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.
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’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.
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…
Screenshot of the post I made two years ago today:
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.