Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I’m starting to wonder if I want this at all.

Four years of struggling with infertility has taken its toll on me. It has consumed a great deal of my time, money, and energy. It has also done a number on my emotional well-being. I’m starting to feel a lot like Sisyphus: endlessly pushing a boulder up a hill only to fall down every time and have to start over again. This futile battle – pushing the boulder up the hill, so to speak – has turned the goal into a surreal, abstract result that I no longer expect to actually reach. Each time I start pushing the boulder up the hill, I stop and wonder if it’s worth it. Each time the boulder falls back to the bottom of the hill, I wonder if it was worth the pain and effort to have gotten as far as I did. Does the end really justify the means anymore?

In all honesty, and I cringe to admit it, I’m starting to wonder if I even want the boulder to go over the top after all. In four years, I’ve become accustomed to the life we have. I find myself wanting to make longterm plans without having an “if I get pregnant…” contingency. I listen to people complain about their children, about having their emotions and finances drained, etc. I ask myself why I want children, and for the last several months…I don’t have an answer. I ask myself this question, and just get an uncomfortable knot in my stomach, because I just don’t know.

I like my life. I like being able to go out with my husband on a whim, to take off for the weekend without worrying about anything beyond whether or not the cats have enough food and water. Once in a while, I’d like to be able to order a drink without worrying that I’m harming a baby that I’m probably not pregnant with anyway. Selfish? Yes, probably…but it is what it is.

When I see pregnant women, babies, and children, I do feel an ache, a longing. I’m envious. It breaks my heart. But lately…I can’t help but wonder…am I envious that they have a baby, or am I envious that they aren’t wallowing in an endless infertility struggle?

Do I really want the end result anymore? Is it the baby I want…or is it just an end to this struggle? Is the hole that I’m trying to fill truly the want for a baby, or just the need to overcome this? Is it truly my desire to have children, or have I been responding to nothing more than the obnoxious alarm on my biological clock?

It pains me to admit it, but I’m no longer sure if motherhood really is for me. I watch other mothers, and while I envy the fact that they have a baby, I’m not sure that I really envy them at all.

I’m rambling, I know. It’s hard to put what I feel into words, and it’s even harder to feel this way after coming this far. But I can’t pretend I don’t feel it.

At this point…I’m just starting to wonder if I should stop pushing the boulder…because I’m not really sure that I want it to go over the top.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On being sensitive to the infertile...

I think this article should be required reading for everyone, everywhere:


A snippet that I rather like:

"Don't Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone's life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, "Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.," do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn't tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father's Day or Mother's Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn't even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child. "

We get this ALL THE TIME. We are fully aware that life with a baby will not be easy...however, we seem to be much more aware than most PARENTS that life *without* a baby can be even harder. Sure, you lose sleep because your baby won't sleep through the night, and you can't "go out" on a whim without finding a babysitter. I can empathize with that. But please learn to empathize with the fact that we lose sleep because we don't have a baby at all, and we can't "go out" without seeing babies and pregnant bellies. The gods favor no one...I would gladly trade being able to travel, sleep late, and go out on a whim for sleepless nights, diaper changes, and stretch marks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Baby's first...

When does the phase of “this would have been my baby’s first…” end?

I never went through this with my first miscarriage. Maybe the first pregnancy just wasn’t as real to me; I didn’t know I was pregnant until I miscarried, so the emotional attachment wasn’t there the way it was the second time. I noticed a few milestones, but it wasn’t as much of an issue. I do tend to be a person who notices milestones, anniversaries, etc., of even the most obscure things…call it OCD, it’s just the way I am.

Now it’s like there’s this constant reminder in my head…this would have been my baby’s first Fourth of July…my baby’s first Halloween…my baby’s first Thanksgiving…and now, of course, my baby’s first Christmas.

Over the last few years, Christmas hasn’t been a real thrilling time of year for me anyway, even without this problem. My Christmas spirit has never fully recovered from the time I spent working in retail. The last couple of years haven’t been quite as depressing, but Christmas in general is more about frayed nerves and frenzied shopping than togetherness, the spirit of giving, etc. It has taken considerable effort for me to get “into” Christmas over the last few years. It’s only the last three or four years that the sight of poinsettias hasn’t filled me with dread.

Now, I have the added delight of that little voice in my head reminding me at the most inopportune moments that this would have been my baby’s first Christmas. Argh. When does this “first” crap end? Please tell me it doesn’t change to “this would have been my baby’s SECOND…”.

I really do try not to dwell on any of this. Sometimes it just sneaks up on me, or I’ll see something that reminds me. While shopping last night, they had “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments…tell me I’m not the only one who just wants to die when they see stuff like that.

In general, I really am doing pretty well with the miscarriage. I don’t obsess over it constantly. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve come a long way since last year. It’s just that sometimes, things remind me, and I get that sick feeling in my stomach. And this time of year, those little reminders seem to be quite a bit more frequent.

Eddie loves Christmas, and he’s tried so hard the last couple of years to help me get into it. I always feel bad because I feel like I’m pulling him down with me, but it’s just one of those things that is really, really hard for me to get into, even without “baby’s first” syndrome hanging over my head.

But, we’ll have Christmas together, and we’ll have a few presents, some Christmas weenies*, and enjoy some time off of work. Hopefully I can get through it without crying.

* Christmas weenies are a family tradition – we always got together at my grandparents’ house for Christmas Eve munchies and presents. There were certain perennial favorites that became Christmas Eve staples: Ruffles potato chips (HAD to be Ruffles), eggnog with Seagram’s 7 (or 7-Up, for us non-drinkers), fruitcake (YES, WE LIKE FRUITCAKE), cookies, and various other things. Amidst all the goodies, there has always been a casserole dish of those little mini-sausages (smokies, I guess they’re called) in either a sweet BBQ sauce or a sweet and sour sauce. They were dubbed, and have forever remained, Christmas weenies. If there’s one thing that can, and usually does to a certain extent, resurrect my Christmas spirit, it’s Christmas weenies.

So…bring on the Christmas weenies, and let’s hope that 2008 is not the year of “this would have been my baby’s SECOND…”

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My journey home.

This essay is something that I posted on a message board a few years ago, and upon revisiting it today, thought it appropriate for this blog. Having had several years to work on conceiving a baby, I’ve also spent a great deal of time contemplating getting said baby OUT. Not everyone will agree with what I’ve written below, but it’s the result of a significant amount of research, soul-searching, and talking to countless mothers.

My Journey Home to Have My Baby

I grew up “knowing” that childbirth was painful, traumatic, and inherently dangerous. Without a trained doctor to catch the baby, Mom and baby alike faced all manner of horrible complications. You went to the hospital, got drugs to numb the pain, and the doctor delivered your baby. You went to your room to sleep, the baby went to the nursery where people who knew what they were doing made sure he was ok. You lovingly peered through a window at a sea of babies and made happy faces at yours.

My mom would have died in childbirth if she had had my brother 100 years ago rather than in 1978. She simply couldn’t dilate past 2 cm, and when she hit the 24 hour mark after her water broke, it was time for a C-section. When I came along in 1980, I was – of course – a C-section.

As I got older and swore up and down I wouldn’t have kids, I listened to everyone else’s stories. “I was overdue, so I had to be induced.” “The baby was 7 lbs, and I just couldn’t do it vaginally, so I had to have a C-section.” “Thank God we were in the hospital. I never could have done it by myself; the doctor had to use forceps, vacuum, all kinds of things. We would have died.” “So-and-so had a baby at home; she’s crazy. In fact, I think I should call CPS on her for neglect. Do what you want with yourself, but don’t harm your baby because you are a sprout-munching hippie.” (YES, I have heard every one of these in pretty much those exact words)

I wasn’t planning on having kids anyway, but this kind of thing made it that much less appetizing. Why on Earth would I deliberately go through such a dangerous, scary ordeal?

Then I got married. And then we decided we wanted kids. Oh boy.

Not wanting to put myself or my baby in any unnecessary danger, and wanting to know EXACTLY what I was getting myself into, I started researching. I was terrified of doctors anyway, having had some really nasty experiences at the hands of a number of doctors throughout my life. I wanted to make sure I knew as much as I could, so that maybe I could prevent myself from having my streak of Bad Doctor luck extend into childbirth.

I wanted to know all about epidurals (not because I thought they were unsafe, but because I’m terrified of needles and that one was going to go in MY BACK!!!). I didn’t want to deal with the pain, but a needle? In my back? *whimper*

Maybe it was luck, maybe it was divine intervention (being an atheist, I’ll go with luck), but the first site I found was a homebirth site. Ooookay, well, maybe these people have links to normal birth stuff. Well, they did…normal, non-medical, non-managed births. Normal births.

I didn’t sleep so good that night. I spent most of the night staring at the ceiling thinking about the birth stories I’d read. I’d never read birth stories before. And they were so….peaceful. The pain, the horror, and the fear were not the main themes of the stories. In fact, they were barely present, except for pain, but that wasn’t a big deal. It just “was”.

I started finding more stories that unnerved me even more. People who had had their first one, two, even three or four kids in a hospital. The experiences haunted them. At best, they were uncomfortable, something wasn’t right. At worst, they were horrific to the point of longterm psychological and physical trauma. It was the other side of the stories I’d heard all my life. It wasn’t “thank God the doctors/hospital/machines were there to save us”, it was, “What the hell did they do to me?”

But if birth itself is so scary and dangerous, what could possibly have happened to make them believe doing it at HOME, without a doctor, was safer?

Failed epidurals. Reactions – in Mom and baby – to pitocin, epidurals, painkillers, and the like. Gaping episiotomies that really didn’t need to be there. Infections. Being tied down to hospital protocols that, now that the women mentioned it, really didn’t make much sense. Not eating/drinking? For 12, 18, even 36 hours? Or lying in bed with your legs in the air instead of squatting or being on all fours, which, to my great surprise is the way many women give birth when left to their own devices. Being in bed with your feet in stirrups actually closes the pelvis considerably, and pushes the tailbone into the way…I had no idea.

I always though you gave birth on your back with your legs up, but why were these women standing, squatting, and kneeling, and having big babies with nary a tear? Why was pushing counted as 2, 3, or 4 contractions or pushes, not 2, 3, or 4 hours? And it wasn’t just second/third/fourth time mothers, it was FIRST time mothers.

These weren’t women who were sad or angry and wanted to sue, or seek revenge. They were women who realized something was amiss and did something about it. And the subsequent experiences were not only better, it was not uncommon at all for me to see them described as “healing”. Healing? Birth? I thought those two only went together when you were talking about stitches and stretches. How odd.

It kept me up all night because it rattled me out of my comfort zone. One of the truths that had been ingrained into my head all my life…maybe it wasn’t so true after all.

But I’m not going to automatically buy into something because I read it online. So it was off to the bookstore. I picked up books in every part of the spectrum: from pro-homebirth to pro-hospital, and everything in between.

One was written by a couple of RN’s that worked in labor and delivery. They said right up front that they wouldn’t be discussing homebirth in their book because they believed it was dangerous. I read their book, and couldn’t help asking myself (constantly) “why do they need to do this or that?” “That doesn’t make any sense.” “Why?” “WTF?”

I read Henci Goer and Ina May Gaskin. I found a 2” thick book all about everything pertaining pregnancy and childbirth, with information on home and hospital. I read every last one of them cover to cover.

I didn’t sleep the next few nights either.

So I started corresponding with women on homebirth lists, lurking on message boards for everything from negative births to homebirths to unassisted births (yikes! I thought) to unmedicated hospital. I talked to people who adored their hospital births, and people who were traumatized by them. I talked to mothers who adored their homebirths, and tried to find people traumatized by them, but found very, very few. I literally read hundreds, probably well over a thousand birth stories.

So many questions were raised in my mind: Why were there so many C-sections? Why did so many women “need” inductions? There was so much going wrong with so many women that I had to stop and ask myself, was it the process of birth, or the way it was being managed? Why did normal, low risk moms suddenly need a million interventions, and why did this happen so often compared to at home?

Most of all, why were women giving birth at home, with people they love and trust, in dimly lit, quiet rooms? Why weren’t they on their backs, straddled, screaming bloody murder, in unbearable agony? Oh, because I guess that’s not how it’s really supposed to be.

It’s been nearly five years since I started looking for information, fully intending to give birth in a hospital just like everyone with a brain in their head would do. And here I am. We’re still trying to conceive our first, but the fear I had about birth is gone. I know it’ll hurt, but I’m not afraid of that pain. I’m more afraid of what could happen if I try to alleviate that pain with drugs. Barring any unforseens requiring a doctor, I don’t see any reason why an event that *could* be safe and peaceful needs to require me fighting against hospital protocols and putting myself or my baby in that environment.

It was an unnerving, comfort zone rattling journey, but in the end, it was a journey home, and it was worth it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

EVERYONE. IS. PREGNANT. (Well, except me...)

Everyone around me is pregnant. Everyone and their freaking mother is pregnant. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if a few of the MEN are pregnant. EVERYONE is PREGNANT.

So what about me? Still (obviously) not pregnant. AF finally showed up about 2 weeks ago, for the first time in about 5 months (aside from that quick, quasi-visit in October) so fingers crossed that things are working again.

I’m still going back and forth in my head about how much longer I want to keep trying. Some days, I just want to throw in the towel, give away all of our baby stuff, and accept that we will be DINKS for life. Some days, I’m actually ok with that. Other days, all it takes is a mere glimpse of a baby or a pregnant belly to have me climbing the walls. So…I’ll probably keep doing this back-and-forth thing until I finally do get pregnant (shortly after my 70th birthday, at this rate).

So…if anyone reading this has any baby dust that they’re not using, kindly send it this way.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"She's stressed and flustered."

It's been a shitty week at work. REALLY shitty. I mean, I've come home every night this week and wanted either a stiff drink or something to hit. I'm just over it.

Today, one of my co-workers bit my head off over nothing -- in fact, I was HELPING her -- in front of several other people. I was fuming mad...I mean, seriously...spitting nails, ready to just let her know how I felt about her. I have been taking crap from people all week, and what she said was so completely out of line and uncalled for...I was just over it. My other co-worker said something to our boss, and we were met with, "Well, she's really stressed and flustered with (a bunch of work-related bullshit)." In other words, she let it go. Completely blew it off. Acted like it was NOTHING, and basically told me to suck it up.

Now, what if *I* am stressed and flustered? What if I lash out at someone because I'm overwhelmed by my job? Not that I have any reason to be...what's stressful about being short one person, slammed with high volumes of orders and phone calls like we haven't been in ages, and "supported" by a worthless production manager and lazy technical support staff? There's nothing stressful about that, right? So I have no REASON to lash out. And it wouldn't be exacerbated AT ALL by the fact that my hormones are raging (it's been almost 5 months since my last REAL period, and about 6 weeks since the brief period-wannabe I had...the hormones be snowballin'...). In fact, I work REALLY hard *NOT* to lash out at people when I'm like this. Sometimes it happens (sorry, Eddie...). But at work, I try really, really hard to keep it from happening.

So why is it that when someone else is stressed, or flustered, or just being a bitch, I have to just roll over and take it? Why can't I let fly and snap someone's head off? Fuck that.

So. Over. It.

I'd have a stiff drink -- and believe me, I've seriously considered it -- but wait! That's right, I have to go through life as if I'm pregnant JUST IN FUCKING CASE I am. Nevermind the fact that it's been over 4 years...just my luck, the night I decide to go on a bender with my good buddy Smirnoff will be the night before I get a positive test. So no, I *can't* drink even when I *want* to, because I COULD be pregnant. It's been 4 goddamned years, and all I want is ONE night to just drink myself stupid. Or hell, just a couple of drinks to get me giggly. Something. But I can't.

Great. All my lady hormones are making my job even more unbearable, and all I want is a fucking drink to defrazzle my nerves, but I *can't* because the goddamn lady hormones that are making me feel this way in the first place COULD mean I'm pregnant.

My co-worker is allowed to lash out at me because "she's stressed and flustered"? Fuck that. I'll show you "stressed and flustered".

Rant OVER.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Either I need to quit my job, or change desks.

In the last 2 years, 4 women have worked at this particular desk that's kitty-corner to mine. One of them is post-menopausal, so she doesn't count....but the other 3 have all worked there for at least a year, quit, and within 2 months of leaving, were pregnant.

Either I need to quit, or I need to wrestle that desk away from the chick that's there now...because I am obviously sitting at the WRONG desk...

EDIT: My math skills are obviously lacking. Should have been in the last 4 years, not the last 2. LOL