The anxiety pills are going down a little too easily these days. I’ll have to stop them soon as they’re not safe for any chromosomally doomed pregnancy I could possibly achieve. Post-thirty-ninth-birthday: the hypomanic and destitute infertile awakens, drinks her morning coffee and numbs out, only to suddenly remember she’s set a little money aside to fucking go shopping! Giddy with excitement, she buys a vegan leather backpack. I’m tired of my beat up American Apparel book bag–since I live within walking distance of pretty much anywhere I’d need to go, and since Olympia has enacted a ban on plastic shopping bags, I often find myself stuffing my purchases in the book bag and looking like a homeless shoplifter as I enter my next destination. I figure if my back pack is a little classier, I won’t be mistaken for a transient methamphetamine addict carrying her life’s possessions from store to store.
Completely neurotic reasoning, but I gotta go with what I’ve got. My husband on the other hand, will stuff the things he plans to buy in his pockets, carefully emptying them and placing them on the conveyor belt at Safeway and paying for everything honestly. I’d be too scared to, say, jam cans of unpaid merchandise in my pockets even if I did plan to pay for it, someone would surely alert store security and humiliation would ensue.
Anyway, I love vegan leather because in Western Washington it rains a lot, so the artfully textured plastic of the bag will also keep my shit dry. I feel a hint of self-righteousness at making such a practical purchase. Surely, I will be a far superior mother if one of my babies miraculously lives. Just look at my grown up backpack!
I held it together until bedtime. I was exhausted; instead of walking around the Westside until I felt no pain, I spent the day making connections with old friends. Seemed like a good idea at the time, until the insomnia hit and I screamed at my husband– I want to be normal, I want my life back. What did I feel like before the shit hit the fan?
I’m desperately in need of a friend, only now I’m unfit and too too needy. Recurrent pregnancy loss and schizoaffective disorder have made me intense, I wear my pain painted across my brow and people are afraid I’ll swallow them whole. My friends are weary from soothing my panic attacks and dodging my irritable fits and I’ve watched them vanish, one by one. I am so sorry, I whisper, but like an addict or someone irrevocably damaged I find I cannot stop. I used to be charming and magnanimous but I have become so. fucking. delicate. that everyone is afraid they’ll be the one to see me break. I freely give them permission to disappear, to slip away. They text me occasionally, the subtext is they still care. I forgive them. I’ve become a monster.
I overslept this morning, missed my un-sexily planned morning intercourse. I think it’s CD13? I’ll go though the motions, Fertility Friend predicts ovulation Monday, which is also the consultation with the fertility clinic. The fee is a hardship; I fear we’ll hand over our hard-earned cash only to be told they won’t help us because of my copious psych medications. My eyelids droop as I contemplate. We can do this. It’s just my dreams of motherhood, nbd. I need a connection, please reach out.
I need a lot of things.
I wake up early, anticipating the ominous tolling of bells. Today, I am officially thirty-nine. Another year off my fertility, another year closer to defeat. As I gnaw on my fingers, I hear manic laughter puncturing the cold silence of early morning. I check, double check–the strained and tuneless sounds are coming from me.
I am tired and it is fertile week. Is this what middle aged sex is like? I’m sore from my daily wanderings, usually aimless but yesterday I used some birthday money to buy the new Levi’s 501 skinny jeans at Buckle. I am extremely happy with them, not too long on me and with a nice high rise, but I’d rather have a child. Perhaps I’ll have to learn to settle for little things. My head spins at the thought. The rest of the money is tucked away for my upcoming appointment, for which I pray my hypomanic charm will score me a script for letrazole with minimal testing. A foolhardy plan, perhaps, but my arsenal’s gone dry.
I sigh, swallow my benzos. It should’ve been different and I’m brought to my knees by the sparkling Asian children I see eating French fries at the mall. It’s the Asian children that kill me and I think of Molly and how I never held her in my arms. It was never meant to be, my mother had said to me, and I remember how my tears flowed freely at the note of finality in her statement. She never wanted grandchildren. I am all alone.
It’s early enough that the day is full of possibilities, but I am still in bed shaking. My psychiatrist tries, but these little pills just go down like sugar. Geodon, Trileptal, Neurontin, Paxil. Restoril for sleep and Serax for the panic. If I get pregnant again, I’ll have to make changes. I’m thirty nine tomorrow and take enough medication to knock out a bull.
I greatly respect science but at this point the signals from the Universe have as much impact on me as bloodwork and ultrasound. Let me tell you about my second baby, miscarried naturally at exactly nine weeks. It was a wet and miserable winter but one day this squirrel showed up on my patio. He was wet and bedraggled, gratefully took the peanut I offered him. The end of his tail was lopped off. He’s a tough guy, I mused, before suddenly realizing he was also missing a rear foot.
It seemed oddly significant. He returned the next day, standing up and peering at me through the dirty glass of the slider. A little guy, still a squirrel-child. There he was, bobbed tail held proud and weight held up by his single foot. I handed him a peanut and took a home pregnancy test. A second line shone through immediately. It was my fourteenth cycle trying since losing Molly. I had almost given up.
The squirrel visited for weeks. When I saw him, I felt like I knew in my bones that my baby was okay. Seeing this small creature, observing him and classifying him as a fuzzy little warrior–well, if he could put up a fight than this baby could too. Overwhelming odds be damned, my baby showed a strong heartbeat at our early scan and the squirrel climbed and ate and was growing fat on the nuts I handed him. When he greeted me on the patio each day, it was as reassuring to me as my baby’s heartbeat on Doppler, making me feel as comforted and safe as any insincerely soothing words from my OB.
I started bleeding anyway. Just a touch at first, and I hoped fervently it was just normal spotting. But the flow picked up, I was sent to the ER. They treated me kindly that day, although usually they seem to assume I’m a hysterical woman having a panic attack who needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible to avoid any selfish use of resources. I thought of my furry friend and steeled my reserve. Like my little disabled buddy, I could face war wounds too.
I passed the gestational sac as they were performing a transvaginal ultrasound. The pain was bad, I begged them to stop but the tech was impassive and cold. She seemed to get much less gentle with the dong wand, snapping at me that she had to measure my ovaries. Blood and tissue ran freely from my vagina, pushed in spurts by strong painful cramps. I couldn’t stop crying, only wanting to pass my baby in dignity but the tech was harsh, like I was doing it on purpose. My husband looked confused and I whispered, “it’s over”.
That’s how I lost my second baby.
I still look for my squirrel friend, but have never seen him again since I lost the baby. I figure he was there for the time to provide moral support and (gulp) a little bit of hope. Deep down, I worry that in losing the baby I disappointed him, I really let him down. Sometimes I cry, not understanding. This was our one untested loss…could this life in my womb have been chromosomally normal and I somehow fucked things up? As I fall asleep at night, these questions plague me.
This sounds so crazy, but it’s the reality of a sevely mentally ill woman that has thrice been devastated by loss. My reality may be twisted, but I can always read the signs.
The anger and bitterness are getting the best of me. My doctor switched up my meds, leaving me hypomanic–I have irritable manias instead of euphoric and figure it’s best to isolate until I feel confident I can play nice. Still, in the quiet of my apartment I seethe and simmer. I’ve burned a bridge straight to the ground and I’m not sure my dear friend will ever forgive me. I feel no regret. When at war, you have to accept some casualties.
Thirty nine, thirty nine. I’m not sure how this could possibly have happened to me. With a suicide attempt that landed me on the liver transplant list behind me and years of reeling from addiction, my doctors were sure I’d never make it to thirty. But I’m here, character flaws in proud display; look at me, I’m beautiful and human and I’ve been through the fucking wringer. I used to believe in second chances, but doubt gnaws at my heart. And if I end up with nothing? Does pure survival actually mean shit?
A kind word would soothe my broken soul. They come out of nowhere, it seems, and I’ve learned not to expect them.
When I got sober thirteen years ago, they promised me that life would be better. I’ve yet to be blessed. I wasn’t warned that the tragedies would never stop and that the people I thought loved me would drift away like ashes in the oceans. I want to apologize, to say I never meant for this to happen to me but instead of revealing gentle desolatation I am hellfire and damnation and regurgitate invidiousness. I pray for salvation but lack the required authenticity.
Still desperate to make connections…your comments mean the world to me.
The things in my room are scattered like the mind of a distracted genius. Here I sit, growing nervous. I usually don’t ovulate until CD 15 at the earliest, but my fertile signs start early and I am spurred into action by a drop of slippery mucous. A friend was regaling me with tales of her latest sexcapades…I listened with envy. My sex life is all careful timing, Preseed, and Wondfo strips littering my nightstand. Every other day until ample fertile mucous, and then we are spurred into a kind of action that has nothing to do with the luxury of passion.
I’ve avoided fertility treatments for two years, afraid how meds may exacerbate my bipolar disorder and scared off by finances and reluctant medical professionals. This will be the fourth OB I speak with, there are no reproductive endocrinologists in my area.
And okay, I admit, I have a checkered past. I used to charm unwitting doctors until I had, with a sense of total and complete victory, a script in my hand–Percocet if I were especially on point, benzodiazepines to quell the terror of living, anything to make the pain and fear dissipate for a few short hours (don’t worry about me, I have been sober and working a solid program for thirteen years). I will attempt, in a week from yesterday, to be similarly charismatic. I want a script for Femara, interactions with psych meds be damned. I’d settle for Clomid, but the side effects scare me. Whatever…since I am coming to the end of my journey, I just want a little help and I can handle the craziness. I chuckle to myself. Famous last words.
I’m not totally reckless, I did write my psychiatrist for her opinion, but was met with a blank stare (if a blank stare can be transmitted via web portal, this was a doozy). To be honest, I’m not sure how this woman manages to walk down the street and not fall into a manhole, or be crushed by a falling piano or something. But there you go, an attempt at responsibility. Sometimes in life, all you can do is try.
(we now return to our regular programming… whining about depression will resume in 5…4…3…2…)
The quiet of early morning, interrupted by the staccato pounding of my feet on pavement. I am possessed by manic energy, desperate to calm my racing thoughts and this crazy drive for the type of speed foreign to my old and broken body. Despite my daily fistfull of pills, I am on an upswing. Seeking peace, I will teach my body how to run free.
Cycle day eight and I am approaching ovulation. In three days I will turn 39 and my mission will be that much more futile. I turn towards my husband, cupping his face in my hands, a gentle kiss to wake him. This is our 24th cycle trying for our elusive dreams of family–we’ve been at it for two years since our sweet Molly passed. A lifetime has passed since I last felt her move inside of me. And I am bitter in knowing I will never be that happy again.
How cruel it is to be both bipolar and infertile! The war is between me, damaged yet inexorable, and my crooked mind, my irascible body and each month is another battle lost, a deepening sense of hostility and soul-sickness like cancer and my dear readers, I thank you for each brief moment of meaningful connection because in the end I could be here all alone. It’s a unique sort of theater, my sanity hangs in the balance. I go through the motions because I cannot think of a better plan.
And again, the sunrise finds me sleepless and again I pull my husband close feeling his sinewy muscle through the thin cloth of his Pogues t-shirt and we soldier on with the world stacked against us and we will continue to clash with the odds because if the miracle happens all this suffering will be worth it in the end.
Please, I beg you, pray for me; God doesn’t answer my prayers.
My thirty-ninth birthday rolls over me in waves, and at the same time hits like a ton of bricks. Once, I was beautiful and sanguine but now my heart shrivels and skips, and hope recedes like a falling tide. This is an impossible endeavor–to conceive a chromosomally normal baby? The universe laughs.
And in my head, I go over every. fucking. horrible. thing. I’ve. done. and I weigh my actions against whatever God’s will may be carved out in the stone of my being…was it the alcoholism I indulged in when I was in my early twenties? The friendships I destroyed when I was manic? Lonely and childless, I stumble through my days.
Still I strive to make meaningful connections. I am starved for companionship, hesitant to reach out while I dwell in darkness. Crazy bitch, whispered in my ear. You’re not like them, them with their shiny faces and, oh, the bright eyed children! I realize I am whining, that I may be judged as ungrateful but the truth is that I am painfully aware of my blessings. It’s just that…well, I am greedy and I want more.
My husband sleeps next to me as I write this, his leg touching mine, a lock of hair drifting down over his eyes. I want to give him the world, but all I have are dusty geriatric eggs, a womb that suffocates babies. My dearest love…I am so so sorry.
This town in suffocating me. I’ve lived here since 1997; when I was more idealistic, when the draw of a burgeoning art and music scene and a liberal AF college was simply too much for a displaced suburban gal to resist. The streets downtown were replete with hipsters and students. I was proud to call Olympia my home.
Fast forward twenty years. My parents visited for Christmas and we showed them Rainy Day Records and walked over to our favorite indie book store. We rounded the corner onto 4th, and with a deep sense of repulsion and humiliation, noted that the whole sidewalk was smeared with shit. A tweaker emerged from the alley and said, “MAN, watch out, there’s fucking shit all over the place”. “Thank you!” chirped my mom. But really, it was horrible and stomach turning and I couldn’t believe my houseguests had to witness such depravity. My mom thanked the tweaker and we zigzaged down the sidewalk pretending not to notice the sickly sweet smell.
Oly has changed beyond recognition. Cute little boutiques spring up downtown, but the more they try to clean it up, the more n’er do wells flock to the previously pristine streets. Despite having put sharps containers in every public bathroom, dirty rigs still litter the streets. Geoff and I recently saw a tweaker dragging a wooden cross down 5th–it was as big as he was, and he had put wheels on the bottom, which, believer or not, I feel was cheating. He had it over one shoulder like Christ himself…after dragging it a few blocks, he stopped, used a bike lock to affix it to a no parking sign, and ducked into a divey bar for some spirits.
Now, I appreciate the weird and downtrodden, but I must say that things here have really beyond what i can handle. I make eye contact at the junkies that scream at me to give them a cigarette (I don’t have any! so it’s not like I can just pull one out of my ass!). I shy away from aggressive panhandlers, being as I also never have any cash. I’m sickened by their desperation, and angered because I know all they want is a bag of dope.
All I know is that I have to get out. Leaving this town scares the fuck out of me. I’m hesitant to leave this nice apartment, we moved here planning to raise our children here and stay long term. Despite this complex being income restricted, it really us a nice place complete with wood floors and a spacious living room. I have this fear that if I leave this place, I’ll be giving up my baby dreams. It makes me so nervous that I’ve been prescribed tranquilizers just so I can barely get by and refrain from lashing out at my loving husband.
And I’m sick of these years of nothing but bad luck. Our luck has to change at some point…doesnt it??