randomness and existential crisis

The rain is back and resolve stiffens my spine — I will not let another summer fall into the sucking hole in my life that is infertility, not when summer days in the PNW are so few and precious. I still dream of life elsewhere, somewhere sunny and warm and closer to family, but I lack confidence as I face the looming threat of slashes to Medicare funding. We continue on here, broken and isolated and desperate for healing.

What is healing, what does it look like when you’re as sick as I am? 

I remember seeing my first therapist; I must’ve been in the third grade or something. My mom arranged to have my best friend’s older sister watch my younger sister, so the whole school ended up knowing there was something wrong with me — I was crazy under my mask of timidity and fearfulness. My moods and tantrums baffled my parents and I never slept, and I had an overactive imagination to explain the fact that sometimes I heard and saw things that no one else could see or hear. I was only vaguely aware that there was something different about me, I was doing well in school.  It was the eighties and childhood onset mental illness wasn’t a thing that was recognized by mental health professionals. They said I had abandonment issues because I was adopted. Even I believed them. My poor mother was permanently traumatized, to this day convinced that this is all her fault.

There was a lot stacked against me, and things got worse after my sister died. I struggled with addiction, I went on meds. Therapists paraded through my life, both caring providers and toxic wannabe do-gooders that should have never been allowed to practice, until finally I found someone that could help me. I was so unhinged but I fought like hell, found people to connect with in a meaningful fashion, and got my disease into remission in my late twenties. I thought I, too, could have a normal life, the sort of life I believe most people deserve. Then I met Geoff, who is amazing, and we lost Molly and spiralled into grief. And then the sickness came back. And I don’t know what to do.

It’s different now. My brain isn’t cycling through moods, my psychosis is as controlled as it can be. But here I am, shellshocked not just from my pregnancy termination, miscarriages, and infertility but from life and its infinite randomness, by the knowledge that lightning can strike arbitrarily and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for it. Children can be stricken with severe mental illness or they can die of cancer, babies can have their chromosomes put together all wrong, and the ones they leave as living witnesses will suffer. So I live my days in terror. I pray to no one that I’m wrong about the nonexistence of God. I do anything I can to ward off bad luck. And I never leave my house.

.

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me right now and I’m adorable.

CD 16, so not in the mood. Overslept, missed my chance with Geoff. UGH.

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words i whipped out as my husband cooked me dinner

I walked into my therapist’s office feeling broken, and left feeling pretty much the same way. I don’t know what I was expecting, really. I don’t know why I still seek comfort from a woman that has four grown children and grandchildren. 

“Miscarriages can certainly be disappointing,” said the woman who, over the last fifteen years, has saved my life and my sanity more times than I can count.

Words swirled in my head. “Disappointing”. How about invalidating, minimizing, silencing. You fucking bitch, what’s wrong with you, I’m bleeding??? She hesitantly ceded that yes, my eighteen week pregnancy termination for medical reasons was a traumatic event, and my subsequent nine week miscarriages were “re-traumatizing”. 

I honor the memory of each of my lost children. Molly, yes, Molly was my closest. I wear her name tattooed on my forearm, under the little Moomin tattoo that Geoff and I used without permission on our Xeroxed wedding invitations (once a zinester, always a zinester, I suppose). I felt Molly moving inside me, yes, Auntie, a fetus just shy of nineteen weeks does move and quite certainly is more than a blob of cells “barely the size of the tip of my pinkie with no discernible features whatsoever” (and yes, I believe in abortion nonetheless). 

People talk to me about healing when I reach out in the land of the Interwebs. I have a very strong drive, perhaps a habit formed from years of group therapy for my bipolar/schizo stuff, to find others who have suffered in similar ways that I have. But those women all have rainbows, or rainbows on the way. My search for women who are childless after loss hasn’t unturned much of a support network. There aren’t any therapists specializing in infertility and pregnancy loss in my area, and the pregnancy loss support group here in town is sparsely attended by young women that just want to talk about getting pregnant again (and is run by the chaplain at our local Catholic hospital to boot). I don’t actually want to get a new therapist after cementing a strong therapeutic relationship with my current one–fifteen years is a very long time to be working with someone. I just want to make her see me because I feel invisible. 

What do I do? Where do I go? I’m terrified, being so alienated but I’m even more scared of the insensitive comments, especially from those closest to me. That’s why I don’t leave my house. That’s why I don’t talk to any of my friends.

 violence

CD 3 came and went, and I didn’t take the Femara. But here I am, still a train wreck. My little cat curls up behind me and offers comfort as my mind spins and my body shakes. The thought of facing another fertility window, medicated or not, paralyzes my limbs and I feel them heavy against our hard mattress with the memory foam that fails to yield to the bones that jut from my tender flesh. Everything hurts today, and I am alone.

Halloween marks one year since the tragic end of my first pregnancy after my eighteen week abortion. My only natural pregnancy loss, when I passed the gestational sac as a cold, dispassionate tech rammed the dong wand roughly inside me, refusing to allow me the dignity of losing a baby in a private solemn moment with my husband by my side and refusing to honor me as the pain and cramping wracked my body, because the Rules dictated that she take the dimensions of the wasteland I call my ovaries like it was the only possible time for them to do it. We had seen a heartbeat weeks earlier, but our second baby was dead and gone.

I hate the term “angel baby” because fuck God for needing angels. I don’t believe in angels or heaven anyhow.

Coincidentally enough, I arrived in the States at three months old on Halloween of 1978 to meet my adoptive family at JFK International airport. It’s always been a special date for me and my parents and I hate that now it’s tainted by grief. And, whew! If only adoption now was as easy as it was then.

At this point, I’d rather stick my arm in the garbage disposal and flip the switch than face another TV ultrasound. This isn’t an abstract concept to me; if offered that choice, I’d genuinely prefer a maiming to another date with Wanda, followed inevitably as always by heartbreaking news. I’m scared my already dysfunctional mind will someday just crack wide open–it has happened before, why shouldn’t it happen again? I feel burdened and weighed down, my back aches and I cannot tell if it is physical pain or a metaphorical projection.

Scruffy has taken paid time off, in as such as I feel no more hope but I am paying for it in blood. I’ve bled out three babies and my god, there is so much blood it is as if an act of violence has been precipitated against me and I stand as a survivor that nonetheless is permanently damaged and too sensitive to step out into a cruel world devoid of caring. I really don’t think I’m going to get pregnant again, yet am occupied with the fear of another loss, especially another abortion for medical reasons. So many possibilities for suffering, and I’m, like, I’m half-past give a shit. Do I go back on birth control? Will I even be able to afford birth control? *wry grin* Fuck the President too, while I’m at it…hey, I already took a shot at God.

I don’t think I can go on trying until I’m 40, the way I’ve always said. I think I need to save myself and my sanity before then, and if I must accept childlessness in order to accomplish that, so be it. 

a desert island with you

I’ve let silence settle in a cumbersome mass around my shoulders and heart. Words are sticky in my throat and I wake from fitful sleep gagging on jumbled mussitation. My mind is clear yet offers no insight. 

My mental health providers would disagree, I’m sure, but I really don’t feel as if I’m experiencing bipolar depression. I don’t lack motivation because I’m too depressed to give a shit, but instead find myself living in terror of random acts of God that will cause me to suffer more. I haven’t stopped walking around the Westside because I lack energy; I’m acutely terrified of being struck by a car, becoming a victim of violent crime, having my feelings hurt when I try to explain to a rogue tweaker that I am not withholding cigarettes because I lack generosity but because I, in fact, simply don’t have any so could s/he stop  threatening me? I don’t stay in bed because I feel there’s no point in getting up, but because I’m petrified of going about my day and forgetting I am cursed only to receive news of something terrible that is going to hurt me even worse than I’m already hurting. The events that have transpired in the last three years (losing babies, botched surgery, medical complications, infertility) have left me acclimated to receiving horrible news, to being struck by lightning.

I don’t feel my moods are out of control save from when I take Femara and in fact, I think taking Femara has only underscored the fact that my moods have been relatively stable since receiving news of Molly’s many incompatible-with-life defects. I think my psychotropics are doing their thing. I think I am, for lack of a better word, shellshocked. And I hate to use that word when there are so many out there who have arguably lived through worse (my brother in law is a combat veteran for fuck’s sake), but I feel the comparison is valid because of the intensity of my reaction. It may be easier for my doctors to diagnose mania when I am simply shaken to the core with rage over the things I’ve endured and a support system that ghosted me because they didn’t approve of a second tri abortion or because my grief made them uncomfortable. And, when I express the depth and weight of my sorrow, I’m sure it’s easier to say I’m having a depressive episode because how could I be that upset over an 18 week fetus (note my therapist has 4 children and my psychiatrist is childfree by choice)?

I need to heal from trauma, but I’m at sea as far as knowing how. I don’t even know where to go for help.

And, just to keep everyone in the loop, I’m 13dpo and waiting for my period…I know it’s coming.

anniversary day

Despite the dreadful rain coursing down my window, I feel a bit lighter today. I’m allowing myself some time to rein myself into my own head, to daydream more than usual, to relax without the usual social pressures that I without fail, usually crack under. I’ve detached from anything that could be described as social media save for this blog. My husband and I agreed to take next month off from medicated cycles and stick to the ole fashioned way with no tracking ovulation save for my fairly consistent CM patterns (I know, gross!). We’ll resume Femara the following cycle.

Today is our five year wedding anniversary. I have no idea how he puts up with my moods and neuroses, which our battle with infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss has amplified to an unholy degree. Getting married to my dream guy was exhilarating and we spent one heady year as blissful newlyweds before contemplating baby making. I spent a year adjusting my psychotropics to levels and dosages suitable for our endeavor (all the changes ultimately turned out to be dead wrong thanks to my inexperienced prescriber, but that’s another story). Oh, how I long to have that year back! And we dove in, conceiving Molly in our first try. 

Losing her broke us. It felt like it completely broke us, but we stuck together and since that fateful day in which we made the agonizing choice to let her go with love…well, we’ve been broken a little more with each passing month. Immediately after our pregnancy termination, I developed a condition called serotonin syndrome in our attempts to mitigate my grief and post-partum depression with the powers of antidepressant medications–very rare, and psychologically debilitating. I then suffered dental issues due to a combination of my having a fucked up jawbone and having had bad orthodontics, leading to a botched surgical procedure by an unscrupulous oral surgeon, so for months all I could eat was mush or slop. Fourteen months of negative home pregnancy tests, two traumatic miscarriages that brought on symptoms of PTSD from my original loss. We now contemplate childlessness, with unfathomable sorrow.  And through this all, my husband has been my rock. I literally think I would have died without him.

He reads this blog sometimes, which I find sweet and endearing. Geoff, if you are reading today :

Thank you for being in my life. I love you, and always will.

confessions of a bitter betty

Being part of online infertility forums means I’ve met a lot of women struggling. I take comfort in knowing I’m not the only one feeling sad and bitter and jaded by this “journey” (“road to perdition” is more like it). I’ve met women I with whom I hope to stay connected to for my entire life…but it’s not that simple.

I’ve watched women survive so much devastation that the word “devastation” seems trite and overused. I’ve watched women for whom hope is crushed again and again, who suffer dizzying and expensive disappointments and brutal losses. And then I watch them move on and do the unfathomable: they get that bfp, they achieve their hearts desire after a seemingly predetermined amount of agony, and they go on to have what are basically healthy and uncomplicated pregnancies. 

And here I am still suffering. I am happy for them, but all of the sudden there is a giant wall between us. They move on and I am happy for them, but I grieve the loss of their camaraderie. And my loneliness festers, and I think about how statistically there will be a couple of us that must face a childless life and it’s likely that the poor unfortunate is…me.

Maybe I’m a complete sociopath. Or maybe I’m unlucky and I know it. I’ve read other women’s words about this very same topic, and then bam! pregnant. And I’ve achieved pregnancy myself and possibly elicited like sentiments in others, until my baby dies and they welcome me back with more grace than I’m ever able to muster.

And my loneliness festers and festers and festers, and my soul feels black and ridden with cancer, and all I can do is steel my reserve and keep travelling. 

no escape, no rest for the wicked

Femara has not given me an easy ride. I feel as though there are not a lot of women with psychotic disorders that seek assistance in getting pregnant. And successful conception means nothing to this hardened rpl’er…two beautiful pink lines on a First Response Early Results certainly does not mean I will bring home a baby. Rather the opposite–my suffering will increase as grief is piled on top of grief until I am suffocated with the rage of repeat loss.

I feel like I can barely keep my head above water. I sputter tasting salt as the waves of sorrow and anger strike again and again. I’ve never been caught in a riptide but I know you’re not supposed to fight it. I can’t stop fighting. The most dangerous waves are the ones that bring hope. There is nothing more painful in the entire world to me than hope.

And my god, am I lonely! I want my mother to soothe me as she did before my sister passed and she became hard. I want my husband to understand that none of this is my fault, these post-Femara moody days in which I’ve been terrified for my sanity. I want my friends to look me in the eye and not fidget because my grief and infertility is uncomfortable. 

My cat noses in between me and my phone, snuggles close and starts to purr. I bury my face in his soft fur and cry.

strangest moods i’ve ever lived…

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.

moods and memories 

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.

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…