Monday, July 26, 2010

my brain is trying to kill me

Much as usual. I have commented in this space before about my lesson learned that Hope is Bad. I am not the only infertile who has learned this. But I've been asked about it recently (by JBTC), and at the risk of exposing lovely and hopeful people to something they don't really need to know, perhaps I should explain.

If you really believe, every month, in that ghost of a chance that you could get pregnant (and we all know that the chance theoretically exists, as long as we're menstruating - oh, and actually having sex with our husbands. Heh), then you cry - every month.

I remember those tears. You thought this month you were taking it lightly, and you disciplined yourself to say "when I get my period" and you dutifully bought more tampons and you told your husband that you didn't have your hopes up. And when you saw those first few spots of blood you lied to yourself, and you told yourself that that inane women's health book your mother gave you that was written in the eighties when you were six said specifically that you could appear to have a period when you were pregnant, it would just be likely to be lighter or heavier than usual, and maybe a different time, and isn't this a day earlier than last month, and pretty light so far?

So you told your husband right away that you had started - because you didn't get your hopes up this cycle, just as you promised you wouldn't, and here you are accepting things as they come - but you go to sleep with a smile on your lips as you imagine the morning in a few days when, hey, the rest of your period won't have come yet, and so you'll blow one of those expensive HPTs even though you're young and poor and still living in a crummy apartment, and you'll have the surprise of his life for him! Of course there will be a few sentences of explanation when he asks, "Didn't you just start your period?" but you'll get that cleared up easily enough, and then you can go straight to the local baby emporium to register, because nothing can ever go wrong and you'll still be able to have twelve kids as you've always wanted to and you'll just be three months later starting your family than you expected. What's three months?

And then the next morning you wake up, and there's no denying it any more, but still, you're taking things light-heartedly; it will happen next month. And then that evening you're washing the dishes and you break a glass, not even an expensive one, and suddenly you are surprised to see that you are on the kitchen floor in a puddle of dishwater in the fetal position SOBBING into your apron because you BELIEVED that this would be the month, and you would love a baby SO MUCH, and you would be such a good mother, and sacrifice everything in the world to take care of your child, and everyone you know is pregnant, and you can't bear another month of this, you feel like you might die. And your husband is across the room staring at you like you have two heads, because he's a little disappointed that this month didn't work out, but it never crossed his mind that that's what these tears are about, because that makes no sense whatsoever.

And then you wake up and it's been a year since your white dress and your honeymoon, and your doctor has already said you're infertile, and you knew you had endometriosis, and your FSH has already come back crazy high, like you should be fifteen years older than you are now, with that number, and even then it would be a source of concern. By now you do your crying in the shower when your husband can't see, because you haven't even been married that long and you don't need him to think that you're a basket case or a child, unable to take even a little bit of delay of your dreams with equanimity. And you don't need to be a sobbing mess every month.

In fact, you don't need to be a sobbing mess ever again. Who's that wretched little creature who just got married - to that saintly fellow who still seems totally in the dark about her character - and she's already parading around asking if she's showing? She's got to be the most selfish person you know, clearly would be a terrible mother, but relishing that she's pregnant because everyone else is. Well, everyone but you. You know what, if someone like that can just get pregnant effortlessly, maybe it's not all it's cracked up to be. Maybe it's not the most important thing in your life. Maybe you need to move on.

And you stop crying. You throw out your charts, avert your eyes from the HPT section of the store, buy tampons in bulk, and come up with breezy answers when people ask when you'll be having kids. Someday, they'll stop asking. Please, God, just let them stop asking. And you stop making plans for how you can find a part-time job in some family-friendly place that will let you keep your health insurance, and start thinking about what the most demanding job is in your whole career track - something you'd be able to do better than everyone else you know. Something you couldn't possibly do if you had children. And you plunge your life into that and before you know it, two years have passed.

You're two years older. Your ovaries are probably older even than that. And you feel a hundred. And a part of you has died. You never cry when you get your period, you never talk about how exciting it would be if it were "this month," you eventually stopped throwing baby showers (people stopped asking you to, eventually), and finally you basically stopped attending them, but you know what the strange thing is? The hope isn't quite dead yet. It's the most horrible thing in your life. It won't let you have any peace, not even for a moment. You make career plans and financial plans and savings plans and you bravely compute futures that include no children, and buy plane tickets for nine months from now, and live in a house in the city, and spend your vacation time at work on actual vacations, rather than saving it all up for that extended maternity leave you always wanted.

And you never tell your husband, but every month, a tiny, horrible, un-killable shred of you believes against the weight of all past experience that it could be this month. And when people ask you, or say, "When you have children," you bravely say, "Well, if," or "We'll see." But you don't tell them the name you're saving for your first girl, in case they take it.

Hope is the worst thing in the world.

No, no, infertility is the worst thing in the world. Hope is second.

Until the blessed day I have my hysterectomy, I won't be able to kill it entirely. I know that. But the perverse thing is that a few months ago, through no fault of my own - I swear, I hadn't been reading baby blogs, or picking out names, or spending time in toy stores, or babysitting, or anything - I started believing; just on an intellectual level and from some source I couldn't shake; one of those abiding convictions, like the idea that fall comes after summer, that I would be pregnant. Soon, in fact. Some inane corner of my mind intimated that by late 2010, I would have a bun of my own in the oven. So when I have to write the date down and realize it's late July, it's slightly disorienting, because surely the fall isn't approaching that quickly; because obviously, I'm not going to get knocked up that soon.

Clearly, not.

My brain is STILL trying to kill me.

26 comments:

  1. Sigh. I get it. They worst thing that ever happened to me was getting pregnant after four months of trying, losing the baby, and never getting pregnant again. I still don't understand why that mind f*ck was necessary.

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  2. Ah, yes, that bitch, Hope. She's still hanging around here, even after 8 years of infertility. Like I just needed IVF to kick-start things, right? And now I'm going to be the infertility urban legend.

    No matter how impractical, I still hold out hope every single month.

    This post is beautifully written, by the way, and captures the mind-fuck that is infertility perfectly (to borrow Megan's word -- love it!)/

    Hugs,
    Jo

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  3. Your brain is trying to kill my hopefullest of hopeful infertile brains!!! Haha!!

    I didn't know we were going to be pregnant together this fall! COOL! B-)

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  4. It's true - that small shred of hope is always there, no matter how many times I try to push it away. Sorry you're experiencing the same feeling. :(

    ~http://tryingagian.blogspot.com

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  5. If anyone wants to know what Infertility is like, I am first directing them to this post. Not that anyone will ever ask, because no one really cares about what we go through when they are too busy parading around with 18 babies in tow and a baby bump to boot.

    You know there are some months when I'm quite sure DH and I weren't even able to time it right (due to travel, illness, whatever) and I STILL think it could happen? I swear it's a miracle I came in the normal range of the psych exam I had to take for the adoption process...

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  6. You hit the nail on the head. What a great expression of the true feeling of IF. I couldn't have put it in better words. God bless you, me and all other struggling.

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  7. wow, all fertiles need to read this so that maybe they'll start to understand - on some level, at least - what it's like for everyone else. powerful.

    i'm so sorry you had to write this.

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  8. Are you in my brain Misfit??????

    You wrote down the same feelings that I have been struggling with, particularly since my last surgery.

    Hope sucks.

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  9. I'm sorry. I love you. I don't know what else to say.

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  10. Is that my life?? Oh I'm so sorry. I hate that hope that comes into my brain every once in a while... It sucks. Still praying for you.

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  11. Until you specifically pointed out that it was late July in 2010, it hadn't hit me how much of this year is gone...and how unlikely it is that we'll see a pregnancy any time this year. Just like last year, and the year before, and the year before that, etc.
    This post made me very, very sad, but mostly because I understand it all and wished I didn't.

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  12. Couldn't have described it better. That hope thing is a killer.

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  13. Misfit, you are so often saying exactly what I'm thinking but I can't get into words. Hope springs eternal, even when you don't want it to.

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  14. Every time another friend or someone someone knows gets pregnant, in their late 30's/early to mid 40's, I get a huge bucket of hope thrown in my face. For some reason, I refuse to let it go. I cling to it and tell myself it is God-given and cry. Meh.

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  15. WOW you just wrote down EXACTLY how I feel but have never articulated, at least out loud, to anyone. And the strange thing is I DID have one child. And he is perfect, beyond perfect. And then I adopted one and she is amazing as well. I should be happy right? But all I can think is that I wanted more and it sucks that the drug addict woman I adopted my daughter from had a son that she accidentally killed and after my daughter went on to have more. So unfair. And don't even get me started on MTv's 16 and pregnant! And now I am 41 with 2 beautiful children but every month I do think maybe...

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  16. This is the truest account of infertility that I've ever read. You have a gift of saying what so many of us feel, but can't quite get into words.
    Thank you.

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  17. beautifully written.

    glad to know that im not the only one who dreams about the day she gets her hysterectomy. not sure most infertiles would feel you on that one but I SO GET IT.

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  18. What an incredible post that so sums up so many of the emotions that go around in an IF's crazy head. I think the loss of hope and dreasm is undoubtedly the hardest part of dealing with IF. Without the hope why would we bother at all.

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  19. Thank you for posting this and putting into words the turmoil so many of us feel. I was a victim of hope with our last ivf (#4!) and it almost sucked the life out of me. HOPE really is a four letter word in my book!

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  20. I feel like you've just read my mind and my heart and put everything that I'm thinking and feeling out there much better than even I could do it. Thank you for your honesty and candor and letting us be a part of your IF journey.

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  21. Here from Mel's... What a great post. Hope, she is a bitch. Seriously, this is a great post - thank you.

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  22. Holy cow that was an awesome post. It said everything I have felt and at times still do. Fall is a few months away and 2011 is several months away so don't give up hope.

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  23. Wow, your post is so right on. I'm deliberately trying to beat hope into submission right now even as I'm going through my first IVF. It's sick, I know, but it seems better to just stay depressed rather than get high on hope and then crash in spectacular fashion. Still, it takes a certain amount of hope to even try. It's a delicate line to walk, that line between hope and complete despair.

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  24. here from the roundup
    this post was so beautiful and heartbreaking and so touchingly HONEST, because that is how you feel. Every single day of being Infertile, in fact it's the way you feel even after prayers are answered, like nothing will ever be easy again...nothing will ever be "for sure" in your life.

    Hope in the midst of what you are feeling is the saddest loneliest feeling , because you are ALONE when you feel it, when you let it have it's way with you.

    Thank you for writing this, but I want you to be able to HOPE and have it come true. You're in my thoughts.

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  25. Here from Mel's too. What a great post, and sooooo true! I kept reading and thinking "yup" and tearing up. I feel the same way. IF sucks and hope sucks too. =( Wishing for your dreams to come true this year still. ((hugs))

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  26. This is beautifully written yet so very heartbreaking at the same time. I know just where you're coming from.

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