another day

April 7, 2015 — the day we said goodbye to Molly. Three years past, and I haven’t moved on. It’s commonly thought that the way you go forward from a termination for medical reasons is that you get pregnant and have a healthy baby, and that hasn’t happened for us. Three years of mourning and it still feels like yesterday. I remember so vividly feeling Geoff’s tears run down my legs as he rested his head in my lap and we played You Are My Sunshine on a music box set on my slightly bulging belly and listened to her heartbeat one last time on my at-home doppler. I can still feel that wrenching feeling in my heart and it is physically painful so I wrap my little cat up in my arms and pull him in close.

The only thing that comforted me after the procedure was the thought that things just had to get better. That didn’t happen either. I’ve endured terrible hardships since then, so many that I can’t help but feel cursed and spat upon. I’ve had enough miscarriages that I don’t even remember those anniversaries anymore, although those four spirit babies will never be forgotten, as briefly as their light once shined inside me. Geoff and I will celebrate them all on the 7th. We’ll make cake and we will remember.

The distance between me and my loved ones has become so vast, almost infinite. I talk to my own mother on the telephone and feel like I’m shouting across a chasm with the wind whistling through it. I cry often. I never go out.

I have to close this chapter of my life soon. I woke up this morning feeling inexplicably cheerful and grounded but as the day wears on I feel myself sinking again. I’ve ceased feeling guilty for my past indiscretions, feeling that I have to have paid the price by now. Three years of unimaginable suffering. I’ve suffered enough.

*******

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abandon hope all ye who enter here

I couldn’t have come so far just to be stopped in my tracks by Fate and Asherman’s Syndrome. Here I am, I’ve been trying to get pregnant with my first child since November of 2014. I have endured a second trimester termination, losing our little girl Molly to T21. I have suffered a year and a half of negative home pregnancy tests until I started to randomly get pregnant and lose babies to miscarriages, always at nine weeks, wondering why but instinctively knowing the answer. My eggs are flawed, deeply flawed, and my husband and I cannot produce anything but tested aneuploid embryos; deep in the secretness of my once trusty uterus, our babies take hold, explode into exotic blooms and briefly flourish before becoming twisted and unnatural until they are so shot through with the black of sickness they are extinguished, and then have to be removed by force. I have grieved four babies, sobs coming from deep in my solar plexus and vibrating though the tips of my fingers and toes until I am consumed with the electricity of sorrow. In other words — I have suffered, and suffered badly, and I’m still not ready to stop.

My period this month was one day of on and off bleeding. Cramps wrack my body and my heart pumps out terror, sending it through my entire body to incapacitate me…I know the menstrual blood in my uterus cannot exit and I know scar tissue and adhesions are blocking my cervical canal. It’s over, I tell myself but despite the direness of my situation I cling to hope. Can we pull of treatment of this latest fiasco, financially? I honestly don’t know. I know you’re not supposed to self-diagnosis, but I do it all the time and have never once been wrong. I am profoundly familiar with the rhythms of my body, and I am acutely aware when things are out of whack. I harbor not a single hope that my uterus is free from scarring and adhesions. As I said, a woman that has had three D&Cs faces a 32% chance of Asherman’s Syndrome, and I’ve had three D&Cs and a D&E. I’ve been scraped raw and empty, multiple times, and at one point the cutterage must have slipped, injuring the endometrium and raining destruction from the heavens. And, BTW, I never ever ever end up on the right side of the odds.

So what? Jig’s up, no baby? Should I try to move on without a glance behind me, into a wild childfree life of travel and horseback riding, like my ditzy psychiatrist has? That’s never what I wanted. But nah, I don’t think I’m going down that easy, I plan to fight although my psychic energy wanes. Still, in this moment the anxiety defies my tranquilizer medication, the anger is bigger that any mood stabilizer can hold in check. We had to see the on-call surgeon. We couldn’t fucking wait for my regular and much trusted OB to do the fucking procedure. And now they want two more pointless cycles of Femara where the sperm will be unable to enter my suffocated cervix as I suffer from the attendant horrible mood swings and headaches, then I’m supposed to make an appointment with my OB to evaluate whether or not additional tests are needed. And all the while…tick, tock, goes the clock of the Universe, you are getting pretty fucking old, sweetheart, and I don’t give a shit about you…

*******

Everyone’s life seems to be going wonderfully but mine. I’m sick of congratulating people, of offering support until they get pregnant and disappear. Pretty much, I hate everyone today and I guess because I’m so negative I feel totally abandoned and like I don’t mean shit to anyone. No one would miss me if I disappeared but Geoff, and that’s a good reason to stick around but damn…

******

I am hating my life today. And there’s no one around to make me feel better, no doctor that can help me. I hate doctors. I just took my pointless Femara, perhaps this month I’ll pop out a good egg that will die in my uterus with retained menstrual blood…where is the blood going? I’m cramping, but nothing.

******

I just got off the phone with my mom. Random small talk, like it always is now. We’ve always been close but now I can’t talk to her. I wanted so badly to tell her what is wrong, and I couldn’t. Just like when Molly died, and btw I feel just as awful right now as I did when Molly died, I developed serotonin poisoning, and had that horrible botched dental surgery. I figure I lived through it once, I can do it again. But I’d rather not have to.

******

Why? Why do terrible things keep happening to me? Why do I have to hurt this badly? My OB’s website says that having more than two miscarriages is “fortunately very rare”? Why does it have to be me?

I have been crying all day, and I know from experience that if I make myself stop, I’ll just become angry and hateful. I’d rather cry. I think of going to the hospital, but you don’t even get to see the doctor on the weekends. Plus, I already owe Providence a shit ton of money. So that’s out, plus I took my stupid Femara and I feel I shouldn’t waste it. I think I’ll write my OB and say I can’t wait two months, but if I actually am out of the game I really would like to postpone the horrible upset that would come with that. I still have the tiniest bit of hope. Fucking Scruffy.

wild thing

Listening to old Liz Phair recordings from back when she delivered her lyrics in that wonderful deadpan voice, my little cat clamoring for his breakfast, and my temazepam flooding my bloodstream after my daily panic attack (this one came about from a sudden irrational thought that I may never have another period again and am full blown menopausal — I confirmed ovulation per BBT, I have to get a period, right?). I sip on coconut water with pineapple and contemplate my white-as-the-driven-snow home pregnancy test from this morning at 13dpo and feel hate bubbling through the chemically induced calm as I stretch out on the couch and let bitterness settle over me. I imagine, with horror, my uterus all stuck together on the inside from scarring and I’m pretty sure Medicare will cover neither an SIS nor a hysteroscopy to see if this source of extreme anxiety is justified and even if they did cover, I would have to struggle to get money together for the copay. I guess today will just be a fretful day and this morning I feel upset for no good reason and completely inconsolable.

I have to pull myself together. I am dropping the ball on quitting caffeine and reducing my intake of carbohydrates (noodles being my favorite food group), I drank a couple of soy based protein smoothies and I’m pretty sure soy is bad for my infertility. But if there’s scarring in my uterus, does it even make sense to try? The clock is spinning wildly, time moves rapidly to my fortieth birthday and I feel all of this is an exercise in futility.

You’ll have to pardon me — spring season is rough on me, and I’m already preparing for the resultant chaos that gets me as soon as I flip my Edward Gorey calendar to April. April 4 will be the one year anniversary of my second miscarriage, followed by April 7, the three year anniversary of the day Molly died. And, incidentally, the majority if my mental hospitalizations have been in April (change in light is sometimes rough on us bipolar folk), although these preceded my attempts to ttc.

May offers no relief, as we pulled life support on my little sister on May 10, 1996 and then all this is concluded with the acutely dreary advent of Mother’s day, the most depressingly saccharine day of the year. Dates and anniversaries and the like used to mean nothing to me, but have swelled in impact since I started this path of infertility and RPL. And I know not why.

I feel an impulse to go hog wild. I dreamed last night that I broke almost 14 years of sobriety by smoking pot — in all my dreams of relapsing into chemical dependence, my drug of choice is always marijuana despite the fact that I never really liked it and favored my much more dangerous vices. I sometimes think of turning back to addiction if this whole baby thing doesn’t work out but the memories I have of my abbreviated pregnancies are so wondrous, those memories of fleeting happiness upon seeing a heartbeat on ultrasound so precious, that I know a night alternating between coke and oxycontin is no comparison, not even as a sloppy second option. No, I’m still committed to sobriety, still determined to cultivate empathy although I do regularly encounter folks I feel don’t deserve it.

A big part of me has given up on a biological child, and when Geoff brings up fostering in hopes of adopting, I feel nothing but panic. It’s a horrible place to be.

******

I hate when people say, “if I’m not pregnant this cycle…” I just assume I won’t be.

******

CD1 here.

and she wakes… + memoir of a tfmr

It’s amazing how much a good night’s sleep can chase away the anxiety and reignite hope. Last night was my first dose of letrozole, and I slept for ten hours straight which is definitely some sort of miracle as I usually can’t even get the three hour block of sleep required to effectively track my basal body temperature to confirm ovulation.

This is so refreshingly familiar to me, the temping and tracking my menstrual cycle, planning intercourse when I’m fertile. I can’t even imagine stopping right now, fortieth birthday notwithstanding. I have been trying to conceive a healthy baby for three years now. It’s become a lifestyle and I’ve become comfortable with grieving and despairing and all the terrible shit that comes along with it. In a way, the sorrow and yes, rage, that accompany my little rituals feels safer than giving up and my addiction to hope brings comfort as well as the pain.

When I am pregnant, even through the terror of loss, I know the suffering is worth it. Only thing is, and this may sound contradictory to the previous paragraph — the pain lasts so much longer than the joy.

I’ve had a lot of readers say that they’re glad I haven’t given up the fight. I have ambivalent feelings about that. Eventually, if I want to save my soul, I will have to give up or I will go mad and that’s not a figure of speech. Oh, “madness” sounds so dramatic and glamorous as compared to the clinical terms my psychologist would use while assessing my illness. Through this entire cycle of hope and desperation, through all my bereavement and the exhilaration of success that precedes grief and torment, I have always been a girl with a severe mental illness. That’s irrefutable; the one constant throughout these miserable years has been my ominous diagnosis of schizoaffective, bipolar type. It certainly gums up the works, the frantic attempts to link up my medication prescriber and my psychiatric obstetrician and make informed decisions about medications, and to assess the risks of medications that make me barely functional.

I am enjoying my morning today, though, and as I know from hard living, today is all I have. This feverish longing for just one baby could destroy me but as of yet, it has not gone away.

*****

For some reason I am rather suddenly remembering every minute detail of my termination for medical reasons, those two horrible days that left me forever changed. These memories, for quite some time, crystallized in my memory until they were a sharp and painful mass that I learned to be able to tuck away safely in some of the squishier parts of my conscious mind, occasional feeling the hard edges and feeling pain, but otherwise moving on. This was after months of sobbing all day and being able to think of nothing else, all the while holding my head high because at the time, I had inserted Molly’s sad story into actual legislative discourse on Planned Parenthood and the controversy of fetal tissue donation and felt my small town was judging me accordingly.

We went to Tacoma for the dilation and evacuation procedure, to a dumpy and squat little building that served as an abortion clinic as our local hospital is Catholic and the abortion clinic in Olympia did not perform second trimester terminations. I felt apprehensive upon our arrival — the neighborhood we drove to was full of shiny new medical facilities and our clinic was a shack tucked into a street full of palaces. There were anti-abortion protesters who were agape upon viewing my small but unmistakable baby bump, and the clinic required you to use an intercom system to gain entry. I was a wreck, and Geoff spoke unintelligible words into the little speaker.

Suddenly, the door sprung open. A black woman hustled me inside, introducing herself as Tanya, the clinic’s grief counselor. I remember being surprised at her title, as my previous experience with abortion was notable for the staff’s indifference for patients and as she guided me through a lobby full of desolate looking women with no grief counselor to reassure them, Geoff remained at the front and I assumed he was taking care of payment details (I think it was $1k but I can’t remember, nor do I know where the money came from — he told me he’d handle it, and he did). Tanya said there were no other second trimester procedures scheduled, and I’d have a waiting room to myself. Upon entering the private waiting room, where there was a worn but comfy couch and a couple chairs, as well as a television, I was given a Valium. Geoff joined us, and he was offered coffee. I, as the patient, hadn’t had food or drink since the night before, since I was having twilight anaesthesia for the procedure.

Tanya held my hand and told me it was best that I start grieving now, while I was there. No problem. She and Geoff both held me as I sobbed and sobbed.

Tanya explained what I would be undergoing that day, and upon my return the next. Forms were signed — I didn’t read them. That day, they would insert laminaria sticks in my cervix to dilate it, but I would be “asleep”, and they would give me an injection to stop Molly’s heart. I was assured that both the Valium I had been given and the anaesthesia I would receive would both cross the placenta, and that Molly would feel no pain. She rubbed my back while explaining, and it was so comforting. I wanted my mom with me, but I was not speaking to my mom, and Tanya was a fair substitute.

I knew from prior internet research that Geoff wouldn’t be able to be with me. When I had learned that at home, I had been very frightened but Tanya said she’d be with me the whole time, and I felt okay about that. I was led down a short hallway to a room with an exam table and a chair for Tanya. Everything looked old, but clean. I asked Tanya if it were possible that I’d die, and she said no, they were there to take care of me. The doctor entered.

“I read your story,” he said to me, holding up a photocopied document. It was something I’d written at Geoff’s behest, an application for financial assistance that I’m not sure we were ever granted. “I am so sorry.”

They started an IV, which I didn’t even really register. I have tiny veins, and they always have to dig around to find them, but it has never bothered me.

“I promise I’ll take care of you,” the doctor said, and took my other hand. I felt very safe, even though a nurse had wheeled in a tray of shiny and intimidating array of implements.

“When are you going to start?” I asked him. He told me they were finished, startling me back to wakefulness. “Where’s Geoff?” I asked them.

I was back in the waiting room, in Geoff’s arms sobbing. I couldn’t believe Molly was gone.

Tanya had said it would be best if we stayed at a hotel that night in case I went into labor, and said the clinic would cover the cost. I wanted to go home. We weren’t too far away, as the clinic was in the southern part of Tacoma and I wanted my cat (not the little cat I talk about now, a different cat named Bandit). After some discussion, it was decided that that would be okay. Tanya gave me her cell phone number to call in case I did start having contractions, and I was instructed to eat lightly, but no food or drink past 8pm. I was given a script for painkillers.

That night was horrendous. Brutally painful cramps wracked my body. Geoff called Tanya to see if a heating pad (!) would help — stupidly, since I had been told no food or drink, we assumed I couldn’t take the painkillers, even though I’d been told to take my psychotropics as normal. Tanya said a heating pad would probably be useless, that she was so sorry but I just had to get through it.

I slept the whole drive up to Tacoma the next day. Again, Geoff dealt with the intercom as I stared bewilderingly at the protesters, wondering if they knew I’d do anything not to be there right then, and that my baby was already dead, and Tanya again came bustling out and whisked us inside. I couldn’t stop crying. There was a bruised and tender spot on my abdomen. They had said they’d stop her heart with an injection either in my abdomen or vagina, and I guessed they had done it in my abdomen, but I didn’t ask. Valium materialized. We were led to the private waiting room, Geoff again had some coffee — I wanted a cup so badly! We went into an office, where I was given Cytotec to dissolve in my cheeks to further soften my cervix. The pain was unbelievable. We signed more forms that I didn’t read, and I think that’s when we actually paid for the procedure. I decided Tanya was an angel of some sorts. I remember having to wait a while so the pills in my cheeks could start working, and being left for awhile watching COPS on the television in the now familiar waiting room. Geoff and I live a TV free life, so it seemed so novel and ultimately meaningless. Finally, Tanya came to bring me back to the same room. This time, I was terrified of being separated from Geoff.

I laid down on the table again. Tanya said she had a question, and anything I answered would be okay, but they were specifically looking for fetal tissue donations from women taking Category C medications during pregnancy (this meant there was not a lot of information to prove or disprove the medication’s safety during pregnancy), and my fistfuls of psych meds qualified me. It suddenly occurred to me why I had spent months researching the safety of my meds, and come up with no satisfying answers — it’s fucking unethical to test medications on pregnant women, duh. I signed my consent in hopes that Molly’s remains could be used to help other women like me. We had the option of cremation, but I was not okay enough to set that up and assumed it would be too expensive anyway.

“Good for you!” Tanya exclaimed as I signed the form, “This will really help someone.” She kind of shook my arm in her excitement. I hadn’t discussed this decision with Geoff, but was a little glad that the decision had been left to me. It was our baby to be sure, but my body. I know my husband well, though, and knew he’d accede to my wishes on the matter.

They started messing around with the IV and my recalcitrant veins and Tanya asked if I had any pets. I felt a rush of energy, and started enthusiastically telling her about Bandit and how she loved me but growled ferociously when Geoff tried to pet her, and then I was waking up again and they said I could start healing now. I felt physically worn out, in a lot of pain and they put something in the IV to help me feel better and started taking that out. I felt suddenly warm and fuzzy, and I practically ran back to the waiting room into Geoff’s arms to cry some more.

I’m sorry, but every so often I have to write out what happened those two days. I’ve described my eighteen week abortion over and over, and this time I really wanted to focus on the kindness and compassion of the staff at the abortion clinic because these really are our frontline warriors in the fight for women’s right to maintain autonomy over their own bodies and make decisions that are right for herself and her family in regards to reproduction. I was right; Tanya is an angel and I’ll never forget her or her tenderness or her soothing embraces (and I’m not one who is normally okay with physically affectionate gestures from strangers) and the doctor who performed the procedure was someone I feel fortunate to have on our team. Tanya called several times over the next few weeks to make sure I was physically and emotionally okay…my physical wellbeing was perfect with no complications but three years later, I am still struggling with grief. These people stood by my side in my darkest hour, and I will never stop being grateful.

valentine’s celebration

My husband is wonderful. We celebrated Valentine’s day last night, and he made me a wonderful steak and lobster tail dinner. How lucky am I to have him? It was a fun night…as I grew up in New England, I’m not sure of the proper etiquette for eating just a lobster tail and I think in restaurants they split it for you so you can access the meat. Anyway, I just barbarically ripped it up with my hands, as I am accustomed to doing, sending bits of garlic flying every which way but despite it being a puny Pacific Northwest lobster and not a huge ass beauty from Maine, it was totally worth it. The steak was good too, Geoff knows how to cook them nice and rare (when I cook steak, I usually will stare at the meat suspiciously, ridden with angst about how long to cook it and it always turns out too well done).

For paupers like us, this was a huge ass treat.

I often think Geoff and I love each other so much that we’d be okay without a little one running around our house and that would be fine except I’m constantly terrified that a tragedy will befall him and I’d be left alone. Also in consideration is my burning desire to make him as happy as he makes me, and having his healthy baby is the greatest gift I imagine I could give him (and myself). See, we haven’t had easy lives; we actually met in recovery. We had similar loving families of origin, but despite this, life threw us each calamity. I came off the rails when my sister passed away from MDS, and spent many confused years struggling with untreated mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction after I was sexually assaulted, became pregnant and had an elective abortion at twelve weeks (and how different that experience was than terminating a much wanted pregnancy more than a decade after!). Geoff…well, his story is his own to tell, but he had an experience so painful it is unimaginable to me and I would do anything to right the injustices he faced by giving him everything he ever wanted — unfortunately, my ovaries are shit and my eggs are apparently withering away as I write this, unable to do a simple thing like provide decent chromosomes. I take the blame for this. As I mentioned, I spent years treating my body like shit.

My little cat snuggles up, and as usual I direct my maternal instincts at him and dote on him as best I can. He purrs appreciatively, and the longing in my heart knows no bounds. Yes, I was once a wild young girl with no regards for my own future, but I worked my ass off in recovery and therapy, I take my meds dutifully, and I truly believe myself capable of being responsible for a tiny little human’s life. Yes, my bipolar may send me to the hospital again at some point, but I take care of myself believe we would be able to provide for a resilient family full of love.

Wishful thinking and an amazing partner…I am asking for nothing short of a miracle and that is a twisted reality.

*****

If anyone is wondering, I am 12dpo, not pregnant and anxiously awaiting my period so I can start my Femara and get back in the ttc game. My five month plan is contingent on my flow starting in a reasonable timeframe so I admit, at CD 37, that I’m basically tearing out my hair. At the same time, I dread the letrozole induced depression and the suicidal thoughts that accompany it (I am safe. I know the feelings are from an external influence). I have my shiny new bottle of temazepam to take off the edge, I am moving towards healthy living again and I’m ready to throw my heart and soul into this. I’ve dedicated three years to trying to conceive a healthy baby, and I won’t give up the dream quite yet.

almost defeated

I am wrecked and weary, but I am waiting. The fill-in psychiatrist said it might take a week for the increase in Paxil to improve my mood. I’m not even sure how long it’s been, but not a week yet. I lay on the couch with my little cat, him staring at me with judgment in his eyes. Get up, see friends, go to a meeting, read a book…I can’t do any of it because everything hurts. Time is marked off by Wendall’s feeding schedule and my medication dosages; three times a day I put cat food down, and three times a day, I swallow some mix of Geodon (psychosis and mania), Trileptal (mood stabilizer), Paxil (depression and anxiety), Restoril (panic attacks) and Cogentin (combats my tardive dyskinesia from the Geodon). I take some supplements for my fertility — prenatal with folate rather than folic acid, extra folate (last thing I want is a tfmr for neural tube defects), expensive ubiquinol for egg quality (a losing battle, I swear), fish oil, vitamin D because I hate going outside in the rain or sun. Snake oil, perhaps, but the RE says it might help. I will not mess with anything herbal, despite the suggestions of my regular psychiatrist because if I’m being honest, I kind of think she’s full of shit (so does my therapist, so at least I have someone with whom to commiserate). Lately, she’s been all about herbal remedies and transcranial magnetic stimulation, a new and somewhat experimental treatment for treatment resistant depression that may even help the schizoaffective. It sounds like speculative bullshit to me and the studies are flawed, I’d rather do ECT. ECT actually sounds appealing to me right now, as does anything that requires sedation.

What do all these pills and treatments even do for me? I still feel like shit and I still lose my babies.

A friend actually texted me today. It was a bright spot in a dreary, clinically depressed day. Have I mentioned what a sucker I am for kindness? It amazes me that people can still be kind even though the world is so fucking fucked up, and the Universe is cold and gives a shit about nobody. Myself, I’m either bawling my eyes out or rigid with fury. I complain that I’m lonely, but I really don’t think I can behave appropriately around people. I’ve already alienated most of the people I know, or, am constantly on the verge of doing so. I fucking hate unicorns. It’s hard to play nice.

Dealing with mental illness and infertility/recurrent pregnancy loss is really too much for one girl to handle. I’ve stopped caring about everything except my husband. I don’t even wash my face anymore. I wonder if the Paxil will kick in before my period gets here. I’d like a couple even days before I start Femara. I slept like a baby during my last 5 milligram Femara cycle, and I wouldn’t mind spending another cycle unconscious.

I think I ovulated this cycle but I’m not sure when. If my positive OPK was accurate, that puts me at 4dpo. I’m really doing this, guys. I’m trying again.

the bad past, the uncertain future

Each morning I tell myself I’m okay, that I’ve averted crisis, that I’m going to live through this latest miscarriage and someday I’ll feel better again. But when night falls, I’m not sure if that’s true. I close my eyes and see lights spinning, I hear sirens slicing through the cool air and inevitable rainfall, and I remember being an eighteen year old kid who swallowed a bottle of Tylenol and called for help three days later from a phone booth in the dorms at Oberlin College in Ohio. Am I still that grieving young girl stranded and terrified in an unfamiliar town, so far from my sister’s fresh grave and anyone that gave a shit about her? It seems impossible most of the time.

“I was on the liver transplant list,” I remind myself, trying to remember living through the grave consequences of my first psychotic break.

I remember being twenty-three, a very skinny young woman with too much black eye makeup, folded up under the sink in the visitors’ restroom in 1-South at St. Peter’s Hospital in Olympia, WA while my therapist (the one I still see every week) made soothing small talk while perched on the edge of the toilet. I’m not sure how I got there, if I was even sober — I was in the partial hospitalization program, probably the sickest one there. Eventually, I came out on my own accord, blinking in the harsh fluorescent lights in the hospital corridor, returning to group as the other patients stared.

This is all supposed to be behind me now. My moods are for the most part controlled and I am back on planet earth. No one can promise me I won’t get sick again. But when I lost Molly, I was convinced I’d snap and I didn’t. It’s been almost three years, I’ve had three miscarriages, and here I am. Maybe I’m not as fragile as I see myself as being.

My online therapist contacted me again. “Sorry for the delay in response,” she wrote, “Have you tried journaling?”

The “delay” was 51 hours. And c’mon, I’ve been in therapy since I was a kid. “Journaling” is not a new and novel concept for me; plus, it’s 2018 and I write here instead (well, except for my infertility notebook where I carefully and obsessively tape my opks and positive hpts to monitor progression, and occasionally write down frustrations and draw pictures). She waited 51 hours to suggest that? Pffffff. At this point, she’s written 4 sentences to me. I cancelled my subscription to the service. My righteous indignation reassures me…I’m still in normal mode, not sick yet.

The future looks awfully bleak though. I wonder how I’ll survive. I’ve consciously decided to resume Femara, despite knowing it depresses my mood and there’s no guarantee that it will even work. I’ve deliberated, and I am choosing to suffer for awhile. I worry that my self-preservation instinct is malfunctioning. Remember how bad you get, I keep thinking to myself.

I don’t know the answers, the right thing to do. I’m in free fall and the stars are whizzing by. Despite constantly questioning the wisdom of my decisions, I’ve decided. And I don’t think wild horses could stop me.

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…

jersey barrier

The sun doesn’t come up anymore; it is winter in Western Washington and I’ve increased my dose of vitamin D as per doctor’s suggestion. She didn’t check my levels, just said practically everyone she sees in our rainy climate is deficient so I should go ahead and take more. Maybe it will help with my depression, which is crushing and inescapable and I believe is at least partially artificial, an unfortunate fact of my body’s response to Femara — another issue is, of course, my grappling with giving up hope for a family of my own. I don’t feel like my moods are doing their bipolar cycling thing; I don’t think med adjustments will save me from the gravity of my feelings about childlessness.

I’m tired of fighting, of waking up and abruptly finding myself in a state of vigilance against possible heartache, my nerve endings already singing battle hymns as I descend into hypersensitivity. I check the news and am frustrated with those in power, but mostly I don’t understand why under an insightful analysis of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar there has to be an announcement that Chrissy Teigan is pregnant — like, does anyone care? I understand she has struggled with infertility but I don’t really know the specifics, or, indeed, who she actually is and what she’s contributed to the arts (I don’t own a TV and am largely indifferent to pop culture in my old age). I hate pregnancy announcements and find they are the most triggery thing I am regularly exposed to, and maybe she’s dabbled with assisted reproductive technology…all I know is she’s on number two and my broke ass is still on zero.

Oh god, I’ve witnessed so many miracles and I’m just left wondering, “Where’s mine?”. Ugh, enough of the self-pity. Once I get started, it never ends. And I’m 7dpo, I know it’s early but I already know in my bones that I’m, once again, not pregnant. 

In December of 2014, I found out I was pregnant with Molly. I remember so clearly. I had sent Geoff to our favorite restaurant, a Mongolian grill where you assemble a meal and then they cook it, for takeout. He knew what ingredients I liked, I had the same thing every time…shrimp, scallops, broccoli, the sauce designated “sweet”, etc….unfortunately, the restaurant owner had decided to offer more exotic options that day, and my dear husband who refuses to invest in prescription eyeglasses and instead buys reading glasses from the dollar store mistook octopus for my scallops and attempted to feed it to me (I am not an adventurous eater). I didn’t even eat any, but I threw up for about a week from disgust before wondering if my distressed response was perhaps some sort of biological overreaction. Sure enough, it was morning sickness. We got our first BFP.

I was so fucking happy. We had only tried once. I honestly thought we were having a baby, that I must be pretty fucking fertile. Eighteen wonderful weeks, ending in despair like I’d never imagined, having to have a fucking second trimester abortion for fatal chromosomal defects. She would be two by now but instead my arms are empty and I’m ready to quit . It’s just a fluke, said the perinatologist, said the genetic counselor. It’s very unlikely it will ever happen again. Uh huh, right.

I remember how happy my dad was when I told him we were expecting. How he was already making plans to come out and see me And Geoff and baby, who was due in September. And I remember my mom not being happy at all, and me not even caring. And now I think nothing good will ever happen again. What will I do? Next summer at 40 years old, then at 50, at 60? What will I do?

Infertility stories are supposed to have happy endings, or, at least, they seem to have them for most of the people I’ve communicated with over the years. They are supposed to tell of perseverance and determination, of overcoming all odds, of blessings from above. My story ends in pain and suffering that will never go away. My head throbs and I find myself reluctant to eat and take my meds, shivering with anxiety as panic grips me by the shoulders. I pull my little cat close — I am very very sick today. I reach for some candy, and for the Restoril. I just want to feel better. Maybe tomorrow I will.

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.