trapped on the fringes?

Last night, I dreamed of a fiery dragon. He was my last hope and for puzzling reasons, I woke up confounded about the dichotomy of predestination and free will. Since I lost Molly, my spirituality has become contingent on neurotic superstitions and a terrifying loss of any illusion of power over my future, a future that is bound to be much, much harder than I ever anticipated. I am impotent against a Universe that deals me damaging blow after blow — I have been fighting fate, and I have lost.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” my mother told me, referring to my ability to have children.

And I am spiraling, and I have no control, not even over the basic biological processes that are created in my own body and that most woman have the luxury of taking for granted. My eggs are but dusty vestiges of a reproductive process I imagine was once robust with all my youthful folly. I wasted so much time, jumping from one dead end relationship to another before marrying my soulmate at 34 and it was already too late for hoping.

I had a relaxing Thanksgiving; it was just the two of us. Geoff made a delicious traditional meal, we listened to one of Leonard Cohen’s more mellow and melodic albums all day, had obligatory phone calls with our geographically distant families and it was so insanely good to just feel a little okay for once. The days that followed, however, were full of desperate anxiety and panic attacks that came over and over in relentless waves as for the first time since our tfmr, I saw old friends.

I sense it may be possible to slip back into my old life like nothing had ever happened, but the fact remains that a huge chunk of the woman I used to be is gone. All my hope, optimism, faith in humanity, and easy empathy — those once vital attributes have atrophied and become necrotic. I may have waited too long; I may never get that part of myself back and I’m not sure if I can fake it. Recurrent pregnancy loss has changed me and not for the better.

And these friends, who despite everything I love dearly, have really hurt me. Their disappearance at a time we needed the support so badly…well, it has been a sting from which I’ve not fully recovered and their sudden renewed presence in our lives seems reliant on our being “back to normal”.

So I lie here wondering if I’ll manage to get out of bed today, momentarily relieved of the social obligations of another hell-ish holiday season without my babies and I’m fairly relaxed compared to the way I felt this past weekend and I have no idea how I’ve managed to keep going but no matter how hard I try I can’t just let it go…

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confusing times are upon us

Today would have been my estimated due date to miscarriage #2. Rain courses down my bedroom window and I am above the grey spitting clouds, having just swallowed the tranquilizer prescribed to me to take the edge off my emotional emergencies, the flashbacks and panic attacks that occur when I am triggered by images and situations that hit me especially hard. I don’t take them lightly, and am closely monitored for potential substance abuse, in case you were wondering…I do have a history.

My little cat curls up in the hollow of my belly. EDDs don’t hit me as hard as loss anniversaries but today I feel like right now today I’ve already lost my last hope for a family. I am confused by time, which I sometimes lose; I wake up, or come too, unaware of what day it is, if it’s morning or night. I am not sure if I had fallen asleep or just zoned out, or perhaps it was but a momentary slip of consciousness because I can never figure out how long I checked out for. I feel okay about it because I still have insight and with that am reassured that I’m not having a manic or psychotic break…yet. 

Madness slithers around my spine. But as of yet, I don’t feel it curling up in my head. I block it out by focusing on politics; the tax reform unveiled today  could drastically affect me, my Social Security and Medicare and I’m a bear about it right now…if Medicare raises it’s premiums, my monthly disability check will be reduced and I will weep bitter tears and curse everyone from the Trump camp to the DNC in its current state of disarray to a Universe that day by day deflates any hope I may be privileged to feel. I obsess over the ramifications of the Mueller probe, hoping to see a lot of bad guys go down because schadenfreude and revenge fantasies are all I’ve got at the moment. I am keeping sadness at bay, here; later it all will hit me.

Three lost children, rusted and rotted ovaries, and eggs that are anything but golden. I haven’t decided yet, at CD 2, if I’ll continue ttc, if I’ll go out in a bang with my cool 5mg of Femara, or if I’ll try naturally this cycle, or just rest. 

It doesn’t seem to really matter. 

And in my head, my head that spins, I remember that I’m not really a nice person with a pure history, and through the endless years I’ve made so many grave errors in judgment that this could be what I deserve. 

It is Thursday, November 2, and I am cold and alone, and my belly is nothing but an abyss. 

* does anyone know where to look for support and resources for women accepting childlessness after loss and infertility? please comment.

always bleeding…cd1 blues.

It seems widely agreed upon that the way you heal emotionally from pregnancy loss is to have a healthy baby and move forward with your life. That will not happen for me. My grief has only intensified as I’ve struggled to conceive after my 18 week abortion for fatal chromosomal defects in Spring of 2015, and I’ve had two nine week miscarriages since, and the heartache has piled up on me and left me reeling. I mentioned yesterday how hopeful I was before our second pregnancy ended in  painful and bloody tragedy; I’ve reached the point at which I am less frightened to face a childless future than I am to experience another loss. I think if I were ever again to have to lie on my back in stirrups, frantically anticipating bad news while scanning the ultrasound tech’s poker face for any clue of how things are looking in ole Mr. Uterus — I think I’d pass out from the terror. And to wait for the doctor again, shivering uncontrollably while simultaneously sweating and panting, until whatever OB has agreed to take me on (I’m a difficult patient due to my anxiety) comes in somber-faced and saying how sorry she is…

I think I’d lose the last tatters of my sanity then and there. My ovaries have been faithfully spitting out chromosomally compromised eggs at since I was thirty-six or maybe earlier; my uterus, on a whim, will cheerfully implant and try to grow them…

Donor eggs are not by any means financially or medically possible for us; adoption is not an option either. 

I’m crying uncle. My mind spins as I grieve, leaving me disoriented. You’re gonna be late for work, I tell my husband at 8pm, convinced I’ve already slept. His brow furrows in alarm. No, sweetie, he answers. It’s nighttime. I’m right here.

I’m bumbling through my days. Wake up, take my happy pills. Ziprasidone, oxcarbazepine, paroxetine, benztropine, temazepam. I eye the bottle of letrozole, feel a sense of impending doom. Absentmindedly, I chop eight inches off my hair (I’ve been on prenatal vitamins for four years and nobody even notices if I lob off chunks of it…it was that long). 

The tattoo on my forearm makes me pause as I examine myself in the mirror. I stare at her name, Molly, now permanently inscribed on both my arm and my heart. I imagine her as she has appeared in my dreams, black hair, dark-skinned like me, maybe, always out of reach. Maybe in some parallel universe she exists, things worked out like they were supposed to and an alternate version of me holds her close, makes her smile. Maybe one of my miscarried babies is there with us too, crowded on the bed on a Wednesday morning, me catching Geoff’s eye and feeling the way normal people feel. You’ll be late for work, I say, this time at the correct time and he kisses us all and heads off to his shop…

But today, another CD1, it is always CD1 for some reason, time loops around and around and I am spinning out, words that I use like devastated, damaged, broken; I’ve repeated them time and time again and they’ve lost all meaning. I check the clock but the numbers mean nothing because I am in no-man’s land, drifting, bobbing, at the mercy of the sea. I am thirty-nine, I am 22 and in the psych ward again, I am 36 and staring at a positive pregnancy test in disbelief thinking, well, that was easy, I am 48 and ugly and lonely as hell. I am not here, I am someplace else and I am free.

trick or treat 

I wouldn’t talk to my mother for about a month after I terminated our first pregnancy. She wanted me to have an abortion right off the bat, and hadn’t been supportive of the pregnancy in the first place. I don’t want you to get too excited, she said carefully after I announced I was expecting, at twelve weeks. She didn’t elaborate, and I suppose I should be grateful she didn’t go into the details of whatever the fuck her problem was at the time. I mean, I guess she was right. Although I was blissfully unaware, Molly was doomed from the start.

She called me today. It’s Halloween, and I’m sure she forgot that it marked one year since my first miscarriage. It was the second baby I really thought I’d get to hold one day–I suppose it was naive of me to think that since I’d gone through the indescribable pain of ending a wanted pregnancy in the second trimester, and subsequently suffered 14 cycles of infertility (but they told me Molly’s chromosomal abnormalities were just a fluke!), that I was finally going to catch a break. So I spent the day swinging from the depths of protracted grief to the obsessive distraction of watching for new headlines about political happenings. Halloween used to mean something else to me, my family…thirty-nine years ago, I was adopted and delivered to my patient new family, arriving stateside at JFK International and being delivered by courier to the expectant arms of my forever mother and father, my ecstatic and wonderful maternal grandparents, me, at three months old. So, I let fat tears slide down my cheeks as my mom described her first few moments with her first child. Even though she was talking about me, I felt the sting of bitterness hearing of a joy I’ll never experience.

The nuances of the suffering of infertile couples are lost on my mother, my mother that has breathed a very audible sigh of relief every time I’ve lost a baby. You don’t need a baby. Just worry about you, she tells me, in harsh tones I find completely inexplicable. Only they’re not inexplicable at all; my mom thinks I am too sick to raise a child. She’s seen me at my worst — I must have been, what, 24 years old? when we had our last of the horrible visits before antipsychotics saved my life. They had given me some new med, Serzone (I don’t think it’s on the market anymore, was an antidepressant), and I, true to form, had a weird reaction to it. In short, it made me walk over and over in small circles, endless tortured circles, and I could not on my own volition stop walking in circles–pretty crazy, huh? I think she finally accepted my illness at that visit, and now in her mind, I’m nothing but a mental patient. 

So I didn’t mention the miscarriage anniversary, I didn’t let on I was shaking and crying my eyes out all day, I didn’t mention that despite getting a full night’s sleep, I feel hypomanic AF. I let my mom have her happy memory, told my oblivious father for yet another year that yes, I’m grateful that I did not grow up eating trash on the streets of Seoul, blind as a bat with teeth growing out my ears (my extreme nearsightedness and orthodontic misery have cost him a pretty penny over the years–ah, the narrative of the great white savior that plagues interracial/ international adoptees through their lifetime!) I indulge him; he honestly doesn’t know any better. I let my loving but neurotic parents relive a blessing I’ll never have with my own husband.

It occurs to me that I should take my meds. Three years ago, I was in pretty good shape to accept the challenges of new motherhood, but I have to restate: now, I am fucking damaged. I hung the sign the apartment management thoughtfully provided requesting trick or treaters to move on to the next unit on the front door. I cannot look at children and their proud parents tonight, maybe not any night, maybe not any night for the rest of my life. I crawled into my bed, which has pretty much become my world, swallowed my pills and turned on my heating pad. I pulled the blankets up to my chin and closed my eyes. Bring on the nightmares, I said to myself. They can’t be as bad as this.

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.

.

.

me right now and I’m adorable.

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

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.