and you move past history how?

I’m antsy as hell waiting for this cycle to end so I can start my Femara cycle. I’m not letting myself blow glitter, though. I know that my best odds are still very low odds, and above all I am a realist. Thirty-nine years old, trouble conceiving plus recurrent chromosomal losses since I was thirty-five … But I can still hope for a miracle, can’t I?

I hear a voice in my ear. Miracles are for other people, never you. The disembodied voice cackles and I’m momentarily disoriented. I’ve seen DOR women find success with oral meds. I’ve also outgrown two infertility forums, the last one standing, everyone else bringing home rainbow babies while I wonder if my turn will ever come. And I’ve become angry beyond words, bitter and hateful of my lot in life. All I want is this one normal thing…

I was so happy when I was pregnant with Molly. Confidently, we announced at 12 weeks gestation. My dad was ecstatic, already looking into buying plane tickets for the month I was due. I brushed off my mom’s pessimism…I don’t want you to get too excited, she said to me. There are so many things that could go wrong.

I wish she wasn’t right. I think that was almost cruel, that one statement that planted a seed in my head that germinated and grew into an epic nightmare. Every moment of my NT scan is branded in my memory, sore, infected…10 mm cystic hygroma. Hydrops fetalis. Heart defect. If these terms are unfamiliar to you, consider yourself lucky. Molly had a slew of fatal defects, obviously caused by a chromosomal abnormality like Trisomy 21 (Down’ s Syndrome). People see little videos of adorable, affectionate kids with DS but that was not our daughter’s fate. Down’s is not just intellectual disability; it can cause severe and fatal medical issues as well and by our 16 week scan it was evident that Molly would not survive childbirth. The fluid building in her abdominal and chest cavities would severely restrict organ development. Her lungs would never develop and outside my womb she would never be capable of drawing a single breath. I had to choose termination, my value system would never allow me to continue her suffering.

I loved Molly with every cell in my being. And now that she’s gone, I’m always going to be a little bit broken.

fire

Maybe I’m supposed to stay in this town where there is so much suffering. Each time I emerge bleary-eyed from my apartment, I wrap my cloak of loneliness around my shoulders. I straighten my spine until it is stiff and haughtily shake out my dark hair waiting to challenge the patrons of the streets of Olympia to comment on the grief I emit from every single pore in my once unmarked skin. I project hostility to potential friends, I see empathy as pity and retaliate with wrath. As a child I had temper tantrums; my mom would say someday you’ll have no one but yourself and she was right. My words cut like daggers, and my eyes glitter with hate. 

So I try not to go out when I’m like this. I hole up with my cracked smartphone, my shitty WiFi connection, and my books and records and I try to be invisible but I get in trouble anyway: firing off nasty emails, snarky posts on message boards, blistering comments on Facebook in response to innocently posted videos of a stand up comic doing a routine called, “What People that Don’t Have Kids Will Never Understand” posted by one of the very few women in town that is still kind to me after I announced my tfmr… She doesn’t know we’ve been trying for the two years since, about the miscarriages and PTSD. She doesn’t have to.

And I think to myself, if I get pregnant again will ALL of this just go away? Not when a positive pregnancy test means nothing, certainly not that I will carry past nine weeks or eighteen weeks or any time at all. With infertility and repeat loss, the gentle irritability of My hypomania blossoms into unchecked rage, a palpable red energy that burns and stings. I swallow my pills and close my eyes and I wait and I wait and I wait…

sad, sadder

I can show you sadder poetry 

Than you ever dreamed there could be.

I know all the saddest people

Most of them are dead now.

 – The Magnetic Fields, Save a Secret for the Moon

This town is full of horrible pain. The dying junkies sit with their dogs and line the sidewalks, offering nothing in exchange for the spare change and cigarettes they desire. Wild-eyed tweakers scream at passing cars and are run off by the sudden and inevitable appearance of sleek black cop cars. My kin, my fellows in schizo, mumble and duck their heads as they board the city buses…they don’t have phones so they can only hope for chance meetings with their friends as they travel with no destination in mind. And here I sit, privileged but knowing.

My friends are hurting now too. I know their problems, their official diagnoses and addictions and horrible family-of-origin stories. I get frantic emails, the random guy from Tinder doesn’t want to see them again, their cat’s died, their kid is violent and got expelled from school. I sat on the patio last night, trying to get fresh air while my panic attack subsided and this skinny teenage girl approached me. She was apologetic.

“I live in D7,” she said to me, “I got locked out, is there anyway I could plug this in for a moment?” She had one of those portable asthma machine things, I don’t know what it’s called.

She was red-faced, gasping for breath. She had no shoes, just a pair of wooly legwarmers in the 80 degree heat. Her legs were a mess of self-mutilation wounds, slashes of angry red lines everywhere, all up and down from ankle to hip. I plugged in her machine in the outlet beside the door, she loaded it up with a tube with a prescription label on it and sat quietly, sucking on the mouthpiece.

“Do you need me to call someone for you?” I asked. She shook her head, reaching into the pocket of her shorts and pulling out her phone. She held it up to show me. “I can go to the office,” I said, “They might be able to bring a key.”

“My mom’s on her way. She went to get me more medication,” she told me. I sat next to her. “You promise you’ll be all right?”

She nodded. Geoff came home; we soothed the cat as the girl headed home.

I got an email from a friend who said she thought she was dying, that she had aneurysms in her heart and they might explode and that’s why she’s been behaving so erratically lately.

And I sighed, swallowed my Serax and lay down on the bed. I stared at the little bottle of letrozole on my nightstand. Is this what I’m meant for? I’ve been plagued with deep philosophical thoughts: maybe the reason I’ve been through so much is that I’m here on Earth to help these sick and hurting people. Maybe that’s my job, and why I’ll never have a baby.

“Leave this town. Just gtfo,” my therapist had said to me, before leaving for her annual August vacation.

I close my eyes, feeling Geoff’s presence next to me. I’m not completely alone, and for that I’m grateful. With thoughts of existentialism swimming through my head, I fell asleep.

gawd damn

I’m not religious. I grew up in the Episcopal church, but my family was really more into the social aspects of that community and never really pushed the Bible stuff on us kids. I remember how happy my dad was eating doughnuts and pastries and sipping on black coffee after the service; we were always the last family to leave because he liked to talk to <i>everyone</i>. They elected him Senior Warden, the highest rank for a layperson…I think it was a matter of no one else wanting to do it, but he was so proud.

We stopped attending church when my sister grew ill, our priorities changed and we instead spent weekends in Boston hospitals learning dire words like “myelodysplastic” and seeing firsthand just how hard a run of chemo and radiation is on the weakened body of a child. My mom moved temporarily into the city, and the church ladies would come by every couple of days with suspicious looking casseroles for my dad and I…this was so comforting to me as meals had become my responsibility, but despite the outpouring of caring my teenage spirit had withered. I grew angry with the Universe and any deity that may technically be able to fuck with the people I loved. 

But things happened. I got sober on April 22, 2004 and a lot of talk of God and God’s will infiltrated my everyday world. I resented it for awhile, but I was dying. I do believe in living life based on spiritual and moral principles, but there is no overarching religious belief system that controls my values. I keep that personal to myself. However, while I may not be able hold my own in an analytic conversation about the Bible, I do value community and charity. The old ladies at St. Peter’s Episcopal taught me that without proselytizing, and for that I’m forever grateful. They shaped my value system more than hellfire and brimstone ever could have.

But now I’m alone. I don’t have a community to lean on for support and man, am I misguided and jaded. I never believed in an afterlife, in prayer, none of it. But when Molly died, things changed. I absolutely have to keep believing that I will see her again, that one day beyond planet Earth and all its mundanities I will finally be able to hold her in my arms. My sister will be there too, my beloved maternal grandparents, the friends I’ve lost to suicide and drug overdoses, and all my cats. The fantasy spins out…my little squirrel Scooter, that pudgy friend that used to come visit me on my patio daily so I could hand feed him peanuts; well, he’ll come tumbling towards me like he used to and welcome me to Paradise. Even if I am a sinner. Even if I’ve been right all along about the non-existence of God. 

I’m a skeptic, aware that I may be delusional or worse, lying to myself. But I can’t get through my days without this fantasy. I’ve tried, but I absolutely cannot do it. So I won’t. 

down in a hole

When the sun is shining, I forget about the cloudy days. I’ve spent the week sparkling and hopeful but here today it is gloomy and quiet. I feel utterly alone, sad about saying goodbye to my only close friend in this godforsaken town. Life’s gotta go on though. I’ll start up BBT temping again tomorrow, just to get back in the habit and I will forward to better chances ahead.

My Internet friends are a lifeline for me, and as pathetic as that might sound I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. No one I know IRL would understand; pouring my heart out to a trusted friend while hearing her loving child fussing in the background gets old real fast. I still long for a solid connection sometimes, from someone other than my therapist, who, awesome as she is, still charges $150 a 45 minute hour for her commiseration. I received a kind email from my oldest friend, a girl I’ve known since before I could remember. She has two beautiful boys, and, incidentally, recently won $15 million on a scratch ticket. I did the email equivalent of shrugging her off, “oh, my life’s not like yours,” and it was heartbreaking. Leave me alone with my schizoaffective and diminished ovarian reserve. How does one get around that?

I can’t help feeling that I’ve lived a lifetime of bad decisions, all leading up to today’s significant depression. And yes, I’ve done foolish things but not EVERYTHING is my fault…is it?

I know I’d feel better if I went for a walk, but the shoes I ordered should be here today…

 scrambled egg musings

The ups and downs of bipolar disorder are definitely amplified by a little case of infertility. Here I am, 39 and struggling to get through my days, to navigate cherished relationships that are suddenly mind-bogglingly complicated. I feel like a child, raw and incomplete. And I go through my days bumfuzzled, so full of manic energy that nothing in the whole wide world makes the slightest bit of sense.

I try to keep my emotions and behavior in check. I’m worried something awful about the bridge I lit aflame last night. I’m pretty sure things would be recoverable had I not informed my now-former best friend that I found her wife “insufferable”. I think that’ll be the deal breaker…granted, she IS insufferable but prudence and respect should have guided my fingers so that they did not tap out that one, unretractable word.

But to be honest, despite all of my attempts to slug my unicorn into submission, my mind is primarily focused on the little orange bottle of letrozole hanging out on my nightstand. The sliver of hope it represents, the kind words of my refreshingly middle-aged RE reverberating in my stuffy ears. Three months of meds + timed intercourse, then perhaps a switch to Clomid. Seasoned infertiles, answer me this: should I request a trigger shot for TI? My husband and I get busy at least every other day throughout my cycle so I’m not worried about timing, and I’m afraid triggering would ratchet up his delicate nerves and cause irreversible stage fright, but I don’t want cysts. Is this more of a concern with Clomid?

My psychiatrist was somewhat dismissive of my concerns about mood & mental changes on Femara, but did say she could prescibe Serax for any potential problems. Reassuring enough, I suppose. She did make the ever irritating, “stay out of the chat rooms,” comment, as if I don’t peruse peer-reviewed studies and yes, I do pick up knowledge from my trusted friends who have been right here before me. So, as far as I’m concerned she can fuck right off.  

I cannot wait for this cycle to be over. CD 19, fertile window slammed shut. The tww is nothing to me these days…just hanging on until I bleed again. I can’t help this sudden rainbow of hope bursting forth from my dormant heart. I’m asking you, Universe, just one take-home baby…

an argument for protecting your heart at great personal expense

I seriously burned a bridge today. It’s not often that I snap, but I did; I was just in no mood for the bullshit I am constantly bombarded with from fertiles. I’ll probably regret it tomorrow when the anxiety meds wear off but today #sorrynotsorry.

I won’t bore you with the childish argument. My friends have disappeared one by one as we struggle here, in this haunted apartment. We are just too tragic and in the solitude of daytimes my heart simmers and boils over. I’m unfit for life here, in this quiet town filled with junkies and tweakers, yoga enthusiasts and liberals. My presence chafes, they all avert their eyes. I don’t recall the last time someone asked how I was doing. Life goes on; the loneliness festers. 

Black cancer spots my heart. We need a new home, a new start. I’m paralyzed by indecision but I have to keep breathing.

fuck old times

My post-RE-consult euphoria left like a thief in the night. I awaken with fat tears coming from my dark eyes, dribbling a path towards my pillows. I’ve had this dream before: me, a prodigal daughter returning to Boston, calling old friends but no one wants to see me. I remember all of their phone numbers but we haven’t spoken for years. Behind my closed eyes, I see my smartphone screen registering gibberish as I try to reach out after years of absence.

I think it was the photo I saw on Facebook last night, my childhood friends reunited and posing on the beach with their gleaming-eyed children. That sense of missing out on the life that was promised me. I want to be part of that so badly that it must have drilled itself into my subconscious, leaving a path for the loneliness to come streaming out in the images and sounds that echo through my dreams.

I haven’t really spoken to anyone since I admitted to my friend that sometimes I hear voices. She hung up on me. This isn’t my fault! I want to scream. It’s like having diabetes or high blood pressure, I need to take meds. But it isn’t, not really. Once you take a breath, spit out a word that starts with “schizo-“…I guess after that, you can never go home again.

I wonder if Molly were in my arms, her black hair shining blue in the sun the way mine once did, my freckles darkening on her pudgy cheeks–I wonder if I’d be redeemed.

I heard from a couple girls when I brazenly announced my tfmr on the Facebook. We grew up good Democrats, and they praised me for sharing my story in support of Planned Parenthood. But they didn’t say they were sorry. That they thought I may be hurting to lose a sick child. Everything was strictly political and I kept my chin from trembling but in my gut the anger grew into the fierce bitterness that makes it so hard to have friends today. How dare they, with their perfect little lives? Fuck the past, fuck Massachusetts. I carried on with my head held high, tossing my long hair insouciantly with middle finger extended to the cloudy grey skies. 

Today I am broken. No one is gonna fuck with me again.

me, eeyore.

I refuse to entertain fantasies that Femara will get me a healthy baby. I’ve seen it happen to others, but this is me, Eeyore, the eternally pessimist. I am hopeful tho, that having a new plan will snap me out of the depressive funk I’ve been mired in since my last miscarriage. 

So I woke up hypomanic, gabbing away at a million miles a minute and dropping the remainder of my birthday money on expensive cosmetics. I had meant to squirrel the money away for fertility treatments and being a slightly-in-remission schizoaffective bipolar, I failed utterly. These are red flags, and I made sure to alert my psych to this sudden emergence of symptoms. I cannot lose control right now; the future of Europe hangs in the balance (if you get that reference, let’s make friends). 

I picked up my letrozole this afternoon, along with my chill pills. It seemed an appropriate juxtaposition representative of my current role as a mentally ill infertile. I would say that the majority of women I’ve talked to facing infertility, loss, and the prospect of ending up childless deal with a considerable amount of anxiety. Perhaps they aren’t completely incapacitated by panic in the way I’ve always been but hey! Drink till it’s pink, pills until positive.

I am half-joking. Tranquilizers aren’t a risk most women should take while ttc (trying to conceive) but my reproductive psychiatrist has okayed low dosages until I’m pregnant (IF it ever happens again). If I get knocked up, I can take them occasionally but they do cause birth defects and I don’t want a baby born addicted. These are waters I’m treading <i>very</i> carefully and am extremely closely monitored.

I wind up Molly’s music box, a stuffed hippopotamus named Piggy. I’ve had Piggy since I was a toddler and he still sings You Are My Sunshine. The night before we stopped her heart, Geoff and I snuggled up with Piggy on my bump and played him for Molly. Because we loved her. Because we wanted her to know how sorry we were. And as loquacious as I am when on an upswing, I just didn’t have the words.

Even through my mood swings, the sorrow is always there.