This infertility thing is really more bumper car than roller coaster if you want to compare it to any kind of ride. As a kid, I absolutely HATED bumper cars – the viciousness of the people in the other cars, the painful jolting, and of course, the unpredictability of it all. At least with a roller coaster you know when you go up, you’ll go down. You can see the entire ride before you get on. With bumper cars you just try to survive all the hits until the timer goes off (whenever that is).
Anyhow, metaphor over. I’m feeling these emotional jolts and my soul literally hurts.
One small glimmer of hope came in the form of my TSH *finally* getting below 2.5! Test results finally came in with my TSH at 2.1, so my ND’s just going to tweak it a wee bit more to get it a wee bit lower as she wants it closer to 1.5, and test it in a month to see if that is a level for me to stay at for the present time. I’m also back on LD Naltrexone to fight those antibodies and see if those numbers can be reduced as well since those antibodies heighten miscarriage rates.
Life’s traumas and what they have in common…
I was watching Shannen Doherty talk to Chelsea Handler about her experience of cancer and she talked about watching a huge number of supposed friends bail on her, some didn’t show up, and others simply kept their distance, as if they could “catch” it from her or because she had changed from it. It sounded so, so much like the experiences I’ve had and many of my “colleagues” in the world of infertility. “Cancer is a godsend in my life – boy did it help clean house for me,” she said, referring to those who jumped ship. Doherty talked about always thinking she was tough in her life and how this brought her to a much more vulnerable place.
She also talked about how her husband never, EVER makes her feel alone in this, and comes with her to every chemo and every appointment and is with her every time she gets sick. That also made me think of how many zillions of times in 5 cycles that I’ve been at the RE’s office and have either a) seen zero men, or b) the few men I’ve seen stay in the waiting room while their wives/partners go in for their appointment solo. This includes on transfer day (my now former RE does them in batches for 2 weeks, every other month, so when you are going in for your transfer, you know the other women in the room are there as well for theirs). What. The. Fuck. This is not an appointment to get a mole looked at or a prescription for antibiotics. This is the one of if not THE biggest challenge she is facing in her life, and there should be equal commitment on the side of the partner. If she has to take time off work, so the fuck does he.
I don’t have a whole lot of flexibility on this one, y’all. I don’t give one shit about “squeamishness” when it comes to needles – get the fuck over it and be part of the process – she sure as hell has to! Unless you are a single woman doing IVF with a sperm donor, making babies involves two parents. Period. I want us both giving 100/100 from day one, and if my partner ever said to me “oh needles freak me out, I can’t” or “gee honey I really need to be at work on the day you have your ultrasound”, he wouldn’t be my partner, to be honest! You want a baby, fellas? You fucking contribute. You fucking show up. Even if she says “oh it’s OK I can go solo”. No way, no how. We have FMLA here in the US that protects our job when we have to take care of a family member. And hell, why would a man NOT be with his woman in the room during the transfer? With infertility treatments, it’s the only chance we get to be together during conception, and if he wants to be there at the birth, why wouldn’t he want to be holding her hand during embryo transfer? Ugh.
Can you tell I’ve got a lot to vent on right now? That’s part of the acclimation to a hormone-free existence I’m now getting used to, that or PTSD from all this fucking DEIVF. I’m really not the asshole I may sound like right now.
“A husband’s experience when going through an IVF cycle varies depending in large part on how involved he gets. When a husband participates actively with the IVF process it helps to relieve much of the stress on the wife and on the relationship. The more involved he is the more he will feel more invested in the entire experience and more in control over the outcome.”
~ from A Man’s Role in IVF
And all of this got me thinking of the vast expanse of loneliness and isolation of infertility and how through the loss of this dream, and for myself and many others, the loss of a baby inside of us, really does change who you are and how you see the world. These days, I trust less and I see more. These days, I lean on no one beyond my husband and Mum C. These days, I am aware that no one is a sure thing to show up. You know what I mean by “show up”, right? Not the polite, but the ones you can call and say “I need you” and they’ll drop everything. Those people (who I thought were those people) are long gone.
“These days many people first learn of the death of a friend’s loved one via social media. The instinct to post a comment or dash off an email is understandable. But everyone I spoke with agreed on one point: Even heartfelt gestures like these do not replace a condolence note.”
~ from The Art of Condolence
It made me think of an article in the New York Times that I read a few weeks back (referenced above), talking about how tacky the world has become when it comes to expressing condolences for one’s loss. From thinking that a text or a Facebook post or multiple sad-face emojis on Instagram, there are so so SO many excuses people make for not personally reaching out by picking up the phone, writing a letter/card, or making the time to visit the person you claim is your friend. I remember years ago, someone who I considered a dear friend actually ended our friendship because I didn’t wish her Happy Birthday on Facebook – even though I’d contacted her personally (gasp!) the day before because I knew wouldn’t be around and sent her a card as well!! And I have listened multiple times to people I know say “oh, I posted it on Facebook” as a reason for not communicating where they’d been, what they’d been up to, or why I’d not heard from them directly. Some claim they “are too busy” to keep up with friends so this makes it easier – for them. Sorry that’s not friendship if you use Zuck’s product as a substitute for truly connecting. As if we’re just a mailing list to subscribe to. Facebook posts (of that nature) are the sibling to those stupid holiday letters people enclose in Christmas cards, writing them because they’re too damn lazy to actually nurture one-on-one relationships. I get one of those letters from my own brother each year because god forbid he actually pick up the phone or drop me an email or – gasp! – make time to see me when he’s in town. Amazing what he was up to all year that he didn’t think was important – like, um, MOVING. I got a half-sentence text from him when I had my miscarriage and not a damn bit of communication since. That ain’t what I call family.
When our baby died, we got two condolence cards, and those were so meaningful to us because we felt so alone and these showed that someone Took The Time. Rather than just rattling off a quickie text or email, they Took The Time to pick out a card, hand write a nice note, and mail it to us. Not saying to those who didn’t mail a card out that they’re lazy, but I just encourage the world to do more than what can be done via computer or text when someone is in deep trauma. Take a person to lunch. Come over to their house and sit with them, whatever suits their nature. Like this past week when I was emailing back and forth a friend who asked if I was going for a massage to help deal with this stress, and I said yes I had one actually scheduled and mentioned how much I adore my LMT, and out of nowhere I got an emailed gift certificate from that friend to pay for the upcoming massage. Now that’s fucking awesome. It made me cry when I received it from her, it was exactly what I needed. So much of our world has gone dark and I can’t even literally hear talk of people’s kids without part of me going even darker. I try so hard but I can’t turn that part of me off. I’m not just blue, I’m dark blue.
This past week has been stress ball city. I have been falling apart emotionally, resulting in shitty eating which makes me feel even shittier physically and mentally, and like PMS I feel like my fuse is so fucking short, with my husband getting the brunt of it. I’m glad I reduced my workload but nothing is a cure-all, and next week things are going to really be terrifying.
- Next week is the election and in my entire life, I’ve never been as scared as I am this time around. In a country that has seen an actor become president, a WWF wrestler become Minnesota’s governor and of course, the former ‘Governator’ of California, it shouldn’t be surprising that a misogynist pig – who’s only known for being horrible to women, being wealthy and having a reality show – is up for the top job, but when you really feel like we could turn into Nazi Germany if he were to be elected, that’s how fucking crazy he is? When you see how the country is handing out Not Guilty verdicts to white supremacists in SE Oregon yet shitting all over – again – our Nativ Americans who just want to preserve clean water? When you see sexist pricks surrounding Planned Parenthood with their messages of hate towards women and reproductive freedom? You lose so much faith in humanity, in the future, and you just wonder, what’s the reason we’re even trying so much to bring life into this fucked up world? VOTE. Do NOT assume that she will beat that sociopath who advocates violence, sexism, racism, homophobia and other forms of pure hate. GW Bush won in 2000 without the popular vote, as I’ve been reminding folks over the past week, and look how he took the country into the toilet, defunding social programs, cancelling environmental works, pushing us into 2 wars, and tanking the economy after Bill Clinton’s work projected our country to have a budget surplus. Talk to people about voting – in a country where barely over half of eligible voters participate in presidential elections, this is so fucking crucial. (Yes Australia, I know your country has it’s shit together when it comes to this topic, don’t remind me. My husband’s jaw has remained dropped since immigrating here…)
- Next week, the day after Election Day, we’ll find out if our embryos are transferable and what the new doc says about our situation. God that suspense is killing me, beyond belief.
- Next week will also mark 8 years since the death of my father, and therefore I’ll need to go to the cemetery to catch up with my dad. Or will I? That’s fodder for a future blog post, one I’m too tired to write. My thoughts about him and who he really was have evolved so much in the years following his death. Definitely another post.
But believe it or not, I’m not a walking Doom And Gloom Show. Really.
It’s kind of like the seasons and the garden – after all the movement involved in getting a garden up and running, maintaining it, harvesting and preserving all year, the preparation for winter actually is a bit of a relief. The leaves fall from the trees and I am shedding this latest layer of skin and preparing to hibernate. It is not easy, and there is so much uncertainty, and so all I can do is hold tight to the knowledge that these things come in waves, and hope that we will be empowered and enlightened over the coming months. I’m on a tightrope, not ready to give in, not ready to fall, but every muscle of my being is tight as I try to keep my chin up and move forward.
My girl Ruby has been feeling my pain and has stuck close to me, “looking after me” as my husband calls it. She’s my little shadow and when I’m tense, she feels my pain and gives me her paw. That’s all a gal really needs, a hand to squeeze.
The Best Medicine…
Today we start our 4th year volunteering at the local elementary school, where we read to K-2 kiddos who are struggling to keep up for any number of reasons. It’s an ironic thing to be keen about since we have been struggling ourselves to become parents, and there are some new frustrations with how poorly it’s been organized this year, but it’s meant so much to us and makes us so warm and fuzzy after an hour with the kids, that we can’t not be involved. We’ve watched the kids we’ve read to over the years grow up before our eyes, and it’s a beautiful thing. In one of the most socioeconomically diverse neighborhoods in Portland, we’ve seen kids disappear from school (two of my kiddos I saw every week simply “stopped showing up to school”), we’ve seen kids make it through the foster/adopt system to find new loving families, we’ve seen kids make it against all odds to become more confident in themselves and love words. It never feels like we’re doing enough but when I see a former kiddo in the halls and they tell me how they are doing, or give me a hug, my heart gets so happy. I can’t imagine not going back into those halls and getting the therapy that their presence gives me. People think they’re going in to help kids but if they really think about it, it’s usually being around the kids that help us, the volunteers. I see kindergarteners still holding hands, still looking at each other as equals, still pure and happy and full of life and love. Anything is possible.
Someone I used to love once said to me, “don’t give up 5 minutes before the miracle.” Cheers to that…