I feel. Maybe I fear the downtime because I’m more comfortable with “doing” than “being”. I think about a time that I was asked to describe myself. I immediately stated my job. They said “That’s not who you are. That’s what you do.” I think I’m afraid of just being because deep down, I don’t think I’m good enough. 

I really do have a beautiful life. My marriage is 70% wonderful with 29.9% entirely neutral, leaving only 0.1% sheer torture. I have long friendships and new bonds with great people. I have the most beautiful nieces, nephews, godchildren. All my basic needs are covered without question. I travel. 

I think I know once and for all that my fight or flight response is all flight. 

But how do I even begin to start to bloom where I’m planted?