Interestingly, I’ve never written a Mother’s Day Post. It seems sort of the sine qua non for infertility blogs. Ah, maybe *now* I’ve arrived!
I must say, prior to anything else, that my own mother wins – supportive and loving and willing to let me make my own way through things. My current struggle with Mother’s Day has nothing to do with her. Nothing.
Back in the day, when I thought I was just ttc, not actually infertile, I would read about how some people found Mother’s Day too hard to deal with, how they hated it. And I was all, “Aw. Poor them. I’m *so* okay with all this.” Totally cavalier and shit. At the same time I was nurturing fantasies of at home insems, no medical intervention, rainbows and unicorns and chocolate bacon and all that sort of shit.
Oh, how far we fall….
Last May, it hit me. Oh, yes, I should have seen it coming. I’d already become one of Those Infertiles – you know the ones: the ones I used to sigh and shake my head for. Poor them. Only it became poor me. Somewhere along the line, it became poor me. And the crowning moment was that Mother’s Day. It bit.
Was it because had the miscarriage not happened, I would have been a mother then? Or was it simply the slow erosion of my sense of self? Or just that 5 years is too long to do the same thing over and over with no success? Whatever it was, I think it marked the moment when I began to think of myself as infertile. Not just lacking in sperm, not just unlucky or impatient. But infertile with a capital IF.
The kind who has friends they don’t really talk to any more. The kind who hides behind newspapers so as to not see acquaintances with babies and feels small and stupid for not being big enough to deal. The kind who uses a medical diagnosis as an identity. The kind who can’t speak with hope anymore because that line’s been disconnected.
We’re still here, though. Us infertiles. It almost feels like coming out. You get to put a name to how you feel. You get a community of people. You get to swap stories and use acronyms nobody else gets. You get to hope that by telling your story, somebody somewhere will feel a little less alone. But the difference between being infertile and being gay is there’s no joy in infertility. I’d not wish it on anybody.
Since the miscarriage, I’ve taken to referring to “when I was pregnant,” with increasing ease. If I were to pick it apart, and clearly that’s just what I am going to to do, there are several things going on. Oh, let’s make a list. Just for fun.
- civic/social duty. Lots of women have miscarriages. Fewer talk about it. Even fewer will talk about how it went. So I should step into the breech, yes?
- it happened. So it’s worth mentioning. I could glance down and look away, or I could say, “yeah, when I was pregnant, I…..” Or “… right, that was when I was pregnant, so….”
- healing. The more times I talk about it, the easier it gets to talk about. Also, see #1 above as the corollary to this.
- shock value. Self explanatory, also relates to #1 above.
- truth. I was pregnant once. I might never be again. I want to remember.
Maybe that was the closest I’ll ever get to motherhood. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not. I know that’s a very narrow definition of motherhood and not one I really subscribe to, but, for real, y’all. Maybe that’s as good as it gets for me. Maybe those 7 weeks and a handful of days are it. I don’t even count it as a baby – it was too early and too hard to believe for that. But I was a mama, just for those couple few weeks.
And I’m still here. Scarred and scared and very, very low on hope, but still here. No stronger, no smarter, no better – worse, I think, in a lot of ways. But still here. Struggling with my motherfucking baggage as I climb back on the train one more time.
Happy Mother’s Day.
As in out of the baby game this cycle, not as in coming out as gay. Although that’s also true, it’s old news.
What I mean is, my temp dropped this morning, and will, I’m sure, continue to fall, and so I must not be pregnant. And so we commence the weeping and the gnashing of teeth phase.
To distract you while I do that, here are the journal-y bits I wrote for myself a year ago, un-edited except for name removals. It turned out to only be a journal of two days plus a lot of flash-backs. Too bad I don’t know how to do some flashy thing to indicate that a flash-back is coming – you’ll just have to imagine The Flash.
Friday, August 18th, 2006
The neighbor’s kid, the ones I don’t know, is yelling behind me and I am still not pregnant. That’s really no surprise, since Fed Ex lost the last sperm shipment. Lost it. Yeah. B and I had a nice moment via IM imagining the guy who runs the sperm bank out looking for it – “Here sperm! Heeeerrrreee spermy sperm!” But to to avail. Fucking Fed Ex. I knew they were run by Republicans but I didn’t think they’d intentionally undermine my baby plans.I’ve begun to think I should be keeping track fo this whole mess – for The Baby, you know. “Here honey, read this,” I’ll say when questions come up. It will be a nice variation on the birds and bees talk, no? A nice story about the million times (well, 5 as of now) the Fed Ex man came by and the fights with the combination lock that I had no idea how to use (oh, the things I didn’t learn at my tiny and trusting high school) and the interminably long 2 week waits for my period.
It’s been over a year now, since I went in to see my nurse-practitioner for an exam to fill out all the crazy paper work the sperm bank wanted. Over a year since my roommate and I sat in the kitchen while she studied and I began reading profiles of donors for the final cull and neighbor L showed up and took over because I was tearing my hair out. Almost exactly a year since my boss ran out to the front of the school to take a picture of the Fed Ex man before he drove away because it was phase-in week at school and I couldn’t leave my classroom. And still, I am not pregnant.
This is the time line:
July 2005 – decide to use spermbank, download forms, get exam and such so they can be filled out by J, my nurse-practitioner, who told me that I have a “well placed cervix.” Thanks. She was very supportive, reminding me that they can do IUI right there if I want to go that route. My boss donated a bunch of postage to the cause, throwing a couple extra stamps on the envelope with the forms because she wants to make sure it gets there. Oh, and some time early in the month, I tell my folks, who are beside themselves with excitement. S brought me prenatal vitamins from work at Whole Foods, after consulting with one of the “Whole Body” (lord) people about which ones I should take. The things are so fucking big, I feel like just taking them should knock me up. It doesn’t. Because I still had to pick a donor – ugh.
Really, it is hard, still, for me to care too much about this. Or, rather, once I start to care, or to look very closely, then I get freaked out by things like one of the donors saying he is a Republican (and gay? wtf?). And really, so much of genetics is a crap shot, so much of it is so intertwined with environment that I really feel like knowing things about a donor gives a false sense of control. I mean, I’m not going to be parenting with the guy; I’ll be the one controlling the kid’s environment (not to an alarming degree, I hope). Knowing that donor # 50-bazillion’s great aunt was a smoker who didn’t like the color purple really doesn’t mean anything.
So yeah, but then I started to look at the profiles (which cost money, so I only got a few) and got all worked up about Republicans and people saying that kids *have* to go to college. Then neighbor L from next door showed up, all in a snit over having spent the evening shopping for a wedding dress and wanting a beer. And she took the computer from me and she and my roommate laughed their way through the profiles and tell me the 2 they think are best and then it was done – #35 – my new and virtual boyfriend.
Then it was –
August 2005 – in which I talked to Leland (my new best friend) at the spermbank and got excited and K gave me her unused OPK because she had started doing IVF. And I continued with my prenatals- wow, boosted iron levels did wonders for my work ethic. Meanwhile, school was getting ready to start, but really, that just seemed like a distraction.
September 2005 – it turned out that I was going to ovulate sometime that first week of school – the craziest time of the year for a toddler class. All the parents are there, phasing their children in and they are all a little nervous and really, a box of dry ice and sperm showing up in the middle of that seemed -well – not so good. So my boss was going to meet the truck and sign for it and keep “Dad” as she liked to call it, in her office. She was also armed with a camera to document the occasion. But the Fed Ex guy came to the front door of the school and so one of the new assistants got the package and brought it in my classroom to me and I asked her to take it to the office, at which point my boss ran outside, yelling for the Fed Ex guy to wait, and then took his picture. She said he was surprised. Huh.
Saturday, August 19th, 2006
Tonight the neighbors I do know are having guest. Their kid, who I find endlessly amusing, is doing his best to entertain himself while everybody hangs out on the porch and in the yard. I think there was another kid there earlier, but since I was inside, I’m really not sure. He talks a million miles a minute and is still young enough to have that slightly breathless quality to his speech, like talking is really hard work, but – god damn – there is just so much to say. They are listening to Sam Cooke.
So where was I….?
oh yeah –
When I left school early, at noon, leaving B to clean everything up – thank you, B (really, there’s no way to know what a huge job it is to clean up a toddler class after the first day of school unless you’ve done it) – to go home to try to knock myself up. I took the computer to bed with me, for music, and thawed the tiny vials in my armpit, just like the book said. My roommate took the afternoon off work to keep me company and we ate leftover fried chicken and played half a game of cards before C and L came over to shower me with her already pregnant vibes. They were up here being refugees from Katrina. It was all so – – boring. I felt nothing; it was kind of messy and then I had to get up to go get S from her school.
Then there was nothing. Just the 2 weeks of waiting, which was weird and drawn out and I thought every twinge and headache meant something. And I was fucking fried with school starting, but of course I thought that was An Early Sign. I was terribly moody for the last few days of this and sat at the kitchen table and cried about missing Z for the first time in weeks. My roommate came home and said we should get out of the house and when I went to pee before we left I found my period had started. I think we went somewhere and I had a drink. But, really, I don’t remember. Which bring us to
In which I get screwed by Fed Ex (not for the last time) and their fucking blue laws.
So Fed Ex does not deliver or ship on Sundays. Now, normally, I am all in favor of a day of rest. I like rest. I am lazy and I think there should be more rest. But, Fed Ex’s old-school-Protestant-no-work-on-Sunday shit is not so cool. What it meant, for me, was that I missed inseminating that cycle. I needed sperm on Monday, I thought, and I missed the window of time to order it for a Saturday delivery. So nothing in October. Nothing. But lots of drinking. And then it was
I’d thought I might not do a hit in November, because it put the due date really close the the start of school. But then I said fuck it and did it anyway. My roommate had begun the process of moving to Scottsville with her new girlfriend at this point, and so I kept my own-self company. After I managed to get the fucking lock open. I’d had the sperm shipped in liquid nitrogen, because I thought it might be needed on a Monday and so it would have to be kept cold for longer than the 48 hours allowed by dry ice (see above about Fed Ex and their god damned blue laws). So the container this all comes in is not nearly as innocuous looking as the nice little cardboard box surrounding the styrofoam cooler holding the dry ice. This shit is big. It looks like a small R2D2 like robot and has a combination lock holding it shut.
Now, I don’t know combination locks. I never had to open one more than 2 times, and I think that was when I was 10. We had no locks on our lockers at my high school. We had lots of trust and respect instead. Combination lock skills may be the one thing I did not learn in high school. So I fought with the lock on the robot container by myself for a while. Then I called J, because everyone else I know is usually asleep after 11 and because she is helpful like that. But she was not answering her phone. So I turned to the internet, with the thought of learning to crack a lock (because that’s easier than learning to open one the regular way?) and then I wised up and emailed Leland at the sperm bank. He sent me a very clear and informative email and I was all set – access to the goods and a new skill. Woo and Hoo.
Well, that one didn’t work either, clearly, or else I’d be sitting on the porch with a 3 week old baby, lamenting the start of school, instead of sitting out here with the computer lamenting the start of school. I don’t really remember the wait with that round. Oh, except my period was a day late – just enough extra hours to make me hope a little bit.
Then I quit for a while. Quit the prenatals and quit charting (stupid, I know) and tried not to focus on it. Heh. I’ve been trying to work with the school year calendar from the beginning (I know, again, stupid) because it just works well: deliver in late spring or early summer, take the summer off from camp, go back to work at the start of the next year. Maybe I have some control issues. But really, I can’t not work and since I cannot take off a whole year (who’d pay the mortgage?), I am unwilling to be away from my class at that tender beginning of the year phase. So conceiving in December, or even January of February was not part of the plan. So I waited. Some more. I drank hot toddies with my annual holiday guest, A, tried to make nice with Z and was sad her and did not go to LA. I figured I’d try again in March.
The picked over, cleaned up and pared down (as in minus most of the history) version is over at the IVP – source of all knowledge and refuge for the downtrodden – where I explain how and why I chose my new donor. Since you can read it there, I won’t bore you with it here.
Reading over this, I am once again overwhelmed and delighted by just how happy and excited and helpful my friends are with all this shit. Thanks, y’all.
But really, enough about me.