Moving Forward

…the awkward moment you start getting emails regarding your “upcoming due date” and caring for your “new baby”. Yeah. About that. I blame myself a little because I put my March 22 due date into the What to Expect App all those weeks ago. At least I’m guessing that’s who sold my info. It was the only way to connect to the infertility treatments board in the app but also, it was fun to dream. 

I’m surprisingly ok. It’s kind of like an emotional fender bender. You take a quick inventory of yourself and nervously get out of your car, expecting a horrifying amount of damage and yet, you and your car are surprisingly unharmed. 

Up until recently I was having a horrendous time at coping, which is kind of sad considering I was mentoring a crop of infertile women and feeling like kind of a fraud. Now we have encountered a number of other triggers not even including the due date emails. And yet, not a scratch. 

Maybe it’s mentoring a new group or maybe I have hope again thanks to feeling like I have a plan in place. My surgery is scheduled. In two months I will be well on my way to a life I have never known. I read a study that had a number of infertile women and 3 years post surgery all of the ones who still wanted to conceive had. So at least there’s that. Maybe it was the stagnation that was killing me. 

I keep thinking about a quote from Angels in America that I had on my Facebook for years:

Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there’s a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that’s so.

I think I can leave it at that. 

A Sweeter Place 

Timehop told me yesterday that I started this blog a year ago. I was a bit preoccupied with meeting my favorite country singer (Mr. Lee Brice who is even sweeter than I imagined he’d be). So happy belated birthday blog. 

That means, though, that my second post “The Bitter Place” was a year ago today. That post is hard to read because I can still feel my heart breaking and despite all my growth I feel like I could still be a breath away from there. Part of me knows this post is colored with yoga-tinted glasses because I’m super relaxed. 

That being said, a lot has changed in the last year. I would have never thought that I could be where I am now without my infertility resolved. Heck, I’ve even sadly had another loss, and somehow, I’m better than ever. How is this even possible? I really do believe it’s a result of getting my head on straight, or should I say finding my way out of my own head. I learned the relaxation response, I started yoga, and I found Jesus (at the risk of being a little facetious). I think it has been really important for me to have all three. I have guided relaxation to settle my mind, yoga to trust my mind and body to move together, and my return to the Catholic Church to guide my spirit. 

What has been also helpful is actually the void this blog needed to fill. I had nobody I felt could understand me so I vented into the blogosphere. The support network I have formed between my own group and two groups as a peer leader has been invaluable. I’ve gotten to know women of phenomenal strength and who I can relate to. 

So here I am, all happy and feeling like I’m okay. I was actually really proud of myself. There is couple whose pregnancy I had been struggling with for myriad reasons, and last week it was as though a cloud lifted when I saw a gift that would be perfect for their baby. So I mailed it to them, kind of as a “forgive me for being dramatic”. I can’t and won’t apologize for how I felt because my experiences shaped it but I can own that I unintentionally made things pretty awkward. But thankfully that seemed to be subsiding. 

Total settled and zen and totally cool with my spot in my infertility journey. Yes. No? What? 

Hubby and I joined a gun club today which is a long story in and of itself but at the risk of getting off track we’ll skip it. Despite their multiple female members, I was certainly a minority in the orientation today. That’s why it’s a little understandable that they read a man’s name when calling me up to get my membership card and keycard. 

Only problem is they literally said the name of what we planned to name our son. It was pretty much “Baby Rafkap, uh, Realname Rafkap” It took me a beat to even move and I was like, “Yeah, I’m definitely not a “Babyname” I saw it in Hubby’s eyes. His Daddy senses were tingling.

We moved on from it and went about our day. As we got home, a cardinal flew across our yard. They always remind me of my Dad and a medium told my best friend that he’s visiting me when I see a red bird. Automatically I said “aw! Daddy’s visiting me!” Hubby indulged it and pointed out that there were a number of cardinals in the tree. “Very special visit” I said. Then I remembered that the same medium told my friend that I’ll conceive when I least expect it and that he is being coy about it. 

COME ON! Not now. I’m doing so well. I just got cleared for surgery. It’s like 6 weeks away. I’m living my life for me! Don’t mess with me! I keep thinking of a sermon Judah Smith did (the first of his I listened to) and he talks about Elisha and the Shunamite woman and because she was such a nice woman, he promises a son within a year. Her response? Don’t mess with me. 

I honestly don’t even know what manner of mixed emotions I would have over a spontaneous miracle like that. I’d be thankful and joyous but probably a little bummed for missing out on seeing my surgery through. 

What I do know is that as screwy as my head feels right now, it’s still a million miles away from the bitter place. 

Distance

Maybe the lack of posting is indicative of feeling better. Nothing has made me seethe enough to feel the need to vent or be profound. 

I’ve just been living I guess. But now I find myself signing a long term lease with In-Between Land. I’m a little of everything all at once. Clearly I haven’t given up hope of having a biological child, be it genetic or merely epigenetic. Otherwise I would have all the time in the world to lose weight and try again. I played this game before. I never lost all the weight and I never had the baby. I don’t really think these rapidly dying eggs have 5 more years of messing around. That, and the surgeon again advised me to use contraception and warned me of “hyperfertility” being a side effect. 

And yet, I find myself continually being drawn to adoption. I think the 40K price tag initially pushed it far out of my mind, but the more I learn, the more I feel like it’s a great choice. Still not something we can do for quite some time anyway because to be as successful as I want and need to be, it’s going to require a level of self-preservation that I have never attempted. I’ll have to prioritize my time, resources, and goals to get there and I think emotionally it will be a struggle. Wouldn’t leave too much room for the process of adopting. 

And then of course there’s the pesky question mark over my fertility. Is it selfish to adopt when I could still conceive and others can’t? I heard there are 10 couples waiting for every available infant. Is it possible to be selfish as an adoptive parent?

I just don’t know where it leaves this blog. My infertility stress isn’t totally gone. Recently I was told the sex of a friend’s baby and I cried and in total asshole form said “I don’t want to know anything else. I’ll ask if I want to know” to the person who told me. A coworker is pregnant and people talked about it throughout my facility and I spent a lot of time doing deep breathing exercises. But it feels weird because I feel like I gave up my privileges by walking away for now. It’s a little Ross and Rachel (“We were on a break!”).

So now what? Do I hold onto it for the occasional overindulgent ponderance? Maybe start a new one for my weight loss journey?

My only wish

I feel kind of weird about my infertility these days. I’ve stopped all treatments and have no current plans to resume. 

In fact, I’ve decided to make a huge life change. I’ve decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery. My brilliant scientist of a fertility specialist tells me time and again that my weight isn’t causing my infertility, yet some clinics won’t cycle someone who weighs even 40 lbs less than I do. Not to mention that this is something I’ve been wanting to do off and on for the last 10 years. I can’t face doing the same thing and just hoping for the best so I’ve got time until I am ready to face it again. So wow. Big deal. Also prevents me from trying to conceive for 18 months but the surgeon’s PA is so optimistic, she urges me to start thinking about contraception. Holy weirdness. 

I actually made this decision months ago and have started the process. I’m 100% all in, to the point where I have given up sugar. Baby-wanting brain, time to turn off for a while. Need to focus on getting ridiculously hot.    Oddly enough, my infertility and desire for a child continues to want to burrow itself firmly in the absolute front of my mind. I was at church this morning and the gospel was about Mary visiting Elizabeth while both were pregnant and the homily was about the child in Mary’s womb being the fulfillment of God’s promise. The first thought that interrupted my mindful listening was “Where is the fulfillment of my promise?” Totally selfish and unexpected. All I could do in the moment was pray for patience but what right do I have to ask for patience when I’ve chosen not to pursue it? It still feels so confusing for me.

I thought I was pregnant yesterday. I was two weeks late and had been struggling with those odd overlapping pre period/early pregnancy symptoms. I just wanted to know for sure though I urged myself not to get my hopes up. “We’re not that lucky” I said. Hubby read the results to me. “Well, we know for sure and can move forward”. 

So why does my mind continually wander back here? Why for even a split second does it want to be what I wish for on every eyelash, 11:11, birthday candle, lucky penny. Why can’t I walk away for now?

Cranksgiving

My Dad came home on hospice the Tuesday before Thanksgiving 2013. He passed away the week before Christmas and was laid to rest Christmas Eve. End of November straight through the New Year (Dad’s birthday) is a challenging time of year. 

Overlay on that the fact that a terrible experience of sudden onset crying at a pregnancy announcement was compounded by being mortified by a public reprimand over my bursting into tears, I was absolutely terrified or being asked by anyone about our baby making plans or lack there of. I found out I was going to be a Godmother again last month with a framed sonogram asking me to be his Godmother. I had left it on the mantle to look and smile at everyday while I wait for his arrival. I hid it while cleaning for Thanksgiving for fear that someone would misunderstand it and I would absolutely lose my shit. 

A woman I know from the Mind Body Group sent us all an article about it being ok to not be thankful this Thanksgiving. I related to it so much, I started sending it to other people I knew needed to read it. 

Hubby and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house last year. My family, myself included, being less than stellar communicators, didn’t discuss plans per se. While I was contemplating working and skipping it or meeting later, folks presumed we’d be hosting again. 

So hosting again it was. We’re kind of overbooked every weekend so I had to do a lot of the prep alone Wednesday night. Hubby works Wednesday through Thursday morning, so Mom slept over with my littlest BFF, our niece/goddaughter.  I think there are always growing pains for Mom and daughter when houses and holidays are involved. Mom did it for so many years and has her ideas on how it should be done, and Hubby and I had our own ideas and therefore stress to the max. 

Everything came to a head for me while I was obsessively wiping everything down because clearly if there was a speck of dirt to be found, I was a terrible hostess. Hubby randomly said he would be buying himself exactly what I had planned to buy for Christmas and I had an epic meltdown. I burst into tears and started yelling at Hubby and Mom. Not my finest moments. Littlest BFF brought her baby doll over to me and tried to hand it to me. “No thank you” I said to her and continued my meltdown. She walked away for about 30 seconds and returned with determination. “Here Auntie. Take the baby. You love babies”. My three year old niece has figured out that I would be less sad with a baby. Or it was a brilliant coincidence. And she completely defused the situation. 

I started to laugh, knelt down and gave her a hug, and of course, took the baby. 

Packing

I’m gathering my strength (and clothing) for what is bound to be an emotionally challenging weekend. Odd juxtaposition of feelings to compare the last time I packed for a long weekend back in NY. It was restorative last time, this time it’s bound to be rife with pressure point squeezing. If everyone has a tell for when they’re hiding an emotion, mine is squeezing the space between my thumb and forefinger. It was taught to me long ago as a headache pressure point, but somehow I learned along the way that if I caught it quick enough it could prevent me from starting to cry. I’ve used it countless times in work meetings because *lucky me* I start to cry when I’m frustrated. I have sometimes squeezed that pressure point so much that I stop being able to feel my thumb. I don’t know if it’s just a distraction or if there’s anything to it, but it works…provided I don’t talk. If I talk, game over. Wobbly voice leads to watering eyes and my lip is hip-hip-hip-ing and snot pouring out of me as my face uncontrollably wrenches up into an ugly cry. So I quietly nod, shake my head, or shrug while I stare at the floor and squeeze for dear life. That is of course until someone is cruel enough to ask the worst possible question: a tie between “what’s wrong” and “are you ok”. FFS, what makes you think I want to answer that right here and now? I am doing anything and everything in my power to crunch everything I am into as small a space as possible and not make a peep because I don’t know if it’s worse to lose my shit or run for cover. 

Now that I’ve gotten far off topic, I am just finding the weekend’s plans to be super challenging. I haven’t been to a baby shower since my first IVF. If it wasn’t a friend so dear we had to invent a term 8 years ago to describe our friendship (non sexual life partner or NSLP), I wouldn’t be going. I know that sounds really petty and bitter, like I can’t be happy for a pregnant person, but it’s hours of cooing over pint-sized presents and baby bumps… And this wasn’t how we planned any of this! We were supposed to be pregnant together. I found out she was pregnant the day she did and I was doing shots for IVF. She’d be due in January and I’d be due in March and that was the hold up. We were supposed to do this together. And now, because I love her more than probably even myself, I have to confront all of that in a huge group setting. 

I’m going to be needing a new thumb. 

Transitions 

October has come and gone. Sadly, the pain of pregnancy loss and of course its context of infertility isn’t kind enough to contain itself to just one month of the year. I’m grateful though, because it had such a presence this month that it actually felt normalized. The first of the month, I changed my Facebook photo to a picture saying “I have babies I carry in my heart” and my cover photo referred to the month. I kept it all month, and I never really stopped to think that my photo would show up on every comment I made, every status I posted, every time Facebook suggested someone friend me. I would say my actual references to pregnancy loss was maybe 10% of the time but passively, the information was there. That is so much like my life right now. I may not talk about it all the time, but it’s there. 

It’s in the way I prefer so much more to be a homebody nowadays. It’s in how I am afraid of pregnancy announcements, because I can’t trust my reactions. How I could simultaneously want to congratulate you because you clearly deserve happiness but begin to ugly cry because you being pregnant makes me really sad about my infertility. As more of my friends have children, this will get horrendously more awkward. Hubby and I recently had an argument that I can’t avoid pregnancies, which is true, and it’s not that I’m angry with them or blaming them, I’m just in emotional pain caused by anger at my body, envy, and frustration. 

Every new pregnancy, whether in my support group or my social circle, makes me second guess my decision to stop treatments. I know I really can’t face the potential for another loss at this point. I have to work on making my body healthier and better able to respond to IVF meds (and you know, live longer and whatnot.) I just think I’ll always have a little voice prodding me. 

Either this will resolve and I’ll look back stronger or I’ll find some way to keep covering it to protect myself and maybe it will be some type of emotional pearl. 

In the meantime, well, I have no idea.