Tuesday, November 24, 2009

sucker punch

This is a thing I learned about grief when I was taking counseling classes: that it sneaks up on you, so that you think you're doing fine and then you hear a certain voice, or a certain word, or you smell a certain scent, or you pass a certain intersection, and the grief comes sneaking up on you like a knife in the back. And there you are, flat on the ground (metaphorically, anyway). Breathless. Again.

This is a thing I have learned about grief the hard way: that the paragraph above is really, really true and really, really inadequate. And that experience hurts more than can be described.

Today I had an office hysteroscopy, which is a fancy phrase for sticking a camera into your uterus. (I'm not sure why they need to add 'office' to this description. Where the hell else would you do this? It's not like there's a 'home' hysteroscopy, or 'workplace' hysteroscopy. Or 'shopping mall' hysteroscopy either, which would be, like, the worst Black Friday marketing ploy ever.)

Anyway - it went just fine. It's one of the last few tests I need updated so that I can apply for the shared risk program at my RE's office - the whole, 'buy two, get one free' IVF program. I had my bloodwork updated last week. My husband will be - you know, getting analyzed - tomorrow. It's all nice and neatly checked off my list of things to do, albeit a rather strange list for this time of year. "Christmas presents? Check. Turkey purchased? Check. Camera up hoo-ha and Male Donation to Small Plastic Cup? Check."

I felt good today. I felt like we're making progress again, like we're really heading someplace this time. I don't feel scared anymore of all the tests and the hoo-ha cameras and the needle pricks; we've done it before, and we can do it again. I was even getting excited.

You know where this is going, don't you? Right. So I got home and there was a card from my brother, the one who just told us a few months ago that they had been trying to get pregnant for a year. I love my brother. And his wife. Here is part of what they wrote:

"A few weeks ago we found out some amazing news. S is pregnant and will be 8 weeks on Thanksgiving...we know that you are completely happy for us and we also know that you both might have other feelings too and we wanted to give you a chance to process those before we see you on Sunday."

Sucker punch. Right to the gut.

Let me say, on the off chance that they ever find this blog (and for the sake of truth even if they don't) that I really, really appreciate the card. It really does help to have time to process. It was tremendously thoughtful of them and indeed, by the time I see them on Sunday, I will have worked through the following immediate reaction:


Sorry about the yelling there.

I thought I was past this, this visceral hatred of hearing about other people's pregnancies. It's such a random thing: I can go months without having this reaction, hearing numerous pregnancy announcements and barely blinking an eye. I might succumb to the occasional inward eye-roll - another one bites the dust - but I'm fine. Most of the time. Really.

And then...I don't know what happens. Because I do love them. And I absolutely adore my niece, my other brother's child, and I know I will adore this child as well. Eventually.

I think maybe it's the - I don't know, the pretense that my sister-in-law was so angry and frustrated about their so-called 'infertility.' Let me say this: I get how hard it is not to be pregnant. I remember how frustrated I was that first year. In some ways, it was the hardest year, because I really did have hope every month, and so the crash each time was much, much more painful than it is now.

But we sort of bonded when they told us, over semen analysis tests and RE appointments and basal body temperature thermometers, and all the hysteria over getting your period again, and now I feel like that was just a cruel joke. Like I told all my secrets to someone who turned out to be a spy for the other side. An enemy, just pretending to be like me, just acting like they knew my pain, and then darting over the border to safety, leaving me behind.

I started out the day being hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we would really have a baby this time. And now I feel like I used to long ago - that it will never happen, that we'll be left behind in the dust of other people's strollers. Like we're alone. Again.

I hate this. I hate being here. I hate the fact that I hate my brother right now. I hate the fact that I have to lead a Thanksgiving Eve worship service tomorrow night, when 'thankful' is about the last fucking emotion I have right now.

"Things you can't learn in a counseling class? Check."

Friday, November 20, 2009

'tis the season

This weekend I'm taking 15 junior high kids and 5 adults on a retreat. (Good times.) We're visiting other faith communities: worshipping at a local synagogue and talking with the cantor tonight, visiting a mosque tomorrow and then Catholic mass in the evening, and wrapping it up at a Greek Orthodox church on Sunday morning. This is a WHOLE LOTTA church for junior high kids, so we'll see how it goes.

I've been getting ready for some teaching time on Saturday morning - the world's briefest (and probably least accurate) introduction to four major religions. Which meant I had to type up an introduction sheet to Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. I did okay on Islam and Judaism. I was more familiar with Buddhism than I thought. But let me tell you what: I sucked at knowing anything reasonably detailed about Hinduism. Which, by the way, is fascinating but esoteric enough that it's going to be hard to explain to a group of 13-year olds (although, when you think about it, the idea that some guy from Nazareth who lived 2000 years ago and was executed by the state was, in fact, the incarnation of the God of the universe is not terribly plausible either).

In my quick research, I found a reminder of something I'd read about a few years ago: that both Buddhism and Hinduism teach about mindfulness - the idea of paying close attention to your life, and to the world, as it is now. This is also something at which, let's face it, I suck.

Part of me wants to blame this on eons of Christian theology which has, for the most part, taught its followers to focus less on the world as it is now and more on the world as God wants it to be, or perhaps on the heaven you're waiting for when you die. I don't put much stock in that particular theology, but it's hard to get away from if you read theology for a living. Sadly, this kind of mindset has allowed Christians to excuse really bad environmental policies, slavery, and all kinds of other evils under the assumption that "it will all work out when God comes again, and this world will be destroyed at that point anyhow, so why does it really matter? Bring on the Arctic Oil Drills!"

Of course, some of that it's-all-about-heaven mindset came from the people who were being oppressed by Christians in the first place. If you were a slave, for instance, you might not want to spend a lot of time on mindfulness about your current life; you might really find hope and healing in the promise that life after death was going to be much, much better than the suffering you were enduring right now. We got a lot of really amazing spirituals this way, songs about the life to come, about God taking us out of the trouble we've seen, or giving us real life in the by-and-by.

But let's face it: I'm not being oppressed by anyone, except perhaps by the Demon of Chocolate, which doesn't really count. There's no need for me to look away from my life as it is now, or from the world as it is now. But that's what I do, a lot of, much of the time. Especially this time of year. Especially about our infertility.

The days from Thanksgiving to Christmas are, for me, the hardest time of the year to be infertile. Yes, you can be smacked in the face with other people's pregnancy announcements any day of the year, and you can find yourself tearing up when you see a baby in the shopping cart at Target no matter what day it is, but there's no time more kid-focused than the month of December. You hear it everywhere: Christmas is all about children, they say.

This year is the fifth Thanksgiving, the fifth Christmas, the fifth Advent season for us without the child we hoped for when we started trying to conceive. You'd think we would be better at coping; doesn't practice make perfect?

In some ways, we do handle it better. I don't tear up at every commercial showing a cute boy in footie pajamas running down the stairs to open his presents from Santa. I don't nearly have a meltdown every time I have to walk through the toy section. I (usually) don't cry when I get yet another Shiny Happy Family photo card in the mail.

On the other hand...five years. We'd have a preschooler by now.

One way to deal with this season is to put my fingers in my ears, shut my eyes, and spin through it as quickly as possible, pretending it's not happening and wishing as hard as possible for January to get here with merciful speed. Just get it over with. I've done this. It doesn't help.

Maybe it's because we're heading into another IVF cycle that I don't feel as anxious this year about facing the holidays. Maybe it's because we've done this so many times that it's not as terrifying as it used to be. Maybe you just can't sustain that level of grief for five years without losing your mind.

I'm not sure what mindfulness would look like for me this month. All I know is that avoidance doesn't work either. Maybe I can live someplace inbetween.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

back in the saddle...or, stirrups, again

This is the time of year where you feel like you blink twice, and pow! It's Christmas. At least for me.

Which means that, after our few months on Baby Break, it's time to get back in the stirrups again. Literally. I called today to make appointments for the bloodwork I need to apply for the "pay for two, get one" program at my clinic. Naturally, some of my previous tests are now too old, so I get to do some Extra Fun Stirrup Time - looking forward to that, as you can tell. I think my hoo-ha has been lulled into a false sense of security from the lack of Hoo-Ha Wanding appointments in the last few months; I feel like I should buy it dinner to break the bad news.

"We have to talk."

"What? Things are going fine! I'm fine! What are you talking about?"

"Remember last spring, when we kept going in for those appointments, the kind with..."

"THE WAND? AGAIN? I knew this detante was too good to last. Pass me the wine."

Apart from the rather disturbing imagery there, I'm really looking forward to getting started again. Lupron? Bring it on. Injections? No problem. Menopur? IT'S ON.

Here we go, people.

Friday, November 6, 2009

cranky? who said i'm cranky? YOU? YOU TALKING TO ME?

Well, I finally did it. I snapped while watching Private Practice. I'm cranky. I blame the jet lag.

Said jet lag means I'm waking up at 5am and then completely wiped out by 8:30 at night, so I just finished watching last night's episode. (Yay, DVR!) In which a couple comes in wanting to get pregnant, and seeking a particular characteristic for their child, which leads to what I'm sure was supposed to be a REALLY CUTTING EDGE show involving genetic tomfoolery and designer babies and - hey, look! a guy in a wheelchair! and he's a brilliant doctor! you people are CRAZY! - except that I couldn't focus on any of this deeply meaningful plot, because the "fertility doctors" on the show kept repeatedly saying that they were going to implant the embryos. I mean, over and and over again: "I object to this implantation!" "We are doing this implantation!" "This implantation is a slippery slope!"

I'm not sure why this pisses me off so much. Because it does, and I mean a LOT. An inordinate, illogical amount, really. I think it's because all the publicity out there regarding fertility treatments seems to be stories about people who end up pregnant with 1.) the wrong baby, or 2.) nineteen babies, or 3.) babies born early who cost so much money to keep in the hospital, thus proving that all of us seeking help for infertility are raging, selfish bitches who should be forced to adopt (I'm talking to you, New York Times and subsequent commenters). (Who undoubtedly do not read the blogs of said infertile bitches, so whatever.)

But really. If you are promoting a show about a fertility practice but can't get a simple piece of fertility treatment straight, who are you kidding? I realize this show is basically a glorified soap opera, but I need some brain candy on Thursday nights. I have Grey's, of course, but I need something even dumber before I fall asleep. I would like this show to be it, but now I watch it and get all frustrated and angry and then I come to bed muttering things about "how these idiots don't even know the word 'transfer,'" and this is not great for my poor husband, who is just trying to get some sleep.

So I went online and found that this show has a "Medical Researcher blog," which I assume is written by the intern who runs to the drugstore to get bandaids, given that there seems to be a total void of actual research on this show. But it did give a forum to vent my little frustration , which I enjoyed.

That link is my public service for the day: go forth, friends, and explain to the "researcher" over there at ABC how it really works. Unless you are smarter than me and have stopped watching this show.

Meanwhile, I'm off to take a little nap.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Woke up at 4am in Berlin.

Flew through Amsterdam to home.

Have now been home for about 6 hours.

Up for 24 hours. Maybe more. Or less. Math skills very bad when tired.

So, so tired.

But determined to stay up until 8pm because everyone says you have to stay up until bedtime or the jet lag will be worse. I may fall asleep as I type thissdlkfjoginowreoijeworan...sorry. Napped on the keyboard for a moment.

Great trip. So wonderful.

Must. Stay. Awake. For 90 more minutes.

Stories later.