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.

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8dpo with ptsd

8dpo: I seem to really be back to normal, meaning that I barely slept and I didn’t cry over a super triggery post on Facebook that left a good friend unfollowed this morning. I’m cranky, but it’s regular cranky and not Femara-induced rage. Scruffy is nowhere to be found; he must be off on a bender somewhere and I don’t even care because at least it is finally quiet in my head.

I don’t understand how infertile women can finally get pregnant, and then just have a happy pregnancy that leads to a healthy child. All the times I really believed this was finally my time, that the Universe had finally granted me a pass, only to hear “sorry, no heartbeat”, often from insensitive medical personnel who just wanted to get rid of me and get on with their day’s work with happier patients and circumstances…

It’s fucking as unfair as shit.

And for some reason when I started this cycle, I expected the Femara to work like it did before, but now I’m all wtf was I thinking? laughing, shaking my head and turning up X-ray Spex as loud as I can without attracting property management. The lawn mower guy is here, giving me a bit more leeway for volume.

Oh, good, the triggery situation just got way worse, because of course I made it worse by getting triggered. Am I going to be fucked up for the rest of my life? I text Geoff, who instructs me to take my temazepam. I wonder if it will work, if it’ll work for the rest of eternity as I sit damaged in my living room with only emptiness in my uterus and cracks in my heart. I feel like calling my psychiatrist and screaming at her to fix me, but that usually ends up with me incorrectly diagnosed with “atypical manic disorder”, which is this thing my psychiatrist apparently made up just for me when I yell at her. My therapist looked it up once in the book of ICD codes, but all it had was “atypical measles”.

My little cat tries to snuggle up, completely unaware that I’m sort of upset with him for smashing my favorite serving dish during the night. Oh, well. I hold out my hand and he snuffles at it, edging in so he’s resting on my belly. Is this all there is for me?

And the depression is real and tangible and I know it’s not the Femara and I’m just fucked.

*******

2.17 PM, and I’ve forgiven my little cat for smashing my dish and lay here wrapped around his warm little body as he makes contented grunting noises and leans all his weight into me. I feel anchored, secure. I know he’ll be with me here until his dinner time and there is nowhere I need to go.

It’s been a difficult day. I think of the past three years, have I really been pregnant four times and lost four babies? Did I really drive all my friends away, probably forever since I don’t think the flashbacks are ever going to stop? My therapist scoffs at trauma therapy and EMDR and Transcranial magnetic therapy — is she wrong about all of it? (Tbh, these things do sound pretty silly to me, but what if they work?).

I can’t emerge from this chrysalis of grief. I need to nourish my body, rest my mind. I’m listening to X-ray Spex on repeat and I wonder if I should put on The Rachaels or Low or something nice, lie back, put my phone away. I idly wonder if my fruit of the month will arrive today (my aunt gave me a membership to a fruit of the month club for Christmas and last month the oranges were so delicious), saving me the trouble of thinking up something healthy to eat. I really didn’t sleep much last night.

I wonder if I’ll ever feel at peace again.

reflections in my thirty-ninth year

I have so much to say, and no one to say it to. Rather, when I do have opportunity for conversation, I fritter it away by speaking of nothing bit trivialities. I have no real clear memories of what I talked about during my last therapy session. When Geoff gets home from work, I am already sleepy and only address the mundane. And on the rare occasion I have to speak to anyone else, I can barely choke out basic pleasantries.

So when I am alone, I write and I feel like I will die if I stop. I am capable of better writing, but there is no time. The compulsion to dance my fingertips over my keyboard or phone never lets up, but I fail to make meaningful connections with the words tumbling over the unread pages of prose. I think this is some sort of psychological phenomenon; I looked it up once, there was a word. The more time I spend writing, the more isolated I become. I could venture out into the world, exchange basic small talk with a cashier or barista or someone, feel I’m a participant of the most minor sort in my community. But I remain locked inside with my neuroses, tears on my cheeks from the loneliness. I cannot break free. I imagine a sane person would not understand, but I am bats.

I am waiting, always waiting. In between paragraphs, I check my bbt chart, wondering furiously if this is the month that will bring a modicum of freedom. To me, pregnancy breaks me out of my self-inflicted imprisonment but it’s only for short spurts of time. I know a BFP means basically nothing because of my history of RPL, my new inability to carry past the ninth week. I know I’ve probably used up all my chances by now and will face middle age childless and grieving.

But the motions are so familiar, the hope has yet to be extinguished. I indulge in self-pity, my poor tragic soul. I take my temperature, I take my pills, I dip test strips into Dixie cups of urine. I count days, and so many days have passed, slowly at first and then all at once. My Prince Charming has been by my side the whole time, but I wait for someone to rescue me.

And here I sit, long hair in hopeless tangles, beauty fading from the harshness of life, and I already have so many regrets…

******

I am 7dpo, waiting to see if I feel “normal” today. In my past cycles of letrozole, the moodiness and depression faded on precisely 7dpo so hopefully history will repeat itself. I slept well last night, resisted the urge to take my basal body temperature and thus eliminating the chance that I’ll spend the day poring over my chart. I think I’m off to a decent start.

******

I am suddenly desperately unhappy. Guess the moods are still an issue. My boobs still don’t hurt like they have in past Femara cycles…it’s 7dpo, shouldn’t progesterone be peaking? Unless I have my ovulation date wrong, which is entirely possible.

Infertility is the worst thing ever, even worse than schizophrenia and bipolar at the same time. And to stack RPL on top of all of that…god help me, I am so alone. I know this cycle’s a bust, trust me, I always know — I’ve been doing this for 3 years. My lining is fucked, I just know it and I possibly am full of adhesions. Maybe I’ll be sullen and grey for the rest of my luteal phase, or maybe my mood will shift violently again. Who fucking cares. Not the universe, that’s for sure.

******

Would it be weird to go down on my antidepressant because it’s making me too hopeful? I’ve written a lot about how dangerous hope is. I don’t want to be crushed at the end of every cycle — even today, long before my period’s due, Scruffy came prancing in, shaking his rainbow mane. It just never works out when he gets too fancy. I think steady depression would be preferable to rollercoaster ups and downs.

I asked Geoff and he totally ignored me. Hmmph.

dropping

Mood swings. I feel helpless and hopeless. I fantasize about a doctor showing up while I lie prone on the couch. “Here’s something that will make you feel better,” she says to me. She administers a shot, and the toxic feelings dissipate within seconds. She tells me I won’t have to take three different handfuls of five different pills a day. Just one shot a day, and I’ll feel normal again.

…and the pharmacy just called and they will only cover two 60mg Geodon pills a day. I take four a day. I’m not panicking yet, I took my chill pill. But wtf?

If only there were an easy answer. I need my fucking medication, especially my Geodon. Why do they make it so hard to be a full time mental patient? It’s like they want me to suffer, and suffer I have.

I think I ovulated after three days of creamy sperm-hostile CM. So, in other words, I don’t have a prayer this cycle. I want to drown my sorrows in bourbon, but of course, I won’t. Next cycle will be better, I tell myself, the same thing I always tell myself. It’s getting old. Scruffy snorts derisively and saunters off. He does this sometimes. I never know when he’ll be back. I’ll mope my way through the tww alone.

The hopelessness is familiar by now. I’m on a fool’s mission. I spent my entire therapy session talking about politics, what a waste of $150 and a 50 minute hour. I can’t help myself — I get all worked up. And I neglect to mention that the world is sending signals again (ideas of reference), that I’ve been seeing hooded figures in the shadows. Not the greatest time to be threatening to take away my Geodon (my antipsychotic). I feel like there’s an alligator infested moat between me and society. And none of these doctors can help me.

******

Why do I only have two modes — can barely move under the crushing weight of depression mode, and freaking the fuck out mode? Yes, yes, I’m schizoaffective, bipolar type, but I don’t have major mood episodes anymore requiring hospitalization. And maybe I’m creating a false history with distorted thinking, maybe it is just the Femara.

Infertility is the cruelest thing when you’re brain is mucked up. You thought you were doing okay? Well, now your ovaries are fucked as well. And normal people are so scared off by the immensity of my problems: my psychosis, my infertility and recurrent losses, my moodiness, the panic attacks and neurotic worrying. Just relax, they tell me. They don’t understand that I can’t.

Once, I flunked out of this meditation class for people with severe anxiety — it seemed like a good idea to take it at the time. I was unable to sit still and I would start hyperventilating, and I was scared I was disrupting the class, so I’d have to go sit in the hall. All the men would crowd around me afterwards (I was young and pretty then), giving me burned CDs and audio cassettes of guided meditations that they swore would help me. They didn’t. The leader of the group was kind to me and lent me books, but I just couldn’t quiet my mind. I stopped going, humiliated.

So, telling me to relax is not real effective, especially if I don’t trust you. Well, tbh, Geoff is often unable to calm me either.

I’ve been to group therapy during times of depression. I can barely talk. Listening to the other members’ tragedies just brings me down more. I try and try, and I know I irk everyone because I speak so slowly, pause for too long before answering a question.

And this feeling that I am seriously flawed in every possible way won’t leave me today.

******

What happened to make you like this?

And this is where I am. Fat face, unwashed hair. I’m wearing my husband’s Barfly t-shirt and a mohair sweater I bought at The Garment District when I still lived in Boston…I think I was eighteen.

It amazes me that I don’t look at pictures of myself and see the damage. But inside, I am bitter and hard, and if you trigger me I don’t forgive easily.

another tww

I think I’m 4dpo, whew. I hate timing intercourse during fertile week, I hate temping, and I’m sort of feeling like I hate what my life has become. There’s gotta be at least one good egg in there, seriously. I can’t imagine reaching the point where I just can’t go on anymore, when hope is dead. Three years, one tfmr in the second tri, and three miscarriages due to my shitty chromosomes. There is hope in my gut, and though it’s dwindled quite a bit since my first naive bfp, it hasn’t been extinguished yet.

I continue to freak out about the status of my uterine insides. If I had a short stop and go period that was barely more than spotting, I can’t help fretting that adhesions were partially blocking my flow. My uterus is untrusty for a variety of reasons — she’s so overly enthusiastic about trying to grow chromosomally abnormal embryos! And now, terrified by a story I once read of a woman who didn’t get her period after a d&c, and had monthly cramps coinciding with the time her period should happen but no bleeding — well, turned out she had scarring that had sealed her cervical canal shut. What if this is happening to me, but only partially?

I have to stop obsessing about ttc. It’s dominated my life for three years now, and the bitterness is too much to live with for much longer. Take a Zumba class! my mother suggests, as if would be the answer to all my emotional problems. If she actually knew anything about me, she’d see that I am not a Zumba class type of girl. Despite years of effort in junior high, I could not ever learn the goddamn Electric Slide.

And despite my admittedly muddled attempts to nourish my body, I find myself unable to care for my body. Agoraphobia (with panic disorder) leaves me terrified to leave my house to walk. I cannot seem to moderate my caffeine habit, nor can I maintain an appropriate diet. I rely too much on my temazepam, a sleep medication that doesn’t put me to sleep (the only medication that seems to knock me out is, ironically, my letrozole) — I use it for anxiety because supposedly it’s less addictive than your Xanax or Klonapin.

What if I don’t want a new baby? What if all I want is Molly back, and that cheerfully blissful innocence I indulged in before my first pregnancy went so so wrong?

I have a confession. My body and soul ache for another pregnancy, even if it doesn’t get past the nine week mark that ended three of my babys’ lives. The brief times I’ve been pregnant, I’ve of course be nervous but there was an undeniable euphoria that I cannot accept never feeling again. I’d take another loss, because that so-short-lived sense of lovely ecstasy is worth the lifetime of pain I stare down when I think of childlessness.

I’m not sure if the Femara even worked this month. No sore boobs post ovulation. And, I do think I ovulated on CD 14 after all. I’m glad to be in the tww because I don’t have to do anything but wait until I bleed.

******

Before my last failed pregnancy, I was ready to move on. Scruffy was missing and presumed dead. I was pretty broken myself, and the Femara had crushed my spirit…

But when I saw a faint line on a Wondfo, confirmed by a bright second line on a FREE (even when my beta came back over 3000, my Wondfos were still squinters…still, they’ve always been accurate for me in terms of giving me a yes or no)…well, Scruffy came prancing in, dressed in his garish holiday finery, and spent the next month leaping and bounding out in his pasture, clearing fences because he could not be contained…

I wonder if that was the worst thing that could have possibly happened. False hope, my number one BEC. Since that bfp, Scruffy’s had his ups and downs but he’s here by my side as I race headlong into future cycles of chaos. I don’t want biology to triumph over Scruffy — I’d rather stop trying of my own volition.

Now, even though I’m panicking about Asherman’s or retained tissue or the Femara not working … I hope that I’m pregnant so fucking bad. I don’t want to be a tragedy, I don’t want to end my childbearing years with tears and rage and broken faith.

And as cliche as it may be, I can’t stop asking why me? I can’t turn off the bitterness and rage. I know I don’t deserve a baby, but plenty of other women who don’t deserve a child have one anyway. Or two. Or six.

And despite years of disappointment that should serve as a warning of types, I am still so hopeful that the Femara will work again…

******

I fear the increased dose of Paxil is contributing to the reckless optimism I’ve been feeling throughout the day. I know expectations lead to resentments; yet I’m expecting something good to happen soon. Then I remember all the soul-crushing disappointment I’ve faced these last three years. I don’t feel at all like myself; loss has turned me into a morose individual, always sulking, always bemoaning the unfairness of living.

But unicorns get pregnant, all the time. And really, does the egg traveling towards my uterus give a shit if I am hopeful or sullen? If I get a bfn, will it sting more if I spent the tww spinning out on near impossible fantasies or if instead I sat around hoping to die?

From experience: yes, it will hurt more and I’ll feel like an asshole. This is a fucked up post-miscarriage cycle. My boobs don’t hurt so maybe my progesterone’s too low. My lining is probably fucked up, I’m not sure if I took the Femara on the right days. I have no reason to be hopeful.

Dear universe, when will you cut me a break?

monotony

Same thing every damn day. Me, on the couch snuggling with my little cat; husband off trying to get in an hour and a half of the social contact I make so difficult (I am a pathological introvert who is not doing well, and he is healthy and gregarious but loyal to a fault and doesn’t like to leave me when I’m not feeling good). I am in a foul mood, depressed and irritable and it just won’t lift. I suspect it’s the Femara wreaking havoc on my hormones, although not actually producing ovulation — but my usually-clear complexion is covered in acne, I found a hair on my chin the other day, and my uterus has been tingling as it does when I’m expecting my period or about to miscarry. My cycle is fucked, which may be contributing to my grouchiness; or, I could be reacting badly to the bump in Paxil. Or, I could be embarking on some sort of mixed mood episode, though my symptoms aren’t florid enough for me to alert my care providers.

I mean, okay, I had my usual CM pattern that coincided with a positive OPK but no sustained temp rise. Will I have another LH surge, or do I have a follicle that for some reason didn’t release the egg so I’ll get a cyst? Was my CD 1 really CD 1?

I’m tired of being always beholden to my moods and ovaries. The voices chatter in the background, and the content of what they tell me reflect my mood state. They laugh at my infertility, suggest I hurt myself. If you hear voices like I do, the number one rule to living with them is to not listen to what they say to you (number two rule is to not talk back to them in public). Easier said than done, but medicated me can keep them in the background and, say, not go running of to a new city without telling anyone where I’m going, not cut stars and hearts into my skin, not start shit with the cops. I’ve been living with auditory hallucinations all my life and they break through my antipsychotic (Geodon). I can’t imagine a life without them, but I’ve adapted to them pretty thoroughly.

I sent Geoff off into the world so I could have some alone time, but now I’m eager for him to return. I’ve taken my temazepam and it’s kicked in much harder than usual and I have those delicious chills it gives me after about a half an hour after swallowing the pill. I want to curl up in his arms and feel the heat of his heart.

Even when I feel stabby and toxic, I still would rather not be alone.

weekend whatever

I am miserable with no sleep after recording a temp drop at 1am. I guess I didn’t ovulate, although my body feels like it did. Scruffy is hungover and grouchy and I feel vaguely sick to my stomach. Meanwhile, the weeks fly by and I creep closer to my fortieth birthday.

I had messaged my clinic last week asking what he thought of my last period, if I maybe had retained tissue or adhesions in my uterus, and never got a reply. I messaged again, asking if they had received the previous message. Radio silence. Fine. I feel like my spotty AF could have been due to hormones now, in light of my wacky ovulation issues. Then I think, I don’t have to do this anymore…I could stop all this nonsense now. But I know I won’t. I’ll just keep going.

I bumped my dosage of Paxil again by another 5 mg. I wonder if it will help. I feel immobilized again, my thoughts like molasses as they run from one area of the brain to another. I am exhausted, trying to stay awake as to not jeopardize tonight’s sleep, and I am so so tired of living.

******

And this is what makes me really crazy. My chart looks like this with no ovulation, but Scruffy is still dancing to Billy Idol’s Greatest Hits, a cigarette dangling from his lips and a frosty 40 oz. Olde English on the table in front of him (he has to use a straw). And I am sick of it; sick of these charts, sick of timing intercourse, sick of the life I’ve had since November of 2014 when we started trying.

timing is everything

As ovulation is impending and we’ve thus far nailed our timing, my hot mess of a unicorn Scruffy has returned. I’m dismayed — I’ve never conceived when Scruffy’s been around. His absence is like a good luck charm, and btw I’ve rid myself of all my good luck charms. It’s just me, Scruffy, and the abject dysfunction of hope facing the coming tww and I want to spend the coming weeks in a cave.

I’m unbalanced. Despite swearing off the java, I find myself sucking down another mug full as my little cat stares at me with disapproval reflected in his saucer-like eyes. I’ve spent the morning arguing with a barely literate eBay seller about the location of the two bottles of ubiquinol he owes me, and I’m alternating between bemusement and unfettered rage. The smell of marijuana drifts down to my window when I open the door to throw seeds to the squirrels, sickeningly sweet and ultimately familiar. It’s the lady upstairs; I can’t protest because it’s legal here.

I wish I got mitteleschmerz but my wizened old ovaries release their shriveled eggs in silence. I had the ewcm, I had the positive opk, but am waiting on my resting body temperature to rise and signal victory. Maybe this is the cycle where I finally run out of eggs. I don’t know anymore. The ups and downs of letrozole have been debilitating this month, and I’m glad I’m on disability and can ride them out.

******

The day has fallen into a hole. The hours since I woke stretch infinitely in memory and although it feels such a long time has passed, I have only vague memories of what has transpired. I am sleepy and messy, my little cat guarding over my prostrate form. On the coffee table is the issue of The New Yorker I was reading (or was that yesterday?), my face is itchy with neatly cut hairs; I believe I did use the trimmers to even out my bangs.

I am lonely, but my friends cause me great stress. They battle their own demons, and require much hand holding and coddling while presenting flimsy excuses for their presumptuous behaviors. They demand much but give me little. I think of the friendships I may have to repair someday and wonder if it’s worth it, or if I should start anew with meeting new friends. It’s harder to make new friends at forty than at nineteen, and I’ve become accustomed to solitude.

I have a hard time speaking to anyone but Geoff.

At some point I called my mother. I have written about the callous exterior she developed when my sister died. I know she cares, but she expresses her love for me by disapproval. Her voice is stern, and we start our conversation the usual way.

“Did it rain today” she asked me. I replied that it hadn’t. “Did you get any exercise?”

My mother has a major complex about other people’s weight; in fact, this even extends to people’s pets’ weight. She never fails to inquire about my little cat, and in fact seems to resent me because Wendall is slimmer than her cat Buster. I try to deflect questions about exercise; the fact is, in the winter I don’t walk around as much, and I try to brush aside inquiries as to my diet. My weight has fluctuated within normal limits with pregnancies and the resultant anxiety and depression when I lose them, and I don’t want to talk to her about it. It’s as if she has a phobia of everyone she cares for suddenly collapsing dead specifically of obesity related illnesses the second she lets down her guard or turns her back.

Whatever.

Lately, we dance awkwardly around the topic of my writing. My aunt (her sister) bought me a two-in-one to encourage me to write more, and although I spend most of my day writing — I use this blog to organize my thoughts, and work on the craftsmanship of the written word more rigorously in a book I’m working on — I do not share what I write with either of them. They compliment me on my competence with words, but tend to disapprove of the content. They disagree with my every sentiment, particularly when it comes to what I am doing with my life.

They seem hurt that I won’t share with them, but I’ve learned my lesson. I offend them regularly. I remember sharing about my tfmr with them. Although they are both pro-choice like me, and I expected support for my decision, they kept insisting that my eighteen week old baby was “a cluster of cells barely the size of the tip of your little finger, with no discerning features”. You all know I was secure in my decision to terminate, but their argument is untrue plain and simple. They did not approve of my grief nor would they acknowledge that this was not an unwanted pregnancy that had reached the second trimester. It hurt that they felt the need to argue with me about my right to be sad. So, I stopped sharing my writing.

I think they feel they have a right to read my writing because my aunt paid $500 for my kind of basic Toshiba laptop/tablet. I just picked out the cheapest one I could, but I appear to still owe a debt of gratitude I don’t have in me to repay.

I miss the mother of my youth. I’ll never have that back again.