reprinted from my fb

Hey there Paul Ryan with your smug little grin…fuck you! I understand that abortion is a touchy subject with women experiencing infertility, but if you are not pro-choice, you’ll probably want to unfollow me right now…or else read on and see if my words make sense to you now.

It’s taken me a day to process how I am feeling about the 20 week abortion ban, the Pain Capable Pseudoscience Bullshittery Act, call it what you will. I’d sworn off talking publicly about the second trimester abortion I had on April 7, 2015 because it caused me so much pain — no, I didn’t mind being called a murderer or being compared to Casey Anthony, but apparently it made my friends uncomfortable and Geoff and I experienced a great deal of alienation from even our most liberal friends. It’s been over two years since we decided to terminate our first, meticulously planned and much wanted pregnancy due to our daughter Molly’s fatal chromosomal defects and I am still nearly incapacitated with grief, sorrow, and loneliness. We loved Molly more than anything; she was the product of our love for each other.

I did not choose to abort for shits and giggles. I did not choose termination because we didn’t want our baby, because we were irresponsible. It was not a nbd situation…it nearly destroyed us. And incidentally, we didn’t walk into a rundown clinic past protesters with me visibly pregnant because we didn’t want a disabled child…but I might have (that wasn’t our situation, but had it been I may have chosen to terminate nonetheless…I can’t say).

Since I was 36 when we conceived Molly, my obstetrician recommended having early genetic screening done at 12 weeks gestation because at my age there is an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities. We opted to have the Nuchal Translucency scan and we did so without much foresight. I didn’t anticipate bad news, we were arranging to move into a bigger apartment and let me tell you, as a disabled Medicare patient, had I known how much money our out of pocket expense for this scan would end up costing us, I would have skipped it. The level 2 ultrasound showed a 10 mm cystic hygroma and the beginning stages of hydrops fetalis. We were told a perinatologist was driving down to Olympia from Tacoma just to speak to us. After much ado, we were advised to have a CVS done to check for chromosomal abnormalities and we would have done that had they not informed us that our only chance to have this test would be to get to Seattle in 45 minutes…it takes 1.5 hours to get to Seattle!  Remarkably, we were told these defects may very well go away on their own  (we now know this was nothing but false hope). We opted to wait until 16 weeks to have the gold standard test, the amniocentesis (the clock’s ticking down).

I had 4 weeks to wait, 4 weeks to bond with my unborn child. Every day, I listened to her heart beat on my at-home fetal Doppler. For 4 weeks I prayed Molly would be okay.

At 16 weeks and change, we went back to our perinatologist. Level 2 ultrasound showed the large cystic hygroma had grown, and Molly had developed full on hydrops, fluid around her and inside her that left no room for growth, no room for organs like her lungs to develop. She had a severe heart defect, along with a huge list of additionally defects. They could not perform the amnio and suggested we try again in 2 weeks (tick tock).

We opted then to terminate and did so at 18 weeks and change. Our hospital is Catholic, our local clinic did not perform second trimester abortions. We drove to a shabby building in Tacoma, where I met the kindest people in the world. The grief counselor and the doctor performing the dilation and evacuation procedure (which is a 2 day process so brutal and painful I still wake sweating from nightmares about it) held my hands. I’d been administered Valium and anesthesia, both of which cross the placenta, and if she’d been able to feel pain (real science says she could not have)…she would have no awareness when they stopped her heart. I asked them when it would start…they told me it was over. “I am so sorry,” the doctor said softly. They were still holding my hands…I was moved to tears at their compassion at the darkest time of my life.

I came in under 20 weeks. Any more setbacks, a couple moments of very human indecision…the Republican party would love to see me jailed. Geoff and I were both privileged enough to have been raised in solid families. Our value systems would not have allowed us to keep Molly, who, had she survived to viability, would have been born without the ability to draw a single breath. She would have died in front of us and it would have destroyed us all. We could not in good conscience have let that happen to her, to us. My own physical health was at risk as well… mothers with hydrops babies can develop Mirror Syndrome, where fluid builds up in her own body and can threaten her life.

On my road to healing, I have met many other women that have endured the same as Geoff and I, and worse. We are not monsters–we are making painful decisions with our healthcare providers, decisions about our bodies, our families that are well thought out and emotionally devastating. And I’m angry, really fucking angry that at our time of greatest need our rights are being chipped away by who? These fucking clowns that have no fucking clue what it’s like to have a  and deal with the responsibility of carrying a child? These are women’s basic rights…it was my basic right to make the most painful decision I’ve ever been faced with in my life to do the best thing for myself, my baby, and my family. You fucking right-wing nut job Representatives have no business in my body or personal affairs.

And don’t even start in with the thinking I’m an exception. I am proudly pro-abortion even though I myself can’t seem to have the healthy baby I’ve always wanted. I believe that the existence and availability of the abortion procedure is fundamental to allowing women true autonomy over their bodies and thus equal rights in society. Anf if you think you can protect the rights of women in my situation without protecting all women, you have another think coming. Facebook informed me yesterday that it’s been 37 weeks since I last updated my status…almost enough time to carry a baby to term. I return to you in outrage over this blatant attack on reproductive freedom. Please…support abortion rights for women, support organizations like Planned Parenthood and NARAL and support women like me retain a say in the decisions we make for our own health, well-being, and families.

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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.

another day on the fringes

I break a little more every day. People pass through my life, trickling through my fingers like sand and I’ve given up trying to keep hold of any of them. They find me in their darkest hours whether struggling with infertility or a mental health episode or even a fight with their spouse; I offer comfort and advice and they get their shit together and move on to better things, leaving me longing for my luck to change, for my turn, for just one fucking chance to have one good shot at getting.the.fuck.out. And they feel guilty about their good fortune, or perhaps they’re scared my curse will rub off on them and bam! they disappear. I sit with loneliness gripping my upper arms, and it shakes me and I cry and think of being anywhere else but here.

I sit on my patio, trying to enjoy some of the last sun of the year. A young child rides a bike awkwardly over the grass and I concentrate on my writing, as if I have anything new to say; I hover in limbo and hear the echoes of some of the more unpleasant things people have said to me over the last three years and I try not to think about the bottle of tranquilizers that sits next to a new bottle of letrozole on my bedstand and these pills offer such false hope because in the end I am home alone with no one to write to. And I’m jumping out of my own skin even being this far out of my house.

I think I’m 8dpo. I, as usual, have not a one LP symptom to speak of except perhaps moodiness which could be attributed to the Femara or the bipolar so I sort of regret blowing off my P4 draw but at the same time idgaf about this war anymore or at the very least, don’t want to live through another loss, another bad ultrasound. They talk about this tipping point on the online forums I’ve eschewed: when the fear of another loss outweighs the fear of being childless. I think I might be right about there.

PSA

One thing you can say that will throw me into a blinding rage, especially if you have just wandered idly into an infertility forum, is this:

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve been trying for two months or two years; we’re all in the same boat…”

Have I mentioned how fucking enraged I become when someone says that? I think I just may have brought it up a couple times. But right now it doesn’t matter. I am stepping back from my online forums and hope never to return. I’ve had to let go some dear friends to protect my heart. Instead, I will focus on living my real life. Which is also sort of a mess. I am a messy person.

This cycle has been hit or miss on every level. I spread my final refill of letrozole on the bed beside me. These 2.5 mg pills are tiny and only five of them! How do they wreak so much havoc on my delicate sanity? I tuck them away, firmly twisting the cap on the orange bottle as if I’m sealing Pandora’s Box and I place them in a drawer. I am on the fence about trying another round; my RE recommended three cycles. I’ve again blown off my 7dpo progesterone draw as I’m fairly sure I ovulated and if I did not I don’t care–I obviously will not tolerate a dosage increase, and will not risk taking Clomid, so the information won’t really change anything.

My mind is jumbled; my emotions wild. Later I may regret burning bridges, but I can’t support others when they have so many huge advantages over me. I feel hatred seething in my gut, and I can’t inflict that on anyone no matter how badly I want to.

I’ve had episodes of disorientation and confusion this past week, forgetting for maybe an hour how I got here, how old I am, where I’m located. I’m not sure what’s going on but I know for sure nobody would understand, and that if I brought them up people would not know how to deal so they’d say nothing. But I’m scared as fuck.

Btw, my psychiatrist is on vacation until next week. Oh, well. I don’t think medication changes will help at this point. I feel like the hormonal upheaval would trump any tweaks to my neurotransmitters at this point.

I don’t feel optimistic about this cycle. I just want to live through it.

My whole life, I’ve been told that what I was feeling was wrong. And it is. Being bipolar, I can never control the intensity of my feelings, the heart-stopping rages I get, the profound depressions that despite my best intentions, make me crave oblivion and have me wanting nothing more than to leave my blood all over everyone’s hands.

I hate the world right now, and everybody in it. I don’t trust anyone who I feel has not suffered, and the lines I draw are completely arbitrary.

I’d rather embrace the horrible loneliness that kills my spirit than let anybody hurt me ever again. My mother, and her audible sigh of relief when I told her I had to terminate my much wanted pregnancy. She doesn’t think I should have children. Fuck her. I’m sure, as usual, she’ll end up getting her way. I think she sort of hates me; I think she always has. And her tyrannical sister, who when I was upset about terminating my baby tried to soothe me by telling me the baby was “no larger than the tip of your little finger, with no discernible features whatsoever”. My belly was round, I was feeling her move. I had just shared a fucking ultrasound picture.

I’m pro-abortion, btw. I just think it’s a much more complicated issue than the rhetoric of both sides makes it out to be.

Anyway, I will no longer show vulnerability to anyone but my husband, who I trust implicitly most of the time. And in my semi-anonymous writings, to people I’ll never know. All my angst over facing the end of my fertility…well, I have to get it out somewhere.

For the record, I am 6 dpo on what will be my final Femara cycle. 
 

dream small

Five days past ovulation, and my heart is weary and worn. Truthfully, I can’t imagine feeling any worse than I do this morning. My loneliness is palpable and i wear it like a cross. I hate playing victim or martyr, and am hypersensitive to coming across as needy or desperate so I choose isolation. Better not to inflict my selfish misery on others.

I wonder if I should call my dad. Lately, I’ve been so nostalgic for New England but I dare not return…all my childhood friends with their beautiful children. Nope, can’t deal. My house is a disaster–instead of fretting over the mess, I have just not been wearing my contact lenses so I don’t have to see it. Geoff comes home in the evening to make me dinner. I feel useless; I haven’t brushed my hair in over a week.

I’m not sure if my depression requires a tweak in my meds or if it a result of letrozole. I refilled my prescription for next cycle but am unsure whether I should give it another go. My thoughts revolve around stopping ttc. Would it be an act of self care or giving up on my dreams? I long to hold Molly just once and really wish I could have had a labor & delivery termination instead of a d&e at a filthy abortion clinic. I regret not having her remains cremated–i chose to donate fetal tissue to science instead but I have nothing left of hers save a few ultrasound pictures. I realize I was not that far along in my pregnancy with her (we terminated at 18 weeks), but I still consider her my child. It was the last month I had with her that fills me with grief and sorrow. Her defects were evident at our 12 week NT scan…hydrops fetalis, a 10 mm cystic hygroma. I was first told I needed a CVS, and I was told that I had to be in Seattle in 45 minutes to have it done, but it takes 1.5 hours to get to Seattle. Wtf. Remarkably, the MFM told me these issues may resolve on their own and I was specifically told not to Google. If I had, I would have learned the condition was fatal, that there was no hope.

So, I waited 4 weeks to have an amniocentisis. Four weeks of feeling my heart swell with love for my very sick baby, four weeks of hearing her deceptively robust heartbeat on my home fetal Doppler. I fell in love.

And it ended so badly…

My heart aches that Molly might be my only child. I’m scared and alone, a full two years later and I’ve felt worse and worse every cycle since. I wish I could afford IVF, but am likely to be a poor responder so even if I had the money, I don’t think I could try it.

everyone is nicer than me

When I heard my baby was dying, I stopped talking to her, and her, and her. Just cut them all out of my life. Those girls with their blistering innocence who painted nurseries before they went off their birth control. I can’t be happy for them; does that make me a sociopath? My therapist was shocked, Kathleen, these are your friends, trailing off when she saw I wasn’t joking and her expression became one of pity. I held my head high, met her eyes with my steely eyes and. just. held. steady.

I still choose solitude and call it loneliness. I make new fake friends online with troubles like mine. Like maybe they also struggle but I don’t get attached. I sometimes can’t bring myself to congratulate them when they move on without me, thinking only of myself, of my pain. Sometimes I resent their money and the options it affords them while I rip out my hair trying to save money in case I ever need to pay for another D&C. I didn’t have a neat and tidy hospital abortion; instead Geoff borrowed a car to bring me to a grungy clinic in Tacoma and I walked with my hands gripping my second trimester bump past hateful protesters who fell silent upon seeing my state. Something broke inside me then, leaving me hardened and cold.

Sometimes I can’t deal with women with secondary infertility. With women who say they would have chosen differently. With women who’s doctors didn’t immediately say “donor eggs”. With women that can choose to stop their antidepressants to have a baby. With all of them. Sometimes I can’t deal with anything. I wander dark corridors at night, looking for my heart.

Does it matter if I donate money to hurricane relief, write about injustice naively trying to tell people’s stories, ask the world to be a kinder place? Does it matter, if I still harbor so much hatred inside of me? If I’m always going to be like this, does any of that matter?

My feet need to touch pavement. I lay on my hard mattress with blankets piled round, I pray for the fleeting comfort of sleep. I resist the temptation to give bad advice.

I know. But I can’t seem to help it.

they do it all the time (yeah yeah)

I bite my tongue until I taste the sharp metallic flavor of blood. I stay quiet, keep my legs crossed neatly at the ankles, fussing over high necklines that obscure the collarbone and ribs jutting through the thin skin at my chest. A sickly girl that once inhabited a body of soft flesh, robust with health–today I grapple with hair made thick with prenatal vitamins that nonetheless manages to hang limp in stringy tangles, making me look feral, strung out, disheveled and wild. I am breathless while walking to the mailbox, knees buckling when I stand to brush my teeth. 

My body is wracked with the fever of moods. I was expecting to feel better after a couple days post-Femara but I imagine the hormones wake faulty neural pathways setting off the neurotransmitters and leaving me prisoner to horrible rages and the heavy burden of profound depression. My energy waxes and wanes like the moon on acid; I sequester myself, cower in my chrysalis until I can trust myself to go out in the world without inflicting intolerance and the bitterness of my many human failings on my friends and strangers. Me and my opinions, I usually struggle to keep them under wraps but they come boiling out from under my delicate facade. Right now, I feel as if you are an asshole–all of you, every last one…14 years in therapy and that’s the communication level I operate on.

Ovulation approacheth. I have all the signs and I’m nervous as fuck on top of my simmering moods. Please God, let me get pregnant so I can lose another one. The absurdity of my situation is almost hysterical at 1am when I’m delirious and free…

timed intercourse mayhem and other modern fairytales 

ovulation week anthem — Liz Phair “HWC”, NSFW

Fertility Friend predicts ovulation on CD 16 this month (Thursday), and the length of my follicular phase has been relatively consistent as of late. BBT charting is not working out for my insomniac ass lately (do other people actually sleep for at least 3-4 hours at a time?), and I’m down to seven Wondfo ovulation prediction kits on CD 11 due to poor planning and burgeoning apathy. I don’t have Amazon Prime, and I ain’t paying for expedited shipping just to get the only OPKs that are accurate for me. Fuck medication; fuck timed intercourse–if you don’t have a clue what this paragraph means, I both envy and salute you. Too long; didn’t read: this is the week in my menstrual cycle when I really get back in touch with my neurotic East coast roots…

Really and truly, sex is supposed to make babies? Because man, we’ve been testing this theory since November of 2014 and so far just multiple losses and a whole lot of hair-ripping anxiety of the caliber that in other circumstances would earn me a large supply of Xanax from my psychiatrist.  

Having had survived Femara hell in the early part of this cycle, I’m more than obsessively determined to nail our timing this month  (what month is it again?). My focus is laser precise and I narrow in on a single purpose…I need that HWC and as much as I love Liz Phair (mostly her older stuff because I am an aging hipster), someone really needs to make a death metal version of that song because she is not operating on my level of crazy.

Hijinks will most certainly ensue…stay tuned, sports fans!