Three realizations converged today (well, four if you count my new awareness of what the moist parts of your eyes and nostrils do in a -35F windchill).
First, I woke feeling lost about what to do with this blog in the new year. I’ve had checking in here on my list of things to do for ages now, and even with ample down time over the holidays, I still couldn’t muster a post. It came to a head this morning because I did actually, in theory, have something to write about. Baby But IF gave us our first serious scare yesterday (well, aside from the constant, skull-numbing, miscarriage fears I’ve had since the moment I saw that flash of white shoot across the ultrasound screen on the day of our embryo transfer). I won’t belabor the point (yet? ever?) but did y’all know that it’s common to have blood pressure dips in pregnancy? I surely didn’t as I gingerly walked down the stairs to tell Mr. But IF that I thought I was dying yesterday morning after a post-vomit check-in with his blood pressure cuff gave me a starling 86/57 result. So yea, I thought today, there’s something to chat about. There’s an update worth mentioning. There’s a way to contribute something of worth that might help someone in the future. But no, I almost immediately decided, this blog is not the place to gloat about my (totally blown out of proportion) brush with death. That’s totally inappropriate.
A few hours after making that decision, I read Dogs Aren’t Kids’ recent post “I’m an Asshole.” And, what can I say, it resonated. It wasn’t until about halfway through the post that I realized that I’m the hated and not the hater in this scenario. And, that realization stung. Not because her words hurt me (they absolutely didn’t), but because it felt like it was taking away part of who I am, part of what I define myself as. You succeeded, Dogs, and this post is tremendously brave. I just feel lost because I don’t know how to be brave myself anymore. How to morph my IF activist self into a pregnant IFer with any semblance of credibility. I stared at the empty text box for an hour, struggling to phrase a comment, find the words to un-self-righteously convey a “Fuck yeah! Damn straight!” on her blog as I chugged my Metamucil and wondered whether those flutters low in my abdomen are what I’ve started to think they might be. Ultimately, I closed the tab. I ran away. I was decidedly un-brave.
Finally, it came together when a member of another IF “grads” board I’m on posted the Huffington Post’s blog “A Twin Mom’s Post-Infertility Survivor Guilt.” As I wrote on my wall when I shared the article on Facebook:
Nothing more to say but “Yep,” “yep,” and “yep” (and I’m not even close to delivering or even fully accepting that we’ll get to meet this little one yet)!
I’ve actually used the AA chip analogy in therapy sessions before. A few weeks ago my therapist asked (with no hidden agenda or any other motivator but to continue our conversation), “Why does membership in the ‘infertility community,’ as you call it, matter so much? What makes you so fearful about leaving that part of your life behind?” I stumbled quite a bit at that one. Me, that usually has an answer planned for every possible question, for every contingency — I just froze. I mumbled something about being true to myself, about wanting our struggle to help other people, about how I’ll never be able to forget what we’ve been through. Ultimately I formed my own version of the AA analogy. Though, in my version of IF AA you would get to stay a member forever… I’m just not quite sure how that happens just yet.
Then I got to Goldberg’s commentary on her shower. She writes, “Years later, when my mother-in-law sent out invites for my own baby shower — for twins, no less — I had to stop myself from launching a follow-up email apologizing, saying something like, please, don’t feel obliged to come. People did come, though, with heaping bags of registry loot.” That one hit me straight in the gut. When we were home for the holidays my MIL announced she’d be throwing me a shower. She asked when I’d like it to be, what I’d like, and who to invite. My first thought was, “I can’t think about this yet, we still don’t know if this pregnancy will last!,” and my immediate second thought was, “Oh God, even thinking about going to my own shower is overwhelming and filling me with dread and bitterness!”
I have some confessions to make. Namely:
- I still loathe pregnant women. Like give them dirty glares from across the aisles at the grocery store levels of hate.
- I’m terrified of the day I really start showing. It will truly be open season for talking to me about my pregnancy. A few have tried it already, and I keep replying to all questions in hushed whispers, all the while suspiciously looking around to make sure no one can overhear me. This from a woman that gladly discussed infertility, IVF, IUI, timed intercourse, cervical mucus, miscarriage, hell, you name it, loudly and proudly in crowded bars and restaurants.
- After four years of being anal retentive about every drug, calorie, drink, or thought I put into my head (Could this saucer of soy sauce make it less likely for us to conceive? Will half a cup of coffee impact the effectiveness of Clomid?), I’ve been startlingly hands off about this pregnancy. I’d love to say it’s because I’m just that cool and relaxed about it all, but, if I’m being honest, I had that sushi on December 23rd and that second cup of coffee on Tuesday because I can’t bring myself to act pregnant. I’m still so certain it won’t last.
- I’m ashamed to discuss the preliminary baby names we’ve agreed upon with friends and family. Not for the usual reason – you know, the fear that someone will hate them – but more because it feels like an act of smug arrogance. Frankly, I’d love for them to argue with me about hating the name because fighting back is something I’m pretty damn good at these days. Having happy, lighthearted conversations isn’t.
- And, perhaps the deepest, darkest secret of them all, I’m actually excited. I’m fascinated with my hardening belly, the flutters I think just might be something other than gas, the sound of my doppler, and (once the sheer panic dissipated) even the threatened black out yesterday.
And, that’s what today has given me. I don’t know what this blog is for, or even who would want to read it anymore. I don’t know how I can live life infertile and pregnant at the same time. I don’t know if the survivor’s guilt will fade or if I even want it to. All I do know is that I’m here, I’m infertile, I’m pregnant, and I’ll likely be trying to figure it all out for the rest of my days. Why else is life worth living if not for growth, reflection, and reinvention?