I started this blog three years ago, and now, at what I think is the half point of my life, it’s time to end it. I never celebrated my blogoversaries because the reasons I started this blog were not something I wanted to celebrate. I hope this to be much more than a “life sucks because I didn’t have a kid, so I’m closing down my blog” post. I hope that this will be more than the end of a chapter in my life, but the beginning of a great new book. What I know is this; I’m not the same person I was when I started this blog or even when I started my infertility journey.
Let’s be honest. The grieving over the loss of having a child has been one of the toughest things I have ever been through. I think I have managed to alienate most of my friends by either taking my anger out on them or not engaging with them over the last three years. While I am beginning to come to some sort of acceptance about life as it is right now, that doesn’t mean that I don’t avoid acquaintances with their newborns and toddlers in tow or that I accept baby shower invitations. I’m not quite there yet. Which is the main reason I am stepping away from the blogosphere for good. It is too difficult for me to read about everyone’s successes when I’m going no where, at least in terms of building a family.
Mother’s Day this year was excruciating as always. I spent the day hiding in my house, having my own little “Dex.ter-a-thon”, because what better to make you feel good than watching a show about a psycho-serial killer? Somehow, I feel comforted that someone else’s life is more fucked up than my own, ficticious or not.
I confessed to my mother that I hated Mother’s Day, and she told me that she hates Mother’s Day too! I also recently learned that my mom’s mom had infertility too. I was chatting with my mom, and I asked her if grandma ever wanted a boy. She said sure she did, but after having my mom and my aunt, my grandma couldn’t have any more children. I know what you are thinking, “at least she had two daughters!” Still, it made me feel for my grandma that she couldn’t have more children when she wanted to.
It also made me wonder if I inherited my wonky uterus genes. After trying to ignore that I had a uterus for over a year, I finally met with my old friend, the dildocam, and discovered that my fibroid had a son. Revenge of the uterus, I suppose. I hate those women that say to me, “fibroids are your body’s way of saying it wants children.” Yeah, tell me something I don’t already know, (insert derogatory expletive of choice here).”
I have not completely given up on the idea of having children. Magic and I had a talk about it, and nothing is going to happen until his business starts making some real money. For starters, we can’t afford donor eggs until that happens, let alone me reducing my hours and salary at work to raise a child. At a minimum, that’s three years out. I shutter at the thought of being pregnant at 48, but I wouldn’t be the only woman to do that. I am conflicted about it. While I don’t want to raise a child if I can’t completely be there for her, I don’t think I was any healthier 10 years ago. One particularly popular donor egg book berates women over 45 from having DE children. The way I look at it is that our child would have an appreciation for older people more than most of our jaded youngsters. Still, waiting three years for something that might not even happen drives me crazy. Oh, and please don’t feel sorry for me because I don’t have the money to pursue having a baby. I’m beginning to get that there is a larger force at work here that I don’t understand or have control over.
This isn’t the “I had/adopted a baby, and it’s the best thing that has ever happened in my life” post or even blog. This is the “what is there to life if not to fulfill my instincts to reproduce” question? I’m grateful for the women I have met through the blogosphere and on this journey. I think the vast majority of you have moved on to family building in some way, shape, or form. I’m happy for all of you, even if I’m not showing it.
As for me, I’m still working on the answer to the question of what are we if we are not mothers. What is the purpose of life if we do not execute our built in programming to have children? I know I failed, and I understand the reasons why, which were beyond my control. I try not to dwell on my losses anymore. The tears still come, but I don’t allow myself down that dark hole anymore. I’m accepting my losses. I’m beginning to see the bigger picture of it all. I would not have been able to really be there for my child if I had not been through the tragedy I had been through and was shown how it was linked to the trauma I experienced in my childhood.
I want my life to have purpose and to make a difference. I thought that purpose was to have a baby, but it apparently isn’t. I haven’t been moved to act on anything else yet. Maybe I’m already doing that in my job. Or maybe it’s simply enough to just be. Life is a mystery that is constantly unfolding. I’m trying to be curious about the mystery of it all as the pages of my life turn. Mostly, it just drives me f-in’ crazy.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for me, you can find me working in my garden.
This explains why I don’t have kids:
Go to #4. Damn lotta good my graduate degree did for me!
I’ve been fascinated of late by Julia_Child’s life. I’ve been looking for female childless role models, who had full lives without children. Did Julia struggle with infertility? I needed to know.
I picked up her autobiography, My_Life_in_France, recently. I admire a woman who is as passionate about food and cooking as much more than I am! I decided against reading the popular Julie&Julia because I read somewhere that Julia_Child did not care for its author Julie_Powell. She thought it was a stunt that some average Jane would try to cook all her recipes in Mastering_the_Art_of _French_Cooking in one year. Magic happens to own a copy of JC’s first famous cookbook. I’m someone who likes to cook, and I’m pretty good at it, but this cookbook totally intimidates me! So I have to agree with JC that I think that Julie_Powell is a fraud, not to mention a total crack pot. I tracked down her recent blog, and frankly, I don’t think she’s worth spending any money on. After she made some money on Julie&Julia and was “saved” by JC (hmmm, just noticed who’s initials Julia_Child shares with), she had an affair because she married her high school sweetheart young and never really had her own life, then when off and learned how to butcher animals, and wrote her second book about it, affair and all (while still married to her husband). While I did watch the movie Julie&Julia (on Netflix_streaming for free), I think Meryl_Streep, who I really like as an actress, blew it on her interpretation of JC. Judge for yourself:
One hundred pages into My Life in France, JC boils down her infertility to one terse paragraph. She starts off by describing a bout with stomach troubles:
“But when I continued to feel suddenly sick and gaseous, I declared: “Aha, pregnant at last!
We had tried. But for some reason our efforts didn’t take. It was sad, but we didn’t spend too much time thinking about it and never considered adoption. It was just one of those things. We were living very full lives. I was cooking all the time and making pans for a career in gastronomy. Paul – after all his years as a tutor and school teacher – said that he’d already spent enough time with adolescents to last him a lifetime. So it was.”
Hmmm, another woman who has a husband that doesn’t want to adopt. Mind you, JC wrote this when she was 91, fifty some years well past her childbearing prime and after an enormously successful culinary career. She was 49 when her first groundbreaking cookbook was published, and 51 when she started the first ever cooking TV show, “The_French_Chef”. All the reason to love her more, that she found success later in life when most women are mourning the loss of their youth. It would be interesting to know if she was really so laissez-faire about having children when she was younger.
JC was one class act. One thing she says is to never make apologies for your cooking, even if it’s completely awful. Which is why I disagree with Meryl_Streep’s interpretation of JC.* In that video clip above, the real JC does not disparage her mistake of the off omelet flip. She just states the facts, and moves on. Meryl’s JC makes Julia look like a doddering, insecure lady, which JC is the exact opposite!
I feel that JC never made apologies for her childlessness as well. I hope to emulate Julia someday, and enjoy my life sans les enfants without so much drama!
Life didn’t quite turn out for us, in terms of having children, the way I dreamed it would. None of it did. Don’t know if it ever will, but it seems to be completely out of my hands at this point. Magic says, “if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” I keep thinking, “maybe I’m meant to do something else with my life?” What would that be? I’ve already had the career I’ve always wanted. Not that I’m ready to drop-kick that. I still find great meaning to my work in my life. I can’t imagine not ever having a job to go to and being a SAHM.
I already have a very full life. I’ve thought about blogging about some of the things I am very passionate about, like cooking, gardening, and rock climbing. But that’s for another blog and another audience. If I ever decided to blog about these things, I’d probably create a whole ‘nother blog and persona so that I don’t keep identifying with the failure of infertility.
I do want it all. I want the career AND I want the kid. No apologies.
And so it is.
*I found an interview of Meryl_Streep when she was promoting Julie&Julia, and she said she thought of Julia_Child as the Dan_Aykroyd charicature he did in his famous SNL skit, which is how she does come off in the movie! http://www.hulu.com/watch/3523/saturday-night-live-the-french-chef
It’s been a year since the ill fated IVF. As the anniversary of the poorly timed trigger date came just before Thanksgiving, I began to grieve all over again. We spent Thanksgiving with relatives, and I was sensitive to every reference to families, whether in movies or in real life. The best part of Thanksgiving was something my youngest step-son said. We were all saying what we were thankful for around the table at Thankgiving dinner. When it got to him, he started out ominously with this, “I just have this to say…” Wait for it…”Blood doesn’t make you family.” Then he went on to say something wonderful about family, blood related or not. He just turned 17. I love this kid!
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, my brother called. We don’t usually talk on the phone, so at first, I thought he called to ask me something. We chatted for awhile, and I stopped wondering why he called. Maybe he just called to chat? Until he said, “we have news”. I knew what it was immediately. I did a pretty good job of not losing it on the phone. But ever since then, I’ve been a mess.
My brother got married for the second time this past July. In his starter marriage, his ex-wife was adamently opposed to having children. My brother went along with her party line. This wife is the exact opposite. I did warn him when they got engaged that they shouldn’t wait to have kids, knowing her age, which was 37 at the time. At the same time they were getting pregnant after their marriage, I was seeing my first RE after I got married, and the infertility nightmare began.
Some of you may read into this that I’m bitter. I know I have lost some readers because I have been viewed as the bitter IVF failure at BigShotClinic. I was pretty pissed off at that one and still am. I’m happy for my brother. I could have taken the anniversary grief, the inevitable grief when being around family at holidays, but this was the straw that broke my heart. I relived and still am reliving all the losses I have had since that first RE visit over five years ago. I’m grieving the loss of being able to get pregnant quickly after getting married. I’m grieving the loss of being able to get pregnant naturally, period! I’m grieving all the injustices and insensitivities that have been done to me and my body from medical intervention. I’m grieving loss after loss after loss. I could have lived through it all if there was the consolation prize of having a baby at the end of it. If all that weren’t bad enough, I’m feeling hopeless about still having no plan, and no money to pursue IVF with donor eggs.
I appreciated the comments from those of you who have husbands who refuse to adopt. I don’t feel so alone.
I thought about the donor embryo suggestions. I seem to be getting a lot of those lately, not just from this blog. At first, I felt some hope about it, but did not think I could convince my husband to agree. Then, I really focused on how I felt about it. You see, I’m terrified of getting pregnant again. Terrified. I would be much happier with someone else going through pregnancy for me. I’m not saying that to be selfish. I think pregnancy is very hard on my body, particularly my brain. I’ve been learning more about that in preparation for pregnancy again, if we ever have the chance to try again. I’ve got a lot more to say about that, but it will have to wait for a future post. I wish I knew then what I know now, but you know what they say about hindsight. I’d much rather adopt after the child is born than before. The only way I would agree to donor embryos is if my husband was gung-ho about it, which he isn’t. He always dangles some carrot in front of my face about these types of possibilites, but I know him better. In the end, he said no. It probably didn’t help that I told him I didn’t want to be pregnant again. I think I’d rather stick hot pokers in my eyes.
I went so far as to call BigShotClinic to check on the cost of donor IVF with a known donor. For those of you who think that having a relative donate their eggs is “a lot” cheaper, let me dispel that myth right now. You save about $7,000 from an already enormously expensive procedure, but I’m sure we would spend at least 5 grand of that in our own lawyer fees to draw up an agreement, not to mention the airline tickets to fly my relative here at least twice. When I added everything up, it was even more expensive than I initially thought, which was still more than we could borrow now and for the near/maybe far future.
I’m in a place of feeling completely hopeless and sad about this predicament. I’m grieving hard, and I’m longing for a baby. No, it’s not fair. The only consolation is that I’m not alone. Maybe no one in my family will ever understand, but I know my peeps out there will.
Will I wallow in front of the TV after work? Will I resort to chocolate as self-medication while all my teeth rot out of my mouth (literally). I’m so bah-humbug about this x-mas season, it isn’t even funny. I seriously need some therapy.
I know I’ve been gone. It isn’t you. It’s me. Let’s look at the year in review:
First, wasn’t hungry and went on a weight loss regime. Lost 6 pounds. Looked good, but didn’t feel happy.
Went back to eating chocolate for therapy. I pay for it later at the dentist.
Then, ran my first 10k. Think Forrest.Gump running across the country after his mother dies. Took a break afterward the race. Still grieving. Guess I didn’t run enough.
Tried not inhaling, thanks to Mar.i.nol. That’s a pretty good story, actually.
Tried inhaling, thanks to stepson “gifting” me with MM. Wonder why I was so obsessed with it as a teenager. Too potent for me, though it does take my mind off things temporarily.
Then, after days and weeks of coming home after work and vegging in front of the TV, I sign up for a triathlon.
Training for triathlon: still not happy, but at least the exercise keeps me from feeling depressed.
Have an emotional meltdown the night before the triathlon, feeling like a failure.
Complete the triathlon the next day.
Somewhere in there, I deleted most of my google.reader subscriptions. It was too hard for me to read of all the successes, either pregnancies, in many different ways, adoptions, foster care, etc. Seemed like everyone was moving on…except me. Sorry for not being there for you. I wonder if anyone is still reading this?
So where are we at?
Adoption is out. Magic won’t agree to it.
One family member did kinda sorta agree to be an egg donor. That’s an interesting story too. I guess I was hoping the whole family thing would be really kumbya, but it wasn’t . The waiting for an answer was excruciating. One family member hasn’t responded since I asked her. I can’t even say where she is at, other than perhaps she is still too young to process it. Grateful for the new connection I have established with my one niece, who was very thoughtful about the whole thing.
A year will have gone by. I think I am over my genes, but don’t know if we’ll ever be able to afford donor eggs. Still paying for last year’s failure IVF. I know that we won’t be doing donor eggs any time soon. I wish it would be sooner, but having to wait maybe another year or more? Being patient is hard when you feel sad about not having a family.
I’m not sure what to do with this blog. I’ve been incredibly busy these last few months with the garden and whatnot, but the garden work is winding down and I find myself not able to let go of my losses. The only way seems to surrender to the sadness, but that is getting so old. Anyway, just thought I should say something, instead of just leaving y’all hangin’. Let me know if you have any ideas or want to hear more than the cliff.notes version of the last year, if there still is anyone out there.
I haven’t seen a regular doctor since my last IVF failed, but one of my ticking genetic time bombs finally exploded, and I need to take care of something. I’ve been watching this vein in my leg, just waiting for it to pop. Well, it never really popped, but it started to really hurt after I would run. You see, I have varicose veins and it’s genetic. There isn’t anything I can do about it.
This made me feel old, dealing with my varicose veins. Until I found out my dad had his stripped at age 27! My sister had her’s done too, after her 4th pregnancy in her late 30s. I thought they would just be ugly. I didn’t realize that they would actually hurt. Pain is my motivation, so I started doctor shopping. I had an appointment yesterday with a new doctor. I felt excited that I was going to finally deal with this painful thing, but while I was driving down, I was starting to panic. I started to have the same feelings of anxiety/depression of being out of control that I had during IVF. When I got to the doctor’s office, the waiting room was crowded at 4:00pm, not a good sign. There were unhealthy, old people in the waiting room. After 15 minutes, I was asked if I wanted to reschedule because it was going to be “awhile”. There were three other people ahead of me. I thought I would wait since I had driven an hour to get to this doctor. As I sat there, I felt more and more uneasy. After another 25 minutes, no other patient had been seen since I had gotten there 40 minutes ago. At one point, the doctor came out and was socializing with one of the patients. I thought, if he was so busy, why wasn’t he working with his patients? I was getting more and more freaked out, having flashbacks like I was waiting for my RE, so I finally just announced, “I’m leaving.” No one asked if I wanted to reschedule, thankfully. I left and had to take a walk to let my emotions out and calm down. I was feeling like I did when I was pregnant and felt like no doctor really cared about me or what I was going through.
Today, I tried to make an appointment with another doctor who specializes in varicose veins. When they gave me their address, I though it sounded eerily familiar. I had to confirm where I had heard of this address before. This doctor’s office is right next to my old fertility clinic’s office. I don’t think I can go see the new doctor knowing I have to walk by my old fertility clinic that brought me so many unhappy memories. The stress just isn’t worth it.
Will I ever be able to live a normal life again, where my IF past doesn’t haunt me every step of the way? Will I ever go through a day not replaying all the past scenarios in my head over and over and over again about what happened during and after my IVF cycles? Will I ever be happy just being me and not waiting for a child to make me happy? Because it just doesn’t feel like I’ll ever have any peace or resolution around this.
Do not attempt to adjust your computer screen. You are reading this right.
I did not realize how much training for a 10k distracted me from my grief, until I stopped running. I ran the 10k race on Memorial Day and didn’t go running again for another 10 days. In those 10 days, a new wave of grief emerged. Four days later, I become unglued on an emotional meltdown so disorienting, I took a sick day from work. I had dinner on a pint of chocolate ice cream (dairy free, of course) and a chocolate bar. So yes, to answer Mrs. LC’s question, I do eat lots of sugary things with chocolate in them as a way to try to soothe my pain.
Then on the day of Magic and I’s wedding anniversary, instead of celebrating five years of marriage, I grieved the five years I spent trying to have a child with him. I saw my first RE just two months after we got married. I grieved the loss of having a daughter who would look like a combination of the two of us. Just when I thought I was really over my genes, I’ve grieving it all over again.
I think I’m beginning to get used to this pattern. Just when I think the grief is resolved, it hits me again, when I’m least expecting it. Just when I thought I was over believing in miracle pregnancies, here I am, believing it might just happen for me…again. Denial. As Magic says, it’s his favorite river. Apparently, I’m fond of this river too. Sigh.
I told myself that after the BFN of the last IVF with my own eggs, I would give myself 6 months to grieve and not think about anything baby-making related. While the weight-loss regime and 10k training served as distractions, I admit that I was not very good at not thinking about my next scheme about having a child. I thought about it a lot.
Now, it’s six months post-BFN and I have arrived at a place I really didn’t think I would be. I have always thought about adoption. When I realized what IVF was all about 5 or 6 years ago, I would have rather adopted, but Magic was adamantly against it. Now, adopting seems so right for me for many reasons. Let me list them here:
1. Genes do not make a family. Yes, it’s kind of a nice perk, but I can’t say that genes have made my family particularly close. As a stepmom, I’ve been in training for years to love children that aren’t “mine”, at least not in the genetic sense. I know I can love children that are not genetically related to me.
2. Pregnancy is a bad idea for me. As much as my body wants to be pregnant and tells me it wants to be pregnant, my brain knows it’s a really bad idea. Part of what unglued me a week ago was reading a tragic story of a local woman who most likely has post-partum depression/psychosis and killed her 6 month old son. I could see myself in this woman. I knew it could have been me. Just the short time I was pregnant with the prenatal depression and anxiety I experienced is enough for me to know that I would have been the post-partum train wreck. The other thing that triggered me about this woman’s tragic story is that I believe it could have been possible that my mother tried to smother when I was an infant. This never even occurred to me until I was pregnant myself, and I started having unexpected vivid flashbacks of my young childhood. Memories that are very difficult to access. I’ll never know if this suspicion I have is correct, because I think that even if it did happen, it’s not something my mother remembers or will ever acknowledge. This isn’t just the run-of-the-mill trying to dig up some trauma to blame my parents on. I had a recurring nightmare as a kid of being smothered. It was a very abstract dream, so it took me a very long time to make this connection (42 years, to be exact). It’s either one of two things: 1) birth trauma, possibly from being born breech, or 2) someone tried to smother me at a very young age. Long story short, pregnancy = mental illness for me. Not something I want to try at home ever again.
3. Cost. Getting practical here, donor eggs is going to cost $40k minimum. I don’t have that kind of money. Nor, do I want to gamble that much money on something that has the chance of not working. Which leads me to…
4. IVF sucks. I think I can safely say that I’ve been traumatized by IVF. I don’t think I could go through another IVF cycle without some guarantees, which isn’t going to happen. My body cringes when I think about going through it again. I don’t particularly like that putting one embryo back doesn’t guarantee that you end up with one child. I don’t like that wildly out of control whoops-your-embryo-split kind of surprise. You can have too much of a good thing. I could suck it up and go through that all again, but it brings me back to #2, and with the artificial hormones, that makes prenatal depression and anxiety all the more likely.
5. Human beings are hard on the planet. This is a big one for me. Everyday, I see how we are poisoning our world. I think of that big oil slick in the Gulf, and I get sick at the idea of creating another human being who is going to be using up lots and lots of resources. I work in the environmental field, and it breaks my heart to see natural areas being bulldozed for housing developments. I read stories of floating islands of plastic in our oceans. Climate change is here, and it is undoubtedly from the amount of fossil fuels we are burning at an astronomical rate. Being in the environmental field, climate change and how to manage for it is a huge unknown topic that is looming large in the scientific and applied sciences right now. There will always be children to adopt. I feel better making a difference in the world through adoption rather than adding to the world population crisis.
6. I want to be able to ask for one girl and get one girl. I know this sounds picky, but we really want just one child and we want that child to be a girl. I know several people who have adopted and have been able to ask for the particular gender of the baby they wanted. They may have had to wait a little longer, but in the end, they did get what they wanted. If you’ve been following my story for a while, you’ll know why it’s so important for us to have one girl.
7. I like the idea of open adoption. I think this can be very healing for all involved. I think because of where I am at now in life, I can have compassion for what a woman would go through to give her child up for adoption.
I don’t know if I am going to adopt. For the first time ever, a crack has appeared in Magic’s wall of opposition to adoption. He sees how sad I am. I explained to him my reasons that I have listed above, and he agreed that they made sense, particularly the part about PPD. He saw what I went through when I was pregnant. He gets this part more than probably anybody else could.
So, what’s next? Magic and I need to explore this more in counseling. I know the perfect person to see. I just need to make the appointment. I haven’t made the appointment yet because I want to make sure this is the right thing for me. I want to make sure that this is my heart speaking, and not just my hormones and not just my instincts. That’s a very hard thing to pull apart. Let’s just say, I’m not there yet.