Insidious IF

It’s been six days since I was released from the RE.  Six days since we saw that undeniably human-shaped fetus wiggling around in my womb.  Six days since I had some reassurance that something might go right for once.  Apparently six days is about all the unassisted hope I can muster.

I’ll start by adding that (thankfully) I have an appointment with my therapist this afternoon.  Seems we’ll have plenty to discuss.  And here’s an additional caveat that if you’re in a fragile mental space this post is not for you.  If negative thoughts, frank discussions of miscarriage, and angry rants are not in your best interest right now, then stop reading here.  It’s about to go downhill quickly I’m afraid.

Dear Lord how do you survive the constant worry?  Since being released from the RE last Wednesday, I’ve already come to feel mentally battered and beaten into a pulp.  After becoming accustomed to the weekly reassurance of good-looking ultrasounds at the REs, the prospect of no more ultrasounds any time soon is enough to push me over the edge.  These past few days I just can’t stop reliving each of my miscarriages.  I can’t talk happily about this pregnancy (though I’m trying for the mister’s sake).  I can’t even allow myself to do anything about the fact that my pants are starting to get too snug.  All I think about is what it would feel like to have a new pair of maternity pants or a belly band arrive the day I start miscarrying.

I know the worry will never completely go away (like, for the rest of my life), and I know that is normal.  That one of the few things fertiles (including my therapist and OB) have said to me in the past several weeks that hasn’t immediately made me want to punch them.  It’s true, in the worry regard I’m likely as normal as the mister’s kid-spouting cousin.  All new parents worry about the health and well-being of their children.  As much as I’d like to argue that the fact that I have three children I’ll never meet makes my worry worse, that’s just not productive and, most likely, not true.

I guess, more than anything, I’m just frustrated with the medical industry and it’s total disregard of worry as a treatable medical complaint.  After starting to embrace a future where I would NEVER have to look an OB/GYN in the eyes again (GPs can do a regular pap, people!), the piss-poor hands-off attitudes of these “specialists” have me irate.  If one more medical “professional” tells me something is not “medically necessary,” I plan on sending them all my counseling bills.  Nickle and diming me on a 5 minute ultrasound is just costing me and my insurance company that much more for mental health services.  Infertility is an insidious ass and invades each and every aspect of your being; to deny me an NT scan, additional blood work, or an extra ultrasound because I don’t fall on the right side of their actuarial tables is a daily middle finger.  Where were these medical professionals when I was diagnosed as infertile at 25? Where have they been the last 4.5 years, the last 3 miscarriages, the last tens of thousands of dollars?  I was breaking their projection models then, but instead of extra testing I got a swift kick in the behind and a “good luck, you’re on your own.”  And, what doctor thinks I WOULDN’T gladly pay out of pocket for extra monitoring after all the time, money, and heartache was have put into IVF?  WHY do they insist that I must come off Lovenox because, “ouch, those bruises look painful, you really don’t need to keep doing that!”  You know what is painful?  Miscarriage.  And I’m not even talking the mental pain…

I’m a mess because of tomorrow.  It will be my first (and likely last) appointment with the maternal fetal medicine doc, and my first true OB consult with my OB (previous visits have been coded as GYN).  I’m expecting a several round knock-out fight, and don’t quite know which of us will come out on top.  My RIs plan got me PG, my RE takes the credit and calls the RI a “witch doctor,” the OB tells me I’m normal and on “crazy” and “unnecessary” medications, and the MFM (who I’ve not yet met) will almost surely tell me I’m wasting his time by being there.  So much for the added peace of knowing you have a whiz-bang team of experts there to guide you through the bumpy ride.

Ultrasound at 9w 2d

The human-shaped blob, complete with placenta and umbilical cord.

All the while, I’m terrified.  I look at my latest ultrasound, I see the human-shaped blob, I recall what it looked like to see the blood flowing through the umbilical cord, and all I can think is, “Wow, it’s big.  This miscarriage will surely hurt worse than the last one.  Especially if they send me home from the ER with a collection jar again after declining to do an ‘elective’ D&C on a Saturday.”

And then, other times, I look at that ultrasound and it all melts away.  Yes, I’m furious that it’s all I have to hold on to.  I’m concerned it is all we will ever get to see and hold of our little one.  I worry that this is as good as it will get.  But, some small part of me still squeals with delight to see that blob with a head and flippers.  Am I really justified in my rage, or am I just becoming an overbearing mother that wants to order the million-pack of school pictures already?  And then I sigh and scold myself for thinking too far ahead.  For opening up to hope.  For too easily dismissing insidious IF.

Round Two: The Sunshine Award

No, not one, not two, but THREE of you nominated me for the Sunshine Award over the past several weeks.  Um, guys, my eyes are getting a bit misty…

But, seriously though, how have I fooled you all in to thinking that I’m that type of blogger that brings sunshine to the cloudy IF days?  I have to assume you all nominated me out of a wicked sense of contrarianism.  And, frankly, that’s pretty awesome.

The “rules” of accepting the Sunshine Award are as follows:Sunshine Award

  • Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post
  • Link to the blogger who nominated you
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award and invent 10 questions for them to answer
  • Link to your nominees and let them know about the nomination

 

Kitten’s Questions:

On October 4 (OMG, really?) the inspiring Kitten of Yet Another Bitter Infertile nominated me for the award.  (And, I do mean inspiring.  Did ya’ll see how she rallied the troops to take on the evil troll that attacked her and all of greater infertiledom via her comments sections yesterday?)

1.What odd routines or rituals do you have?

Hrmm, I don’t actually think I have that many.  I hate to repeat something I wrote yesterday, but honestly the only one I can think of right now has to do with my medication regime.  In order to remember which side to administer my Lovenox and PIO on each night I’ve used a system of even date left side, odd date right side.  Even numbers are CLEARLY better in all regards, as is the left side because my name starts with an L.  Thus, even left, odd right.  :-)

2. What’s your favorite Halloween costume that you’ve worn?

Oh, so many!  My mom was a SAHM-supreme and hand-sewed all my costumes.  I loved the yearly routine (oh, another routine!) of going to the fabric store every September, picking out the pattern I wanted, having her make it and constantly need to fit it, and then getting to show off my total uniqueness every Halloween.  Though it makes me cringe looking back on it, I think my fav ever at the time was my ballerina pig costume.  In hindsight, not the best choice for a portly 11 year old, but at the time I thought it was perfect.  A tulle tutu, ribbons lacing up my point shoes, adorable pointy ears!  It was a good choice, too, as it snowed that Christmas and that full pink felt suit was super warm!

3. What do you think of people who eat soup on a sweltering hot day?

Why not?  If it’s what sounds good go for it!  Plenty of societies in hot climates have amazing hot soup traditions!  Nothing better than a hot bowl of spicy Pho on an August afternoon!

4. Favorite song to sing at the top of your lungs?

I’m not much of a singer, to be honest.  If I’m in the right mood (rare) I’ll happily belt along to whatever’s on the radio when I’m alone in the car.  I can’t resist anything from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.  I blame high school.

5. Have you ever stolen anything?

Wow, I’m a dork.  Not really?  I mean, I definitely help myself to my employer’s paper and mailing envelopes (shhh!), but does that even count?

6. Be honest – Have you read 50 Shades of Grey?

Nope.  I have limited time and energy to read for pleasure (which is unfortunate, seeing as I do love reading), so when I have the time you better be sure I’m reading a book I think I will like!

7. What’s something that made you laugh so hard you peed (or nearly peed) your pants?

Oh man, I totally did this once when I was younger.  Maybe about 11 or 12?  My dad was telling a story about my aunt’s beat-up car.  I can’t remember what was so funny about it, but I started laughing (and peeing) and couldn’t stop.  One of the most embarrassing moments of my life.  Ever.  I’m turning red just thinking about it…

8. What book(s) are you reading right now?

Track of the Cat (first Anna Pigeon mystery) – m’eh.  The Winter King by Thomas Penn – quite good, and an era of history I know little about.  Living Well with Autoimmune Disease by Mary Shomon – rereading select sections for millionth time with eye toward answering my ANA and pregnancy questions.

9. How do you pronounce “aunt”? (ahnt or ant?)

It’s the black crawly insect all the way.

10. What do you see in this image?

A crown?  My super duper princess crown.

 

Hope’s Questions:

A few weeks later (yet still an embarrassingly long time ago) Hope at A Crack in Everything also named me as a nominee.  A fiercely strong woman (seriously, check out her bio), it was an honor to get this nod from her.

1. Where do you feel the most at home (other than, you know, in your actual home)?

Wow, maybe I don’t feel at home anywhere but my home?  What kind of a sad statement is that?

2. What song brings back good memories?

Pretty much anything released between 1999 and 2004 is sure to have some sort of memory attached to it.  Most are good, though some aren’t!

3. When did you know that you were ready to have children?

2008.  The mister and I had been together for 6 years, married for 2, and had been in our new home for 1.  Of course, we waited two more years to start trying (partly under the advice of a GP who ran a few incorrectly timed blood tests and told me that the fact that I never got periods would have no negative impact on my fertility).  2013 is drawing to a close and we may actually be finally rounding the corner to parenthood.

4. What’s your next big (non-child-related) goal?

Tenure.  (Vomit.)

5. What’s one of your pet peeves?

Only one?  Hehe.  Probably bad spelling.  God invented spell check for a reason.  Sigh.

6. What’s one of your favorite keepsakes?

Right now I’m holding on dearly to my most recent ultrasound picture!  Longer term, though, it’s probably the silly vending machine ring that Mr. But IF used to propose.  He’d ordered the real deal in enough time for it to get to him for our anniversary, but some wires got crossed at the jewelers and it came a week late.  He proposed with a plastic ring that came out of a vending machine in one of those see-through balls.  He tucked the receipt for the real ring inside the ball as well.  It was a perfect memory and a perfect keepsake.

7. Cats or dogs?

No question.  Cats.  Dogs?  Pshaw!

8. If you could live in any other place or time, what would it be?

I always wanted to live in another time, though IF has largely changed that.  My life would be a lot different right now were it not for artificial reproductive technologies and the support networks that have developed on the Internet!  Though, a part of me still wishes I could be held to a 1950s dress code (c’mon, hats!) and that being a SAHM was still a reality for the masses.

9. If you had money to give away, who would receive it?

Half to my in-laws, half to a trust to dole out support for treatments and adoption for the IF women I’ve grown to love.

10. When was the last time you laughed really hard?

Last night.  We had a friend over for dinner.  We were talking bad television.  A story involving a medical show, a Viagara mishap, and a med student applying pressure to an erect penis.  I love my friends.

 

Johanne’s Questions:

Finally, Johanne over at My Hope Jar also gave me the nod a few weeks ago.  Her focus on creating a “Community of Hope” is beautiful, and more important than I can put into words.  Why do we feel the need to hide our losses away?

1. Why do you blog?

Because I’m a narcissist?  Really, truly I do it because it’s cathartic.  It let’s me get it all out in a “me me me” sort of manner without having to feel guilty about burdening others, without worrying that my words might sting the individual I’m talking to, without censoring myself.  The blog is public because I truly feel that others can find comfort and kinship through my selfish words.  I sure know I did when I first found blogs like A Little Pregnant and The Infertility Voice.

2. What is your favorite movie?

I don’t know that it’s my super-duper all time hands-down favorite, but now that we’re getting to that time of year again I definitely have to give a shout-out to Love, Actually.  That movie came out the Christmas after the Christmas we lost my mom to cancer.  It mattered so much to me at that time, and still does to this day.  (Though, I do have to fastforward through the Sarah and Karl parts.)

3. What is your favorite food?

I wish I could say something gourmet like Sushi or Thai or fresh-organically-grown-farm-raised-whatever, but there’s honestly not much better in this world than a Pittsburgh-style steak salad.  Iceberg lettuce, french fries, strips of perfectly cooked steak, mountains of shredded cheese, and a gallon of ranch dressing?  Dear God, I’m hungry!  I can haz move back to Pittsburgh now?

4. What is your favorite thing or memory about your spouse?

My favorite thing is his intelligence.  I love that he challenges me at every turn, and that there is literally no topic of conversation he won’t go down.  My favorite memory still has to be the first time he walked me to my dorm after history class.  We stood outside my door talking for easily an hour, and at that moment I knew he was someone far more special than I’d ever given him credit for.

5. What do you do to relieve stress?

Veg out in front of the TV and cross stitch.  It’s such a good distraction.

6. Who or what inspires you?

All of you!  This IF stuff is hard.  It’s totally no joke.  The fact that any of us are still standing is, quite frankly, a miracle!

7. What is your biggest fear?

Aside from never being a parent?  Heights, probably.  Just can’t stand them!  As a result, I’m totally no fun at amusement parks, and truly horrid at flying.

8. What is your biggest dream?

To be someone’s mom.  I know, I know, another cop out answer!  But, it’s the truth!

9. What is your best piece of advice?

Be kind to yourself.  We all spend so much time worrying about what others think of us, that we often forget to take care of ourselves in the process.  The one person you will have to be able to live with for the rest of your life is you.  Make sure you want to know that person!

10. What are you most proud of?

My marriage.  My parents didn’t exactly leave me a great road map to follow, so the fact that we’ve made this work for the past 8 years, and that we’ve made it work WELL is a constant source of pride.  I don’t know where I’d be without the mister.

 

My Nominees:

And, again, I’ll echo what I said yesterday.  No pressure to comply at all.  Just know that I’m thinking of you and, to pull on the award title a little more, that you do bring sunshine (and buckets of dark humor) to my life!  In no particular order:

1. Fox in the Hen House – The Furiously Funny Fox

2. Just Stop Trying and It Will Happen… – The Award Winner

3. My Cheap Version of Therapy – The Granola Sweetheart

4. Teach Me to Braid – The Faithful One

5. On Fecund Thought – The Spiritual Inspiration

6. Our Misconception – The Movie Star

7. Our Last Embryo – The Diagnosis Sister

8. Stuck on Pause – The Healing One

9. Stupid Stork – The “I Just Spit My Tea Across the Room” One

10. Who Shot Down My Stork? – The Socky Ringleader

I thought it was going to be impossible to come up with yet more (different) names for this, my second blog award post in as many days, but damn there’s a lot of you out there I love!  If I haven’t gotten to you yet, don’t worry.  You’re on my list.  Muwahaha…

 

My Questions:

1. Are you and your partner a case of “opposites attract,” “two peas in a pod,” or some mix of both?

2. Salty or sweet?  (There totally IS a right answer!)

3. If you remember, how’d you find my blog?  Why do you (or don’t you!) read?

4. Where do you feel your virtual best?  On your blog?  Twitter?  Facebook?  Pinterest?  Some other site I’m far too uncool to know about?

5. When did you start blogging?  Was there a particular trigger that fueled your desire to blog?

6. What one thing never fails to make you happy?

7. Are you crafty?  If so, what’s your favorite medium?

8. If you could have a new career/occupation/profession tomorrow, what would it be?  Why?

9. What one item of your partner’s clothing/apparel would you love to secretly toss?

10. Thoughts on the term “furbabies”?  Love or hate?

Digging out from Bad Blogger Purgatory: The Liebster Award

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been engaging in some serious bad blog behavior.  Ya’ll have nominated me, have patted me on the back, have begged me to engage with you via various old school chain letters fancy blogging awards, yet I’ve not heeded the call.  I’ve left you hanging.  I’ve <insert overused verbal flourish here>.  Time to remedy that!

First, the lovely and strong Lauren at On Fecund Thought (note: some posts password protected) nominated me for the Liebster Award.  The award icon pretty much says it all:

Liebster Award rules

So, here goes.

11 Random Facts

1. Odd numbers annoy me.  Hrmm, what does that mean for the rest of this response?

2. Odd numbers annoy me so much that on odd dates I shoot my Lovenox and PIO on the right side.  I prefer the left side because my name starts with L and clearly L is the best letter.  So left-sided shots are reserved for the glory of even-numbered dates.

3. I may be a bit anal (see above).

4. Mr. But IF is probably laughing right now because I wrote “anal.”

5. Mr. But IF and I met in college 3 months before my mom died.  He met my friends and family for the first time at her funeral.

6. I’m first generation American on my dad’s side.  He emigrated from Scotland with his mother, grandparents, and sister in the mid-1950s when he was in his late teens.

7. I was a high school drum major, and still miss it.  I drag the Mr. to drum corps shows regularly.

8. I was salutatorian of my high school graduating class.  The GPA system was rigged.  I should have been first.  I was cheated.  I still carry a chip. 😉

9. Pittsburgh is the greatest city in the world.  That totally qualifies as a fact.

10. I wear gloves in my office.  And a heating pad.  And multiple sweaters.  The thermostat is set to an ungodly 60 degrees and there’s nothing I can do about.

11. Ranch dressing is my greatest weakness.

 

11 Worthy Bloggers

I’m not quite sure how to determine if ya’ll have under 200 followers or not (I sure don’t have that many!), but I’ll plow on.  Rather than actually have to think about this, I’m gonna simply take this opportunity to thank those of you with blogs that have recently commented on this little old blog o’ mine.  In no particular order, I give you:

1. Invincible Spring

2. Our Little Geekling

3. rainbeforerainbow

4. Doo, Dah, Diptie

5. Hakuna Matata

6. Don’t Stop Beliving

7. Dogs Aren’t Kids

8. My Hope Jar

9. A Crack In Everything

10. The Mamas Rapscallion

11. Amateur Nester

 

11 Questions from Lauren

1. What is your super power? Not a fake one, but something you are good at and can consistently rely on?

Really coming up blank here.  Do I go full-nerd or full-pessimist?  Oh choices!  I can seriously pump out a research paper, annotated bibliography, well-researched project proposal, a blog post in 30 seconds flat.  See kids?  Procrastinating throughout your life does pay dividends!  Now, whether or not I can actually muster the energy to care to do any of those things unless absolutely necessary is a whole other question!

2. What gift (apart from effortlessly making a human) do you wish you had?

The ability to turn back time/travel back in time.  I’d give anything to relive just a few more moments with my mom.

3. Have you read a book more than three times?

Absolutely!  The real question is how many books have you read more than three times?  At the very least my childhood/teenage favs have to be on there.  Anne of Green GablesHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, anything Sherlock Holmes, The Valley of DecisionThe Phantom Tollbooth, the Ender’s Game series, Pride and PrejudiceCrime and Punishment, oh, the list just goes on and on!

4. What is your mantra?

To never live by a mantra.  😉  Sorry, I effing hate mantras.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Does a quote from a random author count as advice?  Something that has always resonated with naturally introverted, self-conscious, and shy me is the following from Andre Dubus: “Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.”  Really, when we all get down to it, so little of what we do or how we act really matters to other people.  Some might find that sad or pessimistic, but I find it liberating.  Why should I be so in my head about everything if no one else really cares?  That line of reasoning often brings me peace.

6. Do you blog on a PC or a Mac?

A lil’ bit of both.  I’m a dyed in the wool Mac girl, but my work laptop is a PC.  So on the *cough cough* rare occasions that I’m writing from work, you’re catching me using a PC.  I’ve also written many full posts on my iPad while traveling.

7. What made you decide to start blogging?

Oh, boy.  Desperation? An unquenchable desire to hear myself spout off at random?  An over-sized ego that was naive enough to think I had something new to add to this conversation?  A growing disillusionment with the revolving door of women I’d met and helped on online forums?  A desire to further my advocacy?

Mainly, though, it was another distraction to throw myself in to as I entered another long indeterminate length waiting period following my third unexplained miscarriage.  What started as a distraction quickly became a much-loved hobby.  I was hooked.

8. What’s in your handbag (UK) / purse (US) / “bag you carry around all day” (elsewhere)?

What isn’t?  I do regularly carry the world’s largest purse!  Usual stuff – wallet, keys, pens, hair brush gum, business cards, etc.  A small pharmacy – Advil (even though it’s now verboten, the Mr. often requests it), tissues, nail file, nail clippers, bandaids, my daily pill case, and, if I’m going to be out at shot time, my needles, my wipes, some gauze, etc.  The less usual – a giant coupon organizer, often my iPad, hallmarks of my OCD cleanliness (hand sanitizer, stain stick, lint brush).  And, finally, the personal – memorial card from my mom’s funeral, the latest ultrasound picture, my long-past expired college ID, my hometown library card complete with my 10 year-old’s signature.

9. What’s in your fridge?

Oh, thank GAWD you asked this week!  I’ve been a freaking domestic goddess this week!  (Totally not the norm!)  Milk, eggs, butter, and the like.  An industrial capacity supply of seltzer water – I can’t get enough of the stuff right now.  There’s beer sitting there mocking me, as well as 4 unopened bottles of champagne that people brought me for my 30th birthday a few weeks ago.  Yes, the people that didn’t know I was pregnant.  There’s leftover taco meat for tomorrow’s dinner, chicken to be cooked tonight, and a giant pot of homemade clam chowder I slaved over on Tuesday in order to have ample easy food at the ready for the weekend while the Mr. is away at a football game with friends.

10. Who’s the last person you spoke to?

Just hung up the phone.  Call from the mister telling me our pellet stove is broken.  Joy!

11. What makes you feel fabulous?

Um, I dunno.  A new pair of Clark’s?

 

11 Questions for My Bloggy Friends

And, seriously ya’ll, don’t feel pressured to answer.  I’m pointing out your blogs here to draw attention to your hard work and thank you for the support you’ve offered me; if you fail to continue the chain letter, so be it!  (Or, if it takes you over a month to reply like, uh, someone we all know, then so be that as well!)

1. What was the destination of your favorite vacation?  Why?

2. Do you have any pets?  What?  How many?

3. What’s your favorite physical asset (don’t be shy!)?

4. How is your life different now from what you thought it would be at this point when you were 20?

5. What was the last movie you saw in a theater?  What did you think?

6. Name your guilty pleasure TV show.

7. (Shameless curiosity spurred on by the award rules) How many people follow your blog?  How long did it take you to build up your audience?  How’d you do it?

8. How often do you blog?

9. Does anyone in your “real life” know about your blog?

10. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

11. If you weren’t answering this question right now, what would you be doing?

Of blobs and blogs

According to this morning’s ultrasound, the blob has turned into a large, semi-personish shaped thing.  An oblong wiggle-worm with a heart thumping at 170 beats per minute.  Can we all just take a moment and collectively exhale with a, “Holy shit!”?

And, breathe…

As I’ve written before, I’m not quite sure what more to say.  Here’s the update.  I’m:

  • 8 weeks, 2 days pregnant with an increasingly person-shaped gray mass;
  • dreading and relishing the fact that next Wednesday’s appointment will be my last visit to my RE for the foreseeable future (though we’ve got 9 frozen blastsicles stored with them that we shan’t forget);
  • (im)patiently waiting for November 27 and my appointment with the maternal fetal medicine doc (high risk OB) and OB;
  • counting down the days until our NT scan where blob will REALLY look humanoid!;
  • alternatively nauseous from nerves and pregnancy (and nervous when I’m not nauseous, nervous that I am nauseous, and even pregnant when I’m neither nervous nor nauseous);
  • allowing myself to dream up/talk about the way we will announce blob in a manner that respects and acknowledges that path that got us here; and,
  • spending way too much time on Amazon looking at dopplers, ultrasound frames (Christmas gifts!), and other gateway baby stuff (can’t quite muster the “hard” stuff like onesies and little socks just yet).

(Ok, I may have actually just ordered a doppler.  Shhh!)

***************************************************

While I’ve been busy off in brain dead beta worry land, early pregnancy limbo, hoping for a heartbeat holding pattern, and other similar locales, I’ve been a bad, bad blogger.  I haven’t failed to notice that MANY of you have shouted out to me or nominated me for the various rounds of blog awards circulating.  Seeing as it’s taken 4 years, 3 miscarriages, 2 states, and 3 clinics to get to this moment, I guess you could say I fully embrace the “better late than never” mantra.  My next two posts will correct this oversight.  Promise!

The gift that keeps on giving

I’m 8 weeks pregnant today.  Things appear to be progressing normally.  I have an ultrasound on Wednesday, expect to be released from my RE next week, and will have a combined maternal fetal medicine consult and first (ever) OB appointment on November 27.  Really, what more could I ask for?

You see, the thing is, infertility and repeat miscarriage are gifts that really keep on giving.  Infertility is not lazy, it works hard each and every day to reassert its control over your life.  Miscarriage is not easily forgotten, but rather, like infertility, haunts my every day.  Neither is curable, eraseable, destroyable.  No matter how this pregnancy ends, no matter how future pregnancies end, I will be infertile, I will have suffered repeat pregnancy loss, until my dying day.

I also, it seems, will continue to suffer strained relationships due to the gift of my infertility.  Yesterday I may have injured my relationship with my aunt – my only surviving female blood relative – to the point of no repair.  Ever since my mom (her sister) died in 2002, Aunt L has tried to step up, tried to be there, tried to fill the gaping hole my mother’s passing left.  She’s done admirably.  Through her own immense grief and while receiving her own life-threatening/life-altering medical diagnoses, she’s been strong through graduations, engagements, marriages, and various other events that she should never have had to be the primary support person for.  Yet, her job is a thankless one.  She’s not my mom.  She’ll never be my mom.  And, for that, I seem to never be able to forgive her.

To say she’s struggled to understand my infertility is an understatement.  If it didn’t hurt so much, it would almost be comical how stereotypically wrong her responses have been to my pain time and time again.  When I became pregnant in 2011 after ovulating on vacation on day 56 of my cycle, she laughed as she replied, “I told you all you needed to do was relax and take a vacation!”  When that same pregnancy was diagnosed as ectopic she said, “It just wasn’t meant to be.”  After scheduling my first laparoscopy to investigate possible endometriosis (a condition that she herself has, that forced her own hysterectomy in her mid-30s) she told me I was being “too much of a worrier.”  Each medicated cycle after I was reminded that I’d never succeed if I was putting all those “unnatural hormones into your body,” and each negative test after negative test I was told, “It’s just not your time yet.”  When our third pregnancy ended in miscarriage last winter, she cried with me, but reminded me that the worry I had been feeling since our first bad blood draw at 5 weeks, “certainly did your baby no favors.”  She was visiting when we were approaching the end of my stimulation phase for this IVF cycle, and insisted on driving with me to my last monitoring appointment before trigger and retrieval.  On the car ride to the clinic she told me I could have avoided all this “IVF stuff if you’d just stuck with acupuncture.”

This woman loves me deeply, wholly, and completely, but seems incapable of saying or doing the right things.  And, believe me, I’ve taken my own advice – the advice I dole out so often at my RESOLVE group.  I’ve told her how her words make me feel.  I’ve asked her to respond differently.  I’ve told her what I need from her.  Each time I’ve been ignored, or, worse, corrected.  “More negativity is not what you need,” she explains, “you worry so much it makes no sense to make everyone else around you be just as miserable!”

So, for the past couple weeks, I’ve taken the coward’s way out.  She calls, I don’t answer.  She texts, I don’t reply.  It snowballs out of control.  My anxiety gets higher, the inevitable confrontation gets worse.  Finally, yesterday, Mr. But IF made me answer her call.

Apparently she thought I had died in a ditch.  You see, I do all those ridiculously long drives to the doctor and surely I got in an accident and no one noticed or told her.  (What that says about my husband and friends we’ll just ignore for now.)  I’m pregnant and she wants weekly updates, she demands weekly updates!  I told her that was just too much.  With a shaking voice I explained (again) that I just can’t keep calling and saying, “Yes, still pregnant.”  That even those three words leave me in a complete panic.  That just saying them seems like tempting fate.  That in my mind it’s not three words, but five.  It’s “Yes, still pregnant, for now…”

Again I was told that response is silly.  That my emotional needs are irrational.  If only it could have ended at that.

As her voice turned from stern talking to to chipper happiness, she said, “Well, fine, then we can talk about some other happy news at least.  Your cousin S is having a little boy, so you need to have a little girl.  I’ve told everyone you need to have a little girl so that your kids can play together!”

And, then it crashed.  The tears started flowing, the anger formed a lump in my throat the size of a softball, I couldn’t form words through the shaking.  My young cousin got married a few days after my most recent miscarriage.  After weeks of my aunt going on about how fun it will be to be pregnant at her wedding, I couldn’t manage.  I skipped her wedding.  A well-timed snowstorm gave me the excuse I needed to back out of the 6 hour drive home to the wedding of a cousin I barely know.  A cousin that is apparently very much NOT infertile.  A cousin who’s pregnancy and future little boy are just another on the long list of living reminders of all that infertility has stolen from me, of all that miscarriage has closed my heart to.

I think I’ve done fairly well at avoiding the constant comparisons and the what could have beens.  But hearing of the easily conceived pregnancy of the cousin that (I kid you not!) was on a television dating reality show when Mr. But IF and I first started trying to have our first sucks.  Having my aunt ignore my pain and replace it with joy for the niece who will give her her first grand-nephew sucks.  Having this all happen in time to coincide with the week when we lost our last child, when that heart beat stopped without apparent cause between 8 and 9 weeks, is cruel and unusual.

At least, as I said to Mr. But IF, I have something to talk to my counselor about on Thursday.  If I’m able to get out of bed on Thursday.  If Thursday isn’t the first day of grieving and moving on from a bad ultrasound on Wednesday.  But, it seems, I should just stop with the negativity and celebrate the gleeful naivete of friends and family and cousin’s named S.  Surely it’s my bad attitude that’s done this to me all along.  I’m constantly made to feel that I caused our struggles, I made my misery.  Why does this seem like rational logic to those that love me?  Why don’t they, by extension, remind me that positivity and yoga could have cured my mom’s cancer?  Why, when I speak of the pain of missing her, am I not reminded of a cousin, a friend, a stranger that has two living parents?  Shouldn’t celebrating living parents cure the lack of my own?