It’s been one week since I first took the Femara. The sense of futility about this step I willingly chose to take overwhelms me and I sit here on my dusty couch wondering if I’ll do it again next month. I don’t want to facilitate the fertilization and implantation of yet another bad egg…is that what I’m doing? And the uncertainty feels like a joke so I yell at my neighbors as they pass by my window as I sit here in my underwear at 2.30 on a Friday afternoon. I sort of feel drunk, and I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol in 13 years and 4 months and 4 days…
Scruffy belches in my ear. You’ve never been in THIS place before. Maybe that’s a little strand of hope…but really, fuck hope. I was hopeful when my perinatologist told me Molly’s 10mm cystic hygroma “could resolve itself” (for those of you just tuning in, it didn’t and she died–with 10mm, she didn’t have a prayer). I was hopeful when they told me her diagnosis was a fluke (it wasn’t, my eggs were shit when I conceived her and now they’re close to three years older than they were then). So, here I am in all my hostile glory and Scruffy just passed out from pills and a couple 40 ouncers and I’m here alone crying. When he comes to, he won’t remember a thing.
Oh, Geoff, I am so so sorry and I love you so so much.
Weight has been dropping off of me. My face looks gaunt, my mother tells me in her usual hypercritical fashion. Maybe this Femara shit should be contraindicated for schizoaffective patients? Still, mentally ill woman can make their own choices…can I be trusted? All signs point right to zero but as the title suggests, idgaf.
Fuck aneuploidy. Really, truly, my eggs are a mess and apparently my uterus is all too happy to implant chromosomally abnormal embryos, or not. I don’t expect the Femara to get around this one very dire problem and perhaps I’ll suffer another devastating loss. My RE shrugged off IVF with PGS testing and went straight to donor eggs. Which I’d do in a second if my finances allowed. Eh, strike that. If I had they money and emotional stamina, I’d choose adoption because pregnancy after loss is a fucking nightmare. I think that since I am myself adopted, I don’t have as much attachment to my own genetics as other couples might.
My unicorn is named Scruffy and he’s currently taking a smoke break and has been for months. Occasionally I hear him wheezing in my ear: your golden egg is in there. Here, Scruffy, I brought you some malt liquor and we can lay in bed watching Raising Arizona and laughing our cynical asses off at the absurdity of my life. Cheers, mate.
I see my psychiatrist next week. My experience on Femara has been uncharted territory and I’m unable to ascertain the status of my mental illness when I’ve yet to have experienced the hormonal upheaval it wrought upon me. I’ve been sobbing all day but I don’t feel particularly sad other than the sudden bursts of despair that wash over me from time to time. My eyes are just crying. Eh, whatever. I have zero fucks left to give.
I’m waiting for the universe to decide when I’ve endured enough heartbreak. Or maybe I’m waiting for my own personal breaking point, for the bottom to finally fall out of my mind. One way or the other, I feel it’s just around the corner. We are on the cusp of something, my unicorn of a husband told me last night. I think he may genuinely believe that our suffering will be rewarded in this lifetime, in this fucked up cruel world that has not given me a single break in decades. I would be forced to say that I vehemently disagree.
Where have I been to? Where am I going? My apartment walls once held so much promise but today they fold in upon me and I cannot draw a breath. My fingers trace the scars of my past, gnarly and authentic lines I once carved in my own skin. Since then I’ve achieved a dull stasis, wrapped my pain like a chrysalis that sheds layers as it incubates my slow decline. I want to roll the dice again, start anew with a heftier character. And it will strike like lightening, burst forth with new life. I’m hungry for the cure.
Femara is not giving me an easy ride right now. I sat with my psychotherapist this morning and cryptically made reference to the precise instant I was derailed, oh, the drama of it, a psychotic depression and the long years of recovery. Now I lay on my back boiling and taste salt from the split in my lip–and my babies are maybe angels and I can’t process the laughter from their ghosts. CD 7, last dose tonight. Dear sweet God, if you’re out there, please let my soul find rest.
I have three days on Femara under my belt. I never expected it to allow me, for the first time in years, to get a decent night’s sleep. I feel positively euphoric, although not hopeful. I have very slim odds, and I am a realist.
I am sobbing; my grief has become such a big part of who I am that I’m not even sure what’s left of me. This morning I dreamed about my little sister, who we lost in 1996 from complications from a bone marrow transplant (she had myelodysplastic syndrome). She was a month shy of her fifteenth birthday. It’s been so long that the memories I have of her could belong to a completely different person.
The last time Meg visited me in my dreams was the night between the two days of my D&E pregnancy termination. They had stopped Molly’s heart the first day. In that dream, Meg appeared as a young child, clad in red footsie pajamas. This morning she was all grown up as if she’d never left me. We were hanging out at the beach, having fun. The way things were supposed to be; the way things never were.
It was good to just have a friend. I don’t remember the last time I have had fun.
My body feels too narrow, like my skin could burst open any minute spilling sorrow on the crisp white sheets. My sadness makes my friends uncomfortable and I get the unmistakable feeling that they’d rather run from me than spend another awkward moment in my presence. If I have a healthy baby will the world take me back?
No, I imagine it wouldn’t.
Once I was young and brave. I remember myself as a young girl, fearlessly hopping the commuter rail to North Station in Boston, catching the subway and travelling to whatever hospital my sister had been admitted to last, sitting in her room and playing Uno as she grew weaker and weaker. This is unfathomable to the trembling woman I have become, the woman that flinches when the telephone rings because she’s convinced it’s more devastating news. Now, I walk only on very familiar streets and the only thing that terrifies me more than driving is the city bus. What happened to make you like this?
…and some days, I’m too scared to even step outside my back door and onto the patio, choosing to stay safe in my chrysalis of a bedroom with shades drawn, cat on my lap and old songs flitting through my head. There are clothes I don’t remember buying on the floor and cobwebs drift across the ceiling and all I want to do is wrap the bed sheet tight around me as I shake and shake. But today, I promise myself I’ll be courageous. Today, I will open my eyes.
It’s Friday and I’ll start Femara this evening. I’m as stable as could possibly be expected, and armed with my usual arsenal of heavy duty psychiatric medications, all carefully reviewed for safety and efficacy during any potential pregnancy by a specialist. It’s the weekend and Geoff will be home to keep close watch on me. The rest is up to the universe.
Time slowly drips down the yellowed walls. Another day stretches out in front of me, ten days past my ovulation and waiting for my period to show. I’m not knocked up this cycle, believe me when I say I just know. I’ll start the Femara 3 days into my bleed, and I am terrified.
I got an email from one of my oldest friends on my birthday, and just today sent my awkward reply. Mind you, this is the friend that just won $15 million on a fucking SCRATCH TICKET, so wtf do I write in response? I complimented her on her beautiful children (knife to the heart), and demurred when it came time to answer her question. So what’s going on with you? Well, girl, I wake up in the morning convinced that I’m waking up from a nightmarish gynecological surgery and silently screaming my baby! and I reach for my bbt thermometer so I can monitor my ovulation and then I think so should I even bother with peeing on a stick? and the weight of my existence crashes down and I know I’ll spend another day broken and probably won’t leave my house. My husband comes for a quick lunch and worry furrows his brow and even though he’s 47 years old I see an injured little boy trapped inside of him and all I can say is, I am so so sorry, my ovaries are fucked up and the house looks like a trashpit and all of it, it is all my fault.
I think there will be better days ahead. The amount of time I may spend waiting to see Molly again scares me silly. What if I live another FORTY years? I remember before my termination there was this one night and I was laying on the bathroom floor of our shitty old apartment and Geoff came in to check on me and I was screaming, I want to go with her, I want to be with Molly! I think I broke his heart a little and that was the absolute worst I have ever felt in my life.
So, dear friend, you will not understand any of this so I will say I do a lot of writing and I pray for the better days but to be perfectly honest those good days won’t be quite as good as your good days (I’m so glad you had fun in Aruba!) and I kind of am not sure who I am praying to anyhow. Don’t worry, I am fine and no, I’m not planning to go back East anytime soon but if I do ever make it back to Boston I’ll totally call you right away. RPL has taken everything from me. Write back soon!
And I lie back on the couch and I cry and I cry.
I am irritable and nervous. The sun is already shining hot, I am home alone wishing for a friend. And my ears ring with the sound of my unicorn galloping full speed into disappointment and grief. I cannot visualize winning this full-scale war I’ve waged against my broken ovaries for years.
My mind races; perhaps I need to bump my mood stabilizer. My reflection in the window shows a skinny girl with a head too large for her frame, stretched out on an unmade bed with greasy bangs sticking to a long and narrow face. I feel a pang of sadness–years ago I was an unconventional beauty with flashing dark eyes and the rounded hips of excessive fertility. I waited too long. Unable to place a finger on which physical attributes now combine to make me look old and weary, I let a tear slide down my cheek. Letrozole, 2.5 mg. Take 1 tablet by oral route daily for 5 days days 3-7 of cycle. Can these stupid, possibly impotent, little pills bring redemption?
I’m 9 days past my ovulation, wondering if I’ll randomly experience a pre-fertility treatment miracle. Laughter echoes in my ear. I could kill ALL of this by taking one of the 50 home pregnancy tests I keep stashed in the bathroom but I won’t. The cat curls up under my chin, as always, desperate for affection.
And I hate hate hate this, I’ve been doing this for years and it wears me down and from now on I’ll go it alone with only Geoff by my side if I can somehow not drive him away with my vitriolic heart…
God laughs, the same God that took Molly and cursed my body to cling to her so she had to be ripped brutally from the comfort of my womb when I loved her so very much. The same God that took my sister when we were both only children. I’m so so sorry, Molly. I’m so so sorry, Meg. I would have done anything to save you. The stray sunbeam that dances over me makes me think of fire and I close my eyes, knowing sleep will come soon. Please visit my dreams, all my loved ones; I’m still trapped here. Here on Earth, I’ll move forward alone.
I only seem to get pregnant when my health is poor. Eight days past my ovulation, if my admittedly lax tracking can be matched with my instinct to pinpoint the elusive event. I generally have no ovulation symptoms like middleschmertz so it sometimes boils down to hunch, albeit a hunch informed by years of careful tracking. I’m feeling particularly robust this cycle, so I’m positive my period will show on schedule in five days. And three days later, I will start my first round of letrozole.
My psychiatrist was uninterested in my concerns about mood swings while on fertility meds. I sort of thought she might be, but I really wish she had mentioned that she’d be in Hawaii for three weeks while I’m moving forward with my plans. Sigh, I can’t blame her…I’m a difficult and high maintenance patient, although I never was until I started ttc. I try to channel my frayed nerves by exercising and eating well, but the 100 degree heat this week sure makes it hard to cook healthy meals and get out exercising. I’m two pounds away from my target weight, a magic number I’ve crowned ideal because it’s what I weighed when we conceived Molly. Failed pregnancies, medication changes and stress and depression make it difficult to maintain consistency with my weight, but I have to confess my vanity and say I feel pretty confident when I can fit back into my size 27 jeans.
But really, someone shoot my unicorn. After years of disappointment and heartache, even a sliver of hope is dangerous–there’s only that one sliver but when it’s dashed it’ll really fucking sting.
So, Universe, keep me safe from potential pharmaceutical mayhem and help me sleep a little more regularly so my BBT charts are accurate and if you could kind of make sure I actually ovulate, give me a chance to catch that egg (eggs?). This is the closest thing to prayer that I can possibly pull off while so bitter and jaded, and I know it’s not a lot but maybe after all I’ve been through you could maybe throw me a bone?
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.