I know I should be writing something about Mother’s Day, but I just don’t have it in me. Instead, I’ll share this code for 25% off at Circle + Bloom. In addition to many different varieties of fertility meditation/mind-body programs, they have a cancer program, and general women’s health. (I loved the IVF and pregnancy programs.) There’s even something for the men. Check it out and use the referral code. Thanks!
During therapy this week, my counselor asked me what is it that makes me still so angry with infertility. I thought it was a stupid question at first, but I rolled with it. I said that I hated that it was beyond my control, that other than treatments to get pregnant, there was nothing I could do to cure or prevent it. Related to that, I hated that because it wasn’t anyone’s fault, including my own, there wasn’t anyone who could give me an apology for all the pain and suffering. It sounds ridiculous, but I think I’m finally getting closer to the root of my misery. I just want an apology.
That’s when she suggested that I write my own apology to myself, as if I were infertility. Again, I was skeptical that this would lead to anything helpful, but I said I’d give it a try. Some women have written letters TO infertility, but this is my letter FROM infertility.
Dear K ~
As you know, I strike randomly. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how healthy you are, or how much money you have. I don’t care about the color of your skin or where you were born. I don’t care about your sex.
I don’t care if you’re a kind or terrible person. I don’t care if you did everything “right” in life. You’re wrong when you say it’s not fair, because literally none of that matters to me, which is the most fair way, don’t you think? But I digress.
I wanted to say I’m sorry. Truly sorry.
I’m sorry that I didn’t give you a say in any of this. I’m sorry that your expectations for your family were shattered because of me.
I’m sorry for all the pain I caused you.
I’m sorry for the all the negative pregnancy tests that crushed your soul month after month for years. I’m sorry for taking the fun out of sex, and for causing a strain on your marriage. I’m sorry that I forced you to undergo expensive and sometimes painful procedures in order to have a chance at having a baby.
I’m sorry that I caused you to look upon pregnant women with jealousy and sadness. I’m sorry that every invitation to a baby shower made you crumple to the floor in tears. I’m sorry that you had to smile through your pain and hold back your tears when the subject of children came up during professional functions.
I’m sorry that it still hurts after all this time, and that it will likely hurt for quite some time. Maybe forever.
I’m so sorry for all of this.
So… This did nothing for me. I don’t feel better. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel it’s sincere. (Can it be sincere, coming from me?) Maybe the whole point of the exercise is not feel better, but to realize that it’s ridiculous to expect an apology for something like this. Perhaps the lesson is that I need to seek closure from elsewhere. I don’t know.
The other piece of advice from my therapist was to channel my anger into something like advocacy or helping others. I think that’s probably a better path. I’ll have to give some thought to it.
I feel like a fucking idiot.
An online retailer from whom I have purchased supplements and OPKs in the past sent an email offering a deep discount on a new pregnancy test strip they are trying out from a new supplier. In exchange for the discount, I had to agree to provide honest feedback on the tests. The maker claims the test yields positive results at 10 miu/ml hcg, making it a fairly sensitive test.
When I got my tests, I was 6 dpo. I took one that evening, knowing it wouldn’t be accurate, but I could at least see if there was streaking or evaps or anything else weird about them. I was shocked to see a second pink line pop up almost right away, especially since it was so early, and I hadn’t done a proper urine hold before the test. Could this be the real thing?
It occurred to me that the test might be faulty, so I took another one a few hours later. Same second line. Okay… two faulty tests? I decided to use my only FRER the next morning, thinking I would certainly get a positive, if these new tests were right.
7 dpo, morning…. FRER was negative. The new tests were still showing that same damn line, though. Maybe my hcg just isn’t high enough yet for FRER? I bought more FRER tests for the next day.
8 dpo, morning… Still negative on FRER, still positive on the new tests. It occurred to me that these are just crap tests, so I did a little experiment of my own. Tap water… positive. Saline solution… positive. My toddler’s urine… much lighter than the other lines, but still what I would consider positive. That pretty much confirms these are crap tests, right?
9 dpo… Well, that didn’t stop me from blowing $50 on a variety of pregnancy tests, and using them on the FMU I saved in an airtight container and brought to work. (Yeah… I did that, as much as it pains me to admit it.) All of those tests were negative, of course: EPT, FRER, and the Wal-Mart cheapies. Not even an infamous evap on the blue dye EPT test.
10 dpo… Non-crap tests were all still negative. Then I received an email from the retailer thanking me for my feedback on their new crap tests. They said they decided NOT to use this new supplier (apparently other women also got false positives). They offered to refund my money AND send me replacement tests from their current supplier. They also apologized for my horrible experience.
11 dpo… Good old AF arrived at 2:00 am this morning. I currently feel like stabbing everyone. I desperately want to stay at home for the next few miserable days, but I’m facing several deadlines at work. Instead, I think I will close my office door and cry a little… or a lot.
My therapist says I need to write about this, so here I am. How in the hell do I come to terms with our family-building journey ending before our family is complete?
I’m so very grateful that I have my daughter. I know many people come to this point in the journey with no children, and I can only imagine how heartbreaking that must be. (And I can imagine it, because I have imagined it, many many times over the years.)
But raising an only child wasn’t the plan. It’s nothing to do with negative feelings about only children. I’m well aware that only children aren’t any more or less well-adjusted, social, intelligent, or normal (for lack of a better word) than their peers with siblings. I know kids don’t need live-in playmates to have healthy relationships. I’m not worried that my daughter will be left all alone to raise aging parents, because she has a large and close extended family that can and will jump in whenever needed. It’s just that, long ago, before we ever started trying to get pregnant, our vision was for 2-3 kids. I can’t say exactly why, except that neither of us knew any different. We both had siblings growing up, and were surrounded by families made up of at least 2 kids. Maybe that’s not a great reason, but it is what it is.
I guess you could say that we do/did have two children, but now one is gone. Either way, the overwhelming feeling that I’ve been having is that our family is not yet complete, and never will be. I hate that this is my reality. I hate that it wasn’t my choice, at least not entirely. I accept that we made the choice not to do IVF again, nor to adopt. I’m confident that it was the right choice for us not to pursue either of those options, considering the financial and emotional ramifications. I suppose it all comes down to being angry at my infertility.
If it weren’t for infertility, we would likely have our little family already. If it weren’t for infertility, even after a devastating 20 week loss, we might have the conviction to try again and a reasonable expectation that we would get pregnant again.
Changing my vision of our family will be difficult, but it’s a necessary step. But, to be honest, I’m not sure it’s a step I can take right now. I’m still holding out hope that we might have a much-coveted surprise pregnancy one of these days. I feel like an idiot admitting this, but I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Why can’t that be me? It could be me, right?
So, it looks like I’m just not ready to let go yet. That still leaves me struggling on a daily basis. But at least now I know that the struggle is really against infertility, and not necessarily the end of our family-building journey, because we’re still on that journey, even if I can see the end of it coming. Am I just delaying the inevitable? Am I in denial?
I never win. Raffles, sweepstakes, lottery, door prizes… Whatever the avenue, however low the total number of entrants, I’ve never been chosen as a winner. Ever. Until today.
You know those useless reward codes on diapers? I faithfully entered them in the hopes of one day getting enough points to trade them for something cool. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, that I needed to buy far more than I needed in order to get the points, I decided to burn them all as contest entries.
One of those contests was for a year’s worth of diapers and wipes. This was in the Before Time (as in, before I lost the baby). Well… I won. The company sent me an affidavit to fill out and everything. But I declined.
I thought about accepting and donating the coupons (that’s how I would get my prize, as 70 coupons), but I would still be on the hook for the taxes on the value of my winnings. We already pay in on tax day. Not to mention, much like getting baby samples in the mail post-loss, I just don’t want to deal with this. We’re done with diapers. Forever.
Shit. Of course this would be literally the only time I win something.
When I embarked upon my walk down the path near my office this afternoon, all I was thinking about was how wonderful it felt to be outside in the fresh, warm
air. I was happy that I didn’t have any obligations to steal my lunch hour away from me: no errands, no appointments, nothing. The time was all mine.
A few minutes into my walk, it occurred to me that on my last trip down this path, I was pregnant. I had been in my new office for about a month, taking frequent walks on my breaks. It was still summer, but you could feel fall coming on the cold breeze that often blew across the nearby river. I was proud of myself for having lost a significant amount of weight prior to the transfer, and I planned to take advantage of the walking path for as long as the weather and my growing belly would allow. I don’t remember that last walk precisely – there was nothing extraordinary about it, and of course, I had no idea it would be my last one for a long time.
Over the next few moments, I felt an outpouring of emotions. First was anxiety. I wasn’t sure I could even continue on. A lump grew in my throat and tears threatened to fall. It seemed like a lifetime ago, and, at the same time, just yesterday that I had been there last. My mindfulness kicked in then, as I acknowledged my anxiety, let it sit for a while, then took a few deep breaths.
I continued walking. I thought about all the stories I had read by women who carried babies with anencephaly. Many of them talked of making memories with their babies while they could: Going places and seeing things and having unique experiences. I didn’t understand that at the time I read those stories, but I think I understand it now. I didn’t know it at the time, but those walks down this path with my baby inside me made for a very powerful memory. I may have actually smiled a bit at the memory of walking down this path with my baby.
I remembered capturing a photo of one of my first walks. I quickly scrolled through my phone to see if I could find it – to see if I could find the exact spot today – but I couldn’t. I took another photo today, anyway, as a point of comparison. Later, I found the older photo I was looking for.
You can’t see it in the top photo, but the trees are starting to bud. Not quite new life, but a coming back to life. I like how spring creeps in slowly at first, seeming to take forever for the first buds to appear and open, the first flowers to push their way up through the soil and leftover snow. But then, almost overnight, trees are covered in green and tulips are in bloom everywhere you look.
For now, though, the scene is still rather bleak. You have to look close to see any signs of life. Mostly you just see stark naked and broken branches, and mounds of dead leaves and sticks that spent the cold winter under many feet of snow. And that’s okay. The winter deserves it’s time. Spring will come, there’s no question about that. But for now, it’s still winter.
I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.
I’m 11 dpo today. My LP is usually 9 days. All tests have been negative.
I don’t really have any good reason to think we could be pregnant on our own after everything…. Still, here I am, obsessively testing and getting my hopes up. It’s early to be testing, I know, even though I’m technically two days late.
I’m driving myself crazy, willing negative pregnancy tests to JUST. BE. FUCKING. POSITIVE. Or for AF to show her ugly face sooner rather than later, if that’s the end game.
I hate the fucking mind games that come with TTC. But I can’t not try. I’m not ready to be done yet.
UPDATE: The witch showed up bright and early the morning after I wrote this. #toldyouso