Tuesday, June 16, 2009

what if

Today I went to a farewell lunch for a colleague. He's leaving his congregation after 18 years, but leaving under not-so-great circumstances. Honestly, he probably should have retired awhile ago, and when you couple that with a pretty unhealthy congregation which has been trying to get him to leave by treating him like complete crap...it's not good. So it wasn't the most uplifting experience.

He's bitter and angry, and he puts a very thin veneer of sarcastic humor over that as an attempted cover-up, which only serves to highlight the bitterness and anger underneath. I don't entirely blame him - he feels underappreciated and forced out, and both of those are true. Although he's a good guy and he means well, I don't think he has too many skills for the pastoral work, so I also have some sympathy for his congregation: essentially, he's been marking time there for years, just trying to get to retirement, and that can't be fun for anybody. Again: not an uplifting equation when you put it all together.

But for today, the thing I couldn't stop thinking about wasn't his work, or whether he's good at it, or whether his congregation has been mean to him. He and his wife never had children. I have absolutely no idea why: for all I know, it could have been an intentional decision on their part, and I could be wasting my empathy over a completely-imagined infertility situation. I really don't know this guy that well, so I have no intention of asking him about it.

But the thing is, I don't think he's just bitter and angry about his job situation. He seems to have a lot of regrets about life, and I wonder if childlessness is one of them. He and his wife are so timid and afraid of risk, worried about taking any chances, waiting for the ax to fall - and all I could think of, the whole lunch, was this sentence, running like a refrain in my head:

I don't want to be like that. Please, let me not be like that.

I've been thinking about childlessness lately. I'm not ready to go down that path, don't get me wrong, but my big thing right now is this: if I don't have kids, then I do not want to spend my whole life wishing for a life I never had. I do not want to get to the end of my life and look back and realize that I missed all the good because I couldn't move through the disappointment of not having kids.

I plan to go see Up as soon as I can get a free evening to go to the movies, and it's possible that reading all the reviews of it from fellow Stirrup Queens has planted this "what if?" in my head. What if we don't have kids? Would it be the end of the world? Would our lives be worth living? Would we be haunted by regrets forever?

I don't know what will happen if we get to that reality. All I know is, if I don't ask the question now, if I am too afraid to even let it inside my head, then I am giving it too much power. I am letting the what if take over my life. And if we decide to live childless, then I do not want to be bitter and angry about it. I do not want people to look at my life and wonder, "what on earth happened to her that she's so unhappy?" And most of all, I do not want to look at my own life and realize I wasted it regretting something I simply couldn't change.

I'm just living with the "what if?" for awhile. It's getting less scary.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the book in question

The book which served as inspiration for the previous post is, in fact, my new favorite. It's amazing, and hard, and beautiful, and painful - as any writing about infertility and reproductive loss should be. It is also, in my four years of this journey, the only decent book about faith and infertility I have found.

It's called "Hope Deferred," and it's written by several theologians who experienced reproductive loss (infertility, miscarriage, or stillbirth) themselves.

Naturally, it's out of print, but I still got a copy from our friends at ama.zon.com. If you're a secret (or public) theologian, I heartily recommend it.

Feel free to leave Casino Royale (or the James Bond movie of your choice) on while you read it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


No, I cannot turn the tv off
while I read this book
because if I do,
I will hear the words in all their fullness.
Words like
reproductive loss
hope deferred
broken future.
If I listen to these words
without the numbing action movie soundtrack running,
without the hero crashing through walls,
without bombs exploding 
and That Evil One looking sinister
while the rain falls and the airplane roars,
then the woman screaming 
will not be the damsel in distress on the screen.
It will be me, in my easy chair,
reading this too-hard book
about someone else's terrible, heart-rending loss
which turned out to be my own.
Sometimes the soundtrack of your own life
is too hard to hear
so I will let this movie play instead
and maybe if it does,
my heart will not shatter into a million pieces
like the concrete wall bursting under the weight of James Bond's truck
and go floating into the world,
pieces of me I am afraid 
will never return.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

what would have been

This weekend we're traveling to our niece's high school graduation. We're so enormously proud of her, and looking forward to time with the husband's family. Good stuff.

Except that this is the weekend we would have passed into the second trimester. When we got the positive test, I (naturally) googled my potential due date, and saw that the big It's Probably Safe To Tell People Now date was this weekend. I remember thinking what perfect timing it was, that we could tell Husband's family in person when we saw them at the graduation.

Sometimes I forget I was pregnant. Or, sort of pregnant. The nurse called back about my "why don't I want to have sex?" inquiry, and told me to take it easy on myself, that my body had been through a lot. "You had all the hormones we gave you," she said, "and then pregnancy hormones," and I almost interrupted her until I realized - hey, yeah, that's right, I WAS pregnant for awhile, wasn't I?

You'd think this would be a hard thing to forget. It's like a dream sometimes. Or a nightmare, I suppose.

Anyway. It'll be a good weekend. I'm looking forward to it. But I'm also bringing one of those travel-sized kleenex packs with me. Just in case.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

let's not get it on

Being on a break from fertility treatments does not lead to a lot of material for your fertility blog, I can tell you that. I am deeply enjoying regular glasses of wine. I went on a caffeine bender there for awhile, until I decided that, since I am going to have to nip that in the bud eventually, I should start cutting back again before I set myself up for a giant withdrawal problem. And (insert drum roll here) - I have no idea when my period should be coming this month. No freaking clue. And I don't really care.

So these are all good things, and the idea of having a summer off from ovulation-predicting, day-counting, hormone-injecting, blood-drawing, hoo-ha-wanding, and the like is truly a wonderful thing.


I've been doing much better emotionally over the past few weeks. I realized the other day that it took nearly three weeks to end the pregnancy I found out about on Good Friday, and those three weeks were draining in every sense of the word. Blood drawn every three days or so; tears cried all the time. Frustration and anger and bitterness and grief and sheer shock - those emotions overwhelmed that period of time. It's certainly no surprise, and I would have expected nothing different from myself, or from anyone else.

But after the whole episode finally reached its conclusion, at the beginning of May, I turned a corner. The doctor has given us good reason to hope, and the freedom to take this much-needed break. I feel energetic and happy and reasonably hopeful again. I'm not in a huge hurry to get back to the doctor's office, but I know I'll be ready when it's time. I am not the same person I was a few months ago, but I do feel almost-whole again.

But I have absolutely no desire to have sex. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.

I will understand completely if you want to stop reading this post right now. I do feel a little weird writing about this, but I'm really puzzled by it and am struggling to know what to do, and hey - you people have read about almost every other bodily function I have (and I just used the word hoo-ha here, so this is not exactly a biology-free zone).

Don't get me wrong: I don't expect myself to be climbing up the walls for it this shortly after an ended pregnancy, but still...it's odd. My husband, who is living proof that the whole guys-reach-their-sexual-peak-at-18 thing is a CROCK, has been very patient, but considering that we really haven't had much of a sex life since we started the IVF cycle at the beginning of March, it really has been awhile.

Mostly, I'm dumbfounded at the complete disappearance of any sexual inclination on my part. I love my husband, I think he's absolutely wonderful, he's got a seriously hot ass, and yet - if we never had sex again, I'd be fine. Why do I think that? I mean, come on - that can't be good.

So today I called my nurse and left a message, asking her to call back so that I can confess this embarrassing fact about myself and see if there's something I can do about it. Are my hormones out of whack? Am I still stuck in grief and in complete denial about it? Will this desire come back? Is this normal?

What do you think?


Infertility: even better than reality television for ending any illusions you had about privacy.