I’ve debated long and hard about writing this post. That logical side of my brain tells me that I’ll regret it later, that emotional side of my brain tells me I’ll feel better once I write it. Sensibility says there’s no way this post can come out right, that it can never hope to convey the range of emotions, thoughts, and questions flowing through my mind and body. Practicality says this blog was created to document it all, and there’s no point in maintaining that mission statement if I’m going to hide in the corner and cry when things get really, truly difficult. I don’t know whether this is just another narcissistic call for attention, or a positive step I need to take toward healing. All I know is I’m writing. And, at least the act of writing slows the endless flow of tears.
I’m hiding in my bedroom right now. I cried through the night and knew working today would be unbearable. Now, as I sit here, I’m finding being stuck in my house unbearable. Seems I can’t win. There are contractors working in our basement; Mr. But IF told them I’m home from work “sick.” Truth is I’m home from work heartbroken and crying into a pillow to soften the sounds of the whimpering. I hate what infertility has made me.
When deciding to call out this morning, I also accepted I’d be unable to make our usual Wednesday night trivia game. It’s a small town. Half my co-workers would be there watching me contentedly answering quiz questions, after being conspicuously absent from my incredibly demanding job. I’m frustrated to lose that one social outlet of the week where I get to just be me, but am reminded how even that relaxing night has plagued me lately. How recent competing trivia team names like, “Better late than pregnant” and “My sperm count is” stung. How last week’s theme of the royal birth was nearly unbearable. How one well-intentioned friend – single, alone, and still hoping for a family “some day” at age 35 – always grills me for advice on her own fertility, incessantly discusses that Atlantic article, and naively celebrates how easy adoption will be for her as a well-off African American woman. I hate that infertility has infested every moment of my life, removing the fun from a game of trivia and the relaxation from a post-game beer (or, as the case may be, seltzer).
Another home pregnancy test this morning showed a much lighter second line than the one I saw yesterday. Looks like my clinic may have finally gotten something right for once. That beta of 38 was almost surely just residual HCG from Sunday night’s booster. As I type this my right arm is throbbing. I’m afraid the blood draw site from yesterday may be mildly infected. It’s swollen, it stings, it’s not the first time. The sore draw site, my Lovenox bruises, the heating pad I’m sitting on on the last day of July to ease the pain of the PIO lumps – they are all physical reminders of the science experiment my body’s become. I hate how infertility has left so many physical scars, so many indelible reminders of my inability to do what comes naturally and effortlessly to so many others.
With my husband at work, trivia night cancelled, and sobs so hard I couldn’t even begin to call my “never lose hope/why are you injecting yourself with all that poison?” aunt if I wanted to, I’ve turned to my rocks, my dearest friends in the computer, my LFPers (don’t try to puzzle it out, you won’t get it). I’ve been making an endless barrage of teary, “woe is me” Facebook updates today. Well, this week, really. As one welcomes home her lovely baby girl, one learned the gender of her second, one sits in a hospital waiting for the delivery of her high-risk twins. All these moments to celebrate and to rejoice, and here I sit crying and alone. Wailing out (if only in type) for help and hope to these strangers that are so dear to me, and receiving support in spades in return. But, I hate that infertility has stolen much of my joy for them, and replaced it with this whining, desperate person that bears no resemblance to who I once was. I hate that I don’t recognize myself through the words that I type, and that change has resulted from infertility.
As I hide in my bedroom I stare at the paintings, the photographs, and the furniture that surround me. The two landscapes painted by my mother when she was slightly younger than me. The collage picture frame that contains a photo of the fledgling But IF’s on one of their first dates and my mom and dad experiencing the same in their finest 70s attire. The cherry wood furniture my mother bought me one happy Christmas long ago. It reminds me of the mother I lost, and makes me realize how much harder it’s become to live this life without her. I hate that infertility has made her absence more raw, brought that pain all crashing back, well over a decade since I initially lost her.
After returning to bed this morning to commence my teary day of solitude, I heard from Barb Collura about the final results from the Hope Award voting. My blog was not selected. And, I hate that that hurt as much as it did. That I couldn’t just be supremely proud to have even been nominated. That the knee jerk reaction was, “Well, here’s another thing I’ve failed at.” None of those responses are like me. Anger at my situation, at doctors, at insurance providers, at inane comments, yes, but anger at failing to win a popular vote when I damn well know everyone else in the running deserved some good news just as much as I did? That’s not me. I loathe the pain olympics that so frequently comes with this infertility business, and I despise myself for indulging in even a tiny bit of, “Why not me?” I hate that infertility has made me ashamed and afraid of the jealous monster always lurking under the surface. I hate how I’ve become accustomed to living all aspects of my life as if they were a competition.
The Mr. just texted to ask me how I was “holding up.” I’m frustrated that the answer always seems to be, “not so hot.” I know he’s in pain too, but I somehow am lacking the capacity to acknowledge or respect that. If not altogether, than at least to the degree to which I think I should. This man has brought years and years of joy to my life, and now I feel as if all I give him in return is pain and suffering. No one should have to have the “in sickness and in health” part of their marriage come to full bloom before their spouse even turns 30. I am angered by the fact that he’s a pro at giving PIO shots, that he knows what the products of a miscarriage look like, that he holds our friends’ 5 month old with a mixture of joy and deep sorrow, that he constantly has to text, “How are you holding up?” Infertility has forever changed this man who did nothing wrong except make the mistake of loving me.
I didn’t start this post intending for it to have a happy ending. But, getting it down, I realize in a small way it has to have one. I’m hiding in my room, but I’m doing so because infertility has taught me my limits. And, that is good. Stepping back from social outings when your heart is aching is something the old me wouldn’t have done. I’d have put on a brave face and suffered for the sake of those around me. That is not good.
The physical scars of infertility are difficult, but without infertility my Hashi’s may never have been diagnosed, I wouldn’t have lost the pounds and gained the health that Metformin returned to me, I wouldn’t have had the laparoscopy that diagnosed my endometriosis or the autoimmune testing that has let me know I’ll need to keep a careful eye on my health for the rest of my life.
Perhaps most central to my thoughts today, without infertility I would never have met my “friends in the computer.” These women who have done everything in their power to refuel my soul, provide me with virtual shoulders to cry on, and hold me up when all I want to do is fall so far down the bottom of a dark pit that I’ll never be able to claw my way out. And, it’s only from having watched my mom lose her battle with cancer that I know how deep that pit can be and how important it is I never fall down it again.
Despite today’s news, infertility blogging has still been a tremendous gift in my life, and it would be incredibly stupid of me to allow anything to change that. Through blogging I have supplemented my support network with new faces and avatars, new sources of sanity, new women that I root for. High on that list is this year’s Hope Award winner Tracy of Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen.
And, finally, the mister. What I need to say I’ve already felt in my heart as I put those words to virtual paper above. Each one of those words would anger (and probably will anger) Mr. But IF if (when) he read them. As he said last night, “I got you, and that’s all I need.”
I wish I could stop infertility from making me forget how good I have it. I hate what infertility has made me, but I’m not, nor have I ever been, powerless. I’m going to be sad for a long while, but the sadness won’t always be all-consuming. I have to believe that some day I’ll stop mourning what infertility has made me and start embracing what infertility has given me.